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The court of England. Enter King John, Pembroke, Salisbury, and other lords.

K. John. Here once again we sit, once again crown'd,
And look'd upon, I hope, with chearful eyes.
Pemb. 7 This once again, but that your highness

Was once superfluous: you were crown'd before,
And that high royalty was ne'er pluck'd off;
The faiths of men ne'er stained with revolt;
Fresh expectation troubled not the land,
With any long’d-for change, or better state.

Sal. Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
: To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,"
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess.

Pemb, But that your royal pleasure must be done,
This act is as an ancient tale new told;
And, in the last repeating, troublesome,
Being urged at a time unseasonable,

Sal. In this, the antique and well-noted face
Of plain old form is much disfigured:
And, like a shifted wind unto a sail,
It makes the course of thoughts to fetch about ;
Startles and frights confideration;

7 This once again,

was once superfluous :) This one time more was one time more than enough. Johnson.

It should be remembered that king John was at present crowned for the fourth time. STEEVENS. 8 To guard a title that was rich before,] To guard, is to fringe.




Makes found opinion fick, and truth suspected,
For putting on so new a fashion'd robe.

Pemb. When workmen strive to do better than well,
They do confound their skill in covetousness:
And, oftentimes, excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse ;
As patches, set upon a little breach,
Discredit more ? in hiding of the fault,
Than did the fault before it was so patch’d.

Sal. To this effect, before you were new-crown'd, We breath'd our counsel : but it pleas'd your highnefs To over-bear it; and we are all well pleas’d; Since all and every part of what we would, Must make a stand at what your highness will.

K. John. * Some reasons of this double coronation I have possess’d you with, and think them strong; And more, more strong (when lefser is my fear) 4

They do confound their skill in covetousness :) i. e. Not by their avarice, but in an eager emulation, an intense desire of excelling; as in Henry V:

But if it be a fin to covet honour,
“ I am the most offending soul alive.” THEOBALD.

-in hiding of the fault,
Than did the fault

-- -]
We shouid read flaw in both places. WAR BURTON,
The old reading is the true one. Fault means blemish.

3 Some reasons of this double coronation
I have polleft you with, and think them strong;
And more, more strong (the leffer is my fear)
I shall endue you with:

] I have told you some reasons, in my opinion strong, and shall tell more yet stronger ; for the stronger my reasons are, the less is my fear of your disapprobation. This seems to be the meaning. Johnson.

4 And more, more strong, (the lesser is my fear)

I shall endue you with : -] The first folio reads :

(then leser is my fear) The present text is given according to Theobald, whose reading I cannot understand, though the true one is obvious enough:

(when lesser is my fear) TYRWHITT. I have done this reading the justice to place it in the text.


I shall


I shall endue you with : Mean time, but ask
What you would have reform'd, that is not well;
And well shall you perceive, how willingly
I will both hear and grant you your requests.

Pemb. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of these,
s To found the purposes of all their hearts)
Both for myself and them (but, chief of all,
Your safety, for the which myself and them
Bend their best studies) heartily request
The enfranchisement of Arthur; whose restraint
Doth move the murmuring lips of discontent
To break into this dangerous argument,
If, what in reft you have, in right you hold,
Why then your fears (which, as they say, attend
The steps of wrong) should move you to mew up
Your tender kinsman, and to choak his days
With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
The rich advantage of good exercise :
That the time's enemies may not have this

grace occasions, let it be our suit,
That you have bid us ask his liberty;
Which for our goods we do no further ask,
Than whereupon our weal, on you depending,
Counts it your weal, he have his liberty.

K. John. Let it be so; I do commit his youth

Enter Hubert. To your direction. ---Hubert, what news with you?

Pemb. This is the man should do the bloody deed;

s To found the purposes---) To declare, to publish the defires of all those. Johnson.

-good exercise :] In the middle ages the whole education of princes and noble youths confifted in martial exercises, &c. These could not be easily had in a prison, where mental improvements might have been afforded as well as any where else; but this fort of education never entered into the thoughts of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility. Percy,


He shew'd his warrant to a friend of mine :
The image of a wicked heinous fault
Lives in his eye; that close aspect of his
Does shew the mood of a much-troubled breast;
And I do fearfully believe, 'tis done,
What we só fear'd he had a charge to do.

Sal. The colour of the king doth come and go,
Between his purpose and his conscience",
Like heralds 'twixt two dreadful battles set ::
His paffion is so ripe, it needs must break.

Pemb. And, when it breaks!, I fear, will iffue thence The foul corruption of a sweet child's death.

K. John. We cannot hold mortality's strong hand:Good lords, although my will to give is living, The suit which you demand is gone and dead; He tells us, Arthur is deceas’d to-night.

Sal. Indeed, we fear’d, his fickness was past cure.

Pemb. Indeed, we heard how near his death he was, Before the child himself felt he was sick: This must be answer'd, either here, or hence. K. John. Why do you bend such solemn brows on

me? Think you, I bear the shears of destiny ? Have I commandment on the pulse of life?

Sal. It is apparent foul-play; and 'tis shame, That greatness should so grossly offer it :

? Between his purpose and his conscience,] Between his conscioufa ness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions.

Johnson. Like heralds 'trvixt two dreadful battles set :) But heralds are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of battle ; though they, and trumpets, are often fent over from party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have therefore ventured to read, fent. THEOBALD.

This Dr. Warburton has followed without much advantage; fet is not fixed, but only placed; heralds must be set between battles in order to be sent between them. Johnson.

9 And, when it breaks, -] This is but an indelicate metaphor, taken from an impostumated tumour. Johnson,


poor child,

So thrive it in your game! and so farewel.
Pemb. Stay yet, lord Salisbury; I'll


with thee,
And find the inheritance of this
His little kingdom of a forced grave.
That blood, which ow'd the breadth of all this isle,
Three foot of it doth hold; Bad world the while !
This must not be thus borne : this will break out
To all our sorrows, and ere long, I doubt. (Exeunt.

K. John. They burn in indignation ; I' repent :
There is no sure foundation set on blood;
No certain life atchiev'd by others' death.

Enter a Messenger.
A fearful eye thou haft; Where is that blood,
That I have seen inhabit in those cheeks?
So foul a sky clears not without a storm:
Pour down thy weather :-How goes all in France ?
Mes. From France to England'. -Never such a

For any foreign preparation,
Was levy'd in the body of a land!

copy of your speed is learn’d by them; For, when you should be told they do prepare, The tidings come, that they are all arriv'd.

K. John. O, where hath our intelligence been drunk?
Where hath it fept? Where is my mother's care;
That such an army could be drawn in France,
And she not hear of it ?

Mef. My liege, her ear
Is stopt with duft; the first of April, dy'd
Your noble mother : And, as I hear, my lord,
The lady Constance in a frenzy dy'd
Three days before : but this from rumour's tongue
I idly heard; if true, or false, I know not.

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* From France to England. The king afks boru all goes in France, the messenger catches the word goes, and answers, that whatever is in France goes now into England. Johnson.

K. Johan

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