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Lies heavy on me; O, my heart is sick!
Enter a Messenger. Mess. My lord, your valiant kinsman, Faulcon
bridge, Desires your majesty to leave the field ; And send him word by me, which way you go. K. John. Tell him, toward Swinstead!, to the
abbey there. Mess. Be of good comfort; for the great supply, That was expected by the Dauphin here, Are wreck’d’ three nights ago on Goodwin sands. This news was brought to Richard but even now : The French fight coldly, and retire themselves.
K. John. Ah me! this tyrant fever burns me up, And will not let me welcome this good news. Set on toward Swinstead : to my litter straight; Weakness possesseth me, and I am faint.
Another Part of the Same.
Enter SALISBURY, PEMBROKE, Bigot, and Others. Sal. I did not think the king so stor'd with
friends. Pem. Up once again ; put spirit in the French ;
1- Swinstead,] i. e. Swineshead, as I am informed by Mr. Dodd, the present vicar of that place. Reed.
– for the great suPPLY
Are wreckd-] Supply is here, and in a subsequent passage in Scene V. p. 360, used as a noun of multitude. Malone.
Richard -] Sir Richard Faulconbridge ;-and yet the King, a little before, (Act III. Sc. II.) calls him by his original name of Philip. STEEVENS.
The King calls him familiarly by his old name of Philip, but the messenger could not take the same liberty. MALONE.
If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
Sal. That misbegotten devil, Faulconbridge, In spite of spite, alone upholds the day. Pem. They say, king John, sore sick, hath left
Enter Melun wounded, and led by Soldiers. Mel. Lead me to the revolts of England here. Sal. When we were happy, we had other names. Pem. It is the count Melun. SAL.
Wounded to death. Mel. Fly, noble English, you are bought and
sold"; Unthread the rude eye of rebellion”,
4 — bought and sold;] This expression seems to have been proverbial; intimating that foul play has been used. It is used again in King Richard III. :
Jocky of Norfolk be not too bold,
* For Dickon, thy master, is bought and sold.” MALONE. It is used also in King Henry VI. Part I. Act IV. Sc. IV. and in The Comedy of Errors, Act III. Sc. I. Steevens.
5 UNTHREAD the rude Eye of rebellion,] Though all the copies concur in this reading, how poor is the metaphor of unthreading the eye of a needle? And besides, as there is no mention made of a needle, how remote and obscure is the allusion without it? The text, as I have restored it, is easy and natural ; and it is the mode of expression which our author is every where fond of, to tread and untread, the way, paths, steps, &c. THEOBALD.
The metaphor is certainly harsh, but I do not think the passage corrupted.
Johnson. Mr. Theobald reads-untread; but Shakspeare, in King Lear, uses the expression, " threading dark ey'd night ;” and Corio
“ Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
They would not thread the gates.". This quotation, in support of the old reading, has also been adduced by Mr. M. Mason.
STEEVENS. Some one, observing on this passage, has been idle enough to suppose that the eye of rebellion was used like the eye of the mind, &c. Shakspeare's metaphor is of a much humbler kind. He was evidently thinking of the “ eye of a needle.” Undo
And welcome home again discarded faith.
to recompense the pains you take,
Sal. May this be possible ? may this be true ?
Mel. Have I not hideous death within my view, Retaining but a quantity of life; Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire ? ? What in the world should make me now deceive, Since I must lose the use of all deceit ? Why should I then be false; since it is true That I must die here, and live hence by truth? I say again, if Lewis do win the day, He is forsworn, if e'er those eyes of yours Behold another day break in the east : (says Melun to the English nobles) what you have done ; desert the rebellious project in which you have engaged. In Coriolanus we have a kindred expression :
“They would not thread the gates." Our author is not always careful that the epithet which he applies to a figurative term should answer on both sides. Rude'is applicable to rebellion, but not to eye. He means, in fact, the eye of rude rebellion. MALONE.
• He means -] The Frenchman, i. e. Lewis, means, &c. See Melun's next speech : " If Lewis do win the day"
MALONE. 7 ResolvETH, &c.] i. e. dissolveth. So, in Hamlet :
“ Thaw and resolve itself into a dew." MALONE. This is said in allusion to the images made by witches. Holinshed observes, that it was alledged against dame Eleanor Cobham and her confederates, “that they had devised "an image of wax," representing the king, which, by their sorcerie, by little and little consumed, intending thereby, in conclusion, to waste and destroy the king's person." STEEVENS.
even as a FORM OF WAX
But even this night,—whose black contagious
breath Already smokes about the burning crest Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire; Paying the fine of rated treachery •, Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives, If Lewis by your assistance win the day. Commend me to one Hubert, with your king; The love of him,--and this respect besides, For that my grandsire was an Englishman, Awakes my conscience to confess all this. In lieu whereof, I pray you, bear me hence From forth the noise and rumour of the field ; Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts In peace, and part this body and my soul With contemplation and devout desires.
Sal. We do believe thee,-And beshrew my soul But I do love the favour and the form Of this most fair occasion, by the which We will untread the steps of damned flight ; And, like a bated and retired flood, Leaving our rankness and irregular course', Stoop low within those bounds we have o'erlook’d, And calmly run on in obedience, Even to our ocean, to our great king John.My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence;
RATED treachery,] It were easy to change rated to hated, for an easier meaning, but rated suits better with fine. The Dauphin has rated your treachery, and set upon it a fine, which your lives must pay. Johnson.
9 For that my grandsire was an Englishman ] This line is taken from the old play, printed in quarto, in 1591. MALONE. Leaving our RANKNESS and irregular course,]
Rank, as applied to water, here signifies exuberant, ready to overflow: as applied to the actions of the speaker and his party, it signifies inordinate. So, in our author's Venus and Adonis :
“ Rain added to a river that is rank,
For I do see the cruel pangs of death
[Exeunt, leading off Melun.
The Same. The French Camp.
Enter LEWIS and his Train. Lew. The sun of heaven, methought, was loath
to set; But stay'd, and made the western welkin blush, When the English measur'd 4 backward their own
In faint retire: 0, bravely came we off,
2 Right in thine eye.] This is the old reading. Right signifies immediate. It is now obsolete. Some commentators would read-pight, i. e. pitched as a tent is; others, “ Fight in thine eye." STEVENS.
3 — happy newness, &c.] Happy innovation, that purposed the restoration of the ancient rightful government. JOHNSON.
4 When the English Measur'd-] Old copy-When English measure, &c. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE. s — tatter'd -] For tatter'd, the folio reads, tottering.
Johnson. Tattering, which, in the spelling of our author's time, was tottering, is used for tatter'd. The active and passive participles are employed by him very indiscriminately. MALONE.
It is remarkable through such old copies of our author as I have hitherto seen, that wherever the modern editors read tatter'd, the old editions give us totter'd in its room. Perhaps the present broad pronunciation, almost peculiar to the Scots, was at that time common to both nations.
So, in Marlowe's King Edward II. 1598: