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Since kings break faith upon commodity,
The same. The French King's Tent.
Enter CONSTANCE, ARTHUR, and SALISBURY.
Const. Gone to be married ! gone to swear a
peace! False blood to false blood join'd! Gone to be
friends! Shall Lewis have Blanch? and Blanch those pro
vinces ? It is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard; Be well advis'd, tell o'er thy tale again : It cannot be ; thou doft but say, 'tis so; I trust, I may not trust thee; for thy word Is but the vain breath of a common man: Believe me, I do not believe thee, man ; I have a king's oath to the contrary. Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me, For I am sick, and capable of fears;} Oppress’d with wrongs, and therefore full of fears ;
2 In the old copy the second act extends to the end of the speech of Lady Constance in the next scene,
at the conclusion of which she throws herself on the ground. The present division which was made by Mr. Theobald, and has been adopted by the subsequent editors, is certainly right. MALONE.
See Mr. Theobald's note, p. 73. Steevens.
: For I am fick, and capable of fears;] i. e. I have a strong fenfibility; I am tremblingly alive to apprehension. So, in Hamlet:
“ His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
A widow,4 husbandless, subject to fears;
Sal. As true, as, I believe, you think them false, That give you cause to prove my saying true. Const. O, if thou teach me to believe this for
row, Teach thou this forrow how to make me die; And let belief and life encounter so, As doth the fury of two desperate men, Which, in the very meeting, fall, and die.Lewis marry Blanch! O, boy, then where art thou?
4 A widow,] This was not the fact. Constance, was at this time married to a third husband, Guido, brother to the Viscount of Touars. She had been divorced from her second husband, Ranulph, Earl of Chester. MALONE.
s Like a proud river peering o'er his bounds?] This seems to have been imitated by Marston, in his Insatiate Countess, 1603 :
“ Then how much more in me, whose youthful veins,
MALONE, Be these fad signs- ] The fad figns are, the fbaking of his head, the laying his hand on his breafl, &c. We have again the same words in our author's Venus and Adonis :
" So The, at these sad signs exclaims on death.” Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read-Be these fad fighs-m&c.
France friend with England! what becomes of
me?Fellow, be gone; I cannot brook thy sight; This news hath made thee a most ugly man.
SAL. What other harm have I, good lady, done, But spoke the harm that is by others done?
Const. Which harm within itself so heinous is,
Arth. I do beseech you, madam, be content.
7 If thou, &c.] Massinger appears to have copied this passage in The Unnatural Combat:
If thou hadft been born
“ I had been blest.” STEEVENS.
Full of unpleasing blots,] So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece, 1594:
“ The blemish that will never be forgot,
MALONE. -fightless -] The poet uses fightless for that which we now express by unsightly, disagreeable to the eyes. Johnson.
afwart,] Swart is brown, inclining to black. So, in K. Henry VI. Part I. Ad I. sc. ii:
“ And whereas I was black and swart before." Again, in The Comedy of Errors, Act III. sc. ii : “ Swart like my shoe, but her face nothing so clean kept."
STEEVENS. prodigious,] That is, portentous, so deformed as to be taken for a foretoken of evil. JOHNSON.
In this sense it is used by Decker, in the first part of The Honef Whore, 1604:
Patch'd with foul moles, and eye-offending marks,
Pardon me, madam,
with thee: I will instruct my sorrows to be proud; For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout..
yon comet shews his head again;
“ Prodigious looks,”
“ Over whose roof hangs this prodigious comet.” Again, in The English Arcadia, by Jarvis Markham, 1607; “O, yes, I was prodigious to thy birth-right, and as a blazing ítar at thine unlook'd for funeral," STEVENS.
- makes his owner stout.] The old editions have-makes its owner stoop: the emendation is Sir T. Hanmer's. JOHNSON, So, in Daniel's Civil Wars, B. VI: " Full with four grief and with disdainful woç." STEVENS,
To me, and to the state of my great grief,
Our author has rendered this passage obfcure, by indulging himself in one of those conceits in which he too much delights, and by bounding rapidly, with his usual licence, from one idea to another. This obscurity induced Sir T. Hanmer for stoop to subftitute stout; a reading that appears to me to have been too haftily adopted in the subsequent editions.
The confusion arises from the poet's having personified grief in the first part of the passage, and supposing the afflicted person to be bowed to the earth by that pride or haughtiness which Grief is said to possess; and by making the afflicted person, in the latter part of the passage, actuated by this very pride, and exacting the same kind of obeisance from others, that Grief has exacted from her.—“ I will not go (says Constance) to these kings; I will teach my sorrows to be proud; for Grief is proud, and makes the afficted stoop; therefore here I throw myself, and let them come to me.” Here, had she stopped, and thrown herself on the ground, and had nothing more been added, however we might have disapproved of the conceit, we should have had no temptation to disturb the text. But the idea of throwing herself on the ground suggests a new image; and because her fiately grief is so great that nothing but the huge earth can support it, the considers the ground as her throne; and having thus invested herself with regal dignity, she as queen in misery, as poffefling (like Imogen) “ the supreme crown of grief,” calls on the princes of the world to bow down before her, as she has herself been bowed down by afii&tion.
Such, I think, was the process that passed in the poet's mind; which appears to me so clearly to explain the text, that I see no reason for departing from it. Malone. 5 To me, and to the state of my great grief,
Let kings assemble;] In Much ade about Nothing, the father of Hero, depresied by her disgrace, declares himself so subdued by grief that a thread may lead him. How is it that grief in Leonato and Lady Constance produces effects directly opposite, and yet both agreeable to nature? Sorrow softens the mind while it is yet warmed by hope, but hardens it when it is congealed by despair, Distress, while there remains any prospect of relief, is weak and flexible, but when no fuccour remains, is fearless and stubborn; angry alike at those that injure, and at those that do not help; careless to please where nothing can be gained, and fearless to offend when there is nothing further to be dreaded. Such was this writer's knowledge of the passions. JOHNSON.