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"by W. Shakespeare and W. Rowley," and Farmer, who believes Rowley to have been the author, thinks that there must have been a tradition to that effect in Pope's time, Malone attributed the earlier play to Peele or Greene, while Fleay sees in it the joint work of Peele, Greene, and Lodge.
Marlowe's name has also been suggested, but the character of the play as a whole does not encourage belief in Marlowe's authorship. We may say, however, that no one but an admirer or pupil of Marlowe's could have produced Faulconbridge's soliloquy :
What winde of honour blowes this furie forth ?
(Troublesome Raigne, lines 263-274.) The address to the Gentlemen Readers of the Play bears out this supposition, for they are addressed as
You hat with friendly grace of smoothed
Have entertained the Scythian Tamburlaine. But, in fine, we can only guess at the authorship of the Troublesome Raigne, and there is little to guide or check our guesses.
The early play has, of course, to bear comparison with Shakespeare's recast of it, and therefore appears at a great disadvantage. But, taken on its merits, it is by no means an utterly poor piece of work, In structure and in its sequence of events it fully satisfied Shakespeare; for the differences between the two versions in these respects are few and comparatively unimportant.
The Troublesome Raigne is 3081 lines in length. King John has 2715 lines; therefore, on the whole, Shakespeare has shortened his original. When we compare the first and second parts of the Troublesome Raigne with the corresponding parts of King John, we find that the 1822 lines of the first part of the Troublesome Raigne have been expanded by Shakespeare into 1987 in King John, while the 1259 of the Troublesome Raigne, Part II., have been compressed into 728 in King John. A glance at the dramatic content of each part reveals at once the reason for this difference of treatment. Part I. of the Raigne contains much more of the action than Part II. It ends with Hubert's setting out to inform the nobles that Arthur still lives, leaving little more than the deaths of Arthur and John to be dealt with in the second part. Therefore what Shakespeare did was to expand the more vigorous Part.I., and to take the drag off the more slowmoving Part II.
The further and slighter alterations worth notice are as follows: The mother is not present during the scene where Faulconbridge proudly claims illegitimacy, and a little later Shakespeare adds a certain James Gurney to the dramatis persona, a supernumerary of absolutely no importance.
1 See Coleridge's curious note on this point, Table Talk, 12th March, 1827. “For an instance of Shakespeare's power in minimis, I generally
King John makes no mention of the Bastard's hope of winning Blanch for himself. In the Raigne he says (line 825): “Slave as I was, I thought to have moovde the match"; and this explains his hatred of the Dauphin.
The incidents of the quarrel between the Bastard and Lymoges-Austria are altered. In the Raigne Faulconbridge chases the Duke and makes him drop the lion's skin as early as the first battle between the English and French; later, the two quarrel before John, and LymogesAustria refuses to fight with Faulconbridge, his social inferior. John thereupon makes the Bastard Duke of Normandy, but Lymoges-Austria still will not fight. The death of the latter takes place under the same circumstances in both plays.
The capture and rescue of Elinor is part of the action in the Raigne, while Shakespeare merely narrates it in seven lines.
The scene in the Raigne in which Faulconbridge is shown at work ransacking the monastery and convent is completely omitted from King John. It is out of keeping even with the cruder style of the earlier play, where it seems to be inserted as a vulgar interlude, written in abominable doggerel. Still more would it have been out of keeping with Shakespeare's whole treatment of the play.
The "five moons" alluded to in King John are actually staged in the Raigne—(how this was managed we dare not guess!) and the scenes concerned with the coronation and with Peter of Pomfret have been taken to pieces and reset. quote James Gurney's character in King Fohn. How individual and comical he is with the four words allowed to his dramatic life! And pray look at Skelton's Richard Sparrow also ! ”
In the Raigne Faulconbridge is absent when the body of Arthur is found by the nobles and they accuse Hubert of the murder.
In the last Act the earlier dramatist stages the poisoning of the King, while Shakespeare brings the King on after he has taken the poison.
Thus we see that, so far as structure goes, Shakespeare practically took over the old play as it stood. The earlier dramatist took his material from Holinshed's Chronicles, handled it to suit his own purposes, and cared not a jot for fidelity to his original. It is a far cry, therefore, from King John and the Troublesome Raigne to the actual events of the reign of the historical King John, for Holinshed's Chronicles themselves are not a well of English history undefiled.
The play opens soon after the accession of John in 1199 and ends with his death in 1216. For Chatillon's embassy there is no historical warrant, nor could Philip of France have demanded Anjou, Maine, and Touraine; for, says Holinshed, "by generall consent of the nobles and peeres of the countries of Anjou, Maine and Touraine, Arthur was received as the liege and sovereigne lord of the same countries."
The writer of the Troublesome Raigne, who, as we have shown, made much more of the matter than Shakespeare did, probably obtained the idea of John's rifling the abbeys from a note in Holinshed sub anno 1210, where we are told that John on.returning from an expedition to Ireland “constreined” the Cistercians to pay 40,000 pounds of silver notwithstanding “all their privileges to the contrary.
The cause that mooved the King to deal so hardlie with them was, for that they refused to helpe him with monie, when before his last going over into Normandie, he demanded it of them towards the paiment of the thirtie thousand pounds which he had covenanted to pay the French king.”
The doings of Philip Faulconbridge have been compounded of materials derived from several sources. Holinshed mentions “Philip, bastard sonne to King Richard to whom his father had given the castell and honor of Coinacke," who "Killed the vicount of Limoges, in revenge of his father's death, who was slaine (as yee have heard) in besieging the castell of Chalus Cheverell.” The “discovery of the base sonne" seems to be an adaptation of what Halle has to say about the conduct of Dunois, the Bastard of Orleans. His father “ the lord of Cauni” and his mother being dead, Dunois, at eight years of age proudly claimed to be the illegitimate son of the Duke of Orleans, when the next-of-kin of Cauni claimed the inheritance. Stow has a somewhat similar story, in which Morgan, Provost of Beverley, would have been made Bishop had he not preferred to style himself the bastard son of King Henry, rather than the lawful issue of “one Radulph Bloeth."
The interview between John and Philip, spoken of in Act II., took place on 16th August, 1199; "on the morrow after the feast of the Assumption of our ladie." Blanch of Castile was not present at this meeting, nor was her betrothal mentioned. The match was "clapped up" at the next meeting of the Kings, Blanch still being