Excerpt from The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England, Vol. 1: The First Quarto, 1591, Which Shakspere Rewrote (About 1595) As His "Life and Death of King John"; A Facsimile by Photolithography, From the Unique Original in the Capell Collection at Trinity College, Cambridge
The fifth and seventh scenes of this Second Part, giving the progress of the struggle between John and the French and rebels, correspond closely to the fourth and fifth of Shakespeare's Act V. The sixth and eighth show at great length how John took refuge in Swinstead Abbey how a certain monk, with the connivance of his abbot, poisoned the king's drink, and, tasting it first himself, with the historic cry of Wassell! Died, remarking aside, If the inwards of a toad be a compound of any proof - why, so: it works how Falconbridge, very naturally, killed the abbot how the king died, after some long and powerful speeches, rather like those of Sir Giles Overreach, but very strongly anti-catholic; and how, as he was dying, Henry and the revolted barons came, and John lifted his hand in token of forgiveness, and again as a sign that he died Christ's servant.
Now, these long scenes of meditated murder, and of murder itself and its reward, form a particularly unpleasant conclusion to a play which has already had quite its full share of treachery and crime: and their compression speaks as well for Shakespeare's healthy and manly feeling as for his skill as a dramatist. This skill is again displayed in the neatness with which he throws into a few lines, without change of scene, the establishment of Henry as king, which in the original play occupies a ninth scene, coming as an awkward anti-climax after the death of the hero. The tag, given 3. Shakspere less clear IN 3 points than tr. Ra. Is.
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