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About this text

  • Title: King John (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-410-3

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Peer Reviewed

    King John (Folio 1, 1623)

    0.1The life and death of King Iohn.
    1Actus Primus, Scaena Prima.
    Enter King Iohn, Queene Elinor, Pembroke, Essex, and Sa-
    lisbury, with the Chattylion of France.
    King Iohn.
    5NOw say Chatillon, what would France with vs?
    Chat. Thus (after greeting) speakes the King
    of France,
    In my behauiour to the Maiesty,
    The borrowed Maiesty of England heere.
    10Elea. A strange beginning: borrowed Maiesty?
    K. Iohn. Silence (good mother) heare the Embassie.
    Chat. Philip of France, in right and true behalfe
    Of thy deceased brother, Geffreyes sonne,
    Arthur Plantaginet, laies most lawfull claime
    15To this faire Iland, and the Territories:
    To Ireland, Poyctiers, Aniowe, Torayne, Maine,
    Desiring thee to lay aside the sword
    Which swaies vsurpingly these seuerall titles,
    And put the same into yong Arthurs hand,
    20Thy Nephew, and right royall Soueraigne.
    K. Iohn. What followes if we disallow of this?
    Chat. The proud controle of fierce and bloudy warre,
    To inforce these rights, so forcibly with-held,
    K. Io. Heere haue we war for war, & bloud for bloud,
    25Controlement for controlement: so answer France.
    Chat. Then take my Kings defiance from my mouth,
    The farthest limit of my Embassie.
    K. Iohn. Beare mine to him, and so depart in peace,
    Be thou as lightning in the eies of France;
    30For ere thou canst report, I will be there:
    The thunder of my Cannon shall be heard.
    So hence: be thou the trumpet of our wrath,
    And sullen presage of your owne decay:
    An honourable conduct let him haue,
    35Pembroke looke too't: farewell Chattillion.
    Exit Chat. and Pem.
    Ele. What now my sonne, haue I not euer said
    How that ambitious Constance would not cease
    Till she had kindled France and all the world,
    40Vpon the right and party of her sonne.
    This might haue beene preuented, and made whole
    With very easie arguments of loue,
    Which now the mannage of two kingdomes must
    With fearefull bloudy issue arbitrate.
    45K. Iohn. Our strong possession, and our right for vs.
    Eli. Your strong possessiō much more then your right,
    Or else it must go wrong with you and me,
    So much my conscience whispers in your eare,
    Which none but heauen, and you, and I, shall heare.
    50Enter a Sheriffe.
    Essex. My Liege, here is the strangest controuersie
    Come from the Country to be iudg'd by you
    That ere I heard: shall I produce the men?
    K. Iohn. Let them approach:
    55Our Abbies and our Priories shall pay
    This expeditious charge: what men are you?
    Enter Robert Faulconbridge, and Philip.
    Philip. Your faithfull subiect, I a gentleman,
    Borne in Northamptonshire, and eldest sonne
    60As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,
    A Souldier by the Honor-giuing-hand
    Of Cordelion, Knighted in the field.
    K. Iohn. What art thou?
    Robert. The son and heire to that same Faulconbridge.
    65K. Iohn. Is that the elder, and art thou the heyre?
    You came not of one mother then it seemes.
    Philip. Most certain of one mother, mighty King,
    That is well knowne, and as I thinke one father:
    But for the certaine knowledge of that truth,
    70I put you o're to heauen, and to my mother;
    Of that I doubt, as all mens children may.
    Eli. Out on thee rude man, yu dost shame thy mother,
    And wound her honor with this diffidence.
    Phil. I Madame? No, I haue no reason for it,
    75That is my brothers plea, and none of mine,
    The which if he can proue, a pops me out,
    At least from faire fiue hundred pound a yeere:
    Heauen guard my mothers honor, and my Land.
    K. Iohn. A good blunt fellow: why being yonger born
    80Doth he lay claime to thine inheritance?
    Phil. I know not why, except to get the land:
    But once he slanderd me with bastardy:
    But where I be as true begot or no,
    That still I lay vpon my mothers head,
    85But that I am as well begot my Liege
    (Faire fall the bones that tooke the paines for me)
    Compare our faces, and be Iudge your selfe
    If old Sir Robert did beget vs both,
    And were our father, and this sonne like him:
    90O old sir Robert Father, on my knee
    I giue heauen thankes I was not like to thee.
    K. Iohn. Why what a mad-cap hath heauen lent vs here?
    Elen. He hath a tricke of Cordelions face,
    The accent of his tongue affecteth him:
    95Doe you not read some tokens of my sonne
    In the large composition of this man?
