« IndietroContinua »
Bast. Most certain of one mother, mighty King;
That is well known; and, as I think, one father : 60
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 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 whether 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.
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 sent us here!
ELI. He hath a trick of Cordelion's face;
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?
Bast. Because he hath a half-face, like my
With that half-face would he have all my land ?
A half-fac'd groat? five hundred pound a year?
ROB. My gracious Liege, when that my father livid,
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.
1 (beralds') copy.
Harry Seventh's groats (the first minted) bore the king's profile.
ACT I ROB. —And once dispatch'd him in an embassy
Sc. I 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;
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
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 her’s;
Which fault lies in the hazard 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,
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 Cordelion,
Lord of thy presence, and no land beside ?
Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape,
And I had his, Sir Robert's his, like him;
An if my legs were two such riding-rods,
My arms such eel-skins stuffod; my face so thin,
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
Lest men should say Look, where three-farthings goes !
And, to his shape, were heir to all this land;
Would I might never stir from off this place,
I would give it every foot to have this face:
I would not be Sir Nobbe in any case.
ELI. I like thee well : wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me ?
I am a soldier, and now bound to France.
Bast. Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance :
Your face hath got five hundred pound 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 eld'st son.
K, John. From henceforth bear his name whose form
Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great :
Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.
Bast. Brother by the mother's side, give me your hand :
My father gave me honour, your's gave land.
Now blessed be the hour, by night or day,
When I was got, Sir Robert was away!
ELI. The very spirit of Plantagenet !
I am thy grandam, Richard : call me so.
Bast. Madam, by chance, but not by truth: what though?
Something about, a little from the right,
In at the window, or else o'er the hatch ;5
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;
1 an Elizabethan mode.
2 the silver three-farthing bit (1561-1582) bore on one face Elizabeth's head and a rose.
3 Bobby. 4 irregular. phrases signifying bastardy ; hatch=balf-door.
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 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, 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 respective and too sociable
For your conversion. Now
He and his toothpick at my Worship's mess;
And, when my knightly stomach is suffic'd,
Why, then I suck my teeth, and catechize
My picked man of countries: My dear Sir,
Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin,
I shall beseech you—that is Question now;
And then comes Answer like an Absey' book :
O Sir, says Answer, at your best command ;
At your employment; at your service, Sir:
No, Sir, says Question ; I, sweet Sir, at your's :
And so, ere Answer knows what Question would :
Saving in dialogue of compliment,
And talking of the Alps and Apennines,
The Pyreneans and the river Po:
It draws toward 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 :
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,
1 your bastard had luck if he had naught else ; hence this blessing on the lawful-begot, who
respectful. 5 converted nobody, parvenu. 8 6 exquisite.
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 her ?
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 ?
Colbrand the Giant, that same mighty man?
Is it Sir Robert's son that you seek so?
LADY F. Sir Robert's son! Ay, thou unreverend Boy;
Sir Robert's son; why scorn'st thou at Sir Robert ?
He is Sir Robert's son; and so art thou.
BASt. James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile ?
GUR. Good leave, good Philip.
Philip! sparrow 13 James,
There's toys* abroad: anon I 'll tell thee more.
Madam, I was not old Sir Robert's son;
Sir Robert might have eat his part in me
Upon Good-Friday, and ne'er broke his fast:
Sir Robert could do well: marry, to confess,
Could he get me ? Sir Robert could not do it;
We know his handiwork : therefore, good Mother,
To whom am I beholding for these limbs ?
Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.
LADY F. Hast thou conspired with thy brother too,
That for thine own gain should'st defend mine honour ?
What means this scorn, thou most untoward Knave?
Bast. Knight, Knight, good Mother-Basilisco-like:?
What! I am dubb'd; I have it on my shoulder.
But, Mother, I am not Sir Robert's son;
I have disclaim'd Sir Robert; and my
land. Legitimation, name, and all is gone:
2 with the inevitable double meaning. 3 Philip was long a popular endearment, or nickname, for the sparrow.
4 (slang) 'larks.'
5 indebted. 6 helped.
an allusion to Solyman and Perseda (c. 1590), from which the words
Knight, Knight' and 'Basilisco' are quoted.
IV : B