Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

King John: A Burlesque

In One Act,
Autor of "The Assignation," "Figaro in London," "Love is
Blind," "The tradesman's Bakk," &c. &c. &c.
As performed at the
Published for the Proprietor by
Cast of the Characters

(As originally performed at the St. James's Theatre.)

First produced October 29th.


King John the first. (Successor to Richard the second) Mr. H Hall
Hubert. (Dentist and Cupper to the Court) Mr. Wright.
Ruffian. (Attached to Hubert, but a member of the Animal's Friend Society) Mr. Hart.
Faulconbridge. (Illegitimate and bar Sinister) Mr. Gardner.
Robert. (His brother, bar Illegitimate, but Sinister) Mr. Long.
Prince Arthur. (A royal duodecimo, a pledge of affection taken in by his uncle) Miss C. Booth.
Herald. (In accordance with the Times.) Mr. Post.
Lady Constance. (Wife to her son Arthur's father, and mother to Arthur's father's son) Madam Sala
Lady Elinor. (John's father's widow, and Arthur's uncle's mother) Mrs. Penson.


King Philip of France. (Successor to his predecessor) Mr. Sidney.
Lewis. (Suspected of being the Dauphin) Mr. Moore.
Chatillon. (Upon speaking and singing terms with Philip) Mr, Burnett.
Duke of Austria. (Founder of the Skinner's Company, bound in calf, but unlettered) Mr. Halford.
Cardinal Pandulph. (Full of point) Mr. Brooks.

KING JOHN (1st dress) -- Gold scale armour legs and arms -- black velvet shirt and robe -- crown, etc. (2nd dress) Breast plate, with spike in the centre, and spikes on his knees and elbows -- helmet, with a weather-cock, and N. E. S. W. on it.

PHILIP -- White silk leggings -- shoes -- red tunic and cloak, trimmed and lined with white satin -- bushy wig -- crown.

FAULCONBRIDGE (1st dress) -- Brown shape -- small cloak -- ditto hat and feathers. -- (2nd dress) -- Breast plate and helmet -- immense plume of feathers.

AUSTRIA -- Silver scale armour, legs and arms -- Black velvet shirt -- A bear skin for cloak -- helmet and feathers.

DAUPHIN -- White leggings -- shoes -- green spangled tunic, with white satin sleeves -- hat and feathers.

HUBERT -- Brown shape, with large red Puffs -- red stockings -- shoes -- large rough small old English hat and feather.

ARTHUR -- White leggings -- shoes -- light satin tunic -- coronet.

HERALD -- Herald's dress.

CITIZENS -- Dark cloaks, with sleeves, fastened round the waist -- white night -- caps.

CARDINAL -- Cardinal's dress.

ROBERT -- Plain trunks, hose, and jacket -- hat and single feather.

CONSTANCE -- Black velvet dress, with jewelled trimmings down the front -- Lady Macbeth's head -- dress.

ELINOR -- Puce coloured velvet train dress -- head dress -- point lace veil.

BLANCHE -- White muslin dress.


The Conductors of this Work print no Plays but those which they have seen acted. The Stage Directions are given from personal observations, during the most recent performance.

R. means (Right.) L. (Left.) C. (Centre.) R. C. (Right of Centre.) L. C. (Left of Centre.) D.F. (Door in the Flat or scene running across the back of the Stage); C. D. F. (Centre Door in the Flat.) R. D. F. (Right Door in the Flat.) L. D. F. (Left Door in the Flat.) R. D. (Right Door.) L. D. (Left Door.) S. E. (Second Entrance.) U. E. (Upper Entrance.)

The Reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the Audience.

