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K. John. Withhold thy speed, dreadful occasion! O, make a league with me, 'till I have pleas’dMy discontented peers !-What! mother dead? How wildly then walks my estate in France ? Under whose conduct came those powers of France, That, thou for truth giv'it out, are landed here?
Mes. Under the Dauphin.
Enter Faulconbridge and Peter of Pomfret. K. John. Thou hast made me giddy With these ill tidings.-Now, what says the world To your proceedings ? do not seek to stuff My head with more ill news, for it is full.
Faulc. But, if you be afeard to hear the worst, Then let the worst, unheard, fall on your head.
K. John. Bear with me, cousin; for I was amaz'd Under the tide: but now I breathe again Aloft the flood; and can give audience To
any tongue, speak it of what it will. Faulc. How I have sped among the clergymen, The sums I have collected fhall express. But, as I travell’d hither through the land, I find the people strangely fantasy'd ; Poffefs'd with rumours, full of idle dreams; Not knowing what they fear, but full of fear : And here's a prophet, that I brought with me From forth the streets of Pomfret, whom I found With many hundreds treading on his heels; To whom he sung, in rude harsh-sounding rhimes, That, ere the next Ascension-day at noon, Your highness should deliver up your crown.
K. John. Thou idle dreamer, wherefore did'st thou
Peter. Fore-knowing that the truth will fall out so. K. Fohn. Hubert, away with him; imprison him; And on that day at noon, whereon, he says, I fall yield up my crown, let him be hang’d:
Deliver him to safety ?, and return,
[Exit Hubert, with Peter. Hear'st thou the news abroad, who are arriv'd? Faulc. The French, my lord; men's mouths are
full of it :
K. John. Gentle kinsman, go,
Faulc. I will feek them out.
before. 0, let me have no subject enemies, When adverie foreigners affright my towns With dreadful pomp of ftout invasion! Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels; And fly, like thought, from them to me again. Fauli. The spirit of the time shall teach me speed.
[Exit, K. John. Spoke like a sprightful'noble gentleman. Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need Some messenger betwixt me and the peers ; And be thou he.
Mes. With all my heart, my liege. [Exit. K. John. My mnother dead!
Re-enter Hubert. Hub. My lord, they say, 3 five moons were feen to-night :
Four Deliver him to safety, ] That is, Give him into safe custody. JOHNSON.
-five moons were seen to-night, &c.] This incident is
Four fixed ; and the fifth did whirl about
K. John. Five moons ?
Hub. Old men, and beldams, in the streets Do prophesy upon it dangerously : Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths : And when they talk of him, they fhake their heads, And whisper one another in the ear; And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist ; Whilst he, that hears, makes fearful action With wrinkled brows, with nods, with rolling eyes. I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus, The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool, With open mouth fwallowing a taylor's news ; Who, with his fhears and measure in his hand, Standing on Nippers (which his nimble haste 4 Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet)
Told mentioned by few of our historians : I have met with it no where, but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a sinall alteration. These kind of appearances were more common about that time, than either before or since. GRAY.
This incident is likewise mentioned in the spurious copy of the play. STEVENS.
Slippers (which his nimble hafle Had falsely thrust upon coåtrary feet)] I know not how the commentators understand this important parfage, which in Dr. Warburton's edition is marked as eminently beautiful, and, on the whole, not without justice. But Shakespeare seems to have confounded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is frighted or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems to be disturbed by the disorder which he describes.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson forgets that ancient Nippers might possibly be very different from modern ones. Scott in his Discoverie of Witchcraft
" He that receiveth a mischance, will consider, whether he
put not on his Thirt the wrong side outwards, or his left shoe on his right foot.” One of the jests of Scogan by Andrew Borde, is how he defrauded two shoemakers, one
of a right foot boot, and the other of a left foot one.
And Davies in one of his epigrams, compares a man to soft-knit kofe that serves each leg.
tells us :
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
voke me? K. John. It is the curse of kings", to be attended
In the Fleire, 1615, is the following paffage : “ ---This fellow is like your upright fhoe, he will serve either foot.” From this we may infer that some shoes could only be worn on that foot for which they were made. And Barrett in his Alvearie, 1580, as an instance of the word wrong, says: “ to put on his jooes wrong.” Again, in A merye Jest of a Man that was called Howice glas, bl. 1. no date : Howleglas had cut all the lether for the lefte foote. Then when his master sawe all his lether cut for the lefte foote, then asked he Howleglas if there belonged not to the lefte foote a right foote. Then fayd Howleglas to his maister, If that he had tolde that to me before, I would have cut them, but an it please you I shall cut as mani right shoone unto them.” STEEVENS.
See Martin's Defcription of the Western Islands of Scotland, 1703, p. 207 : “ The generality now only wear shoes having one thin fole only, and shaped after the right and left foot, so that what is for one foot will not ferve the other.” The meaning seems to be, that the extremities of the shoes were not round or square, but were cut in an oblique angle, or aslant from the great toe to the
See likewise, the Philosophical Transactions abridged, vol. III. p. 432, and vol. VII. p. 23, where are exhibited shoes and sandals shaped to the feet, spreading more to the outside than the inside. TOLLET.
$ It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davison's cafe, in the affair of Mary queen of Scots, and so must have been inserted long after the first representation. WARBURTON.
That the allufion mentioned by Dr. Warburton, was intended by Shakespeare, is highly probable. But why need we suppose this passage added after the piece was finished? The queen
of Scots was beheaded in 1587, fome years, according to the best account, before our author had produced any play on the stage.
By flaves, that take their humours for a warrant
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did.
Hub. My lord,
Quoted,–] . e. observed, distinguish’d. So, in Hamlet :
“ I am sorry, that with better heed and judgment
" I had not quoted him." STEEVENS. ? Hadft thou but shook thy head, &c.] There are many
touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches vented against Hu bert are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of a crime, and desirous of discharging its misery on another.
This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipfis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he fays, that to have bid him tell his tale in exprefs words, would have firuck him dumb; nothing is more certain, Vol. V. H