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Eli. Look’st thou pale, France? do not let go thy hand.
Const. Look to that, devil! lest that France repent,
And, by disjoining hands, hell lose a soul.
Aust. King Philip, listen to the cardinal.
Bast. And hang a calf's-skin on his recreant limbs.
Aust. Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs,
Bast. Your breeches best may carry them.
K. John. Philip, what say'st thou to the cardinal ?
Const. What should he say, but as the cardinal ?
Lew. Bethink you, father; for the difference
Is, purchase of a heavy curse from Rome,
Or the light loss of England for a friend :
Forego the easier.
Blanch. That 's the curse of Rome.
Const. O Lewis, stand fast; the devil tempts thee here,
In likeness of a new untrimmed bride.
Blanch. The lady Constance speaks not from her faith,
But from her need.
0, if thou grant my need,
Which only lives but by the death of faith,
That need must needs infer this principle, -
That faith would live again by death of need;
O, then, tread down my need, and faith mounts up;
Keep my need up, and faith is trodden down.
K. John. The king is mov’d, and answers not to this.
Const. O, be remov'd from him, and answer well.
Aust. Do so, king Philip; hang no more in doubt.
Bast. Hang nothing but a calf's-skin, most sweet lout.
K. Phi. I am perplex'd, and know not what to say.
Pand. What canst thou say, but will perplex thee more,
If thou stand excommunicate, and curs'd ?
K. Phi. Good reverend father, make my person yours,
And tell me how you would bestow yourself.
This royal hand and mine are newly knit:
And the conjunction of our inward souls
Married in league, coupled and link'd together
With all religious strength of sacred vows.
The latest breath that gave the sound of words
Was deep-sworn faith, peace, amity, true love,
Between our kingdoms, and our royal selves;
And even before this truce, but new before,—
No longer than we well could wash our hands,
To clap this royal bargain up of peace,--
Heaven knows, they were besmear'd and overstain'd
With slaughter's pencil; where revenge did paint
The fearful difference of incensed kings :
And shall these hands, so lately purg'd of blood,
So newly join'd in love, so strong in both,
Unyoke this seizure, and this kind regreet ?
Play fast and loose with faith? so jest with heaven,
Make such unconstant children of ourselves,
As now again to snatch our palm from palm ;
Unswear faith sworn ; and on the marriage-bed
Of smiling peace to march a bloody host,
And make a riot on the gentle brow
Of true sincerity? O, holy sir,
My reverend father, let it not be so :
Out of your grace, devise, ordain, impose
Some gentle order; and then we shall be bless'd
To do your pleasure, and continue friends.
Pand. All form is formless, order orderless,
Save what is opposite to England's love.
Therefore, to arms! be champion of our church !
Or let the church, our mother, breathe her curse,
A mother's curse, on her revolting son.
France, thou mayst hold a serpent by the tongue,
A chased lion by the mortal paw,
a A chased lion. We have ventured here upon a slight change. The original reads, “a cased lion,” which is supposed to mean a lion in a cage. The image is, strictly taken, weakened, if not destroyed, by this epithet; for the paw of a confined lion is often held with impunity. And yet cased may mean irritated by confinement. Some would read “ chafed.” The very pardonable insertion of an h presents us a noble picture of a hunted lion at bay. The emendation, though proposed by one of the first editors, has not been adopted. It is enforced by Z. Jackson, who, in a volume entitled “Shakspere's Genius Justified'(1819), has attempted to explain and correct many doubtful passages, upon the principle that the greater number of them were the results of typographical errors. The editor has been informed that Coleridge had a high opinion of this book, and considered that many of the conjectures were ingenious and went near to the true reading. We scarcely think this opinion is borne out, except by a few happy instances.
A fasting tiger safer by the tooth,
Than keep in peace that hand which thou dost hold.
K. Phi. I may disjoin my hand, but not my faith.
Pand. So mak’st thou faith an enemy to faith ;
And, like a civil war, sett'st oath to oath,
Thy tongue against thy tongue. O, let thy vow
First made to heaven, first be to heaven perform’d ;
That is, to be the champion of our church!
What since thou swor’st is sworn against thyself,
And may not be performed by thyself:
For that which thou hast sworn to do amiss,
Is not amiss when it is truly done ;
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it :
The better act of purposes mistook
Is, to mistake again; though indirect,
Yet indirection thereby grows direct,
And falsehood falsehood cures; as fire cools fire,
Within the scorched veins of one new burn'd.
It is religion that doth make vows kept ;
But thou hast sworn against religion
By what thou swear'st against the thing thou swear'st;
And mak’st an oath the surety for thy truth
Against an oath: The truth thou art unsure
To swear, swears only not to be forsworn;
Else, what a mockery should it be to swear!
But thou dost swear only to be forsworn;
And most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear.
Therefore, thy later vows, against thy first,
Is in thyself rebellion to thyself:
2 Swears only. The entire speech of Pandulph is full of verbal subtleties, which render the intricate reasoning more intricate. The poet unquestionably meant to produce this effect. We have restored the reading of one of the most difficult passages :
66 The truth thou art unsure
“ To swear, swears only not to be forsworn.” All the modern editions read swear. The meaning seems to be this :— The truththat is, the troth, for which you have made an oath the surety, against thy former oath to heaven-this troth, which it was unsure to swear—which you violate your surety in swearing—has only been sworn-swears only-not to be forsworn; but it is sworn against a former oath, which is more binding, because it was an oath to religion--to the principle upon which all oaths are made.
And better conquest never canst thou make,
Than arm thy constant and thy nobler parts
Against these giddy loose suggestions :
Upon which better part our prayers come in,
If thou vouchsafe them: but, if not, then know,
The peril of our curses light on thee
So heavy, as thou shalt not shake them off,
But, in despair, die under their black weight.
Aust. Rebellion, flat rebellion !
Will 't not be ?
Will not a calf's-skin stop that mouth of thine ?
Lew. Father, to arms!
Upon thy wedding-day?
Against the blood that thou hast married ?
What, shall our feast be kept with slaughter'd men ?
Shall braying trumpets, and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures a to our pomp?
O husband, hear me!--ah, alack, how new
Is husband in my mouth !-even for that name,
Which till this time my tongue did ne'er pronounce,
Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
Against mine uncle.
0, 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
Be stronger with thce 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,
When such profound respects do pull you on.
Pand. I will denounce a curse upon his head.
K. Phi. Thou shalt not need :-England, I will fall from
Const. O fair return of banish'd majesty!
Eli. O foul revolt of French inconstancy !
K. John. France, thou shalt rue this hour within this
a Measures ---Solemn dances.
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.
Husband, I cannot pray that thou mayst win ;
Uncle, I needs must pray that thou mayst lose;
Father, I may not wish the fortune thine;
Grandame, 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.-
France, I am burn'd up with inflaming wrath ;
A rage whose heat hath this condition,
That nothing can allay, nothing but blood,
The blood, and dearest-valued blood, of France.
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!
SCENE II.- The same. Plains near Angiers. Alarums; Excursions. Enter the Bastard, with AUSTRIA'S
Bast. Now, by my life, this day grows wondrous hot ;
Some airy devil hovers in the sky,
And pours down mischief. Austria's head, lie there;
While Philip breathes.
Enter King JOHN, ARTHUR, and HUBERT.
K. John. Hubert, keep this boy :-Philip, make up:
My mother is assailed in our tent,
And ta'en, I fear.