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King John

King John Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter KING JOHN, QUEEN ELINOR, PEMBROKE, ESSEX, SALISBURY, and others, with CHATILLON

KING JOHN

Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with us?

KING JOHN

Tell me, Chatillon, what does the king of France want from me?

CHATILLON

Thus, after greeting, speaks the King of FranceIn my behavior to the majesty,The borrow'd majesty, of England here.

CHATILLON

After greeting you, the King of France says I should behave in this way to you, your Majesty—your borrowed Majesty—

QUEEN ELINOR

A strange beginning: 'borrow'd majesty!'

QUEEN ELINOR

A strange beginning: "borrowed Majesty!"

KING JOHN

Silence, good mother; hear the embassy.

KING JOHN

Be quiet, dear mother. Listen to the message.

CHATILLON

Philip of France, in right and true behalf Of thy deceased brother Geffrey's son, Arthur Plantagenet, lays most lawful claim To this fair island and the territories, To Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Desiring thee to lay aside the sword Which sways usurpingly these several titles, And put these same into young Arthur's hand, Thy nephew and right royal sovereign.

CHATILLON

Philip of France, on behalf of your dead brother Geffrey's son, Arthur Plantagenet, lays claim lawfully to this beautiful island and its territories: Ireland, Poictiers, Anjou, Touraine, and Maine. He asks you to give up the power you have stolen over these different places and give these territories to young Arthur, your nephew and your true king.

KING JOHN

What follows if we disallow of this?

KING JOHN

What will happen if I refuse to do this?

CHATILLON

The proud control of fierce and bloody war,To enforce these rights so forcibly withheld.

CHATILLON

Fierce and bloody war will force you to give back what you have stolen to the rightful owner.

KING JOHN

Here have we war for war and blood for blood,Controlment for controlment: so answer France.

KING JOHN

We can return war for war, blood for blood, and force for force: give that answer to the king of France.

CHATILLON

Then take my king's defiance from my mouth,The farthest limit of my embassy.

CHATILLON

Then let me express my king's willingness to fight you. That is the most I am allowed to do as ambassador.

KING 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.

KING JOHN

Tell him the same from me, and leave peacefully. Shoot back like lightning to the king of France, because before you can give your report I will be there and the thunder of my cannons will be heard. So leave! Be a trumpet that announces my anger and that frighteningly foretells your own destruction. Escort him back honorably: Pembroke, take care of it. Goodbye, Chatillon.

Exeunt CHATILLON and PEMBROKE

QUEEN ELINOR

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.

QUEEN ELINOR

What now, my son? Haven't I always said that that ambitious Constance wouldn't stop until she got France and the whole world to fight for her son's rights? This could have been prevented and the argument settled very easily by acting in a loving way, but now two kingdoms must settle the issue with a terrible and bloody fight. 

KING JOHN

Our strong possession and our right for us.

KING JOHN

Our strong position and the rightfulness of our cause will be on our side.

QUEEN ELINOR

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.

QUEEN ELINOR

Your strong position will help much more than the fact that you're in the right, or this might go badly for me and you. My conscience whispers that much in your ear, which is something no one but heaven, you, and I will hear.

Enter a Sheriff

ESSEX

My liege, here is the strangest controversyCome from country to be judged by you,That e'er I heard: shall I produce the men?

ESSEX

My king, this is the strangest case I've ever heard that has come from the countryside to be judged by you. Should I bring the men forward?

KING JOHN

Let them approach.Our abbeys and our priories shall payThis expedition's charge.

KING JOHN

Let them come. Our abbeys and monasteries will pay their travel costs.

Enter ROBERT and the BASTARD

KING JOHN

What men are you?

KING JOHN

Who are you?

BASTARD

Your faithful subject I, a gentleman Born in Northamptonshire and eldest son, As I suppose, to Robert Faulconbridge, A soldier, by the honour-giving hand Of Coeur-de-lion knighted in the field.

BASTARD

I am your faithful subject, a gentleman born in Northamptonshire and the oldest son, I believe, of Robert Faulconbridge, a soldier who was knighted on the battlefield by the honor-giving hand of Coeur-de-lion.

KING JOHN

What art thou?

KING JOHN

[To ROBERT] And who are you?

ROBERT

The son and heir to that same Faulconbridge.

ROBERT

The son and heir to the same Faulconbridge.

KING JOHN

Is that the elder, and art thou the heir?You came not of one mother then, it seems.

KING JOHN

Is he the oldest, and you're the heir? You didn't come from the same mother then, it seems.

BASTARD

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.

BASTARD

Certainly from the same mother, great king; that is well known. And, I think, the same father. But to know for certain that that it true, I direct you to heaven and my mother. I can doubt it, as all men's children can.

QUEEN ELINOR

Out on thee, rude man! thou dost shame thy motherAnd wound her honour with this diffidence.

QUEEN ELINOR

You rude man! You shame your mother and insult her honor by doubting that.

BASTARD

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!

BASTARD

I, ma'am? No, I have no reason to. That is my brother's argument and not mine. If he can prove it, he'll take away at least a good five hundred pounds a year from me. May heaven save my mother's honor and my land.

KING JOHN

A good blunt fellow. Why, being younger born,Doth he lay claim to thine inheritance?

KING JOHN

You're a good, straightforward fellow. Why, being born later, does he claim your inheritance?

BASTARD

I know not why, except to get the land. But once he slander'd me with bastardy: But whether 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!

BASTARD

I don't know why, except to get the land. But once he slandered me by saying I was a bastard. Whether I was conceived in wedlock or not is on my mother's conscience. But that I am as well born, my king—God bless the bones that went through such labor for me!—you can compare our faces and judge for yourself. If old sir Robert was father to us both and this son looks like him, oh old sir Robert, father, I thank heaven on my knee that I don't look like you! 

KING JOHN

Why, what a madcap hath heaven lent us here!

KING JOHN

What, what a crazy person God has given us here!

QUEEN ELINOR

He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face;The accent of his tongue affecteth him.Do you not read some tokens of my sonIn the large composition of this man?

QUEEN ELINOR

His face looks like Coeur-de-lion's. The way he talks sounds like him. Do you not see some signs of my son in the whole makeup of this man?

KING JOHN

Mine eye hath well examined his partsAnd finds them perfect Richard. Sirrah, speak,What doth move you to claim your brother's land?

KING JOHN

My eye has looked him over well and finds that he looks just like Richard. Speak, fellow, what makes you claim your brother's land?

BASTARD

Because he hath a half-face, like my father.With half that face would he have all my land:A half-faced groat five hundred pound a year!

BASTARD

Because half of his face looks like my father. With half that face he wants all my land. A half-faced four-pence coin wants five hundred pounds a year!

ROBERT

My gracious liege, when that my father lived,Your brother did employ my father much,—

ROBERT

Kind king, when my father was alive, your brother had a lot of jobs for my father—

BASTARD

Well, sir, by this you cannot get my land:Your tale must be how he employ'd my mother.

BASTARD

Well, sir, you can't get my land for that. Your story has to be about how he employed my mother.

ROBERT

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.

ROBERT

And once sent him as an ambassador to Germany, to negotiate with the emperor there about important matters of the time. The king took advantage of his absence and in the mean time stayed at my father's house. I am ashamed to talk about what he did there, but the truth is the truth. There were long stretches of sea and land between my father and my mother, as I have heard my father himself say, when this energetic gentlemen was conceived. On his death-bed he left his land to me in his will, and as he was dying he claimed that my mother's son here was not his. If he was, he came into the world a good fourteen weeks early. Then, my good king, let me have what's mine, my father's land, as my father wished.

KING 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, Who, as you say, took pains to get this son, Had of your father claim'd this son for his? In sooth, good friend, your father might have kept This calf bred from his cow from all the world; In sooth he might; then, if he were my brother's, My brother might not claim him; nor your father, Being none of his, refuse him: this concludes; My mother's son did get your father's heir; Your father's heir must have your father's land.

KING JOHN

Sir, your brother is legitimate. Your father's wife gave birth to him after marriage and if she was unfaithful, that's her fault. That is a risk all husbands take who marry wives. Tell me, what if my brother—who, as you say, was this son's real father—had gone to your father and claimed this boy as his son? Really, good friend, your father could have kept this calf his cow gave birth to secret from the world; really, he could have. Even if he were my brother's, my brother could not have claimed him. And your father never raised any suspicion about it. It follows, then, that my mother's son conceived your father's heir. Your father's heir must have your father's land.

ROBERT

Shall then my father's will be of no forceTo dispossess that child which is not his?

ROBERT

So should my father's will have no power to disinherit the child that is not his?

BASTARD

Of no more force to dispossess me, sir,Than was his will to get me, as I think.

BASTARD

He has no more power to disinherit me than he had to conceive me, I think.

QUEEN ELINOR

Whether hadst thou rather be a FaulconbridgeAnd like thy brother, to enjoy thy land,Or the reputed son of Coeur-de-lion,Lord of thy presence and no land beside?

QUEEN ELINOR

Would you prefer to be a Faulconbridge and like your brother, so you could have your land? Or the supposed son of Coeur-de-lion, lord of your body and no land to go with it?

BASTARD

Madam, an if my brother had my shape, And I had his, sir Robert's his, like him; And if my legs were two such riding-rods, My arms such eel-skins stuff'd, my face so thin That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose Lest men should say 'Look, where three-farthings goes!' And, to his shape, were heir to all this land, Would I might never stir from off this place, I would give it every foot to have this face; I would not be sir Nob in any case.

BASTARD

Madam, if my brother looked like me and I looked like him and sir Robert, and if my legs were two whips like his, my arms stuffed eel-skins, my face so thin that I didn't dare stick a rose behind my ear for fear that men would say, "Look, there goes a three-farthing coin!" And if, in addition to looking like him, I could be heir to all this land, I would not choose to leave this place. I would give every foot of land to have this face. I don't want to be sir Fool, whatever happens.

QUEEN ELINOR

I like thee well: wilt thou forsake thy fortune,Bequeath thy land to him and follow me?I am a soldier and now bound to France.

QUEEN ELINOR

I like you. Will you abandon your fortune, leave your land to him, and follow me? I am a soldier and now heading to France.

BASTARD

Brother, take you my land, I'll take my chance. Your face hath got five hundred pound a year, Yet sell your face for five pence and 'tis dear. Madam, I'll follow you unto the death.

BASTARD

Brother, you take my land, I'll take my chance. Your face has gained you five hundred pounds a year, but sell your face for five pence and it's overpriced. Ma'am, I'll follow you to death.

QUEEN ELINOR

Nay, I would have you go before me thither.

QUEEN ELINOR

No, I would prefer you to go there ahead of me.

BASTARD

Our country manners give our betters way.

BASTARD

It's good manners in our country to let our superiors go first.

KING JOHN

What is thy name?

KING JOHN

What is your name?

BASTARD

Philip, my liege, so is my name begun,Philip, good old sir Robert's wife's eldest son.

BASTARD

Philip, my king, that's how my name begins. Philip, good old sir Robert's wife's oldest son.

KING JOHN

From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bear'st:Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great,Arise sir Richard and Plantagenet.

KING JOHN

From now on you should have the name of the man you look like. Kneel down Philip, but get up greater, get up as Sir Richard and a Plantagenet.

BASTARD

Brother by the mother's side, give me your hand: My father gave me honour, yours gave land. Now blessed be the hour, by night or day, When I was got, sir Robert was away!

BASTARD

Brother on my mother's side, give me your hand: my father gave me honor, yours gave you land. Now may the hour of night or day be blessed when I was conceived and Sir Richard was away!

QUEEN ELINOR

The very spirit of Plantagenet!I am thy grandam, Richard; call me so.

QUEEN ELINOR

That's the Plantagenet spirit! I am your grandmother, Richard. Call me that.

BASTARD

Madam, by chance but not by truth; what though? Something about, a little from the right, In at the window, or else o'er the hatch: Who dares not stir by day must walk by night, And have is have, however men do catch: Near or far off, well won is still well shot, And I am I, howe'er I was begot.

BASTARD

Ma'am, by luck and not by honor. But who cares about that? Roundabout, a little wrong, climbing in at the window or over the roof: whoever doesn't dare go out in the daytime must walk at night, and having is having however men get it. Whether you're near or far off, winning means you shot well. And I am me, however I was conceived.

KING JOHN

Go, Faulconbridge: now hast thou thy desire;
A landless knight makes thee a landed squire.
Come, madam, and come, Richard, we must speed
For France, for France, for it is more than need.

KING JOHN

Go, Faulconbridge: now you have what you wanted. A landless knight makes you a landed gentleman. Come, ma'am and come, Richard, we must hurry to France, to France, because it is more than necessary.

BASTARD

Brother, adieu: good fortune come to thee!For thou wast got i' the way of honesty.

BASTARD

Brother, goodbye. May good fortune come to you! Because you were conceived honestly.

Exeunt all but BASTARD

BASTARD

A foot of honour better than I was; But many a many foot of land the worse. Well, now can I make any Joan a lady. 'Good den, sir Richard!'—'God-a-mercy, fellow!'— And if his name be George, I'll call him Peter; For new-made honour doth forget men's names; 'Tis too respective and too sociable For your conversion. Now your traveller, He and his toothpick at my worship's mess, And when my knightly stomach is sufficed, Why then I suck my teeth and catechise My picked man of countries: 'My dear sir,' Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin, 'I shall beseech you'—that is question now; And then comes answer like an Absey book: 'O sir,' says answer, 'at your best command; At your employment; at your service, sir;' 'No, sir,' says question, 'I, sweet sir, at yours:' And so, ere answer knows what question would, Saving in dialogue of compliment, And talking of the Alps and Apennines, The Pyrenean and the river Po, It draws toward supper in conclusion so. But this is worshipful society And fits the mounting spirit like myself, For he is but a bastard to the time That doth not smack of observation; And so am I, whether I smack or no; And not alone in habit and device, Exterior form, outward accoutrement, But from the inward motion to deliver Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth: Which, though I will not practise to deceive, Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn; For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising. But who comes in such haste in riding-robes? What woman-post is this? hath she no husband That will take pains to blow a horn before her?

BASTARD

I'm a foot more honorable than I was, but I have lost many and many feet of land. Well, now I can make any girl a lady. "Good day, Sir Richard!"—"God bless you, fellow!"—And if his name is George, I'll call him Peter, because being made more honorable makes your forget men's names. Remembering people's names is too familiar and too sociable for my new self. I'll have a traveler eat at my noble table with his toothpick. When I have satisfied my knightly appetite, I will purse my lips and question my picked man about countries: "My dear sir," I will begin, leaning on my elbow in this way, "I beg you"—that's me asking a question now, and then he'll answer as though he's reading out of an ABC book: "Oh sir", he says, answering, "as you command; as you wish to employ me; at your service, sir." "No sir," I say, questioning, "I, good sir, am at yours." And so, before answer knows what question was asking, we'll have a dialog full of compliments. And discussing the Alps and Apennines, the Pyrenees and the river Po, we'll talk until dinner. This is good society and is right for an ambitious spirit like mine, because a man who doesn't strike you as observant is just a bastard of his time period. And I am a bastard, whether I strike or not. You can tell not just by how he dresses and acts, his outside appearance, his exterior equipment, but from how he expresses what's inside, giving sweet sweet poison to the tooth of his age. Which, though I will not try to deceive people, in order to avoid deceiving them I want to learn. Because that will be a celebration of my rise in importance, like strewing petals around myself. But who comes here so quickly, wearing a riding outfit? What post-woman is this? Doesn't she have a husband who is willing to blow a horn in front of her?

Enter LADY FAULCONBRIDGE and GURNEY

BASTARD

O me! it is my mother. How now, good lady!What brings you here to court so hastily?

BASTARD

Oh no! It's my mother. Hello, good lady! What brings you here to court so quickly?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Where is that slave, thy brother? where is he,That holds in chase mine honour up and down?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Where is that slave your brother? Where is he? He hunts up and down after my reputation, trying to kill it.

BASTARD

My brother Robert? old sir Robert's son?Colbrand the giant, that same mighty man?Is it sir Robert's son that you seek so?

BASTARD

My brother Robert? Old Sir Robert's son? The giant Colbrand, that same powerful man? Is it Sir Robert's son you're looking for?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Sir Robert's son! Ay, thou unreverend boy,Sir Robert's son: why scorn'st thou at sir Robert?He is sir Robert's son, and so art thou.

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Sir Robert's son! Yes, you disrespectful boy, Sir Robert's son. Why are you rejecting Sir Robert? He is Sir Robert's son, and so are you.

BASTARD

James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile?

BASTARD

James Gurney, could you leave us for a while?

GURNEY

Good leave, good Philip.

GURNEY

Gladly, good Philip.

BASTARD

Philip! sparrow: James,There's toys abroad: anon I'll tell thee more.

BASTARD

Philip! That's a sparrow's name. James, there are wonderful things going on abroad. I'll tell you more later.

Exit GURNEY

BASTARD

Madam, I was not old sir Robert's son: Sir Robert might have eat his part in me Upon Good-Friday and ne'er broke his fast: Sir Robert could do well: marry, to confess, Could he get me? Sir Robert could not do it: We know his handiwork: therefore, good mother, To whom am I beholding for these limbs? Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.

BASTARD

Ma'am, I was not old Sir Robert's son. Sir Robert could have eaten the part of me he was responsible for on the fast day day Good-Friday without breaking his fast. Sir Robert could do well. But really, tell the truth: could he conceive me? Sir Robert couldn't do it. We know his handiwork. So good mother, who is responsible for these limbs of mine? Sir Robert never helped make this leg.

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Hast thou conspired with thy brother too,That for thine own gain shouldst defend mine honour?What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Have you plotted with your brother too, when for your own sake you should defend my honor? What does this insult mean, you rude good-for-nothing?

BASTARD

Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco-like. What! I am dubb'd! I have it on my shoulder. But, mother, I am not sir Robert's son; I have disclaim'd sir Robert and my land; Legitimation, name and all is gone: Then, good my mother, let me know my father; Some proper man, I hope: who was it, mother?

BASTARD

Knight, knight, good mother, like the character Basilisco in that play. I have been dubbed! I have it on my shoulder. But, mother, I am not Sir Robert's son. I have given up my claim to Sir Robert and my land. Legitimacy my name, and all other things are gone. So, my good mother, tell me who my father was. Some honorable man, I hope. Who was it, mother?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridge?

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

Have you denied you are a Faulconbridge?

BASTARD

As faithfully as I deny the devil.

BASTARD

As faithfully as I deny the devil.

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

King Richard Coeur-de-lion was thy father: By long and vehement suit I was seduced To make room for him in my husband's bed: Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge! Thou art the issue of my dear offence, Which was so strongly urged past my defence.

LADY FAULCONBRIDGE

King Richard Coeur-de-lion was your father. After he argued vehemently for a long time he convinced me to make room for him in my husband's bed. May heaven not punish me for my sin! You are the result of my dear sin, which he argued for so strongly that I couldn't defend myself.

BASTARD

Now, by this light, were I to get again, Madam, I would not wish a better father. Some sins do bear their privilege on earth, And so doth yours; your fault was not your folly: Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose, Subjected tribute to commanding love, Against whose fury and unmatched force The aweless lion could not wage the fight, Nor keep his princely heart from Richard's hand. He that perforce robs lions of their hearts May easily win a woman's. Ay, my mother, With all my heart I thank thee for my father! Who lives and dares but say thou didst not well When I was got, I'll send his soul to hell. Come, lady, I will show thee to my kin; And they shall say, when Richard me begot, If thou hadst said him nay, it had been sin: Who says it was, he lies; I say 'twas not.

BASTARD

I swear, ma'am, if I were going to be conceived again I couldn't wish for a better father. Some sins give you benefits on earth, and yours is one of them. You were not foolish to commit that sin. You had to give him your heart, since you were his subject and his love commanded you. Even the lion that's not afraid of anything could not have fought again his passion and unequaled strength, or keep his royal heart out of Richard's hand. Anyone who violently robs lions of their hearts can easily win a woman's. Yes, my mother, I thank you with all my heart for my father! If anyone alive dares even to say you didn't do the right thing when I was conceived, I'll send his soul to hell. Come, lady, I will show you to my relatives; and they will say that if you had said no to Richard when he conceived me it would have been a sin. Whoever says it was, is lying. I say it was not.

Exeunt

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