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Quoted, and sign'd, to do a deed of shame,
This murder had not come into my mind:
But, taking note of thy abhorr❜d aspéct,
Finding thee fit for bloody villainy,
Apt, liable, to be employ'd in danger,
I faintly broke with thee of Arthur's death;
And thou, to be endeared to a king,
Made it no conscience to destroy a prince.
HUB. My lord,-

K. JOHN. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a pause,

When I spake darkly what I purposed;

Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face',
And bid me tell my tale in express words;




Quoted,] i. e. observed, distinguished. So, in Hamlet :
I am sorry, that with better heed and judgment
"I had not quoted him." STEEVENS.

See vol. iv. p. 369, n. 1. MALOne.

9 Hadst thou but shook thy head, &c.] There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches, vented against Hubert, are not the words of art or policy, but the eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of a crime, and desirous of discharging its misery on another.

This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he says, that to have bid him tell his tale in express words, would have struck him dumb: nothing is more certain than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges. JOHNSON.

'Or turn'd an eye of doubt upon my face, As bid me tell my tale in express words;] That is, such an eye of doubt as bid me tell my tale in express words. M. MASON. 2 AND bid-] The old copy reads-As bid. For the present emendation I am answerable.

Mr. Pope reads-Or bid me, &c. but As is very unlikely to have been printed for Or.

As we have here As printed instead of And, so, vice versâ, in King Henry V. 4to. 1600, we find And misprinted for As:

Deep shame had struck me dumb, made me break


And those thy fears might have wrought fears in


But thou didst understand me by my signs,

And didst in signs again parley with sin;
Yea, without stop, didst let thy heart consent,
And, consequently, thy rude hand to act

The deed, which both our tongues held vile to


Out of my sight, and never see me more!
My nobles leave me; and my state is brav'd,
Even at my gates, with ranks of foreign powers:
Nay, in the body of this fleshly land,

This kingdom, this confine of blood and breath,
Hostility and civil tumult reigns

Between my conscience, and my cousin's death.
HUB. Arm you against your other enemies,
I'll make a peace between your soul and you.
Young Arthur is alive: This hand of mine
Is yet a maiden and an innocent hand,
Not painted with the crimson spots of blood.
Within this bosom never enter'd yet

The dreadful motion of a murd'rous thought 3,

"And in this glorious and well foughten field

"We kept together in our chivalry." MALONE.

As, in ancient language, has sometimes the power of-as for instance.

So, in Hamlet:

“As, stars with trains of fire,” &c.

In the present instance it seems to mean, as if.

"Had you

(says the King, speaking elliptically,) turned an eye of doubt on my face, as if to bid me tell my tale in express words," &c. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen :

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"That with the noise it shook as it would fall;' i. e. as if.—I have not therefore disturbed the old reading. STEEVENS.

3 The dreadful motion of a MURD'ROUS thought,] Nothing can be falser than what Hubert here says in his own vindication; for we find, from a preceding scene, "the motion of a murd'rous thought had entered into him," and that very deeply: and it was

And you have slander'd nature in my form;
Which, howsoever rude exteriorly,

Is yet the cover of a fairer mind

Than to be butcher of an innocent child.

K. JOHN. Doth Arthur live? O, haste thee to the peers,

Throw this report on their incensed rage,
And make them tame to their obedience !
Forgive the comment that my passion made
Upon thy feature; for my rage was blind,
And foul imaginary eyes of blood
Presented thee more hideous than thou art.
O, answer not; but to my closet bring
The angry lords, with all expedient haste :
I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast*. [Exeunt.


The Same. Before the Castle.

Enter ARTHUR, on the Walls.

ARTH. The wall is high; and yet will I leap down 5 :

with difficulty that the tears, the intreaties, and the innocence of Arthur had diverted and suppressed it. WARBURTON.

4 I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast.] The old play is divided into two parts, the first of which concludes with the King's despatch of Hubert on this message; the second begins with "Enter Arthur," &c. as in the following scene. STEEVENS.

The wall is high; and yet I will leap down :] Our author has here followed the old play. In what manner Arthur was deprived of his life is not ascertained. Matthew Paris, relating the event, uses the word evanuit; and, indeed, as King Philip afterwards publickly accused King John of putting his nephew to death, without either mentioning the manner of it, or his accomplices, we may conclude that it was conducted with impenetrable secrecy. The French historians, however, say, that John coming in a boat, during the night-time, to the castle of Rouen, where the

Good ground, be pitiful, and hurt me not!-
There's few, or none, do know me; if they did,
This ship-boy's semblance hath disguis'd me quite.
I am afraid; and yet I'll venture it.

If I get down, and do not break my limbs,
I'll find a thousand shifts to get away:
As good to die, and go, as die, and stay.

[Leaps down. O me! my uncle's spirit is in these stones :Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!



SAL. Lords, I will meet him at saint Edmund's


It is our safety, and we must embrace

This gentle offer of the perilous time.

PEM. Who brought that letter from the cardinal? SAL. The count Melun, a noble lord of France; Whose private with me, of the Dauphin's love, Is much more general than these lines import.

BIG. To-morrow morning let us meet him then. SAL. Or, rather then set forward: for 'twill be Two long days' journey, lords, or e'er we meet 7.

young prince was confined, ordered him to be brought forth, and having stabbed him, while supplicating for mercy, the King fastened a stone to the dead body, and threw it into the Seine, in order to give some colour to a report, which he afterwards caused to be spread, that the prince attempting to escape out of a window of the tower of the castle, fell into the river, and was drowned.

MALONE. 6 Whose private, &c.] i. e. whose private account of the Dauphin's affection to our cause is much more ample than the letters. РОРЕ.

— OR E'ER we meet.] This phrase, so frequent in our old writers, is not well understood. Or is here the same as ere, i. e. before, and should be written (as it is still pronounced in Shropshire) ore. There the common people use it often. Thus, they say, Ore to-morrow, for ere or before to-morrow. The addition of ever, or e'er, is merely augmentative.

Enter the Bastard.

BAST. Once more to-day well met, distemper'd lords !

The king, by me, requests your presence straight.
SAL. The king hath dispossess'd himself of us;
We will not line his thin bestained cloak

With our pure honours, nor attend the foot
That leaves the print of blood where-e'er it walks:
Return, and tell him so; we know the worst.

BAST. Whate'er you think, good words, I think,
were best.

SAL. Our griefs, and not our manners, reason now 9.

That or has the full sense of before, and that e'er, when joined with it, is merely augmentative, is proved from innumerable passages in our ancient writers, wherein or occurs simply without e'er, and must bear that signification. Thus, in the old tragedy of Master Arden of Feversham, 1599, quarto, (attributed by some, though falsely, to Shakspeare,) the wife says:

"He shall be murdered or the guests come in."
Sig. H. iii. b. PERCY.

So, in All for Money, an old Morality, 1574:
"I could sit in the cold a good while I swear,
"Or I would be weary such suitors to hear.”
Again, in Every Man, another Morality, no date:
As, or we departe, thou shalt know."

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Again, in the interlude of The Disobedient Child, bl. 1. no date: "To send for victuals or I came away."

That or should be written ore I am by no means convinced. The vulgar pronunciation of a particular county ought not to be received as a general guide. Ere is nearer the Saxon primitive ær. STEEVENS.

See vol. xv. p. 25, n. 8. Boswell.

8- distemper'd-] i. e. ruffled, out of humour. So, in Hamlet :


in his retirement marvellous distemper'd."


9 — REASON NOW.] To reason, in Shakspeare, is not so often to argue, as to talk. JOHNSON.

So, in Coriolanus:

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