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But this is not true. In the second edition of this old play in 1611, the letters W. Sh. were put into the title-page, to deceive the parchaser, and to lead him to suppose the piece was Shakspeare's play, which at that time was not published. See a more minute account of this fraud in An Attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. I. Our author's King John was written, I imagine, in 1596. The reasons on which this opinion is founded, may be found in that Essay. Malone.
Though this play have the title of The Life and Death of King Fobn, yet the action of it begins at the thirty-fourth year of his life; and takes in only fome tranfactions of his reign to the time of his demise, being an interval of about seventeen years.
THEOBALD. Hall, Holinshed, Stowe, &c. are closely followed not only in the conduct, but sometimes in the very expressions throughout the following historical dramas; viz. Macbeth, this play, Richard 11. Henry IV. two parts, Henry V. Henry VI. three parts, Richard III. and Henry VIII.
“ A booke called The Historie of Lord Faulconbridge, bastard Son to Richard Cordelion," was entered at Stationers' Hall, Nov. 29, 1614; but I have never met with it, and therefore know not whether it was the old black letter history, or a play on the fame subject. For the original K. John, fee Six old Plays on which Sbakspeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-Cross.
Steevens. The byftorie of Lord Faulconbridge, &c. is a profe narrative, in bl. 1. The earliest edition that I have seen of it, was printed in 1616.
A book entitled “ Richard Cur de Lion,” was entered on the Stationers' Books in 1558.
A play called The Funeral of Richard Cordelion, was written by Robert Wilson, Henry Chettle, Anthony Mundy, and Michael Drayton, and first exhibited in the year 1598. See The Historical Account of the English Stage, Vol. II. MALONE.
of Bretagne, the elder brother of King John.
to K. Richard the First.
niece to King John.
Officers, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.
-Salisbury.] Son to King Henry II. by Rosamond Clifford.
Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace.
Enter King John, Queen ELINOR, Pembroke, Es
SEX, SALISBURY, and Others, with CHATILLON.
K. John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France
Eli. A strange beginning ;-borrow'd majesty!
• 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, says the envoy, thus Speaks in my behaviour to the majesty of England; that is, the King of France speaks in the charakter which I here assume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambassador as part of his master's message, and that behaviour had meant the conduet of the King of France towards the King of England; but the ambaffador's speech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning. JOHNSON. In my behaviour means, in the manner that I now do.
M. Mason. In my behaviaur means, I think, in the words and action that I am now going to use. So, in the fifth act of this play, the Bastard fays to the French king,
" Now hear our English king,
Chat. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
K. John. What follows, if we disallow of this?
for blood, Controlment for controlment; fo answer France.
3 ---control-] Opposition, 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 surrender of his crown, and the King answers—“ Or else what follows?” Exeter replies :
Bloody constraint; for if you hide the crown
“Even in your hearts, there will he rake for it." The passages are exactly similar. M. Mason. 4 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 first part of Jeronimo, &c. 1605;
“ And. Thou shalt pay tribute, Portugal, with blood.-
MALONE. 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 :
Chat. Then take my king's defiance from my
mouth, The furthest limit of my embassy. K. John. Bear mine to him, and so depart in
" Mark hym that showes ye Tragedies,
Thyne owne famylyar frende,
“' In Englysh verse is pende.' B. Googe had already founded the praifes of Phaer and Gafcoigne, and is here descanting on the merits of Kyd.
It is not impossible (though Ferrex and Porrex was acted in 1561) that Hieronymo might have been the first regular tragedy that appeared in an English dress.
It may also be remarked, that B. Googe, in the foregoing lines, seems to speak of a tragedy “ in English verse," as a novelty.
Sreevens. s Be thou as lightning -] The fimile does not fuit well: the lightning indeed appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is destructive and the thunder innocent. Johnson.
The allusion may notwithstanding be very proper so far as Shakspeare had applied it, i. e. merely to the swiftnefs of the lighıning, and its preceding and foretelling the thunder. But there is some reafon to believe that thunder was not thought to be innacent in our author's time, as we elsewhere learn from himself. See King Lear, A& III. sc. ii. Antony and Cleopatra, Act II. fc. v. Julius Cajar, Aa I. fc. iii. and still more decisively in Measure for Meajure, Act II. sc. ii. This old superstition is still prevalent in many parts of the country. Ritson.
King John does not allude to the destructive powers either of thunder or lightning; he only means to say, that Chatillon shall 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. Johnson also forgets, that though philosophically speaking, the destructive power is in the lightning, it has generally in poetry been attributed to the thunder. So, Lear says:
• You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,