SCENE I. -- The Palace
Flourish of drums and trumpets -- King John seated on a throne -- Queen Elinor, Blanche, Chatillon, French and English discovered.
K. John. Now speak Chatillon, what has France to say?
5Chatillon. (L.) After beginning in the usual way,
With the old nonsense always used in greeting,
Which I won't take your time up with repeating,
He to your borrow'd Majesty declares --
Elinor. (R. C.) His borrowed Majesty! I like his airs!
10I'll teach him how to say such things, I will.
K. John. (C.) Good mother, let that tongue of yours b[e] still.
Chatillon. Philip of France in young Prince Arthur's name
To the whole kingdom lays a wholesale claim,
The sceptre he'd advise you to lay down.
15K. John. What if I won't?
Chatillon. Why then he'll crack your crown.
K. John. He's a nice man, to say my crown he'll crack,
Be good enough, to take this answer back.
(Rising and coming forward R. C.
20Go, tell your King, in terms extremely civil,
That he may go directly to the devil!
Chat. It's odd, but that's the place, I do declare,
To which, he bid me say, you might repair.
SONG -- John.
Air -- "My heart with love is beating."
Unless you want a beating,
In spite sir of your size;
You'd better be retreating
Before I black your eyes
30You'd best be on I tell you,
And vanish while you may
For if I chance to fell you,
You cannot get away.
(Exit Chatillon L.)
35Elin. (R.) You see my son, did I not always say,
With Constance, there would be the deuce to pay?
She'll get the kingdom, mark me, if she can.
For her brat Arthur, mind you be a man.
K. John. Possession is nine points, you know, and then
40Look at these fists, don't five and five, make ten?
Enter A Herald.
Herald. My liege -- here is the funniest to do --
Two men dispute, and would be ruled by you.
K. John. Let them approach!
(Herald goes out and re-enters with Faulconbridge and Robert. L.)
K. John. (C.) Now tell me who you are?
Faulconbridge. (L C.) We are two brothers, of the same mamma.
But there are reasons for suspecting rather,
By some mistake there was an extra father.
50Elin. (L.) Don't say such naughty things against your mother.
Faul. It isn't I, my lady -- it's my brother!
He says, I'm illegitimate, and so
That I'm to lose the land, which is no go.
Elin. Come, come, For all his land, you would not be,
55Sure, such a sorry-looking knave as he.
Faul. Madam, you're right, his shape I would not wear,
For all the land in Christendom, I swear;
No written titles to estates he needs,
His cheeks are like two shrivelled parchment deeds,
60Their strong mark'd lines and wrinkles show his fitness,
By plainly saying these indentures witness.
Elin. I like you sir. A soldier would you be,
Dar'st thou to take thy chance and follow me?
Faul. Madam, I'll follow you to death I swear.
65Elin. I think you'd better go before me there.
K. John. I like you, sir -- your valour to requite,
I'll make of you upon the spot a Knight.
(Faulconbridge kneels, John knights him -- he rises.)
(To Robert.) You sir, may go; to you the fortune comes,
70You'd better lay it out in sugar plums.
(Exeunt Robert, Herald, Blanche and Lords L.)
Come we've very little time to lose,
For France!
Faul. Then diligence we needs must use.
TRIO. -- Air "Begone dull care"
We'll soon get there,
If they have got places for three,
About the fare
I will try with the guard to agree.
80Cigars we'll smoke,
And laugh and joke,
And merrily pass the day,
And then going there
Won't seem a very long way.
(Exeunt, followed by Soldiers, L.
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.
(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.
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.)
SCENE III. -- The Court of Philip
Enter Arthur, Constance, and Herald.
Const. (C.) Lewis wed Blanche -- Oh what is to be done?
185France friends with England -- who'll protect my son?
How dare you bring such news -- I hate your sight.
Arthur. (R.) Dear madam be a little more polite.
Const. If thou that biddest me be more polite,
Were negro black, instead of lily white.
190I might obey thee -- but thou art so fair,
It's such a shame, that I could almost swear --
Fellow, I command thee get thee gone,
