Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Gilbert Abbott A'Beckett
Editor: Michael Best
Not Peer Reviewed

King John: A Burlesque


SCENE II. -- The walls of Angiers
Gates in the centre -- flourish of drums and trumpets.
Enter Philip, Lewis, Constance, Herald, Guards, etc., R., Arch -- Duke of Austria L.
Philip. Before Angiers brave Austria well met,
90I drink your health, great prince, in heavy wet,
This is young Arthur -- yarns I need not spin,
He by his uncle John is taken in.
Austria. That with most uncles is the common way,
Their occupation's -- taking-in all day.
95I've said enough. I don't know how to spout,
But I will do my best to help him out.
We'll try and make this cruel uncle nick it.
My pledge I will redeem
Phil. Ah! that's the ticket.
100Constance. Nay, don't be in a hurry, let us wait,
Till of the embassy we know the fate:
Till then your courage is of no avail,
A female bids you wait, but for the mail.
Phil. A lady's counsel one should ne'er discard.
105
(A horn sounds without.
Here is the mail, now be upon your guard.
Enter Chatillon, (L.)
Now say at once from England what's the news?
SONG -- Chatillon.
110
Air -- "Kelvin grove."
I have been to England's camp.
Bonny Philip, O!
And he says that you're a scamp,
Bonny Philip, O!
115And he's coming full of pride,
With his mother by his side,
And he threatens you to hide,
Bonny Philip, O!
(Drums at a distance.
120Phil. Upon my word this is a pretty business.
My head is taken with a sudden dizziness.
(March, -- Enter King John, Faulconbridge, Elinor, Blanche, Herald, Guards, etc. L.U.E.)
K. John. (L.C.) Peace be to France, at least, that is to say
If France, will let us have it, our own way.
125Phil. (R.C.) Peace be to England, that is if t'will bow,
To our authority without a row.
This is the offspring of your elder brother,
As like him as two peas, are like each other.
You do usurp the crown that should be his.
130Elin. (L.) Whom do you call usurper, plain Phiz?
Const. (R.) I'll answer that your son's the man he means.
Aus. (R. corner.) There'll be a rumpus with the rival Queens.
Faul. (L. corner.) You're a nice man, I think; you're one of those,
Who'd pull a man in liquor by the nose.
135One of those paltry sneaks, who go about
Robbing the pantry -- when the butler's out.
You wear a coat of skin and when I scan it,
I feel myself strongly disposed to tan it.
Phil. To business, talking is no use at all,
140Summon the men of Angiers to the wall,
We'll have a parley, they themselves shall say
Whether 'tis John or Arthur, they'll obey.
(French horn sounds, two Citizens appear on the wall.)
1st. Cit. Who calls us up at this late hour of night?
145Phil. We call on you to recognise our right.
K. John. He's an imposter -- men of Angiers we,
Claim England's lawful Sovereign to be
1st. Cit. We are the loyal subjects of the King.
K. John. Then let us in.
1501st. Cit. That's quite another thing.
Which is the right, there seems to be a doubt,
So, gentlemen, you'd better fight it out,
Who conquers we don't care a single pin,
But he who does, we straightway will let in.
155Faul. Great King, these men of Angiers should be taught,
That you'll submit to nothing of the sort.
Take my advice, let them like other fools,
Fall to the ground, between a brace of stools.
Join all your forces first to put them down,
160Then fight to settle who shall have the town.
K. John. I like your counsel well.
Phil. And so do I,
We'll sack the town or know the reason why.
1st. Cit. Stop, gentlemen, the walls you need not shatter,
165Let's see if still we can't arrange this matter.
Before you do more mischief please to tarry,
Are there not one or two of you could marry!
K. John. I've sometimes heard that battles have been ended,
When families by marriage have been blended.
170Others may do exactly as they please,
But, I can't listen to such terms as these:
But, there's a gentleman upon the stare,
Casting sheep's eyes, at a young lady there.
(To Lewis, R.) What say you sir; will you have her for a wife.
175Lewis. I think I will -- she'll do upon my life.
K. John. And, what say you, fair lady, by your eye
I think you love him.
(Crossing to Lewis.)
Blanche. If I don't, I'll try.
K. John. Now all are friends -- the Lady Constance calls
180Come let us in, you fellow on the wall.
(Citizen, exit from the wall -- They all go in at the Gate. 'March' The Old English Gentleman.)