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Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
Foretell the ending of mortality.


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


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I am the cygnet to this pale, faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death;
And, from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.


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.

P. Hen.

How fares your majesty?

K. John. Poisoned,-ill fare; dead, forsook, cast off; And none of you will bid the winter come, To thrust his icy fingers in my maw; Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course Through my burned bosom; nor entreat the north To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips, And comfort me with cold.-I do not ask you much; I beg cold comfort: and you are so strait,' And so ingrateful, you deny me that.

P. Hen. O that there were some virtue in my tears, That might relieve you! K. John.

The salt in them is hot.Within me is a hell; and there the poison Is, as a fiend, confined to tyrannize On unreprievable, condemned blood.

Enter the Bastard.

Bast. O, I am scalded with my violent emotion, And spleen of speed to see your majesty.

K. John. O, cousin, thou art come to set mine eye. The tackle of my heart is cracked and burned; And all the shrouds, wherewith my life should sail, Are turned to one thread, one little hair: My heart hath one poor string to stay it by, Which holds but till thy news be uttered; And then all this thou seest, is but a clod, And module2 of confounded royalty.

Bast. The dauphin is preparing hitherward; Where, Heaven he knows, how we shall answer him; For, in a night, the best part of my power,

As I upon advantage did remove,

Were in the washes, all unwarily,
Devoured by the unexpected flood.3 [The King dies.

1 Narrow, avaricious.

2 Module and model were only different modes of spelling the same word. Model signified, not an archetype, after which something was to be formed, but the thing formed after an archetype, a copy. Bullokar, in his Expositor, 1616, explains "model, the platform, or form of any thing."

3 This untoward accident really happened to king John himself. As he passed from Lynn to Lincolnshire, he lost, by an inundation, all his treasure, carriages, baggage, and regalia.

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Sal. You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear. My liege! my lord!-But now a king,-now thus.

P. Hen. Even so must I run on, and even so stop. What surety of the world, what hope, what stay, When this was now a king, and now is clay!

Bast. Art thou gone so? I do but stay behind,
To do the office for thee of revenge;

And then my soul shall wait on thee to heaven,
As it on earth hath been thy servant still.-
Now, now, you stars, that move in your right spheres,
Where be your powers? Show now your mended faiths;
And instantly return with me again,

And brings from him such offers of our peace

As we with honor and respect may take,
With purpose presently to leave this war.

Bast. He will the rather do it, when he sees
Ourselves well sinewed to our defence.

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To push destruction and perpetual shame
Out of the weak door of our fainting land.
Straight let us seek, or straight we shall be sought;
The dauphin rages at our very heels.

Sal. It seems you know not then so much as we. The cardinal Pandulph is within at rest,

Who half an hour since came from the dauphin;

Sal. Nay, it is in a manner done already;
For many carriages he hath despatched
To the seaside, and put his cause and quarrel
To the disposing of the cardinal;

With whom yourself, myself, and other lords,
you think meet, this afternoon will post
To consummate this business happily.


Bast. Let it be so;—and you, my noble prince,
With other princes that may best be spared,
Shall wait upon your father's funeral.

P. Hen. At Worcester must his body be interred; For so he willed it.

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1 In crastino S. Lucæ Johannes Rex Angliæ in castro de Newark obiit, et sepultus est in ecclesia Wigorniensi inter corpora S. Oswaldi et sancti [Wolstani] Chronic. sive Annal. Prioratus de Dunstable, edit. a T. Hearne, t. i. p. 173. A stone coffin, containing the body of king John, was discovered in the cathedral church of Worcester, July 17, 1797.



Thither shall it then.

And happily may your sweet self put on
The lineal state and glory of the land!
To whom, with all submission, on my knee,
I do bequeath my faithful services

And true subjection everlastingly.

Sal. And the like tender of our love we make,

To rest without a spot for evermore.

P. Hen. I have a kind soul, that would give you thanks,

And knows not how to do it, but with tears.

Bast. O, let us pay the time but needful woe, Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs.1 This England never did (nor never shall) Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror, But when it first did help to wound itself. Now these her princes are come home again, Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue, If England to itself do rest but true.


1 "As previously we have found sufficient cause for lamentation, let us not waste the time in superfluous sorrow."


THE tragedy of King John, though not written with the utmost power of Shakspeare, is varied with a very pleasing interchange of incidents and characters. The lady's grief is very affecting; and the character of the Bastard contains that mixture of greatness and levity which this author delighted to exhibit. JOHNSON.

To these remarks of Johnson, it may be added, that the grief of Constance for the loss of Arthur is probably indebted for much of its characteristic truth to the calamity which Shakspeare had himself sustained, by the death of his only son, who had attained the age of twelve, and died the year this play was produced.


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In the construction of this play, Shakspeare has followed Holinshed, fus usual historical authority. Some passages of the Chronicle are transplanted into the drama with very little alteration.

It has been suspected that there was an old play on the subject of King Richard II. which the Poet might have seen. Sir Gillie Merrick, who was concerned in the harebrained business of the earl of Essex, is accused of having procured to be played before the conspirators "the play of the deposing of Richard the Second: when it was told him by one of the players that the play was old, and they should have loss in playing it, because few would come to it, there was forty shillings extraordinary given to play, and so thereupon played it was!" It seems probable, from a passage in the State Trials, quoted by Mr. Tyrwhitt, that this old play bore the title of King Henry IV., and not King Richard II., and it could not be Shakspeare's King Henry IV., as that commences a year after the death of King Richard. "It may seem strange (says Malone) that this old play should have been represented after Shakspeare's drama on the same subject had been printed. The reason undoubtedly was, that, in the old play, the deposing of King Richard II. made a part of the exhibition; but in the first edition of Shakspeare's play, one hundred and fifty-four lines, describing a kind of trial of the king, and his actual deposition in parliament, were omitted; nor was it probably represented on the stage. Merrick, Cuffe, and the rest of Essex's train, naturally preferred the play in which his deposition was represented, their plot not aiming at the life of the queen. It is, I know, commonly thought that the parliament scene, as it is called, which was first printed in the 4to of 1608, was an addition made by Shakspeare to this play after its first representation; but it seems to me more probable that it was written with the rest, and suppressed in

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