Page images




A room of state in the palace. Enter king John, queen Elinor, Pembroke, Esex, and

Salisbury, with Chatillion.

[ocr errors]

King John.
OW, say, Chatillion, what would France with

Chat. Thus, after greeting, speaks the king

of France, In my behaviour, 2 to the majesty, The borrow'd majesty of England here,

Eli. · The troublesome reign of king John was written in two parts, by W. Shakespeare and W. Rowley, and printed 1611. But the present play is intirely different, and infinitely fuperior to it.

Pope. The edition of 1611 has no mention of Rowley, nor in the account of Rowley's works is any mention made of his conjunction with Shakespeare in any play. King John was reprinted in two parts in 1622. The first edition that I have found of this play in its present form, is that of 1623, in fol. The edition of 1591 I have not seen. JOHNSON

Hall, Holinshead, Stowe, &c. are closely followed not only in the conduct, but sometimes in the expressions throughout the following historical dramas ; viz. Macbeth, this play, Richard II. Henry IV. 2 parts, Henry V. Henry VI. 3 parts, Richard III. and Henry VIII. Steevens.

The Life and Death -] Though this play hath this title, yet the action of it begins at the thirty-fourth year of his life ; and takes in only fome transactions of his reign at the time of his demise, being an interval of about seventeen ycars. THEOBALD.

· In my behaviour, -] The word behaviour seems here to have a signification that I have never found in any other author.

Eli. A strange beginning !-borrow'd majesty!
K. John. Silence, good mother ; hear the embaffy,

Chat. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son,
Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
To this fair island, and the territories ;
To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine;
Desiring thee to lay aside the sword,
Which Iways usurpingly these several titles;

put the same into young Arthur's hand, Thy nephew, and right-royal sovereign.

K. John. What follows, if we disallow of this ? Chat. The proud 3 controul of fierce and bloody

war, To inforce these rights so forcibly with-held. K. John. Here have we war for war, and blood for

blood, Controulment for controulment; fo answer France.

Chat. Then take my king's defiance from my mouth, The farthest limit of my embassy.

K. John. Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace. 4 Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France; For ere thou canst report, I will be there, The thunder of my cannon shall be heard. So, hence! Be thou the trumpet of our wrath, And 5 sullen presage of your own decay.



The king of France, says the envoy, thus speaks in my behaviour to the majesty of England; that is, the king of France speaks in the character which I here assume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambafTador as part of his master's message, and that behaviour had meant the conduct of the king of France towards the king of England; but the ambasador's speech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning. JOHNSON.

3 -controu-] Oppofition, from controller. JOHNSON.

4 Be thou as lightning-] The fimile does not suit well: the lightning indeed appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is destructive, and the thunder innocent. Johnson. 5-Sullen presage- ] By the epithet jullen, which cannot be ap

[ocr errors]

An honourable conduct let him have,
Pembroke, look to't: Farewell, Chatillion.

(Exeunt Chat. and Pem.
Eli. What now, my fon? Have I not ever said,
How that ambitious Constance would not ceafe,
Till she had kindled France, and all the world,
Upon the right and party of her son ?
This might have been prevented, and made whole
With very easy arguments of love ;
Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
With fearful, bloody issue arbitrate.

K. John. Our strong possession, and our right for


Eli. Your strong possession much more than your


Or else it must go wrong with you and me:
So much my conscience whispers in your ear,
Which none but heaven, and you, and I shall hear.
Enter the sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers

Esex 6.
Ejex. 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 ?

[Exit sheriff
K. John. Let them approach.-
Our abbies and our priories shall pay
This expedition's charge--
Re-enter sheriff with Robert Faulconbridge, and Philip, his

brother 7. What men are you?


plied to a trumpet, it is plain, that our author's imagination had now suggeited a new idea. It is as if he had faid, be a trumpet to alarm with our invasion, be a bird of ill omen to croak out the prognostick of your own ruin. JOHNSON.

Enter the fieriff of Northamptonshire, &c.] This stage-direction I have taken from the old quarto. STEEVENS.

and Philip, his brother. ] Though Shakespeare adopted this character of Philip Faulconbridge from the old play, it is


A 3

Pbil. 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 ?
Roy. 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 ?

Phil. 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 mens' children may.
Eli. Out on thee, rude man! thou doft shame thy

And wound her honour with this difidence.

Phil. 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, he pops me out
At least from fair five hundred pound a year :
Heaven guard my mother's honour, and


K. John. A good blunt fellow: why, being younger

Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance ?

Phil. I know not why, except to get the land.
But, once, he slander'd me with bastardy;
But whether I be as true begot, or no,
That still I lay upon my mother's head;

[ocr errors]

not improper to mention that it is compounded of two diftinct personages.

Matthew Paris favs-“ Sub illius temporis curriculo, Fal.

cafius de Brente, Neuferiensis, et spurius ex parte matris, al“ que Bastardus, qui in vili jumento manticato ad Regis paulo “ ante clientelam defcenderat,” &c.

Matt. Paris, in his History of the Monks of St. Albans, cails him Falco, but in his general History Falcasus de Brente, as above.

Holinshead says, that Richard I. had a natural fon named Philip, who in the year following killed the viscount De Limoges to revenge the death of his father. STEVENS.


[ocr errors]

Bot that I am as well begot, my liege,
(Fair fall the bones, that took the pains for me!)
Compare our faces, and be judge yourfelf.
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 mad-cap hath heaven lent

us here?
Eli. He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face s
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?
Phil. Because he hath a half-face, like

my father, 9 With that half-face would he have all


land: A half-fac'd groat, five hundred pound a year!

Rob. He basba trick of Caur-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 shewn by the Nightelt outline. This used by Heywood and Rowley in their comedy called Fortune by Land and Sea.-" Her face obe trick " of ber eye, her leer." The following passages may more evidently prove the expression to be borrowed from delineation. Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour,

“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 orick'd upon them.” STEEVENS.

. 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, bare but half faces impressed. Vide Stow's Sur. vey of London, p. 47. Holling shed, Camden's Romains, &c. The poet sneers at the meagre Tharp visage of the elder brother, by comparing him to a šilver groat, that bore the king's face in

A 4


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »