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ANNOTATIONS

ON

KING JOHN.

ACT I. SCENE 1.

Line 5. In my behaviour,] The word behaviour seems here to have a signification that I have never found in any other author. The king of France, says the envoy, thus speaks in my behaviour to the majesty of England; that is, the king of France speaks in the character which I here assume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambassador as part of his master's message, and that behaviour had meant the conduct of the king of France towards the king of England; but the ambassador's speech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning.

JOHNSON, Line 19. -control-] Opposition, from controller. JOHNS.

30. Be thou, as lightning--] The simile does not suit well: the lightning indeed appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is destructive, and the thunder innocent. JOHNSON.

Line 34. Sullen presage-] By the epithet sullen, which cannot be applied to a trumpet, it is plain, that our author's imagination had now suggested a new idea. It is as if he had said, be

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a trumpet to alarm with our invasion, be a bird of ill omen to croak out the prognostick of your own ruin.

JOHNSON. Line 58. and Philip, his bastard brother.] Holinshed says, that Richard I. had a natural son named Philip, who killed the viscount De Limoges to revenge the death of his father.

STEEVENS. In expanding the character of the Bastard, Shakspeare seems to have proceeded on the following slight hint in the original play:

Next them, a bastard of the king's deceas'd,

“ A hardie wild-head, rough, and venturous," MALONE. Line 87. But whe'r- -] i. e. whether.

98. He hath a trick of Cæur-de-lion's face,] Our author often uses this phrase, and generally in the sense of a peculiar air or cast of countenance or feature.

MALONE. Line 140. This concludes,] This is a decisive argument. As your father, if he liked him, could not have been forced to resign him, so, not liking him, he is not at liberty to reject him. Johns.

Line 153. And I had his, sir Robert his, like him ;] This is obscure and ill expressed. The meaning is; If I had his shape-Sir Robert's as he has.

Sir Robert his, for Sir Robert's, is agreeable to the practice of that time, when the 's added to the nominative was believed, I think erroneously, to be a contraction of his.

JOHNSON.
Line 155.

-my face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,

Lest men should say, Look where three-farthings goes ] The allusion is to a silver coin of three-farthings in the reign of Elizabeth which had the impression of a rose on one side, and being extremely thin was liable to be cracked; hence the humour of the passage.

Line 162. I would not be sir Nob-] Sir Nob is used contemptuously for sir Robert.

MALONE. Line 188. Madam, by chance, but not by truth; what though?] I am your grandson, madam, by chance, but not by honesty-what then ?

JOHNSON. Line 190. Something about, a little from the right, &c.] This speech, composed of allusive and proverbial sentences, is obscure. I am, says the sprightly knight, your grandson, a little irregularly, but every man cannot get what he wishes the legal way. He that

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dares not go about his designs by day, must make his motions in the night; he, to whom the door is shut, must climb the window, or leap the hatch. This, however, shall not depress me; for the world never enquires how any man got what he is known to possess, but allows that to hare is to hare however it was caught, and that he who wins, shot well, whatever was his skill, whether the arrow fell near the mark, or far of it.

JOHNSON. Line 191. In at the window, &c.] These expressions mean, to be born out of wedlock.

STEEVENS. Line 203. A foot of honour-] A step, un pas.

JOHNSON. - 209. 'Tis too respective, &c.] i. e. respectful. STEEV. 210.

Now your traveller,] It is said in All's well that ends well, that a traveller is a good thing after dinner. In that age of newly excited curiosity, one of the entertainments at great tables seems to have been the discourse of a traveller. JOHNSON.

Line 211. He and his tooth-pick-] It has been already remarked, that to pick the tooth, and wear a piqued beard, were, in that time, marks of a man affecting foreign fashions. JOHNSON.

Line 211. at my worship's mess;] Means that part of the table, where I, as a knight, shall be placed.

MALONE. Line 214. My picked man of countries :] The word picked may not refer to the beard, but to the shoes, which were once worn of an immoderate length.

STEEVENS. Line 217. Like an ABC-book :] An ABC-book, or, as they spoke and wrote it, absey-book, is a catechism.

JOHNSON. Line 238. But who comes -] Milton, in his tragedy, introduces Delilah with such an interrogatory exclamation. JOHNSON.

Line 240. To blow a horn-] He means, that a woman who travelled about like a post was likely to horn her husband. JOHNS.

Line 253. James Gurney.] Our author found this name in perusing the history of King John, who, not long before his victory at Mirabeau, over the French, headed by young Arthur, seized the lands and castle of Hugh Gorney, near Butevant, in Normandy.

MALONE. Line 260. Colbrand-] Colbrand was a Danish giant, whom Guy of Warwick discomfited in the presence of king Athelstan. The combat is very pompously described by Drayton in his Polyolbion.

JOHNSON. Line 256. Philip ?-sparrow!] Dr. Grey observes, that Skel. ton has a poem to the memory of Philip Sparrow; and Mr. Pope in a short note remarks, that a Sparrow is called Philip. JOHNSON.

Line 257. There's toys abroad, &c.] i. e. idle reports. Steev.

-272. Knight, knight, good mother-Basilico-like :) Faulconbridge's words here carry a concealed piece of satire on a stupid drama of that age, printed in 1599, and called Soliman and Perseda. In this piece there is the character of a bragging cowardly knight, called Basilico. His pretension to valour is so blown and seen through, that Piston, a buffoon-servant in the play, jumps upon his back, and will not disengage bim, till he makes Basilico swear upon his dudgeon dagger to the contents, and in the terms he dictates to him.

THEOBALD. Line 292. Some sins-] There are sins, that, whatever be de. termined of them above, are not much censured on earth. JOHNS.

ACT II. SCENE I. Line 3. Richard, that robb’d, &c.] So Rastal in his Chronicle. It is sayd that a lyon was put to kynge Richard, beynge in prison, to have devoured him, and when the lyon was gapynge he put his arme in his mouth, and pulled the lyon by the harte so hard that he slewe the lyon, and therefore some say he is called Rycharde Cure de Lyon; but some say he is called Cure de Lyon, because of his boldness and hardy stomake.

Dr. GREY. Line 7. At our importance-] At our importunity. JOHNSON.

-24. that pale, that white-fac'd shore,] England is supposed to be called Albion from the white rocks facing France.

JOHNSON. Line 36. To make a more requital, &c.] I believe it has been already observed, that more signified, in our author's time, greater.

STEEVENS. Line 54. A wonder, lady ] The wonder is only that Chattillion happened to arrive at the moment when Constance mentioned him; which the French king, according to a superstition which prevails more or less in every mind agitated by great affairs, turns into a miraculous interposition, or omen of good. JOHNSON, Line 64. expedient-] Immediate, expeditious. JOHNS. -77. Than now the English bottoms have

Waft o’er.] Waft for wafted. 79. scath) Destruction, waste. JOHNSON.

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