Page images



SCENE I.--NORTHAMPTON. A Room of State in the Palace. Enter KING JOHN, Queen ELINOR, PEMBROKE, Essex, SALISBURY, and others,

K. John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?

Chat. Thus, after greeting, speaks the king of France,
In my behaviour, to the majesty,
The borrow'd majesty of England here.
Eli. A strange beginning ;-borrow'd majesty!
King 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 farthest 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,
And sullen presage of your own decay.—
An honourable conduct let him have :
Pembroke, look to’t.-Farewell, Chatillon.

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 judg’d 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

This expedition's charge. —
Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, and Philip, his bastard Brother.

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 honour-giving hand
Of Coeur-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 honour 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 honour, and my land !

K. John. A good blunt fellow.--Why, being younger born, Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance ?

Bast. I know not why, except to get the land.
But once he slander'd 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,-
0, 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 Ceur-de-lion's face;
The accent of his tongue affecteth him :

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 youd 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-fac'd groat five hundred pound a-year!

Rob. My gracious liege, when that my father liv'd,
Your brother did employ my father much,-

Bast. Well, Sir, by this you cannot get my land :
Your tale must be, how he employ'd my mother.

Rob. And once despatch'd 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 sojourn'd at my father's;
Where how he did prevail, I shame to speak,-
But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores

father and my mother lay,
(As I have heard my father speak himself,)

Between my

When this same lusty gentleman was got.
Upon his death-bed he by will bequeath'd
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 hazards 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 claim'd 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 eel-skins stuff’d; 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 fivepence, 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?

Bast. Philip, my liege,-so is my name begun,-
Philip, good old Sir Robert's wife's eldest son.
K. John. From henceforth bear his name whose form thou

Kneel thou down Philip, but arise more great, —
Arise Sir Richard, and Plantagenet.

Bast. Brother, by the mother's side, give me your hand :
My father gave me honour, yours gave land. -
Now blessed be the hour, by night or day,
When I was got, Sir Robert was away.

Eli. The very spirit of Plantagenet !
I am thy grandam, Richard; call me so.

Bast. Madam, by chance, but not by truth : what though? Something about, a little from the right,

In at the window, or else o'er the hatch;
Who dares not stir by day, must walk by night;

And have is have, however men do catch;
Near or far off, well won is still well shot;
And I am I, howe'er I was begot.

K. John. Go, Faulconbridge: now hast thou thy desire;
A landless knight makes thee a landed 'squire.-
Come, Madam, -and come, Richard; we must speed
For France, for France; for it is more than need.

Bast. Brother, adieu : good fortune come to thee !
For thou wast got i' the way of honesty.

[Exeunt all except the Bastard. A foot of honour better than I was; But

many a many foot of land the worse. Well, now can I make any Joan a lady:“Good den, Sir Richard :"_“God-a-mercy, fellow;" And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter; For new-made honour doth forget men's names,'Tis too respective, and too sociable, For your conversion. Now your traveller,He and his tooth-pick at my worship’s mess; And when my knightly stomach is suffic'd, Why then I suck my teeth, and catechize My picked man of countries :-"My dear Sir,"

« PreviousContinue »