« PreviousContinue »
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; Ithat With that half-face would he have all my land,
A half-faced groat8 five hundred pound a year!
Rob. My gracious liege, when that my father liv'd,
Bast. Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land;
That this my mother's son was none of his; treito And, if he were, he came into the world t Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,
K. John. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate;
in the age of this is touchi
8 The poet makes Paulconbridge allade to the silver groats of Henry VII. and Henry VIII. which had on them a half-face or profile. In the reign of John there were no groats at all, the first being coined in the reign of Edward NI. 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.'
9 This is Homeric, and is thus rendered by Chapman in the first Iliad :
' hills enow, and farre-resounding seas
Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands
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,
Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape,
10 i. e. 'this is a decisive argument.'
11 Lord of thy presence means possessor of thy own dignified and manly appearance, resembling thy great progenitor. In Sir Henry Wotton's beautiful poem of The Happy Man we have a line resembling this :
'Lord of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing yet hath all. 12 Sir Robert his for “Sir Robert's ;' his, according to a mig. taken notion formerly received, being the sign of the genitive case.
13 Queen Elizabeth coined threepenny, threehalfpenny, and threefarthing pieces; these pieces all had her head on the obe verse, and some of them a rose on the reverse. Being of silver, they were extremely thin; and hence the allusion. The roses stuck in the ear, or in a lock near it, were generally of ribbon ; but Burton says that it was once the fashion to stick real flowers in the ear. Some gallants had their ears bored and wore their mistresses' silken shoestrings in them.
Andola, misery foot oli vs in an Forsake this
And, to 14 his shape, were heir to all this land,
Eli. I like thee well; Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
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. 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:
Eli. The very spirit of Plantagenet !
In at the window, or else o'er the hatch 18 :
14 To his shape, i. e. in addition to it.
17 Plantagenet was not a family name, but a nickname, by which a grandson of Geoffrey, the first Earl of Anjou, was distinguished from his wearing a broom-stalk in his bonnet.
18 These expressions were common in the time of Shakspeare for being born out of wedlock.
Who dares not stir by day, must walk by night:
And have is have, however men do catch: Near or far off, well won is still well shot; And I am I, howe'er I was begot. K. John. Go, Faulconbridge; now hast thou thy
desire, A landless knight makes thee a landed squire. Come, madam, and come, Richard; we must speed For France, for France; for it is more than need.
Bast. Brother, adieu; Good fortune come to thee! For thou wast got i' the way of honesty.
[Exeunt all but the Bastard. A foot of honour better than I was; But many a many foot of land the worse. Well, now can I make any Joan a lady:-Good den 19, Sir Richard, God-a-mercy, fellow; And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter: For new-made honour doth forget men's names; "Tis too respective20, and too sociable, For your conversion21. Now your traveller22,He and his toothpick at my worship’s mess23 ; And when my knightly stomach is suffic'd, Why then I suck my teeth, and catechise My picked man of countries24 :—--My dear sir
19 Good evening.
20 Respective does not here mean respectful, as the commentators have explained it, but considerative, regardful. See Merchant of Venice, Act v. Sc. 1.
21 Change of condition.
22 It is said, in All's Well that Ends Well, that 'a traveller is a good thing after dinner. In that age of newly excited curiosity, one of the entertainments at great tables seems to have been the discourse of a traveller. To use a toothpick seeins to have been one of the characteristics of a travelled man who affected foreign fashions.
23 "At my worship's mess' means at that part of the table where I, as a knight, shall be placed. See note on All's Well that Ends Well, Act i. Sc. 2.-Your worship' was the regular address to a knight or esquire, in Shakspeare': time, as your honour' was to a Jord.
24 My picked man of countries may be equivalent to my travelled fop: picked generally signified affected, over-nice, or curious in dress. Conquisite is explained in the dictionaries exquisitely, pikedly : so that our modern exquisites and dandies are of the same race.
('Thus, leaning on my elbow, I begin), I shall beseech you— That is questions now; And then comes answer like an ABC-book25:O sir, says answer, at your best command ; At your employment; at your service, sir :-No, sir, says question, I, sweet sir, at yours : And, so, ere answer knows what question would (Saving in dialogue compliment; Ànd talking of the Alps, and Apennines, The Pyrenean, and the river Po), It draws towards supper in conclusion so. But this is worshipful society, And fits the mounting spirit, like myself: For he is but a bastard to the time, That doth not smack of observation 26 (And so am I, whether I smack, or no); And not alone in habit and device, Exterior form, outward accoutrement; But from the inward motion to deliver Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth: Which, though I will not practise to deceive, Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn; For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.– But who comes in such haste, in riding robes ? What woman-post is this ? hath she no husband, That will take pains to blow a horn before her27 ?
Enter LADY FAULCONBRIDGE and JAMES GURNEY. O me! it is my mother;—How now, good lady? What brings you here to court so hastily? Lady F. Where is that slave, thy brother? where
is he, That holds in chase mine honour up and down? Bast. My brother Robert? old Sir Robert's son?
25 An ABC or absey-book, as it was then called, is a catechism,
26 i. e. he is accounted but a mean man, in the present age, who does not show by his dress, deportment, and talk, that he has travelled and made observations in foreign countries.
22 Shakspeare probably meant to insinuate that a woman wbo travels about like a post was likely to horn her busband.