    2The life and death of King John.
    K. Iohn. Mine eye hath well examined his parts,
    And findes them perfect Richard: sirra speake,
    What doth moue you to claime your brothers land.
    100Philip. Because he hath a half-face like my father?
    With halfe that face would he haue all my land,
    A halfe-fac'd groat, fiue hundred pound a yeere?
    Rob. My gracious Liege, when that my father liu'd,
    Your brother did imploy my father much.
    105Phil. Well sir, by this you cannot get my land,
    Your tale must be how he employ'd my mother.
    Rob. And once dispatch'd him in an Embassie
    To Germany, there with the Emperor
    To treat of high affaires touching that time:
    110Th' aduantage of his absence tooke the King,
    And in the meane time soiourn'd at my fathers;
    Where how he did preuaile, I shame to speake:
    But truth is truth, large lengths of seas and shores
    Betweene my father, and my mother lay,
    115As I haue heard my father speake himselfe
    When this same lusty gentleman was got:
    Vpon his death-bed he by will bequeath'd
    His lands to me, and tooke it on his death
    That this my mothers sonne was none of his;
    120And if he were, he came into the world
    Full fourteene weekes before the course of time:
    Then good my Liedge let me haue what is mine,
    My fathers land, as was my fathers will.
    K. Iohn. Sirra, your brother is Legittimate,
    125Your fathers wife did after wedlocke beare him:
    And if she did play false, the fault was hers,
    Which fault lyes on the hazards of all husbands
    That marry wiues: tell me, how if my brother
    Who as you say, tooke paines to get this sonne,
    130Had of your father claim'd this sonne for his,
    In sooth, good friend, your father might haue kept
    This Calfe, bred from his Cow from all the world:
    In sooth he might: then if he were my brothers,
    My brother might not claime him, nor your father
    135Being none of his, refuse him: this concludes,
    My mothers sonne did get your fathers heyre,
    Your fathers heyre must haue your fathers land.
    Rob. Shal then my fathers Will be of no force,
    To dispossesse that childe which is not his.
    140Phil. Of no more force to dispossesse me sir,
    Then was his will to get me, as I think.
    Eli. Whether hadst thou rather be a Faulconbridge,
    And like thy brother to enioy thy land:
    Or the reputed sonne of Cordelion,
    145Lord of thy presence, and no land beside.
    Bast. Madam, and if my brother had my shape
    And I had his, sir Roberts his like him,
    And if my legs were two such riding rods,
    My armes, such eele-skins stuft, my face so thin,
    150That in mine eare I durst not sticke a rose,
    Lest men should say, looke where three farthings goes,
    And to his shape were heyre to all this land,
    Would I might neuer stirre from off this place,
    I would giue it euery foot to haue this face:
    155It would not be sir nobbe in any case.
    Elinor. I like thee well: wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
    Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me?
    I am a Souldier, and now bound to France.
    Bast. Brother, take you my land, Ile take my chance;
    160Your face hath got fiue hundred pound a yeere,
    Yet sell your face for fiue pence and 'tis deere:
    Madam, Ile follow you vnto the death.
    Elinor. Nay, I would haue you go before me thither.
    Bast. Our Country manners giue our betters way.
    165K. Iohn. What is thy name?
    Bast. Philip my Liege, so is my name begun,
    Philip, good old Sir Roberts wiues eldest sonne.
    K. Iohn. From henceforth beare his name
    Whose forme thou bearest:
    170Kneele thou downe Philip, but rise more great,
    Arise Sir Richard, and Plantagenet.
    Bast. Brother by th' mothers side, giue me your hand,
    My father gaue me honor, yours gaue land:
    Now blessed be the houre by night or day
    175When I was got, Sir Robert was away.
    Ele. The very spirit of Plantaginet:
    I am thy grandame Richard, call me so.
    Bast. Madam by chance, but not by truth, what tho;
    Something about a little from the right,
    180In at the window, or else ore the hatch:
    Who dares not stirre by day, must walke by night,
    And haue is haue, how euer men doe catch:
    Neere or farre off, well wonne is still well shot,
    And I am I, how ere I was begot.
    185K. Iohn. Goe, Faulconbridge, now hast thou thy desire,
    A landlesse Knight, makes thee a landed Squire:
    Come Madam, and come Richard, we must speed
    For France, for France, for it is more then need.
    Bast. Brother adieu, good fortune come to thee,
    190For thou wast got i'th way of honesty.
    Exeunt all but bastard.
