King John - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workKing John - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
John, King of England, is told by a messenger from the King of France that the territories held by John should belong instead to John’s nephew Arthur. When John refuses to be swayed by this message, he is threatened with war; John counters with a warning that he will attack France first. John then judges a quarrel between Robert and Philip Faulconbridge that concludes with Philip’s decision to acknowledge the dead King Richard I as his natural father. Philip is knighted as Sir Richard Plantagenet and prepares to go with King John and the English army to France; Sir Richard’s mother, Lady Faulconbridge, confesses to him that Richard I was indeed his father.Enter King John, Queen Eleanor, Pembroke, Essex, and
Salisbury, with the Chatillion of France.
0001 Now say, Chatillion, what would France with us?
0002 Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France
0003 In my behavior to the majesty,
0004 The borrowed majesty, of England here.
0005 5 A strange beginning: “borrowed majesty”!
0006 Silence, good mother. Hear the embassy.
0007 Philip of France, in right and true behalf
0008 Of thy deceasèd brother Geoffrey’s son,
0009 Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim
0010 10 To this fair island and the territories,
0011 To Ireland, Poitiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
0012 Desiring thee to lay aside the sword
0013 Which sways usurpingly these several titles,
0014 And put the same into young Arthur’s hand,
0015 15 Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.
0016 What follows if we disallow of this?
0017 The proud control of fierce and bloody war,
0018 To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.
0019 Here have we war for war and blood for blood,
0020 20 Controlment for controlment: so answer France.
0021 Then take my king’s defiance from my mouth,
0022 The farthest limit of my embassy.
0023 Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace.
0024 Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France,
0025 25 For ere thou canst report, I will be there;
0026 The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.
0027 So, hence. Be thou the trumpet of our wrath
0028 And sullen presage of your own decay.—
0029 An honorable conduct let him have.
0030 30 Pembroke, look to ’t.—Farewell, Chatillion.
Chatillion and Pembroke exit.
QUEEN ELEANOR, ⌜aside to King John⌝
0031 What now, my son! Have I not ever said
0032 How that ambitious Constance would not cease
0033 Till she had kindled France and all the world
0034 Upon the right and party of her son?
0035 35 This might have been prevented and made whole
0036 With very easy arguments of love,
0037 Which now the manage of two kingdoms must
0038 With fearful bloody issue arbitrate.
KING JOHN, ⌜aside to Queen Eleanor⌝
0039 Our strong possession and our right for us.
QUEEN ELEANOR, ⌜aside to King John⌝
0040 40 Your strong possession much more than your right,
0041 Or else it must go wrong with you and me—
0042 So much my conscience whispers in your ear,
0043 Which none but ⌜God⌝ and you and I shall hear.
0044 My liege, here is the strangest controversy
0045 45 Come from the country to be judged by you
0046 That e’er I heard. Shall I produce the men?
KING JOHN 0047 Let them approach.⌜Sheriff exits.⌝
0048 Our abbeys and our priories shall pay
0049 This ⌜expedition’s⌝ charge.
Enter Robert Faulconbridge and Philip ⌜Faulconbridge.⌝
0050 50 What men are you?
0051 Your faithful subject I, a gentleman,
0052 Born in Northamptonshire, and eldest son,
0053 As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge,
0054 A soldier, by the honor-giving hand
0055 55 Of Coeur de Lion knighted in the field.
KING JOHN, ⌜to Robert Faulconbridge⌝ 0056 What art thou?
0057 The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.
0058 Is that the elder, and art thou the heir?
0059 You came not of one mother then, it seems.
0060 60 Most certain of one mother, mighty king—
0061 That is well known—and, as I think, one father.
0062 But for the certain knowledge of that truth
0063 I put you o’er to heaven and to my mother.
0064 Of that I doubt, as all men’s children may.
0065 65 Out on thee, rude man! Thou dost shame thy
0067 And wound her honor with this diffidence.
0068 I, madam? No, I have no reason for it.
0069 That is my brother’s plea, and none of mine,
0071 At least from fair five hundred pound a year.
0072 Heaven guard my mother’s honor and my land!
0073 A good blunt fellow.—Why, being younger born,
0074 Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?
0075 75 I know not why, except to get the land.
0076 But once he slandered me with bastardy.
0077 But whe’er I be as true begot or no,
0078 That still I lay upon my mother’s head.
0079 But that I am as well begot, my liege—
0080 80 Fair fall the bones that took the pains for me!—
0081 Compare our faces and be judge yourself.
0082 If old Sir Robert did beget us both
0083 And were our father, and this son like him,
0084 O, old Sir Robert, father, on my knee
0085 85 I give heaven thanks I was not like to thee!
0086 Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!
