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SCENE: Partly in England, and partly in France.


SCENE I. KING JOHN's palace.


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


Chat. Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France In my behaviour to the majesty,

The borrow'd majesty, of England here.

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Eli. A strange beginning: borrow'd 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 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.



[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 Ler 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 arbitrale.

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 a Sheriff.

Esser. 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.

Our abbeys and our priories shall pay

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 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 pounds a year:
Heaven guard my mother's honour 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 slander'd me with bastardy:

But whether 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 Cœur-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 find 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 half that 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,—

Bust. 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 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 scas 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 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 Coeur-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's 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


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