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First printed in the folio of 1623.—Though some critics have fancied that they could discover certain“ notes of time” in this play, there are, in fact, none: we only know that it was written before 1598, as it is enumerated among works by Shakespeare in Meres's Palladis Tamia, &c., which was published during that year (see the Memoir of Shakespeare).-King John is founded on an older play, in Two Parts, entitled The Troublesome Raigne of Iohn King of England, with the discouerie of King Richard Cordelions base sonne (vulgarly named, The Bastard Fawconbridge): also the death of King Iohn at Swinstead Abbey, &c.,-first printed in 1591, afterwards in 1611, and 1622 :—the earliest edition is without an author's name : but the publisher of the second edition put on the title-page the name "W. Sh.”; which in the third edition became “W. Shakespeare." By whom it was really written is a vain inquiry : more than one poet would seem to have been concerned in its composition. (See it, reprinted by Steevens, among Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare, &c., 1766, and by Nichols among Six Old Plays, on which Shakespeare founded, &c., 1779.)
the elder brother to King John.
Richard the First.
PHILIP, king of France.
ELINOR, widow of King Henry II. and mother to King John.
Lords, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers, 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. K. John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with
Chat. Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of France,
Eli. A strange beginning ;-borrow'd majesty!
Chat. Philip of France, in right and true behalf
K. John. What follows, if we disallow of this?
Chat. The proud control of fierce and bloody war, T' 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,
Exeunt Chatillon and Pembroke.
K. John. Our strong possession and our right for us.
than your right,
Enter the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers Essex.
Essex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy,
[Exit Sheriff Our abbeys and our priories shall pay This expedition's charge.
Re-enter Sheriff, with ROBERT FALCONBRIDGE, and Philip his
What men are you?
K. John. What art thou ?
K. John. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir ?
Bast. Most certain of one mother, mighty king, -
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 whêr 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(1) us
here! Eli. He hath a trick of Caur-de-lion's face; The accent of his tongue affecteth him : Do you
not read some tokens of In the large composition of this man?
K. John. Mine eye hath well examined his parts,
Bast. Because he hath a half-face, like my father,