QUEEN ELEANOR, ⌜aside to King John⌝
0087 He hath a trick of Coeur de Lion’s face;
0088 The accent of his tongue affecteth him.
0089 Do you not read some tokens of my son
0090 90 In the large composition of this man?
KING JOHN, ⌜aside to Queen Eleanor⌝
0091 Mine eye hath well examinèd his parts
0092 And finds them perfect Richard. ⌜To Robert
Faulconbridge⌝ 0093 Sirrah, speak.
0094 What doth move you to claim your brother’s land?
0095 95 Because he hath a half-face, like my father.
0096 With half that face would he have all my land—
0097 A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year!
0098 My gracious liege, when that my father lived,
0099 Your brother did employ my father much—
0100 100 Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land.
0101 Your tale must be how he employed my mother.
0102 And once dispatched him in an embassy
0103 To Germany, there with the Emperor
0104 To treat of high affairs touching that time.
0105 105 Th’ advantage of his absence took the King
0106 And in the meantime sojourned at my father’s;
0107 Where how he did prevail I shame to speak.
0108 But truth is truth: large lengths of seas and shores
0109 Between my father and my mother lay,
0110 110 As I have heard my father speak himself,
0111 When this same lusty gentleman was got.
0112 Upon his deathbed he by will bequeathed
0113 His lands to me, and took it on his death
0114 That this my mother’s son was none of his;
0115 115 An if he were, he came into the world
0116 Full fourteen weeks before the course of time.
0117 Then, good my liege, let me have what is mine,
0118 My father’s land, as was my father’s will.
0119 Sirrah, your brother is legitimate.
0120 120 Your father’s wife did after wedlock bear him,
0121 An if she did play false, the fault was hers,
0122 Which fault lies on the hazards of all husbands
0123 That marry wives. Tell me, how if my brother,
0124 Who as you say took pains to get this son,
0125 125 Had of your father claimed this son for his?
0126 In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept
0127 This calf, bred from his cow, from all the world;
0128 In sooth he might. Then if he were my brother’s,
0129 My brother might not claim him, nor your father,
0130 130 Being none of his, refuse him. This concludes:
0131 My mother’s son did get your father’s heir;
0132 Your father’s heir must have your father’s land.
0133 Shall then my father’s will be of no force
0134 To dispossess that child which is not his?
0135 135 Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,
0136 Than was his will to get me, as I think.
0137 Whether hadst thou rather: be a Faulconbridge
0138 And, like thy brother, to enjoy thy land,
0139 Or the reputed son of Coeur de Lion,
0140 140 Lord of thy presence, and no land besides?
0141 Madam, an if my brother had my shape
0142 And I had his, Sir Robert’s his like him,
0143 And if my legs were two such riding-rods,
0144 My arms such eel-skins stuffed, my face so thin
0145 145 That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose,
0146 Lest men should say “Look where three-farthings
0148 And, to his shape, were heir to all this land,
0149 Would I might never stir from off this place,
0150 150 I would give it every foot to have this face.
0151 ⌜I⌝ would not be Sir Nob in any case.
0152 I like thee well. Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
0153 Bequeath thy land to him, and follow me?
0154 I am a soldier and now bound to France.
0155 155 Brother, take you my land. I’ll take my chance.
0156 Your face hath got five hundred pound a year,
0157 Yet sell your face for five pence and ’tis dear.—
0158 Madam, I’ll follow you unto the death.
0159 Nay, I would have you go before me thither.
0160 160 Our country manners give our betters way.
0162 Philip, my liege, so is my name begun,
0163 Philip, good old Sir Robert’s wife’s eldest son.
0164 From henceforth bear his name whose form thou
0165 165 bearest.
0166 Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great.
⌜Philip kneels. King John dubs him a knight,
tapping him on the shoulder with his sword.⌝
0167 Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.
BASTARD, ⌜rising, to Robert Faulconbridge⌝
0168 Brother by th’ mother’s side, give me your hand.
0169 My father gave me honor, yours gave land.
0170 170 Now blessèd be the hour, by night or day,
0171 When I was got, Sir Robert was away!
0172 The very spirit of Plantagenet!
0173 I am thy grandam, Richard. Call me so.
0174 Madam, by chance but not by truth. What though?
0175 175 Something about, a little from the right,
0176 In at the window, or else o’er the hatch.
0177 Who dares not stir by day must walk by night,
0178 And have is have, however men do catch.
0179 Near or far off, well won is still well shot,
0180 180 And I am I, howe’er I was begot.
KING JOHN, ⌜to Robert Faulconbridge⌝
0181 Go, Faulconbridge, now hast thou thy desire.
0182 A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.—
0183 Come, madam,—and come, Richard. We must
0185 185 For France, for France, for it is more than need.
