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And teaches me to kill or hang myself :
Const. To England, if you will '.
3 Bind up those tresses :] It was necessary that Constance should be interrupted, because a passion so violent cannot be borne long. I wish the following speeches had been equally happy; but they only serve to show how difficult it is to maintain the pathetick long. Johnson.
- wiry FRIENDS —] The old copy reads—wiry fiends. Wiry is an adjective used by Heywood, in his Silver Age, 1613 :
“ My vassal furies, with their wiery strings,
66 Shall lash thee hence." STEEVENS. Mr. Pope made the emendation. MALONE.
Fiends is obviously a typographical error. As the epithet wiry is here attributed to hair ; so, in another description, the hair of Apollo supplies the office of wire. In The Instructions to the Commissioners for the Choice of a Wife for Prince Arthur, it is directed “ to note the eye-browes ” of the young Queen of Naples, (who, after the death of Arthur, was married to Henry VIII, and divorced by him for the sake of Anna Bulloygn). They answer, “Her browes are of a browne heare, very small, like a wyre of heare.” Thus also, Gascoigne :
• First for her head, her hairs were not of gold,
HENLEY. s To England, if you will.] Neither the French king nor Pandulph has said a word of England since the entry of Constance. Perhaps, therefore, in despair, she means to address the absent King John : "Take my son to England, if you will ;"
Bind up your hairs. Const. Yes, that I will; And wherefore will I
do it ? I tore them from their bonds; and cried aloud, O that these hands could so redeem my son, As they have given these hairs their liberty ! But now I envy at their liberty, And will again commit them to their bonds, Because my poor child is a prisoner.And, father cardinal, I have heard you say, That we shall see and know our friends in heaven : If that be true, I shall see my boy again ; For, since the birth of Cain, the first male child, To him that did but yesterday suspireo, There was not such a gracious creature born?.
now that he is in your power, I have no prospect of seeing him again. It is, therefore, of no consequence to me where he is.
Malone. 6- but yesterday SUSPIRE] To suspire, in Shakspeare, I believe, only means to breathe. So, in King Henry IV. Part II. :
“ Did he suspire, that light and weightless down
“ Perforce must move." Again, in a Copy of Verses prefixed to Thomas Powell's Passionate Poet, 1601 :
“ Beleeve it, I suspire no fresher aire,
STEEVENS. GRACIOUS creature born.] Gracious, i. e. graceful. So, in Albion's Triumph, a Masque, 1631: “-on the which (the freeze) were festoons of several fruits in their natural colours, on which, in gracious postures, lay children sleeping."
Again, in the same piece: “ — they stood about him, not in set ranks, but in several gracious postures.” Again, in Chapman's version of the eighteenth Iliad :
then tumbled round, and tore, “ His gracious curles." STEEVENS. A passage quoted by Mr. Steevens from Marston's Malcontent, 1604, induces me to think that gracious likewise, in our author's time, included the idea of beauty : - he is the most exquisite in forging of veins, spright'ning of eyes,-sleeking of skinnes, blushing of cheeks, ---blanching and bleaching of teeth, that ever made an ould lady gracious by torch-light.” MALONE.
But now will canker sorrow eat my bud,
Pand. You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
Const. He talks to me, that never had a son : K. Phi. You are as fond of grief, as of your
child. Const. Grief fills the room up of my absent
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
[Tearing off her head-dress. 8 He talks to me, that never had a son.] To the same purpose Macduff observes
" He has no children.” This thought occurs also in King Henry VI. Part III.
STEEVENS. 9 Grief fills the room up
Lucan, lib. ix. Maynard, a French poet, has the same thought :
Qui me console, excite ma colere,
Et le repos est un bien que je crains :
Il me tient lieu de celle que je plains. "Malone.
I could give better comfort - ] This is a sentiment which great sorrow always dictates. Whoever cannot help himself casts his eyes on others for assistance, and often mistakes their inability for coldness. Johnson.
When there is such disorder in my wit.
[Exit. Lew. There's nothing in this world, can make
me joy ? : Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale", Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man; And bitter shame hath spoild the sweet words
taste, That it yields naught, but shame, and bitterness.
Pand. Before the curing of a strong disease,
2 There's nothing in this, &c.] The young prince feels his defeat with more sensibility than his father. Shame operates most strongly in the earlier years; and when can disgrace be less welcome than when a man is going to his bride ? Johnson.
3 Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,] Our author here, and in another play, seems to have had the 90th Psalm in his thoughts. “ For when thou art angry, all our days are gone, we bring our years to an end, as it were a tale that is told.”' So again, in Macbeth : “ Life's but a walking shadow ;
it is a tale
“ Signifying nothing." Malone.
the sweet words taste,] The sweet word is life ; which, says the speaker, is no longer sweet, yielding now nothing but shame and bitterness. Mr. Pope, with some plausibility, but certainly without necessity, reads" the sweet world's taste."
MALONE. I prefer Mr. Pope's reading, which is sufficiently justified by the following passage in Hamlet :
“How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
“ Seem to me all the uses of this world ! " Our present rage for restoration from ancient copies may induce some of our readers to exclaim, with Virgil's Shepherd :
Claudite jam rivos, pueri, sat prata biberunt. Steevens.
What have you lost by losing of this day?
Lew. All days of glory, joy, and happiness.
Pand. If you have won it, certainly, you had. No, no: when fortune means to men most good, She looks upon them with a threatening eye. 'Tis strange, to think how much king John hath
lost In this which he accounts so clearly won : Are not you griev'd, that Arthur is his prisoner ?
Lew. As heartily, as he is glad he hath him. Pand. Your mind is all as youthful as your
blood. Now hear me speak, with a prophetick spirit; For even the breath of what I mean to speak Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub, Out of the path which shall directly lead Thy foot to England's throne ; and, therefore,
mark. John hath seiz'd Arthur; and it cannot be, That, whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins, The misplac'd John should entertain an hour, One minute, nay, one quiet breath of rest : A scepter, snatch'd with an unruly hand, Must be as boisterously maintain'd as gain'd: And he, that stands upon a slippery place, Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up: That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall; So be it, for it cannot be but so. Lew. But what shall I gain by young Arthur's
fall ? PAND. You, in the right of lady Blanch your
wife, May then make all the claim that Arthur did.
LEW. And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did. PAND. How green you are, and fresh in this old
s How green, &c.] Hall, in his Chronicle of Richard III.