Page images

Come from the country to be judged by you,
That ere I heard : Shall I produce the men ?
K. John. Let them approach.

[Exit Sheriff. Our abbies, and our priories, shall pay

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 Cæur-de-lion knighted in the field.

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 ; 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.

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,

3 But whe'r -] Whe'r for whether.

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

Eli. He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face,
The accent of his tongue affecteth him :
Do 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 that half-faces would he have all my land: A half-faced 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 dispatch'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,

* He hath a trick of Cæur-de-lion's face,] By a trick, in this place, is meant some peculiarity of look or motion.

3 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 halfgroats, as also some shillings, with half-faces, i. e. faces in profile, as all our coin has now.

And in the meantime 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,-
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 Faulcon

bridge, And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land ;


took it, on his death,] i. e. entertained it as his fixed opinion, when he was dying.

Or the reputed son of Caur-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 cel-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 goes'!
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 Nob? in any case.

Eli. I like thee well; Wilt thou forsake thy fortune, Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me? I am a soldier, and now bound to France.

Bast. Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance: Your face hath got five hundred pounds a-year; Yet sell your face for five pence, and 'tis dear.Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.

Eli. Nay, I would have you go before me thither. Bast. Our country manners give our betters way. 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's - as 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.

1 And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,] To bis shape,” means, in addition to the shape he had been just describing.

? I would not be sir Nob — ] Sir Nob is used contemptuously for sir Robert.


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 +; Arise sir Richard, and Plantagenet ::

Bast. Brother, by the mother's side, give me your


My father gave me honour, yours gave land:
Now blessed be the hour, by night or day,
When I was got, sir Robert was away.

Eli. The very spirit of Plantagenet !-
I am thy grandame, Richard ; call me so.
Bast. Madam, by chance, but not by truth: What

though? Something about, a little from the right“,

In at the window, or else o'er the hatch:

+ “but rise more great ; "— MALONE.


3 Arise, sir Richard, and Plantagenet.] It is a 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 lackland. MALONE.

* Something about, a little from the right, &c.] This speech, composed of allusive and proverbial sentences, is obscure. I am, says the sprightly knight, your grandson, a little irregularly, but every man cannot get what he wishes the legal way. He that dares not go about his designs by day, must make his motions in the night; he, to whom the door is shut, must climb the window, or leap the hatch. This, however, shall not depress me ; for the world never inquires how any man got what he is known to possess, but allows that to have is to have, however it was caught, and that he who wins, shot well, whatever was his skill, whether the arrow fell near the mark, or far off it. Johnson.

« PreviousContinue »