Imatges de pÓgina

K. John. Here have we war for war, and blood for


Controlment for controlment: so answer France.

Chat. Then take my king's defiance from my mouth, The farthest limit of my embassy.

K. John. Bear mine to him, and so depart in


Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;

For ere thou canst report I will be there,
The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.
So, hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath,
And sullen presage of your own decay.-
An honourable conduct let him have:
Pembroke, look to't. Farewell, Chatillon'.

Eli. What now, my son? have I not ever said,
How that ambitious Constance would not cease,
Till she had kindled France, and all the world,
Upon the right and party of her son?

This might have been prevented, and made whole,
With very easy arguments of love,

Which now the manage' of two kingdoms must
With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.

K. John. Our strong possession, and our right for


Eli. Your strong possession, much more than your


Or else it must go wrong with you, and me:

So much my conscience whispers in your ear,
Which none but heaven, and you, and I, shall hear.

1 Farewell, Chatillon.] Spelt Chatillion in the folio, and so anglicised for the sake of the verse elsewhere, (as in the first line of the play) though it might not be necessary to vary from the French pronunciation here, if "to't" were pronounced as a dissyllable.

2 the MANAGE-] i. e. the conduct. Shakespeare (though he uses it also in "Richard II." &c.) found this word in the old "King John," which preceded his own play. The King of France there says,

"Till I had, with an unresisted shock,

Control'd the manage of proud Angiers' walls."

Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers


Essex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy, Come from the country to be judg'd by you, That e'er I heard: shall I produce the men? K. John. Let them approach.

Our abbeys, and our priories, shall pay

[Exit Sheriff.

Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and
PHILIP, his bastard Brother.

This expedition's charge.-What men are you ?
Bast. Your faithful subject I; a gentleman
Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,
As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,
A soldier, by the honour-giving hand
Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field1.
K. John. What art thou?

Rob. The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge. K. John. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir? You came not of one mother, then, it seems.

Bast. Most certain of one mother, mighty king;
That is well known, and, as I think, one father:
But, for the certain knowledge of that truth,
I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother":

Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers Essex.] The stagedirection in the folio, 1623, is only "Enter a Sheriff;" but it is evident that he was Sheriff of Northamptonshire. In the old play of "King John," he is said to "whisper Salisbury," who stands in the place of Essex.


* Of Cœur de-lion knighted in the field.] In the old " King John,” a speech like this is assigned to Robert, and not to Philip ::

[blocks in formation]

I put you o'er to heaven, and to my mother:] In the old "King John," the mother of Philip and Robert being present while the legitimacy of the former is canvassed, Robert says,

"And here my mother stands to prove him so ;"

i. e. not the legitimate son of sir Robert Faulconbridge: the mother affects to be very indignant at the accusation.


Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.

Eli. Out on thee, rude man! thou dost shame thy


And wound her honour with this diffidence.

Bast. I, madam? no, I have no reason for it :
That is my brother's plea, and none of mine;
The which if he can prove, 'a pops me out
At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
Heaven guard my mother's honour, and my land!
K. John. A good blunt fellow.-Why, being younger

Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?

Bast. I know not why, except to get the land.
But once he slander'd me with bastardy:
But whe'r I be as true begot, or no,
That still I lay upon my mother's head;
But, that I am as well begot, my liege,

(Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!)
Compare our faces, and be judge yourself.
If old sir Robert did beget us both,

And were our father, and this son like him,
O! old sir Robert, father, on my knee

I give heaven thanks, I was not like to thee.

K. John. Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!

Eli. He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face;

The accent of his tongue affecteth him.

you not read some tokens of my son
In the large composition of this man?

K. John. Mine eye hath well examined his parts,
And finds them perfect Richard.-Sirrah, speak;
What doth move you to claim your brother's land?
Bast. Because he hath a half-face, like my father,
With half that face would he have all my land:

6 But WHE'R I be as true begot, or no,] Printed "But where I be," &c. in the folios, to indicate that whether, for the sake of the metre, was to be read as one syllable.

A half-fac'd groat five hundred pound a year!

Rob. My gracious liege, when that my father liv'd, Your brother did employ my father much.—

Bast. Well, sir; by this you cannot get my land: Your tale must be, how he employ'd my mother. Rob. And once despatch'd him in an embassy To Germany, there, with the emperor, To treat of high affairs touching that time. The advantage of his absence took the king, And in the mean time sojourn'd at my father's; Where how he did prevail I shame to speak, But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores Between my father and my mother lay, As I have heard my father speak himself, When this same lusty gentleman was got. Upon his death-bed he by will bequeath'd His lands to me; and took it, on his death, That this, my mother's son, was none of his : And, if he were, he came into the world Full fourteen weeks before the course of time. Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine, My father's land, as was my father's will.

K. John. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate: Your father's wife did after wedlock bear him; And if she did play false, the fault was hers, Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother,

Because he hath a half-face, like my father,
With half that face would he have all my land:

A half-fac'd groat five hundred pound a year!] This is the reading of all the folios; and the meaning is, that because Robert had only a thin narrow face, like his father, yet with only half the face of his father, he would have all his father's land. Since the time of Theobald, all editors have printed the second line "With that half-face," &c., which does not express what the poet seems to have intended. Philip ridicules Robert for having, in fact, only half of the half-face of his father, yet claiming all the inheritance by reason of it. The allusion in the words, "half-faced groat," is to the coin issued by Henry VII. in 1504, (as Theobald pointed out,) with his profile on one side of it. At that date, this was a very unusual mode of representing the king's head upon coins. • Full FOURTEEN weeks] Six weeks in the old "King John."

Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,
Had of your father claim'd this son for his?

In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept
This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world;
In sooth, he might: then, if he were my brother's,
My brother might not claim him, nor your father,
Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes,
My mother's son did get your father's heir;
Your father's heir must have your father's land.
Rob. Shall, then, my father's will be of no force
To dispossess that child which is not his?

Bast. Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,

Than was his will to get me, as I think.

Eli. Whether hadst thou rather be a Faulconbridge,

And like thy brother to enjoy thy land,

Or the reputed son of Cœur-de-lion,

Lord of thy presence, and no land beside?

Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape,

And I had his, sir Robert his, like him;

And if my legs were two such riding-rods,

My arms such eel-skins stuff'd; my face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,

Lest men should say, "Look, where three-farthings


And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,
Would I might never stir from off this place,
I'd give it every foot to have this face:

I would not be sir Nob1o in any case.

Eli. I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,

9 "Look, where three-farthings goes,"] Philip here again jokes on the thinness of Robert's face. Elizabeth coined thin silver pieces, of the value of three farthings, on which, at the back of the ear, was a rose, and to this Philip alludes. Costard, in "Love's Labour's Lost," Vol. ii. p. 315, mentions three-farthing pieces, current when that comedy was written.

10 I would not be sir NOB-] The old copy reads, "It would not be, &c." The correction was made by the editor of the second folio. In both it is printed sir nobbe, without a capital letter.

« AnteriorContinua »