Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

King John: A Burlesque


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.
395
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.