« ZurückWeiter »
INTRODUCTION. The germ of this historical play is a strange, hybrid drama, written with a half-religious, half-political, purpose by Bishop Bale, about the year 1550. It is hybrid, not because of this double purpose,
but because in its structure it is a transition between the old Morality and the true dramatic History. Some of its personages are allegorical abstractions, some historical realities; albeit the historical people have as little of human flesh and blood and soul as the allegorical fig. ures. The object of the writer was to stimulate the Protestant and the patriotic feeling of Englishmen. But Bale's King John is without any other merit than its purpose. Another play so coarse, so dull, and so void of dramatic interest could hardly be found, even among the works of pre-Elizabethan playwrights. Bale's play, however, led to the production, with a like purpose, of another, founded upon the incidents of King John's reign, The Troublesome Reign of King John. The authorship of this drama is unknown; but although no one would think of reading it nowadays for pleasure, it is a long stride in advance of its predecessor, and is not without some literary and dramatic merit. Its author, or authors, abandoned allegory altogether, and went to history or to real life for its dramatis persona. But at present its only claim upon the attention of the world is that Shakespeare made it the foundation of his King John. He remodelled it; he condensed it; he elevated it even in its design; be rewrote it; he transfigured it; but, nevertheless, he found in it the incidents,
personages, the movement, and occasionally even the language of his own great historical drama. He had it constantly in mind, and probably before his eyes, as he wrote, modifying but never changing its purpose, and we may even say its spirit, which had their origin in Bishop Bale. At what time he did this is not certain; but it must have been between the years 1591 and 1598; for Meres mentions the play in Palladis Tamia. From internal evidence it would appear to have written about 1596. It was first printed in the folio of 1623, where its text is given in a state nearly approaching purity. The troublesome reign, of the latter part of which it presents a dramatic picture, began in the year 1199 and ended in 1216.
Lewis, the Dauphin. PRINCE HENRY, son to the king. LYMOGES, Duke of AUSTRIA. ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne, nephew Cardinal PANDULPH, the Pope's legto the king.
ate. The Earl of PEMBROKE.
MELUN, a French Lord. The Earl of Essex.
CHATILLON, ambassador from France The Earl of SALISBURY.
to King John. The Lord BIGOT. HUBERT DE BURGH.
QUEEN Elixor, mother to King John. ROBEKT FAULCONBRIDGE, son to Sir CONSTANCE, mother to Arthur. Robert Faulconbridge:
BLANCH of Spain, niece to King Philip the Bastard, his half-brother. John. JAMES GURNEY, servant to Lady Faul LADY FAULCONBRIDGE.
conbridge. PETER of Pomfret, a prophet.
Lorils, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff,
Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, ViessenPhilip, King of France.
gers, and other. Attendanis. Scene: Partly in England, and partly in France.
SCENE I. King John's palace : a room of state. Enter King JOIN, QUEEN ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and others, with
CHATILLON. 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,
Eli. A strange beginning : " borrowed majesty!”
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,
K. John. Bear mine to him, and so depart in peace :
of your own decay. Chatillon : printed in the folio Chatillion, as it is pronounced.
There were no cannon until two hundred years later ; but for that s. cared nothing, even if he knew it.
25 my cannon.
An honourable conduct let him have:
[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 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,
Enter a Sheriff.
Esser. My liege, here is the strangest controversy
K. John. Let them approach.
What men are you?
K. John. What art thou ?
K. John. Is that the elder, and art thou the heir ?
Bist. Most certain of one mother, mighty king; That is well known ; and, as I think, one father :
60 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;
54 Caur-de-lion. This naine was pronounced like one English word, Cordelion, and is 50 printed in the folio.