And leave me with my sorrows all alone.
Herald. Pardon me, madam, saying such rude things,
195But I can't go without you to the Kings.
Const. But thou shalt go without me -- do you see,
If the Kings want me, they must come to me.
It's easy, sir, to say -- move on -- but oh!
It's quite another thing to make one go.
200My load of grief is such the earth must share it,
I'll make the Globe, one porter's knot to bear it.
Here I and sorrow sit, (Throwing herself on the ground) let Kings come bow,
This is my throne, I'm ready for a row.
SONG -- Constance.
Air -- "A Highland lad my love was born."
To England's throne my son was born,
Your master John, I hold in scorn;
So tell him that, as soon as you can,
And now you'd better go my nice young man.
210Sing hey, my very nice young man,
Sing ho, my precious nice young man,
You may try and move me if you can,
But you won't succeed my nice young man!
(Herald helps Constance up, -- flourish of Drums and Trumpets, Enter K. John, Philip, Lewis, Blanche, Austria, Elinor, Faulconbridge, Chatillon, and Hubert, L. Guards place two chairs in front.
215Phil. (R.C.) This is a day of jollity -- by jingo,
We'll have a ball up at the Yorkshire Stingo.
Const. (R.) I'll tell you what King Philip, it is true
This business is throughout a reg'lar do.
To fight for me you promised that you came,
220You've joined the other Party -- Oh! for shame.
I'm regularly hoax'd and that's the truth.
Aust. (In R. corner.) Peace Lady Constance.
Const. Who are you forsooth?
O Austria -- thou wretch -- thou coward slave,
225Who out of danger are exceeding brave.
You who would kick the strongest man in town,
If some one else should first have got him down.
You that from real danger always shrink,
You are a nice young man, I do not think.
230That hide is quite enough to make one grin,
Thou perfect Neddy in a Lion's skin.
Aus. Oh, that a man such language would begin.
Faul. (From behind John's chair) Thou thorough Neddy in a Lion's skin.
Aus. You daren't say that again, I bet a pin.
235Faul. (advancing.) You thorough Neddy in a Lion's skin.
K. John. We like not this, such fools I never saw,
You both seem Neddys by your length of jaw.
(Trumpet sounds.)
(Enter, Cardinal Pandulph, L)
Pandulph. King John, I've got a message from the Pope.
240K. John. None of his usual nonsense, sir, I hope.
Pand. He asks why 'tis, you won't let Langton be
Install'd at once in Canterbury's see.
K. John. Go tell the pope, the king does as he pleases,
And at his holy threats he only sneezes.
SONG -- King John.
Air -- " Swiss Toy Girl."
I'm very glad to see
You sir, as a stranger;
But it's very clear to me,
250You'll be in some danger,
If soon you don't be
From this place a ranger.
So now you'd better go
To the pope back again.
255Pand. Philip of France, hear me when I command,
In the pope's name let go rash England's hand.
Aust. Obey the pope, Philip, withdraw your fin.
Faul. You thorough Neddy, in a lion's skin.
Phil. What must I do? I dread the papal power.
260K. John. (Rising.) Philip of France, you soon shall rue this hour.
Phil. (Rising.) I've got, I'm sure, as good a chance as you.
Aust. To arms!
Faul. Two legs would better answer you.
K. John. I'll serve you out, you parlezvouing thief!
265Phil. I do defy you, Jacky Bull, roast beef.
(Flourish -- Exeunt English L., French R.)
SCENE IV. -- The Field of Battle -- France.
A retreat sounded.
Enter King John, Arthur, Elinor, and Hubert, L.
K. John. (R.) You shall stay here in safety, Arthur lad,
270Why what's the matter? pray don't look so sad.
Good mother, can't you just amuse the boy,
I thought I gave him sixpence for a toy?
(Elinor takes Arthur aside, L.
Come hither Hubert -- Hubert step this way,
275Hubert, you're looking deuced well to-day.
Hubert, I think I owe you something -- stay,
That paltry debt -- I'll square another day.
But, Hubert, I'm ashamed to fiddle-faddle,
And say how I respect -- Hubert, your daddle.
280Hubert. (Comes down, R.) I'm sure your majesty, quite proud I feel,
And ever am prepar'd to serve with zeal,
I'm truly grateful, and the little debt --
K. John. Hubert, my friend, I've not half paid it yet;
But you shall have it all -- (Feels in his pocket.) Some other day,
