« AnteriorContinuar »
Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers ESSEX.
Essex. My liege, here is the strangest contro
Come from the country to be judg'd by you,
Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and PHILIP, his bastard Brother.
This expedition's charge.-What men are you
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; Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.
Eli. Out on thee, rude man! thou dost shame thy mother,
And wound her honour with this diffidence.
K. John. A good blunt fellow:-Why, being younger born,
Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
Bast. I know not why, except to get the land.
And were our father, and this son like him;-
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 Cœur-de-lion's face,+
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 that half-face would he have all my land:
But whe'r-] Whe'r for whether.
* He hath a trick of Caur-de-lion's face,] By a trick, in this place, is meant some peculiarity of look or motion.
5 With that half-face-] The poet sneers at the meagre sharp visage of the elder brother, by comparing him to a silver groat, that bore the king's face in profile, so showed but half the face: the groats of all our Kings of England, and indeed all their other coins of silver, one or two only excepted, had a full face crowned; till Henry VII. at the time above-mentioned, coined groats, and half-groats, as also some shillings, with half-faces, i. e. faces in profile, as all our coin has now.
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, 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,
6 took it, on his death,] i. e. entertained it as his fixed opinion, when he was dying.
My mother's son did get your father's heir;
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;
Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape,
Lest men should say, Look, where three-farthings goes!9
And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,'
I would not be sir Nob2 in any case.
7 Lord of thy presence, and no land beside?] Lord of his presence apparently signifies, great in his own person, and is used in this sense by King John in one of the following scenes.
8 And I had his, sir Robert his, like him;] This is obscure and ill expressed. The meaning is-If I had his shape, sir Robert'sus he has.
my face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
Lest men should say, Look, where three-farthings goes!] In this very obscure passage our poet is anticipating the date of another silver coin; humorously to rally a thin face, eclipsed, as it were, by a full blown rose. We must observe, to explain this allusion, that Queen Elizabeth was the first, and indeed the only prince, who coined in England three-half-pence, and three farthing pieces.
And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,]" To his shape," means, in addition to the shape he had been just describing.
Eli. I like thee well; Wilt thou forsake thy for
Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me?
Bast. Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance:
Your face hath got five hundred pounds a year;
Eli. Nay, I would have you go before me thither. Bast. Our country manners give our betters way.
K. John. What is thy name?
Bast. Philip, my liege; so is my name begun; Philip, good old sir Robert's wife's eldest son.
K. John. From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bear'st:
Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great;
Bast. Brother, by the mother's side, give me your hand;
My father gave me honour, yours gave land:-
Eli. The very spirit of Plantagenet !—
2 I would not be sir Nob -] Sir Nob is used contemptuously for Sir Robert.
3 Arise sir Richard, and Plantagenet.] It is a common opinion, that Plantagenet was the surname of the royal house of England, from the time of King Henry II. but it is, as Camden observes, in his Remaines, 1614, a popular mistake. Plantagenet was not a family name, but a nick-name, by which a grandson of Geffrey, the first Earl of Anjou, was distinguished, from his wearing a broom-stalk in his bonnet. But this name was never borne either by the first Earl of Anjou, or by King Henry II. the son of that Earl by the Empress Maude; he being always called Henry Fitz-Empress; his son, Richard Caur-de-lion; and the prince who is exhibited in the play before us, John sans-terre, or lack-land. MALONE.