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By what thou swear’st, against the thing thou swear'st;
thou hast already sworn, thou makest an oath the security for thy faith against an oath already taken. I will give, says he, a rule for conscience in these cases. Thou may'st be in doubt about the matter of an oath; when thou swearest, thou ma st not be always sure to swear rightly; but let this be thy settled principle, swear only not to be forsworn; let not the latter oaths be at variance with the former. Truth, through this whole speech, means rectitude of conduct.
Fohnson. I believe the old reading is right; and that the line "By what,” &c. is put in apposition with that which precedes it: “But thou hast sworn against religion; thou hast sworn, by what thou swear. est, i. e. in that which thou hast sworn, against the thing thou swearest by; i. e. religion. Our author has many such elliptical expressions. So, in King Henry VIII:
Whoever the king favours,
“ And far enough from court too." Again, ibidem:
- This is about that which the bishop spake” [of]. Again, in King Richard III:
“True ornaments to know a holy man” (by]. Again, in The Winter's Tale:
“A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
“ That vulgars give bold'st titles” (to]. Again, ibidem :
the queen is spotless
swear only not to be forsworn;] The old copy readsswears, which, in my apprehension, shews that two half lines have been lost, in which the person supposed to swear was mentioned. When the same word is repeated in two succeeding lines, the eye of the compositor often glances from the first to the second, and in consequence the intermediate words are omitted. For what has been lost, it is now in vain to seek; I have therefore adopted the emendation made by Mr. Pope, which makes some kind of sense. Malone.
Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts
Aust. Rebellion, flat rebellion!
Will 't not be?
Lew. Father, to arms!
Upon thy wedding day?
O, upon my knee, Made hard with kneeling, I do pray to thee, Thou virtuous Dauphin, alter not the doom Fore-thought by heaven.
Blanch. Now shall I see thy love; What motive may
braying trumpets,] Bray appears to have been particularly applied to express the harsh grating sound of the trumpet. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV, c. xii, st. 6:
“ And when it ceast shrill trompets loud did bray.” Again, B. IV, c. iv, st. 48:
“ Then shrilling trompets loudly 'gan to bray." And elsewhere in the play before us :
Hard-resounding trumpets' dreadful bray." Again, in Hamlet:
“ The trumpet shall bray out H. White.
be measures -] The measures, it has been already more than once observed, were a species of solemn dance in our au. thor's time. This speech is formed on the following lines in the old play:
“ Blanch. And will your grace upon your wedding-day “ Forsake your bride and follow dreadful drums? “ Phil. Drums shall be musick to this wedding day.”
Be stronger with thee than the name of wife?
Const. That which upholdeth him that thee upholds, His honour: 0, thine honour, Lewis, thine honour!
Lew. I muse,? your majesty doth seem so cold,
Pand. I will denounce a curse upon his head.
hour. Bast. Old time the clock-setter, that bald sexton time, Is it as he will? well then, France shall rue.
Blanch. The sun's o'ercast with blood: Fair day, adieu! Which is the side that I must go withal? I am with both: each army hath a hand; And, in their rage, I having hold of both, They whirl asunder, and dismember me.8 Husband, I cannot pray that thou may'st win; Uncle, I needs must pray that thou may'st lose ; Father, I may not wish the fortune thine; Grandam, I will not wish thy wishes thrive: Whoever wins, on that side shall I lose; Assured loss, before the match be play'd.
Lew. Lady, with me; with me thy fortune lies. Blanch. There where my fortune lives, there my life
dies. K. John. Cousin, go draw our puissance together.
[Exit Bast. France, I am burn’d up with inflaming wrath; A rage, whose heat hath this condition, Than nothing can allay, nothing but blood, The blood, and dearest-valu'd blood, of France.
7 I muse, ) i. e. I wonder. Reed.
“ And why thou staist so long, I muse,
“Since the air 's so sweet and good.” Steevents. 8 They whirl asunder, and dismember me.
.] Alluding to a wellknown Roman punishment:
Metium in. diversa quadrigæ
K. Phi. Thy rage shall burn thee up, and thou shalt
turn To ashes, ere our blood shall quench that fire: Look to thyself, thou art in jeopardy. K. John. No more than he that threats. To arms let's hie!
Plains near Angiers.
fiery Some"airy"devil" hovers in the sky,
Austria's head lie there;
pours down mischief. While Philip breathes.1
9 Some airy devil -] Shakspeare here probably alludes to the distinctions and divisions of some of the demonologists, so much regarded in his time. They distributed the devils into different tribes and classes, each of which had its peculiar qualities, attributes, &c.
These are described at length in Burton's Anatomie of Melancholy, P. I, sect. ii, p. 45, 1632:
“Of these sublunary devils—Psellus makes six kinds; fiery, aeriall, terrestriall, watery, and subterranean devils, besides those faieries, satyres, nymphes,” &c.
“ Fiery spirits or divells are such as commonly worke by blazing starres, fire-drakes, and counterfeit sunnes and moones, and sit on ships' masts,” &c. &c.
“ Aeriall spirits or divells are such as keep quarter most part in the aire, cause many tempests, thunder and lightnings, teare oakes, fire steeples, houses, strike men and beasts, make it raine stones,” &c. Percy.
There is a minute description of different devils or spirits, and their different functions, in Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication, 1592: -With respect to the passage in question take the following:
the spirits of the aire will mise themselves with thunder and lightning, and so infect the clyme where they raise any tempest, that sodainely great mortalitie shall ensue to the inhabitants. The spirits of fire have their mansions under the regions of the moone.” Henderson.
1 Here Mr. Pope, without authority, adds from the old play already mentioned :
*« Thus hath king Richard's son perform’d his vow,
Enter King John, ARTHUR, and HUBERT. K. John. Hubert, keep this boy:2-Philip, 3 make up: My mother is assailed in our tent,* And ta’en, I fear. Bast.
My lord, I rescu'd her; Her highness is in safety, fear you not: But on, my liege; for very little pains Will bring this labour to an happy end. [Exeunt.
NOR, ARTHUR, the Bastard, HUBERT, and Lords.
[T. ELI. So strongly guarded.--Cousin, look not sad:
[To Arth. Thy grandam loves thee; and thy uncle will As dear be to thee as thy father was.
Arth. O, this will make my mother die with grief.
2 Hubert, keep this boy:] Thus the old copies. Mr. Tyrwhitt would read :
Hubert, keep thou this boy: Steevens.
Philip,] Here the King, who had knighted him by the name of Sir Richard, calls him by his former name. Steevens.
4 M; mother is assailed in our tent,] The author has not attend. ed closely to the history. The Queen-mother, whom King John had made Regent in Anjou, was in possession of the town of Mirabeau, in that province. On the approach of the French army with Arthur at their head, she sent letters to King John to come to her relief; which he did immediately. As he advanced to the town, he encountered the army that lay before it, routed them, and took Arthur prisoner. The Queen in the mean while remained in perfect security in the castle of Mirabeau.
Such is the best authenticated account. Other historians how. ever say that Arthur took Elinor prisoner. The author of the old play bas followed them. In that piece Elinor is taken by Arthur, and rescued by her son. Malone.