285Hubert, my friend, I had a thing to say.
But let it pass -- the sun is shining bright,
To suit my purpose, it had needs be night,
If where we stand could be a railroad tunnel,
As if we looked at Tartarus through a funnel;
290If you could only scent what I propose,
Yet let it not smell rankly in your nose,
If you could, or if I -- Hubert my lad
Who made that coat? -- indeed, the cut's not bad.
Hub. Great king, you know I always lov'd you well,
295Then why not in a word your wishes tell? --
Why roll your troubled eye about its socket?
My lord, your heart is in your breeches pocket.
Though it would cost my life, what is't you need?
I'll do your bidding --
300K. John. You're a friend, indeed!
But Hubert, Hubert, Hubert, throw your eye
On that young lad, that now is standing by;
I'll tell you what, my friend, that boy I feel,
Is, in my path, a piece of orange peel,
305And wheresoe'er I tread he'll throw me down,
And if I fall, you know. I crack my crown, (Taking out his snuff -- box.)
You are his keeper -- are you up to snuff?
Hub. I am. I'll keep the urchin safe enough.
K. John. Remove him --
310Hub. He shall die!
K. John. Egad, I feel
So merry, Hubert, I could dance a reel.
What shall I give thee?
Hub. What you please.
315K. John. Then let it --
Stand over, gentle Hubert, till you get it.
Madam, farewell, which means you'd better go.
(Exit Elinor, L.
Arthur, this gentleman, I think, you know?
320He shall remain, and wait on you -- good day,
(Exit Arthur, L.
As you perform the job, so I will pay.
SONG -- John.
Air -- "I've no money."
325I've no money, but you see,
You can always trust to me,
Hundreds I can borrow;
Oh, should I be king, and he
Be kept under lock and key,
330What great reward 'twould be for thee,
I'll pay you all -- to-morrow.
(Exit King John, R. Hubert, L.
Herald. I would not stand sir in your royal shoes,
K. John. Oddzooks, Pooh! Bother.
335I should have heard the tidings from my mother.
Herald. My lord, your mother's dead.
K. John. Thunder and lightening!
Have you come here your Monarch to be frightening,
Who brought these troops from France?
340Herald. Dread Liege, the Dauphin.
K. John. I'm giddy -- You may order me a coffin.
Enter Faulconbridge L.
Now what's the news?
Faul. My lord, the baron's roar,
345That you have lock'd for ever Arthur's jaw.
K. John. Bring them before me. I've a plan in train,
To gammon all the barons back again.
Faul. I'll seek them out.
(Exit Faulconbridge L.
K. John. (To Herald.) Go after him; to be
350A ready messenger, 'twixt him and me.
(Exit Herald L.
Enter Hubert, R.
Hub. To night, my lord, they say twelve moons were seen,
Three pink, three orange, half-a-dozen green,
And in addition to this crowd of moons,
355There have been five and twenty fire-balloons.
K. John. Oons! -- moons! -- balloons!
Hub. The people in the street,
Shake their heads frightfully, whene'er they meet;
And he that speaks, doth grip the hearer's button,
360While what he says the other chap doth glut on.
I saw a boy, standing beside a wall,
Buying some oysters, natives, at a stall;
And as he swallowed all the news, a lad
Snapp'd up the open oyster that he had,
365The while a pickpocket, joined with the rest,
Seizing his coat-skirts with an anxious zest,
And with the news that Arthur died to-day,
Cut off his tail, and with it cut away.
K. John. Why do you bother me about the youth?
370It was thy hand that did pluck out his tooth.
Hub. Here is your hand and seal for what I did. (Producing warrant.)
K. John. You were too quick to do as you were bid,
I did but hint and nod.
Hub. But, sir, I think
375They say a nod is equal to a wink;
And as the question it is no use blinking,
I read your nod, and did your will like winking.
K. John. Had'st thou but shook your head and made a fuss,
Or, to your nose, put up your finger thus;
380I should have been abashed, but, oh, for shame,
You did the deed, we neither dared to name.
Hub. Great king, you've slander'd nature much in me,
For though a rough and blunt old file I be,
I'm like one of those gentlemen on town,
385Who strut in bear skin jackets up and down,
Who tho' wrapped in formidable skin,
Are precious soft and harmless chaps within.
