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Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers
Essex.? Essex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy, Come from the country to be judg’d by you, That e'er 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. 8
Bast. Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,
K. John. What art thou?
7 Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, &c.] This stage direction I have taken from the old quarto. Steevens
8 — and Philip, his bastard Brother.] Though Shakspeare adopted this character of Philip Faulconbridge from the old play, it is not improper to mention that it is compounded of two distinct personages.
Matthew Paris says: “Sub illius temporis curriculo, Falcasius de Brente, Neusteriensis, et spurius ex parte matris, atque Bastardus, qui in vili jumento manticato ad Regis paulo ante clien. telam descenderat,” &c.
Matthew Paris, in his History of the Monks of St. Albans, calls him Falce, but in his General History, Falcasius de Brente, as above.
Holinshed says that “ Richard I, had a natural son named Phi. lip, who in the year following, killed the Viscount De Limoges, to revenge the death of his father. Steevens
Perhaps the following passage in the continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 1543, fol. 24, b. ad ann. 1472, induced the author of the old play to affix the name of Faulconbridge to King Richard's natural son, who is only mentioned in our histories by the name of Philip: “ – one Faulconbridge, therle of Kent, his bastarde, a stoute-harted man."
Who the mother of Philip was is not ascertained. It is said that she was a lady of Poictou, and that King Richard bestowed upon her son a lordship in that province.
In expanding the character of the Bastard, Shakspeare seems to have proceeded on the following slight hint in the original play:
“Next them, a bastard of the king's deceas'd,
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
Bast. I know not why, except to get the land.
8 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;
“ By any child, the sure truth of his sire.” Mr. Pope has observed, that the like sentiment is found in Euripides, Menander, and Aristotle. Shakspeare expresses the same doubt in several of his other plays. Steeveils.
1 But whe'r-] Whe’r for whether. So, in The Comedy of Errors:
“Good sir, say whe'r you 'll answer me, or no.” Steevens.
K. John. Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us
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-face3 would he have all my land:
2 He hath a trick of Cour-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.
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 :
" the parish-buckets with his name at length trick'd upon them.” 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
6. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
“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. 3 With that half-face-1 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 crown. ed; till Henry VII, at the time above mentioned, coined groats
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;
Rob. And once despatch'd him in an embassy
and half-groats, as also some shillings, with half faces, i. e. faces in profile, as all our coin has now. The first groats of K. 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 K. Edward III.
Theobald. The same contemptuous allusion occurs in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601:
“You half-fac'd grout, you thick-cheek'd chitty-face.” Again, in Histriomastix, 1610:
“Whilst I behold yon half-fac'd minion.” Steevens. 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
Steevens. 5- took it, on his death,] i. e. entertained it as his fixed opinion, when he was dying. So, in Humlet: “
this, I take it,
And, if he were, he came into the world
K. John. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate;
Rob. Shall then my father's will be of no force,
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 Caur-de-lion, Lord of thy presence, and no land beside ? 8
6 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 by Sir W. Jones, London edit. p. 251. Steevens.
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.
8 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.