Imatges de pàgina

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 9.

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 born,

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.

9 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.] The resemblance between this sentiment, and that of Telemachus, in the first book of the Odyssey, is apparent. The passage is thus translated by Chapman :


My mother, certaine, says I am his sonne; "I know not; nor was ever simply knowne, By any child, the sure truth of his sire."


Mr. Pope has observed, that the like sentiment is found in Euripides, Menander, and Aristotle. same doubt in several of his other plays. 1 But WHE'R-] Whe'r for whether. Errors:

Shakspeare expresses the

So, in The Comedy of

"Good sir, say, whe'r you'll answer me or no."


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 2,
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?

2 He hath a TRICK of Coeur-de-lion's face,] The trick, or tricking, is the same as the tracing of a drawing, meaning that peculiarity of face which may be sufficiently shown by the slightest outline. This expression is used by Heywood and Rowley, in their comedy called Fortune by Land and Sea: "Her face, the trick of her eye, her leer."

The following passage, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, proves the phrase to be borrowed from delineation : You can blazon the rest, Signior?


"O ay, I have it in writing here o'purpose; it cost me two shillings the tricking."

So again in Cynthia's Revels:


[ocr errors]

the parish-buckets with his name at length trick'd upon STEEVENS.


By a trick, in this place, is meant some peculiarity of look or motion. So, Helen, in All's Well that Ends Well, says, speaking of Bertram

Twas pretty, though a plague,

"To see him every hour; to sit and draw
"His arched brows, &c.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"In our heart's table; heart too capable "Of every line and trick of his sweet favour." And Gloster, in King Lear, says

"The trick of that voice I do well remember."

M. MASON. Our author often uses this phrase, and generally in the sense of a peculiar air or cast of countenance or feature. So, in King Henry IV. Part I. "That thou art my son, I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion; but chiefly a villainous trick of thine eye-.' MALONE.


BAST. Because he hath a half-face, like my



With that half-face would he have all my land:
A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year!
ROB. My gracious liege, when that my father

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;

3 With that HALF-FACE-] The old copy-with half that face. But why with half that face? There is no question but the poet wrote, as I have restored the text: "With that half-face-." Mr. Pope, perhaps, will be angry with me for discovering an anachronism of our poet's in the next line, where he alludes to a coin not struck till the year 1504, in the reign of King Henry VII. viz. a groat, which, as well as the half groat, bore but half faces impressed. Vide Stowe's Survey of London, p. 47, Holinshed, Camden's remains, &c. 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. The first groats of King Henry VIII. were like those of his father; though afterwards he returned to the broad faces again. These groats with the impression in profile, are undoubtedly here alluded to: though as I said, the poet is knowingly guilty of an anachronism in it: for in the time of King John, there were no groats at all; they being first, as far as appears, coined in the reign of King Edward III. THEOBALD.

The same contemptuous allusion occurs in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601:

"You half-fac'd groat, you thick-cheek'd chitty-face." Again, in Histriomastix, 1610:

"Whilst I behold yon half-fac'd minion." STEEVENS.

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 5,
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,

4 large lengths of seas and shores


Between my father and my mother lay,] This is Homeric, and is thus rendered by Chapman in the first Iliad : hills enow, and farre-resounding seas "Powre out their shades and deepes between." Again, in Ovid, De Tristibus, IV. vii. 21:

Innumeri montes inter me teque, viæque

Fluminaque et campi, nec freta pauca, jacent. STEEvens. 5 TOOK IT, on his death,] i. e, entertained it as his fixed opinion, when he was dying. So, in Hamlet:

this, I take it,



"Is the main motive of our preparation." STEEVens. - your father might have kept

This CALF, bred from his cow, from all the world;] The decision of King John coincides with that of Menie, the Indian lawgiver : "Should a bull beget a hundred calves on cows not owned by his master, those calves belong solely to the proprietors of the cows." See The Hindu Laws, &c. translated Sir W. Jones, London edit. p. 251. STEEVENS.

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 Coeur-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 ;


7 This concludes,] This is a decisive argument. As your father, if he liked him, could not have been forced to resign him, so, not liking him, he is not at liberty to reject him. JOHNSON.

• Lord of THY presence, and no land beside?] Lord of thy presence can signify only master of thyself, and it is a strange expression to signify even that. However, that he might be, without parting with his land. We should read- 'Lord of the presence,' i. e. prince of the blood. WARBURTON.


"Lord of thy presence, and no land beside ?" Lord of thy presence means, master of that dignity and grandeur of appearance that may sufficiently distinguish thee from the vulgar, without the help of fortune.'

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. JOHNSON.

9 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.'

Sir Robert his, for Sir Robert's, is agreeable to the practice of that time, when the 's added to the nominative was believed, I think erroneously, to be a contraction of his. So, Donne:

Who now lives to age,

"Fit to be called Methusalem, his page?" JOHNSON. This ought to be printed :

66 ―――

sir Robert his, like him."

His, according to a mistaken notion formerly received, being the

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »