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Bast. Show me the very wound of this ill news; I am no woman; I'll not swoon at it.
Hub. The king, I fear, is poisoned by a monk.'
Bast. How did he take it? Who did taste to him? Hub. A monk, I tell you ; a resolved villain, Whose bowels suddenly burst out.
The king Yet speaks, and, peradventure, may recover.
Bast. Who didst thou leave to lend his majesty?
Bast. Withhold thine indignation, mighty Heaven,
SCENE VII. The Orchard of Swinstead Abbey.
Enter Prince Henry,' SALISBURY, and Bigot.
P. Hen. It is too late; the life of all his blood Is touched corruptibly; and his pure brain (Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling-house)
1 Not one of the historians who wrote within sixty years of the event, mentions this improbable story. The tale is, that a monk, to revenge himself on the king for a saying at which he took offence, poisoned a cup of ale, and having brought it to his majesty, drank some of it himself, to induce the king to taste it, and soon afterwards expired. Thomas Wylkes is the first who mentions it in his Chronicle as a report. According to the best accounts, John died at Newark, of a fever.
? i. e. less speedily, after some delay.
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes,
P. Hen. "Let him be brought into the orchard here. Doth he still rage ?
[Exit Bigot. Pem.
He is more patient
P. Hen. O vanity of sickness! fierce extremes,
Sal. Be of good comfort, prince; for you are born
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.
i 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.-1 do not ask
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.-
Enter the Bastard.
K. John. 0, cousin, thou art come to set mine eye.
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. [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.
Sal. You breathe these dead news in as dead an ear.My liege! my lord !But now a king-now thus.
P. Hen. Éven 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, 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 ; And brings from him such offers of our peace As we with honor and respect may take, With
purpose presently to leave this war.
Sal. Nay, it is in a manner done already;
, myself, and other lords, If you think meet, this afternoon will post To consummate this business happily.
Bast. Let it be so ;—and you, my noble prince,
P. Hen. At Worcester must his body be interred ; For so he willed it.
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. Heame, E i. p. 173. A stone coffin, containing the body of king John, was discovered in the cathedral church of Worcester, July 17, 1797. VOL. III.
Thither shall it then.
Sal. And the like tender of our love we make,
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." 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. [Exeunt.
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.
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.