Young Arthur lives!
K. John. Does he? forgive my haste,
390Well, now I look you're not so ugly faced.
Rage blinded me -- good Hubert, let's be cronies,
Why, damme you're a regular Adonis! Exit Hubert, L.
I'm sad, my gloom even my robe betrays,
But 'tis an old one, one of other days.
SONG -- King John.
Air -- "The light of other days."
The robe of other days has faded,
Its gloss has from it past
For dust with little specks has shaded,
400The stuff too fine to last.
The robe of velvet made of cotton,
For wear much better pays;
But, alas, how shabby this I've got on,
The robe of other days.
405The coat that is not worth a stiver,
An old and worn-out thing;
When touch'd with black and blue reviver,
Like a new one up will spring.
You may dye the coat of one that's needy,
410Of stuff as coarse as baize;
But the robe is done for when 'tis seedy,
The robe of other days.
Exit L.
SCENE VII -- Part of the orchard of Swinstead Abbey
Enter King John, R.
K. John. I don't feel well, and I begin to think
It was neat gin they gave to me to drink.
Enter Faulconbridge, R.
Faul. You enemies are gaining strength each minute.
420K. John. Are they? why then I think the devil's in it,
Would not the lords return, when it was said,
'Twas false about young Arthur being dead?
Faul. They found him dead.
K. John. That villain Hubert, told me,
425Young Arthur lived. I'm fainting, catch me -- hold me!
Faul. My lord, your tendency to drop is such,
That I should say, you've had a drop too much.
But rouse thee, give your enemies no quarter,
Try coffee, seidlitz powders, soda water.
430K. John. In this affair do with me as you will,
Something or other's made me very ill.
SONG -- King John.
Air -- " On the Margin of Zurick's Fair Water."
If you'll get me some nice soda water,
435With an I. O. U.
If they'll take it, sir, that is to say,
When I settle your wages for the quarter,
With an I. O. U.
For that I'll be happy to pay.
440When I'm rich, none more liberal than me,
But at present I'm cashless you see,
Oh, get me the soda I pray,
With an I. O. U.
When you've done so, I for it will pay
445With an I. O. U.
With an I. O. U. I for it will pay,
(Exeunt R.
Enter Herald and Gentlemen with a couch, L.U.E.
Herald. His majesty, the king, is very queer,
450He thinks they gave him gin instead of beer;
The glasses at our head he has been flinging,
And when I left him, he was wildly singing.
Enter King John, reeling, R.
K. John. Ah, now I've elbow room, what is it hinders
455My active soul from jumping out of windows;
My pulse against my breast is fiercely prancing,
Like when a kettle boils the lid is dancing.
Herald. (L.) How fares the king
K. John. (Falling on the couch.) What of me dost make fun for,
460Can you not see I'm doubled up and, done for?
Enter Faulconbridge, R. He kneels to the King.
Faul. It was the gin did this, I know the odour,
Why did you not take as I said, the soda?
K. John. Oh cousin, here's a state in which you've found me,
465Every thing in the place is swimming round me.
Enter all the Characters for the Finale, R. & L.
Yes, here is Faulconbridge, gad there's another,
So like him, I could swear it was his brother;
The earth is moving under me, oddzooks,
470I feel that I am passing off the hooks,
Fate comes, we needs must take it, and not pick it,
Bring me the bucket, for I'm going to kick it.
(Slow Music -- The King dies.
Faul. He's gone, at death's particular desire,
475To give his bones to Davy Jones, Esquire.
(Enter Hubert, he kneels to the body.
Hub. (L.) Oh, is it true? I can't believe it yet,
Death has arrested John for nature's debt?
Death is a creditor that will not trust,
480His cry is always ''Come down with your dust."
But here (To the audience) his largest debt of all is due,
The Benefit of the Act he asks from you.
FINALE -- King John
Air -- "The Finale to La Somnambula."
485Oh don't fancy when I was lying
Oh the ground there, while you were crying,
I'd the slightest idea of dying,
No, I am not done for quite!
Then embrace me my gentle Hubert
490All my feelings you cannot view, but
I've been in a precious stew, but
Let us hope now that all is right.
Let us hope now that all is right.
At the fall of the Curtain.