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ACT I. SCENE I. Northampton. A room of state in the
Enter King John, 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, The borrow'd majesty of England here.
Eli. A strange beginning ;-borrow'd majesty!
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.
* In the manner I now do.
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, 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 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; 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 the Sheriff of Northamptonshire, who whispers
Essex. Essex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy, Come froin the country to be judg’d by you, That e'er I heard : Shall I produce the men ?
K. John. Let them approach. [Exit Sheriff. Our abbies, and our priories, shall pay
* Conduct, administration.
ert Failand eldestlemar
Re-enter Sheriff, with Robert Faulconbridge, and
Philip, his bastard brother.
Bast. Your faithful subject, I, a gentleman,
K. John. What art thou ?
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 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 whe’r* 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
K. John. Mine eye hath well examined his parts, And finds 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 that half-face would he have all my land : A half-faced groat five hundred pound a-year!
Rob. My gracious liege, when that my father liv’d, Your brother did employ my father much ;
Bast. Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land; Your tale must be, how he employed 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 seas 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,
* Trace, outline.
Who, as you say, took pains to get this son,
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,
Bast. Madam, an if my brother had my shape,
goes ! And, to his shape, were heir to all this land, 'Would I might never stir from off this place, I'll give it every foot to have this face; I would not be sir Nobt in any case.
Eli. I like thee well; Wilt thou forsake thy fortune,
Eli. Nay, I would have you go before me thither.