    Bast. A foot of Honor better then I was,
    But many a many foot of Land the worse.
    Well, now can I make any Ioane a Lady,
    195Good den Sir Richard, Godamercy fellow,
    And if his name be George, Ile call him Peter;
    For new made honor doth forget mens names:
    'Tis two respectiue, and too sociable
    For your conuersion, now your traueller,
    200Hee and his tooth-picke at my worships messe,
    And when my knightly stomacke is suffis'd,
    Why then I sucke my teeth, and catechize
    My picked man of Countries: my deare sir,
    Thus leaning on mine elbow I begin,
    205I shaIl beseeeh you; that is question now,
    And then comes answer like an Absey booke:
    O sir, sayes answer, at your best command,
    At your employment, at your seruice sir:
    No sir, saies question, I sweet sir at yours,
    210And so ere answer knowes what question would,
    Sauing in Dialogue of Complement,
    And talking of the Alpes and Appenines,
    The Perennean and the riuer Poe,
    It drawes toward fupper in conclusion so.
    215But this is worshipfull society,
    And fits the mounting spirit like my selfe;
    For he is but a bastard to the time
    That doth not smoake of obseruation,
    And so am I whether I smacke or no:
    220And not alone in habit and deuice,
    Exterior forme, outward accoutrement;
    But from the inward motion to deliuer
    Sweet, sweet, sweet poyson for the ages tooth,
    Which though I will not practice to deceiue,
    225Yet to auoid deceit I meane to learne;
    For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising:
    But who comes in such haste in riding robes?
    The life and death of King John. 3
    What woman post is this? hath she no husband
    That will take paines to blow a horne before her?
    230O me, 'tis my mother: how now good Lady,
    What brings you heere to Court so hastily?
    Enter Lady Faulconbridge and Iames Gurney.
    Lady. Where is that slaue thy brother? where is he?
    That holds in chase mine honour vp and downe.
    235Bast. My brother Robert, old Sir Roberts sonne:
    Colbrand the Gyant, that same mighty man,
    Is it Sir Roberts sonne that you seeke so?
    Lady. Sir Roberts sonne, I thou vnreuerend boy,
    Sir Roberts sonne? why scorn'st thou at sir Robert?
    240He is Sir Roberts sonne, and so art thou.
    Bast. Iames Gournie, wilt thou giue vs leaue a while?
    Gour. Good leaue good Philip.
    Bast. Philip, sparrow, Iames,
    There's toyes abroad, anon Ile tell thee more.
    245Exit Iames.
    Madam, I was not old Sir Roberts sonne,
    Sir Robert might haue eat his part in me
    Vpon good Friday, and nere broke his fast:
    Sir Robert could doe well, marrie to confesse
    250Could get me sir Robert could not doe it;
    We know his handy-worke, therefore good mother
    To whom am I beholding for these limmes?
    Sir Robert neuer holpe to make this legge.
    Lady. Hast thou conspired with thy brother too,
    255That for thine owne gaine shouldst defend mine honor?
    What meanes this scorne, thou most vntoward knaue?
    Bast. Knight, knight good mother, Basilisco-like:
    What, I am dub'd, I haue it on my shoulder:
    But mother, I am not Sir Roberts sonne,
    260I haue disclaim'd Sir Robert and my land,
    Legitimation, name, and all is gone;
    Then good my mother, let me know my father,
    Some proper man I hope, who was it mother?
    Lady. Hast thou denied thy selfe a Faulconbridge?
    265Bast. As faithfully as I denie the deuill.
    Lady. King Richard Cordelion was thy father,
    By long and vehement suit I was seduc'd
    To make roome for him in my husbands bed:
    Heauen lay not my transgression to my charge,
    270That art the issue of my deere offence
    Which was so strongly vrg'd past my defence.
    Bast. Now by this light were I to get againe,
    Madam I would not wish a better father:
    Some sinnes doe beare their priuiledge on earth,
    275And so doth yours: your fault, was not your follie,
    Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,
    Subiected tribute to commanding loue,
    Against whose furie and vnmatched force,
    The awlesse Lion could not wage the fight,
    280Nor keepe his Princely heart from Richards hand:
    He that perforce robs Lions of their hearts,
    May easily winne a womans: aye my mother,
    With all my heart I thanke thee for my father:
    Who liues and dares but say, thou didst not well
    285When I was got, Ile send his soule to hell.
    Come Lady I will shew thee to my kinne,
    And they shall say, when Richard me begot,
    If thou hadst sayd him nay, it had beene sinne;
    Who sayes it was, he lyes, I say twas not.
    290 Exeunt.