0186 Brother, adieu, good fortune come to thee,
All but Bastard exit.
0188 A foot of honor better than I was,
0189 But many a many foot of land the worse.
0190 190 Well, now can I make any Joan a lady.
0191 “Good den, Sir Richard!” “God-a-mercy, fellow!”
0192 An if his name be George, I’ll call him “Peter,”
0193 For new-made honor doth forget men’s names;
0194 ’Tis too respective and too sociable
0195 195 For your conversion. Now your traveler,
0196 He and his toothpick at my Worship’s mess,
0197 And when my knightly stomach is sufficed,
0198 Why then I suck my teeth and catechize
0199 My pickèd man of countries: “My dear sir,”
0200 200 Thus leaning on mine elbow I begin,
0201 “I shall beseech you”—that is Question now,
0202 And then comes Answer like an absey-book:
0203 “O, sir,” says Answer, “at your best command,
0204 At your employment, at your service, sir.”
0205 205 “No, sir,” says Question, “I, sweet sir, at yours.”
0206 And so, ere Answer knows what Question would,
0207 Saving in dialogue of compliment
0208 And talking of the Alps and Apennines,
0209 The Pyrenean and the river Po,
0210 210 It draws toward supper in conclusion so.
0211 But this is worshipful society
0212 And fits the mounting spirit like myself;
0213 For he is but a bastard to the time
0214 That doth not ⌜smack⌝ of observation,
0215 215 And so am I whether I smack or no;
0216 And not alone in habit and device,
0217 Exterior form, outward accouterment,
0218 But from the inward motion to deliver
0219 Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age’s tooth,
0220 220 Which though I will not practice to deceive,
0222 For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.
Enter Lady Faulconbridge and James Gurney.
0223 But who comes in such haste in riding robes?
0224 What woman post is this? Hath she no husband
0225 225 That will take pains to blow a horn before her?
0226 O me, ’tis my mother.—How now, good lady?
0227 What brings you here to court so hastily?
0228 Where is that slave thy brother? Where is he
0229 That holds in chase mine honor up and down?
0230 230 My brother Robert, old Sir Robert’s son?
0231 Colbrand the Giant, that same mighty man?
0232 Is it Sir Robert’s son that you seek so?
0233 “Sir Robert’s son”? Ay, thou unreverent boy,
0234 Sir Robert’s son. Why scorn’st thou at Sir Robert?
0235 235 He is Sir Robert’s son, and so art thou.
0236 James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile?
0237 Good leave, good Philip.
BASTARD 0238 “Philip Sparrow,” James.
0239 There’s toys abroad. Anon I’ll tell thee more.
James ⌜Gurney⌝ exits.
0240 240 Madam, I was not old Sir Robert’s son.
0241 Sir Robert might have eat his part in me
0242 Upon Good Friday and ne’er broke his fast.
0243 Sir Robert could do well—marry, to confess—
0244 Could ⌜he⌝ get me. Sir Robert could not do it;
0245 245 We know his handiwork. Therefore, good mother,
0246 To whom am I beholding for these limbs?
0247 Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.
0248 Hast thou conspirèd with thy brother too,
0249 That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine
0250 250 honor?
0251 What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?
0252 Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like.
0253 What, I am dubbed! I have it on my shoulder.
0254 But, mother, I am not Sir Robert’s son.
0255 255 I have disclaimed Sir Robert and my land.
0256 Legitimation, name, and all is gone.
0257 Then, good my mother, let me know my father—
0258 Some proper man, I hope. Who was it, mother?
0259 Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?
0260 260 As faithfully as I deny the devil.
0261 King Richard Coeur de Lion was thy father.
0262 By long and vehement suit I was seduced
0263 To make room for him in my husband’s bed.
0264 Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!
0265 265 ⌜Thou⌝ art the issue of my dear offense,
0266 Which was so strongly urged past my defense.
0267 Now, by this light, were I to get again,
0268 Madam, I would not wish a better father.
0269 Some sins do bear their privilege on Earth,
0270 270 And so doth yours. Your fault was not your folly.
0271 Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,
0272 Subjected tribute to commanding love,
0273 Against whose fury and unmatchèd force
0274 The aweless lion could not wage the fight,
0275 275 Nor keep his princely heart from Richard’s hand.
0276 He that perforce robs lions of their hearts
0278 With all my heart I thank thee for my father.
0279 Who lives and dares but say thou didst not well
0280 280 When I was got, I’ll send his soul to hell.
0281 Come, lady, I will show thee to my kin,
0282 And they shall say when Richard me begot,
0283 If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin.
0284 Who says it was, he lies. I say ’twas not.