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KING JOHN.

ACT I. SCENE I.

Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace.

Enter King JOHN, Queen ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and Others, with CHA

TILLON.

K. JOHN. Now, fay, Chatillon, what would France with us?

CHAT. Thus, after greeting, fpeaks the king of France,

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In my behaviour,' to the majesty,

The borrow'd majesty of England here.

In my behaviour,] The word behaviour feems here to have a fignification that I have never found in any other author. The king of France, fays the envoy, thus fpeaks in my behaviour to the majesty of England; that is, the King of France speaks in the character which I here affume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambaffador, as part of his mafter's meffage, and that behaviour had meant the conduct of the King of France towards the King of England; but the ambaffador's fpeech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning, JOHNSON. behaviour means, in the manner that I now do. M. MASON, behaviour means, I think, in the words and action that I am now going to use. So, in the fifth Act of this play, the Baftard fays to the French king

In my

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Now hear our English king,

"For thus his royalty doth speak in me." MALONE,

ELI. A ftrange beginning;-borrow'd majesty!
K. JOHN. Silence, good mother; hear the embaffy.
CHAT. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's fon,
Arthur Plantagenet, lays moft lawful claim
To this fair ifland, and the territories;

To Ireland, Poitiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine:
Defiring thee to lay afide the sword,

Which fways ufurpingly these several titles;
And put the fame into young Arthur's hand,
Thy nephew, and right royal fovereign.

K. JOHN. What follows, if we difallow of this?

CHAT. The proud control of fierce and bloody

war,

To enforce these rights fo forcibly withheld.

K. JOHN. Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment: fo answer France.3

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control-] Oppofition, from controller. JOHNSON. I think it rather means constraint or compulfion. So, in the fecond Act of King Henry V. when Exeter demands of the King of France the furrender of his crown, and the King anfwers-" Or else what follows?" Exeter replies:

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Bloody confiraint; for if you hide the crown "Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it.' The paffages are exactly fimilar. M. MASON.

3 Here have we war for war, and blood for blood,

Controlment for controlment ; &c.] King John's reception of Chatillon not a little resembles that which Andrea meets with from the King of Portugal, in the firft part of Jeronimo, &c. 1605:

"And. Thou fhalt pay tribute, Portugal, with blood.-"Bal. Tribute for tribute then; and foes for foes. "And. -I bid you fudden wars." STEEVENS. Jeronimo was exhibited on the stage before the year 1590.

MALONE.

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CHAT. Then take my king's defiance from my

mouth,

The furtheft limit of my embaffy.

K. JOHN. Bear mine to him, and fo depart in peace:

Be thou as lightning 4 in the eyes of France;

From the following paffage in Barnabie Googe's Cupido conquered, (dedicated with his other poems, in May, 1562, and printed in 1563,) Jeronymo appears to have been written earlier than the earliest of these dates:

"Mark hym that fhowes ye Tragedies,

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Thyne owne famylyar frende,

By whom ye Spaniard's hawty Style
"In Englyfh verfe is pende."

B. Googe had already founded the praises of Phaer and Gaf coigne, and is here defcanting on the merits of Kyd.

It is not impoffible (though Ferrex and Porrex was acted in 1561) that Hieronymo might have been the first regular tragedy that appeared in an English drefs.

It may also be remarked, that B. Googe, in the foregoing lines, feems to speak of a tragedy "in English verfe" as a novelty. STEEVENS.

4 Be thou as lightning-] The fimile does not suit well: the lightning, indeed, appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is deftructive, and the thunder innocent.

JOHNSON.

The allufion may, notwithstanding, be very proper, fo far as Shakspeare had applied it, i..e. merely to the fwiftness of the lightning, and its preceding and foretelling the thunder. But there is fome reason to believe that thunder was not thought to be innocent in our author's time, as we elsewhere learn from himself. See King Lear, A&t III. fc. ii. Antony and Cleopatra, A& II. fc. v. Julius Cæfar, A&t I. fc. iii. and ftill more decifively in Meafure for Meafure, A&t II. fc. ii. This old fuperftition is ftill prevalent in many parts of the country.

RITSON.

King John does not allude to the deftructive powers either of thunder or lightning; he only means to fay, that Chatillon fhall appear to the eyes of the French like lightning, which shows that thunder is approaching: and the thunder he alludes to is that of his cannon. Johnfon alfo forgets, that though, philofophically speaking, the destructive power is in the lightning, it

For ere thou canft report I will be there,
The thunder of my cannon fhall be heard:
So, hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath,
And fullen prefage 5 of your own decay.-
An honourable conduct let him have:
Pembroke, look to't: Farewell, Chatillon.

[Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE.

ELI. What now, my fon? have I not ever faid, How that ambitious Conftance would not ceafe, Till fhe had kindled France, and all the world, Upon the right and party of her fon?

This might have been prevented, and made whole, With very eafy arguments of love;

Which now the manage of two kingdoms muft With fearful bloody iffue arbitrate.

bas generally, in poetry, been attributed to the thunder. So, Lear fays:

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You fulphurous and thought-executing fires, "Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

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Singe my white head!" M. MASON.

fullen prefage-] By the epithet fullen, which cannot be applied to a trumpet, it is plain that our author's imagination had now fuggefted a new idea. It is as if he had faid, be a trumpet to alarm with our invafion, be a bird of ill omen to croak out the prognoftick of your own ruin. JOHNSON.

I do not fee why the epithet fullen may not be applied to a trumpet, with as much propriety as to a bell. In our author's King Henry IV. P. II. we find

MALONE.

"Sounds ever after as a fullen bell." That here are two ideas is evident; but the fecond of them has not been luckily explained. The fullen prefage of your own decay, means, the difmal paffing bell, that announces your own approaching diffolution. STEEVENS.

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the manage-] i. e. conduct, adminiftration. So, in King Richard II:

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for the rebels

"Expedient manage must be made, my liege."

STEEVENS.

K. JOHN. Our ftrong poffeffion, and our right,

for us.

ELI. Your ftrong poffeffion, much more than
your right;

Or else it must go wrong with you, and me:
So much my confcience whispers in your ear;
Which none but heaven, and you, and I, fhall hear.

Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whifpers ESSEX.7

ESSEX. My liege, here is the ftrangest contro

verfy,

Come from the country to be judg'd by you,
That e'er I heard: Shall I produce the men?

K. JOHN. Let them approach.— [Exit Sheriff.
Our abbies, and our priories, fhall pay

Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and PHILIP, his baftard Brother.8

This expedition's charge.-What men are you?

7 Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, &c.] This ftage direction I have taken from the old quarto. STEEVENS.

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and Philip, his baftard Brother.] Though Shakspeare adopted this character of Philip Faulconbridge from the old play, it is not improper to mention that it is compounded of two diftinct perfonages.

Matthew Paris fays: "Sub illius temporis curriculo, Falcafius de Brente, Neufterienfis, et fpurius ex parte matris, atque Baftardus, qui in vili jumento manticato ad Regis paulo ante clientelam defcenderat," &c.

Matthew Paris, in his Hiftory of the Monks of St. Albans, calls him Falce, but in his General History, Falcafius de Brente, as above.

Holinfhed fays that "Richard I. had a natural fon named

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