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SCENE II.

The Same. A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King John, crowned; PEMBROKE, SALIS

BUÀY, and other Lords. The King takes his
State.
K. John. Here once again we sit, once again

crown'd And look'd upon, I hope, with cheerful eyes. Pem. This once again, but that your highness

pleas'd, 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,

8

once again crown'd,] Old copy—against. Corrected in the fourth folio. MALONE. 9 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.

John's second coronation was at Canterbury, in the year 1201. He was crowned a third time, at the same place, after the murder of his nephew, in April, 1202 ; probably with a view of confirming his title to the throne, his competitor no longer standing in his way. MALONE. TO GUARD a title that was rich before,] To guard, is to fringe.

Johnson.
Rather, to ornament with a border, or lace.
See Measure for Measure, vol. ix. p. 105, n. 6. MALONE.
So, in The Merchant of Venice:

give him a livery
“ More guarded than his fellows.” Steevens.

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.

Pem. 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 consideration;
Makes sound opinion sick, and truth suspected,
For putting on so new a fashion'd robe.
PEM. 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,

3

2

as an ancient tale new told ;] Had Shakspeare been a diligent examiner of his own compositions, he would not so soon have repeated an idea which he had first put into the mouth of the Dauphin:

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,

“ Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man." Mr. Malone has a remark to the same tendency. STEEVENS.

3 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 sin to covet honour,

“ I am the most offending soul alive.” THEOBALD. So, in our author's 1032 Sonnet :

“ Were it not sinful then, striving to mend,

“ To mar the subject that before was well ?” Again, in King Lear :

Striving to better, oft we mar what's well.”. Malone.

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 high

ness To overbear it ; and we are all well pleas'd; Since all and every part of what we would ", Doth make a stand at what your highness will. K. John. Some reasons of this double corona

tion I have possess'd you with, and think them strong; And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,) I shall indue you witho: 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. Pem. Then I, (as one that am the tongue of

these, To sound the purposes of all their hearts,) in hiding of the Fault,] Fault means blemish.

STEEVENS. 5 Since all and every part of what we would,] Since the whole and each particular part of our wishes, &c. MALONE. 6 Some reasons of this double coronation

I have possess’d you with, and think them strong;
And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,)

I shall indue you with:] Mr. Theobald reads—(the lesser is my fear)” which, in the following note, Dr. Johnson has attempted to explain. Steevens.

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. And more, more strong, (when lesser is my fear,) 6 I shall indue

you

with :" The first folio reads :

(then lesser is my fear)." The true reading is obvious enough:

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

STEEVENS. 7 To sound the purposes --] To declare, to publish the desires of all those. Johnson,

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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 rest 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 choke his days
With barbarous ignorance, and deny his youth
The rich advantage of good exercise o

9 ?

8 If, what in Rest 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, &c.] Perhaps we should read :

If, what in wrest you have, in right you hold" i. e. if what you possess by an act of seizure or violence, &c. So again, in this play:

* The imminent decay of wrested pomp.". Wrest is a substantive used by Spenser, and by our author in Troilus and Cressida. STEEVENS.

The emendation proposed by Mr. Steevens is its own voucher. If then and should change places, and a mark of interrogation be placed after exercise, the full sense of the passage will be restored.

HENLEY. Mr. Steevens's reading of wrest is better than his explanation. If adopted, the meaning must be-“If what you possess, or have in your hand, or grasp." RITson.

It is evident that the words should and then have changed their places. M. Mason.

The construction is—If you have a good title to what you now quietly possess, why then should your fears move you, &c.

MALONE. Perhaps this question is elliptically expressed, and meansWhy then is it that your fears should move you,” &c.

STEEVENS. 9 — good exercise ?] In the middle ages, the whole education of princes and noble youths consisted 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 sort of education never entered into the thoughts of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility. Percy.

That the time's enemies may not have this
To 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 your 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 ?
Pem. This is the man should do the bloody

deed; He show'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 show the mood of a much-troubled breast; And I do fearfully believe, 'tis done, What we so fear'd he had a charge to do.

Sal. The colour of the king doth come and go, Between his purpose and his conscience,

* Between his purpose and his conscience,] Between his consciousness of guilt, and his design to conceal it by fair professions. JOHNSON.

Rather, between the criminal act that he planned and commanded to be executed, and the reproaches of his conscience consequent on the execution of it. So, in Coriolanus :

“ It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot." We have nearly the same expressions afterwards : Nay, in the body of this fleshly land, (in John's own

person)
“Hostility, and civil tumult, reigns

« Between my conscience and my cousin's death.Malone. The purpose of the King, which Salisbury alludes to, is that of putting Arthur to death, which he considers as not yet accomplished, and therefore supposes that there might still be a conflict, in the King's mind

“ Between his purpose and his conscience.”
So, when Salisbury sees the dead body of Arthur, he says-

“ It is the shameful work of Hubert's hand;
“ The practice and the purpose of the king." M. Mason.

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