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Gentle kinsman, go,
I will seek them out.
K. JOHN. Nay, but make haste; the better foot before.-
O, let me have no subject enemies,
Go after him; for he, perhaps, shall need
With all my heart, my liege.
K. JOHN. My mother dead!
HUB. My lord, they say, five moons were seen to-night 2:
Four fixed; and the fifth did whirl about
-five moons were seen to-night, &c.] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians. I have met with it no where but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a small alteration. GREY.
This incident is likewise mentioned in the old King John.
Young Arthur's death is common in their mouths:
And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist;
3 And he, that speaks, doth gripe the hearer's wrist;] This description may be compared with a spirited passage in Edward III. Capell's Prolusions, p. 75:
"Our men with open mouths, and staring eyes
slippers, (which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon CONTRARY feet,)] The following notes afford a curious specimen of the difficulties which may arise from the fluctuations of fashion. What has called forth the antiquarian knowledge of so many learned commentators is again become the common practice at this day. Boswell.
I know not how the commentators understand this important passage, which, in Dr. Warburton's edition, is marked as eminently beautiful, and, on the whole, not without justice. But Shakspeare seems to have confounded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is frighted or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems to be disturbed by the disorder which he describes. JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson forgets that ancient slippers might possibly be very different from modern ones. Scott, in his Discoverie of Witchcraft, tells us : "He that receiveth a mischance, will consider, whether he put not on his shirt wrong side outwards, or his left shoe on his right foot." One of the jests of Scogan, by Andrew Borde, is how he defrauded two shoemakers, one of a right foot boot, and the other of a left foot one. And Davies,
Told of a many thousand warlike French,
in one of his Epigrams, compares a man to “ a soft-knit hose, that serves each leg." FARMER.
In The Fleire, 1615, is the following passage: 66 - This fellow is like your upright shoe, he will serve either foot." From this we may infer, that some shoes could only be worn on the foot for which they were made. And Barrett, in his Alvearie, 1580, as an instance of the word wrong, says: -to put on his shooes wrong." Again, in A merye Jest of a Man that was called Howleglas, bl. 1. no date: "Howleglas had cut all the lether for the lefte foote. Then when his master sawe all his lether cut for the lefte foote, then asked he Howleglas if there belonged not to the lefte foote a right foote. Then sayd Howleglas to his maister, If that he had tolde that to me before, I would have cut them; but an it please you I shall cut as mani right shoone unto them." Again, in Frobisher's Second Voyage for the Discoverie of Cataia, 4to. bl. 1. 1578: "They also beheld (to their great maruaille) a dublet of canuas made after the Englishe fashion, a shirt, a girdle, three shoes for contrarie feet," &c. p. 21. See also the Gentleman's Magazine, for April, 1797, p. 280, and the plate annexed, figure 3. STEEVENS.
See Martin's Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, 1703, p. 207: "The generality now only wear shoes having one thin sole only, and shaped after the right and left foot, so that what is for one foot will not serve the other." The meaning seems to be, that the extremities of the shoes were not round or square, but were cut in an oblique angle, or aslant from the great toe to the little one. See likewise The Philosophical Transactions abridged, vol. iii. p. 432, and vol. vii. p. 23, where are exhibited shoes and sandals shaped to the feet, spreading more to the outside than the inside. TOLLET.
So, in Holland's translation of Suetonius, 1606 :- if in a morning his shoes were put one [r. on] wrong, and namely the left for the right, he held it unlucky." Our author himself also furnishes an authority to the same point. Speed, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, speaks of a left shoe. It should be remembered that tailors generally work barefooted: a circumstance which Shakspeare probably had in his thoughts when he wrote this passage. I believe the word contrary, in his time, was frequently accented on the second syllable, and that it was intended to be so accented here. So Spenser, in his Fairy Queen :
"That with the wind contráry courses sew." MALONE.
Cuts off his tale, and talks of Arthur's death. K. JOHN. Why seek'st thou to possess me with these fears?
Why urgest thou so oft young Arthur's death? Thy hand hath murder'd him: I had a mighty
To wish him dead, but thou hadst none to kill him. HUB. Had none, my lord! why, did you not provoke me?
K. JOHN. It is the curse of kings, to be attended
By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant
To understand a law; to know the meaning
HUB. Here is your hand and seal for what I did. K. JOHN. O, when the last account 'twixt heaven and earth
Is to be made, then shall this hand and seal
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds,
4- I had mighty cause-] The old copy, more redundantly "I had a mighty cause.' STEEVENS.
5 HAD NONE, my lord!] Old copy-No had. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
It is the curse of kings, &c.] This plainly hints at Davison's case, in the affair of Mary Queen of Scots, and so must have been inserted long after the first representation. WARBurton.
It is extremely probable that our author meant to pay his court to Elizabeth by this covert apology for her conduct to Mary. The Queen of Scots was beheaded in 1587, some years, I believe, before he had produced any play on the stage. MALONE.
7-advis'd RESPECT.] i. e. deliberate consideration, reflection, So, in Hamlet:
-There's the respect
"That makes calamity of so long life." STEEVENS.
Quoted, and sign'd, to do a deed of shame,
K. JOHN. Hadst thou but shook thy head, or made a pause,
When I spake darkly what I purposed ;
8 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: