A monologue from the play by John Galsworthy
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Strife and Other Plays. John Galsworthy. Arlington: Black Box Press, 2008.
ROBERTS: You don’t want to hear me, then? You’ll listen to Rous and to that old man, but not to me. You’ll listen to Sim Harness of the Union that’s treated you so fair; maybe you’ll listen to those men from London? Ah! You groan! What for? You love their feet on your necks, don’t you? [Then as BULGIN elbows his way towards the platform, with calm pathos.] You’d like to break my jaw, John Bulgin. Let me speak, then do your smashing, if it gives you pleasure. [BULGIN Stands motionless and sullen.] Am I a liar, a coward, a traitor? If only I were, ye’d listen to me, I’m sure. [The murmurings cease, and there is now dead silence.] Is there a man of you here that has less to gain by striking? Is there a man of you that had more to lose? Is there a man of you that has given up eight hundred pounds since this trouble here began?
Come now, is there? How much has Thomas given up—ten pounds or five, or what? You listened to him, and what had he to say? “None can pretend,” he said, “that I’m not a believer in principle— [with biting irony] —but when Nature says: ‘No further, ‘t es going agenst Nature.'” I tell you if a man cannot say to Nature: “Budge me from this if ye can!”— [with a sort of exaltation] his principles are but his belly. “Oh, but,” Thomas says, “a man can be pure and honest, just and merciful, and take off his hat to Nature!” I tell you Nature’s neither pure nor honest, just nor merciful. You chaps that live over the hill, an’ go home dead beat in the dark on a snowy night—don’t ye fight your way every inch of it? Do ye go lyin’ down an’ trustin’ to the tender mercies of this merciful Nature? Try it and you’ll soon know with what ye’ve got to deal. ‘T es only by that— [he strikes a blow with his clenched fist] —in Nature’s face that a man can be a man. “Give in,” says Thomas, “go down on your knees; throw up your foolish fight, an’ perhaps,” he said, “perhaps your enemy will chuck you down a crust.”