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  • Title: King John: A Burlesque
  • Editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Gilbert Abbott À Beckett
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King John: A Burlesque

    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.
    25Air -- "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!
    45(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.
    75TRIO. -- 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.
    85(Exeunt, followed by Soldiers, L.