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Even on that altar, where we swore to you
Sal. May this be possible? may this be true?
He is forsworn, if e'er those eyes of yours
Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,-
Sal. We do believe thee,-and beshrew my soul
Of this most fair occasion, by the which
We will untread the steps of damned flight;
Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
1 i. e.
2 Rankness, as applied to a river, here signifies exuberant, ready to overflow; as applied to the actions of the speaker and his party, it signifies wanton wildness.
Stoop low within those bounds we have o'erlooked,
Even to our ocean, to our great king John.
SCENE V. The same.
The French Camp.
Enter LEWIS and his Train.
Lew. The sun of heaven, methought, was loath to set; But staid, and made the western welkin blush, When the English measured backward their own ground In faint retire. O, bravely came we off, When with a volley of our needless shot, After such bloody toil, we bid good night; And wound our tottering 3 colors clearly up, Last in the field, and almost lords of it!
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. Where is my prince, the dauphin? Lew. Here:-What news? Mess. The count Melun is slain; the English lords, By his persuasion, are again fallen off; And your supply, which you have wished so long, Are cast away, and sunk, on Goodwin Sands.
Lew. Ah, foul, shrewd news!-Beshrew thy very heart!
I did not think to be so sad to-night,
As this hath made me.-Who was he, that said,
The stumbling night did part our weary powers?
3 Tottering colors is the reading of the old copy, which was altered to tattered by Johnson, who is followed by the subsequent editors. To totter, in old language, was to waver, to shake with a tremulous motion, as colors would do in the wind. "To tottre (says Baret), nutare, vacillare, see shake and wagge."
Mess. Whoever spoke it, it is true, my lord.
Lew. Well; keep good quarter,1 and good care to
The day shall not be up so soon as I,
SCENE VI. An open Place in the Neighborhood of Swinstead Abbey.
Enter the Bastard and HUBERT, meeting.
Hub. Who's there? speak, ho! speak quickly or
Bast. A friend.-What art thou?
Of the part of England.
Bast. Whither dost thou go?
Bast. Hubert, I think.
Thou hast a perfect thought!
I will, upon all hazards, well believe,
Hub. Unkind remembrance! thou and eyeless night3
Bast. Come, come; sans compliment, what news abroad?
Hub. Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night, To find you out.
Brief, then; and what's the news? Hub. O, my sweet sir, news fitting to the night, Black, fearful, comfortless, and horrible.
1 i. e. keep in your allotted posts or stations.
2 i. e. a well-informed one.
3 The old copy reads "endless night." The emendation was made by Theobald.
Bast. Show me the very wound of this ill news; I am no woman; I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The king, I fear, is poisoned by a monk.1
To acquaint you with this evil; that you might
Bast. How did he take it? Who did taste to him?
Bast. Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty? Hub. Why, know you not? The lords are all come back,
And brought prince Henry in their company;
Bast. Withhold thine indignation, mighty Heaven,
SCENE VII. The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.
Enter PRINCE HENRY, SALISBURY, and BIGOT. P. Hen. It is too late; the life of all his blood Is touched corruptibly; and his pure brain (Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling-house)
1 Not one of the historians who wrote within sixty years of the event, mentions this improbable story. The tale is, that a monk, to revenge himself on the king for a saying at which he took offence, poisoned a cup of ale, and having brought it to his majesty, drank some of it himself, to induce the king to taste it, and soon afterwards expired. Thomas Wylkes is the first who mentions it in his Chronicle as a report. According to the best accounts, John died at Newark, of a fever.
2 i. e. less speedily, after some delay.
3 Prince Henry was only nine years old when his father died.
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
Pem. His highness yet doth speak; and holds belief, That, being brought into the open air, It would allay the burning quality
Of that fell poison which assaileth him.
P. Hen. Let him be brought into the orchard here. Doth he still rage? [Exit BIGOT. Pem. He is more patient Than when you left him; even now he sung. P. Hen. O vanity of sickness! fierce extremes, In their continuance,1 will not feel themselves. Death, having preyed upon the outward parts, Leaves them insensible; and his siege is now Against the mind, the which he pricks and wounds With many legions of strange fantasies;
Which, in their throng and press to that last hold, Confound themselves. 'Tis strange, that death should
I am the cygnet to this pale, faint swan,
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born To set a form upon that indigest Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude.
Re-enter BIGOT and Attendants, who bring in KING JOHN in a chair.
K. John. Ay, marry, now my soul hath elbow-room; It would not out at windows, nor at doors. There is so hot a summer in my bosom, That all my bowels crumble up to dust. I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen Upon a parchment; and against this fire Do I shrink up.
1 Continuance here means continuity. Bacon uses it in that sense also. 2 The old copy reads invisible. Sir T. Hanmer proposed the reading admitted into the text.