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Our just and lineal entrance to our own!
K. Phi. Peace be to England; if that war return
mission, France, To draw my answer from thy articles ? K. Phi. From that supernal12 judge, that stirs
good thoughts In any breast of strong authority, To look into the blots and stains of right. That judge hath made me guardian to this boy: Under whose warrant, I impeach thy wrong; And, by whose help, I mean to chástise it.
9 Undermined. 10 Succession. 11 A short writing, abstract, or description. 12 Celestial.
K. John. Alack, thou dost usurp authority.' K. Phi. Excuse; it is to beat usurping down. Eli. Who is it, thou dost call usurper, France? Const. Let me make answer;—thy usurping son. Eli. Out, insolent! thy bastard shall be king; That thou mayst be a queen, and check the world13!
Const. My bed was ever to thy son as true, As thine was to thy husband; and this boy Liker in feature to his father Geffrey, Than thou and John in manners; being as like, As rain to water, or devil to his dam. My boy a bastard! By my soul, I think, His father never was so true begot; It cannot be, an if thou wert. his mother14. Eli. There's a good mother, boy, that blots thy
father. Const. There's a good grandam, boy, that would
blot thee. Aust. Peace! Bast.
Hear the crier15. Aust.
What the devil art thou? Bast. One that will play the devil, sir, with
you, An ’a may catch your hide and you alone16. You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,
13 Surely (says Holinshed), Queen Eleanor, the king's mother, was gore against her nephew Arthur, rather moved thereto by envye conceyved against his mother, than upon any just occasion, given in behalfe of the childe; for that she saw, if he were king, how his mother. Constance would looke to beare the most rule within the realme of Englande, till her son should come of lawful age to governe of himsejfe. So hard a thing it is to bring women to agree in one minde, their natures commonly being so contrary.
14 Constance alludes to Elinor's infidelity to her husband, Louis the VIIth, when they were in the Holy Land ; on account of which he was divorced from her. She afterwards, in 1151, married our King Henry II.
15 Alluding to the usual proclamation for silence made by criers in the courts of justice, beginning Oyez, corruptly pronounced 0-yes. Austria had just said Peace!
18 Austria, who had killed King Richard Coeur de-lion, wore, as the spoil of that prince, a lion's hide, which had belonged to him. This was the ground of the Bastard's quarrel.
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard17;
Blanch. O, well did he become that lion's robe,
Bast. It lies as sightly on the back of him,
Come to thy grandam, child.
Good my mother, peace!
17 The proverb alluded to is 'Mortuo leoni et lepores insul. tant.'- Erasmi Adagia.
18 Theobald thought that we should read Alcides' shows; but Malone has shown that the shoes of Hercules were very frequently introduced in the old comedies on inuch the same occasions. Theobald supposed that the shoes must be placed on the back of the ass, instead of upon his hoofs, and iherefore proposed his alteration,
I would, that I were low laid in my grave;
weeps. Const. Now shame upon you, whe'r20 she does
or no! His grandam's wrongs, and not his mother's shames, Draw those heaven-moving pearls from his poor
eyes, Which heaven shall take in nature of a fee; Ay, with these crystal beads heaven shall be brib'd To do him justice, and revenge on you. Eli. Thou monstrous slanderer of heaven and
earth! Const. Thou monstrous injurer of heaven and
K. John. Bedlam, have done.
I have but this to say,--
21 The key to this obscure passage is contained in the last speech of Constance, where she alludes to the denunciation of the second commandment of “visiting the iniquities of the parents upon the children onto the third and fourth generation. Young Arthur is here represented as not only suffering from the guilt of his grandmother, but also by her in person, she being made the very instrument of his sofferings. So that he is plagued on her account, and with her plague, which is her sin, i. e. (taking by. a common figure the cause for the consequence) the penalty entailed upon it. His injury, or the evil he suffers, her sin brings upon him, and her injury or the evil she inflicts he suffers from her, as the beadle to her sin, or executioner of the punishment anuexed to it.
All punish'd in the person of this child,
Eli. Thou unadvised scold, I can produce
will; A woman's will; a canker'd grandam’s will ! K. Phi. Peace, lady; pause, or be more tem
perate : It ill beseems this presence, to cry aim22 To these ill tuned repetitions.Some trumpet summon hither to the walls These men of Angiers; let us hear them speak, Whose title they admit, Arthur's or John's. Trumpets sound. Enter Citizens upon the Walls. 1 Cit. Who is it, that hath warn'd us to the walls ? K. Phi. 'Tis France, for England. K. John.
England, for itself: You men of Angiers, and my loving subjects, K. Phi. You loving men of Angiers, Arthur's
subjects, Our trumpet call’d you to this gentle parle23. K. John. For our advantage;—Therefore, hear
22 i. e. to encourage. It is a term taken from Archery. Seo note on the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act iii. Sc. 2. vol. i. p. 220