« PreviousContinue »
PRINCE HENRY, his Son; afterwards King Henry III.
ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne, Son of Geffrey, late Duke of
Bretagne, the elder Brother of King John.
WILLIAM MARESHALL, Earl of Pembroke.
GEFFREY Fitz-PETER, Earl of Essex, chief Justiciary of
WILLIAM LONGSWORD, Earl of Salisbury.
ROBERT Bigot, Earl of Norfolk.
HUBERT DE BURGH, Chamberlain to the King.
ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, Son of Sir Robert Faulconbridge.
PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE, his Half-brother, Bastard Son to
King Richard the First.
JAMES GURNEY, Servant to Lady Faulconbridge.
PETER of Pomfret, a Prophet
PHILIP, King of France.
LEWIS, the Dauphin.
Archduke of Austria.
CARDINAL PANDULPH, the Pope's Legate.
MELUN, a French Lord.
CHATILLON, Ambassador from France to King Jobe.
ELINOR, the Widow of King Henry II. and Mother of King
John. CONSTANCE, Mother to Arthur. BLANCH, Daughter to Alphonso, King of Castile, and Niece
to King John. LADY FAULCONBRIDGE, Mother to the Bastard, and Robert
Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officer
Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants.
SCENE, sometimes in England, and sometimes in France.
SCENE I. Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace. Enter King John,' QUEEN Elinor, PEMBROKE, Essex,
SALISBURY, and others, with CHATILLON. · King John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France
Chat. Thus, after greeting, speaks the king of France,
In my behavior, to the majesty,
The borrowed majesty of England here.
Eli. A strange beginning; — borrowed majesty!
K. John. Silence, good mother; hear the embassy.
Chat. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son,
Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
To this fair island, and the territories;
To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine ;
Desiring thee to lay aside the sword,
Which sways usurpingly these several titles,
And put the same into young Arthur's hand,
Thy nephew, and right royal sovereign.
K. John. What follows, if we disallow of this?
- Chat. The proud control of fierce and bloody war,
To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.
K. John. Here have we war for war, and blood for blood, Controlment for controlment; so answer France. ,
Chat. Then take my king's defiance from my mouth, The furthest limit of my embassy.
K. John. Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace. Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France ; For 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,
With fearful, the managents of lovand made who
And sullen presage of your own decay.--
An honorable conduct let him have;
Pembroke, look to't. Farewell, Chatillon.
[Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE.
Eli. What now, my son ? have I not ever said
How that ambitious Constance would not cease,
Till she had kindled France, and all the world,
Upon the right and party of her son ?
This might have been prevented and made whole,
With very easy arguments of love!
Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
With fearful, bloody issue arbitrate.
K. John. Our strong possession, and our right, for us.
Eli. Your strong possession, much more than your right;
Or else it must go wrong with you, and me.
So much my conscience whispers in your ear;
Which none but Heaven, and you, and I, shall hear.
Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers Essex.
Essex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy,
Come from the country to be judged by you,
That e'er I heard. Shall I produce the men ?
K. John. Let them approach.–
[Exit Sheriff. Our abbeys, and our priories, shall pay Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and PHILIP,
his bastard Brother.
This expedition's charge. What men are you?
Bast. Your faithful subject, I, a gentleman,
Born in Northamptonshire; and eldest son,
As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge ;
A soldier, by the honor-giving hand
Of Cour-de-lion knighted in the field.
K. John. What art thou ?
Rob. The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.
K. John. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir ?
You came not of one mother then, it seems.
Bast. Most certain of one mother, mighty king;
That is well known; and, as I think, one father:
But, for the certain knowledge of that truth,
I put you o'er to Heaven, and to my mother;
Of that I doubt, as all men's children may.
Eli. Out on thee, rude man ! thou dost shame thy mother, And wound her honor with this diffidence.
Bast. I, madam ? no, I have no reason for it; That is my brother's plea, and none of mine.
The which if he can prove, ’a pops me out
At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
Heaven guard my mother's honor, and my land !
K. John. A good blunt fellow.—Why, being younger
Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance ?
Bast. I know not why, except to get the land.
But once he slandered me with bastardy:
But whe'r I be as true begot, or no,
That still I lay upon my mother's head;
But, that I am as well begot, my liege,
(Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!)
Compare our faces, and be judge yourself.
If old sir Robert did beget us both,
And were our father, and this son like him ;-
O, old sir Robert, father, on my knee
I give Heaven thanks, I was not like to thee.
K. John. Why, what a madcap hath Heaven lent us here!
Eli. He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face:
The accent of his tongue affecteth him.
Do you not read some tokens of my son
In the large composition of this man?
K. John. Mine eye hath well examined his parts,
And finds them perfect Richard.— Sirrah, speak,
What doth move you to claim your brother's land ?
Bast. Because he hath a half-face, like my father: With that half-face would he have all my land. A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year!
Rob. My gracious liege, when that my father lived, Your brother did employ my father much ;
Bast. Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land;
Your tale must be how he employed my mother.
Rob. And once despatched him in an embassy
To Germany, there, with the emperor,
To treat of high affairs touching that time.
The advantage of his absence took the king,
And in the mean time sojourned at my father's;
Where how he did prevail, I shame to speak.
But truth is truth; large lengths of seas and shores
Between my father and my mother lay,
(As I have heard my father speak himself,)
When this same lusty gentleman was got.
Upon his death-bed he by will bequeathed
His lands to me; and took it, on his death,
That this, my mother's son, was none of his;
And, if he were, he came into the world
Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,
My father's land, as was my father's will.
K. John. Sirrah, your brother is legitimate;
Your father's wife did after wedlock bear him:
And, if she did play false, the fault was hers;
Which fault lies on the hazard of all husbands
That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother,
Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,
Had of your father claimed this son for his ?
In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept
This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world.
In sooth, he might; then, if he were my brother's,
My brother might not claim him; nor your father,
Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes,
My mother's son did get your father's heir;
Your father's heir must have your father's land.
Rob. Shall then my father's will be of no force,
To dispossess that child which is not his ?
Bast. Of no more force to dispossess me, sir, Than was his will to get me, as I think.
Eli. Whether hadst thou rather, - be a Faulconbridge, And like thy brother, to enjoy thy land; Or the reputed son of Cour-de-lion, Lord of thy presence, and no land beside ?
Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape, And I had his, sir Robert his, like him ; And if my legs were two such riding-rods; My arms such cel-skins stuffed ; my face so thin, That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose, Lest men should say, Look, where three-farthings goes ! And, to his shape, were heir to all this land, 'Would, I might never stir from off this place, I'd give it every foot to have this face; I would not be sir Nob in any case.
Eli. I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune, Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me? I am a soldier, and now bound to France.
Bast. Brother, take you my land; I'll take my chance.
Your face hath got five hundred pounds a year;
Yet sell your face for five pence, and 'tis dear.-
Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.
Eli. Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
Bast. Our country manners give our betters way.
K. John. What is thy name?