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THE Troublesome Reign of King Fohn was written in two parts,
by W. Shakspeare and w. Rowley, and printed in 1611. But the prelent play is entirely different, and infinitely superior to it.
Pope. The edition of 1610 has no mention of Rowley, nor in the account of Rowley's works is any mention made of his conjunction with Shaktpeare in any play. King John was reprinted in two parts in 1622. The first edition that I have found of this play in its present form, is that of 1623, in folio. The edition of 1591 I have not seen. JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson mistakes when he says there is no mention in Rowley's works of any conjunction with Shakspeare. The Birth of Merlin is ascribed to them jointly; though I cannot believe Shakspeare had any thing to do with it. Mr. Capell is equally mistaken when he says that Rowley is called his partner in the title-page of The Merry Devil of Edmonton.
There must have been some tradition, however erroneous, upon which Mr. Pope's account was founded. I make no doubt that Rowley wrote the first King John; and when Shakspeare's play was called for, and could not be procured from the players, a piratical bookseller reprinted the old one, with W. Sh. in the title. page. FARMER.
The elder play of King John was first published in 1591. Shak, fpeare has preserved the greatest part of the conduct of it, as well as fome of the lines. The number of quotations from Horace, and similar feraps of learning scattered over this motley piece, ascertain it to have been the work of a scholar. It contains likewise a quantity of rhyming Latin, and ballad-metre; and in a scene where the Bastard is reprefented as plundering a monastery, there are strokes of humour, which seem, from their particular turn, to have been most evidently produced by another hand than that of our author.
Of this historical drama there is a subsequent edition in 1611, printed for John Helme, whose name appears before none of the genuine pieces of Shakfpeare. I admitted this play fomeyears ago as our author's own, among the twenty which I published from the old editions; but a more careful perufal of it, and a fur. ther conviction of his custom
of borrowing plots, sentiments, &c. disposes me to recede from that opinion. STEEVENS.
A play entitled The troublesome raigne of Jihn King of England, in two parts, was printed in 159!, without the writer's name. It was written, believe, either by Robert Greene, or George Peele; and certainly preceded this of our author. Mr. Pope, who is very inaccurate in matters of this kind, says that the former was printed in 1611, as written by W. Shakspeare and w. Rowley. But this is not true. In the second edition of this old play in 1611, the letters W. Sh. were put into the title-page, to deceive the purchaser, and to lead him to suppose the piece was Shakspeare's play, which at that time was 'not publiihed.-Our author's King John was written, I imagine, in 1596. MALOne.
Though this play have the title of The Life and Death of King John, yet the action of it begins at the thirty-fourth year of his life; and takes in only fome transactions of his reign to the time of his demise, being an interval of about seventeen years.
THEOBALD. Hall, Holinshed, Stowe, &c. are closely followed not only in the conduct, but sometimes in the very expressions throughout the following historical dramas; viz. Macbeth, this play, Richard II. Henry IV. two parts, Henry V. Henry VI. three parts, Richard III. and Henry VIII.
“ A booke called The Historie of Lord Faulconbridge, bastard Son to Richard Cordelion,” was entered at Stationers' Hall, Nov. 29, 1614; but I have never met with it, and therefore know not whé. ther it was the old black letter history, or a play on the same subject. For the original K. John, fee Six old Plays on which Shak. speare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-Crofs.
STEEVENS. The historie of Lord Faulconbridge, &c. is a profe narrative, in bl. l. The earliest edition that I have seen of it, was printed in 1616.
A book entitled “ Richard Cur de Lion," was entered on the Stationers' Books in 1558.
A play called The Funeral of Richard Cordelion, was written by Robert Wilson, Henry Chetile, Anthony Mundy, and Michael Drayton, and first exhibited in the year 1598. MALONE.
Bretagne, the elder brother of King John.
England. WILLIAM LONGSWORD, Earl of Salisbury. Robert Bigot, Earl of Norfolk. HUBERT DE BURGH, Chamberlain to the King. ROBERT FAULCONBRIDGE, son of Sir Robert Faulcon
bridge. Philip FAULCONBRIDGE, his half-brother ; bastard son to
K. Richard the First. James Gurney, servant to Lady Faulconbridge. PETER of Pomfret, a Prophet. PHILIP, King of France. LEWIS, the Dauphin. ARCH-Duke of Austria. CARDINAL PANDULPHO, the Pope's Legate. MELUN, a French Lord. CHATILLON, Ambasador from France to King John. ELINOR, the widow of King Henry II. and mother of King
John. CONSTANCE, mother to Arthur. BLANCH, daughter to Alphonso King of Castile, and niece
to King John. Lady FAULCONBRIDGE, mother to the bastard, and Robert
Faulconbridge. Lords, Ladies, Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Heralds, Officers,
Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants. SCENE, sometimes in England, and sometimes in France.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Northampton. A Room of State in the Palace.
Enter King John, Queen ELINOR, PEMBROKE, Essex,
SALISBURY, and Others, with CHATILLON,
King John. NOC
W, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?
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, 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 furthest limit of my embafly.
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.
[Exeuni CHATILLON and PEMBROKE. Eli. What now, my son ? have I not ever said, How that anibitious 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.
Efex. My liege, here is the strangest controversy,
[Exit Sheriff. Our abbies, and our priories, shall pay