ページの画像
PDF
ePub

Long, long labour, little rest,
Still to toil to be oppress'd;
Drain'd by taxes of his store,
Punish'd next for being poor:
This is the

poor wretch's lot, Born within the straw-roofd cot.

While the peasant works—to sleep;
What the peasant sows-to reap;
On the couch of ease to lie,
Rioting in revelry;
Be he villain, be he fool,
Still to hold desposic rule,
Trampling on his slaves with scorn;
This is to be nobly born.

• When Adam delv'd, and Eve span, • Who was then the gentleman?,

Or leave me. I dare answer the bold deed
Death must come once; return you to your homes,
Protect my wife and child, and on my grave
Write why I died; perhaps the time may come,
When honest Justice shall applaud the deed.

HOB.
Nay, nay,—we are oppressed, and have too long
Knelt at our proud lords' feel-we bave too long
Obey'd their orders—bowd to their caprices-
Sweated for them the wearying summer's day,
Wasted for them the wages of our toil;
Fought for them, conquer'd for them, bled for them,
Still to be trampled on, and still despis'd;
But we have broke our chains.

TOM MILLER.

Piers is gone on Through all the neiglıbouring villages, to spread The glorious tidings.

дов.

He is hurried on To Maidstone, to deliver good John Ball, Our friend, our shepherd.

[ Mob increases. TYLER.

Friends and Countrymen, Will ye then rise to save an honest man From the fierce clutches of the bloody law? Oh do not call to mind my private wrongs, That the state draia'd my hard-earn'd pittance from me; That, of his office proud, the foul Collector Durst with lewd hand seize on my darling child, Insult her maiden modesty and force A father's hand to vengeance; heed not this : Think not, my countrymen, on private wrongs; Remember what yourselves have long endur'd. Think of the insults, wrongs, and contumelies, Ye bear from your proud lords—that your hard toil Manures their fertile fields-you plough the earth, You sow the corn, you reap the ripen'd harvest,They riot on the produce!—That, like beasts, They sell you with their land-claim all the fruits Which the kindly carth produces as their own. The privilege, forsooth, of noble birth! 00, on to Freedom; feel but your own strength, Be but resolved, and these destructive tyrants Shall shrink before your vengeance.

IIOB.

On to LondouThe tidings fly before us—the court tremblesLiberty !--Vengeauce-Justice!

[blocks in formation]

ACT II.

[blocks in formation]

PIERS.

HOB.

JOHN BALL.

JACK STRAW.

TOM MILLER.

JOIN BALL.

MOB.

JOHN BALL.

Equality is your birth-right; --when I gaze Silence there, my friends; On the proud palace, and behold one man This good man would address you.

In the blood-purpled robes of royalty,

Fcasting at ease, and lording over millions ;

Aye, aye, hear him-- Then turn me to the hut of poverty, Ile is no mealy-mouth'd court orator,

And see the wretched labourer, worn with toil, To flatter vice, and pamper lordly pride.

Divide his seanty morsel with his infants ;

I sicken, and, indignant at the sight, Friends! Brethren! for ye are my brethren all ;

« Blush for the patience of humanity.».
Englishmen met in arms to advocate
The cause of freedom! hear me! pause awhile

We will assert our rights.
In the career of vengeance: it is true
I am a priest; but, as these rags may speak,

We 'll trample down Not one who riots in the poor man's spoil,

These insolent oppressors.
Or trades with his religion. I am one
Who preach the law of Christ, and in my life

In good truth
Would practise what he tauglit. The Son of God Ye have cause for anger: but, my honest friends,
Came not to you in power :--humble in mien, Is it revenge or justice that

ye

seek?
Lowly in heart, the man of Nazareth
Preach'd mercy, justice, love: « Woe unto yo,

Justice, justice!
Ye that are rich :-if that ye would be sav'd,
Sell that ye have, and give unto the poor.»

Oh then remember mercy;
So taught the Saviour: oh, my honest friends! And though your proud oppressors spar'd not you,
Have ye not felt the strong indignant throb

Show

you excel them in humanity. Of justice in your bosoms, to beinold

They will use every art to disunite you, 'The lordly baron feasting on your spoils?

To conquer separately, by stratagem, Have you not in your hearts arraigo'd the lot

Whom in a mass they fear-but be ye firm That gave him on the couch of luxury

Boldly demand your long-forgotten rights, To pillow his head, and pass the festive day

Your sacred, your inalievable freedomIn sportive feasts, and ease, and revelry?

Be bold-be resolule--be merciful!
Have you not often in your conscience ask'd

And while you spurn the hated name of slaves,
Why is the differenee, whierefore should that man, Show you are men!
No wortlier than myself, thus lord it over me,
And bid me labour, and enjoy the fruits?

Long live our honest priest!
The God within your breasts has argued thus!
The voice of truth has murmurd; came ye not

Ele shall be made archbishop.
As helpless to the world ?-shines not the sun
With equal ray on both ?-do ye not feel

My brethren, I am plain John Ball, your friend, The self-same winds of heaven as keenly parch ye? Your equal; by the law of Christ enjoin'd Abundant is the earth-the Sire of all

To serve you, not eommand.
Saw and pronounc'd that it was very good.
Look round: the vernal fields smile withi new flowers,

March we for London.
The budding orchard perfumes the soft breeze,
And the
green corn waves to the passing gale.

Mark me, my friends-we rise for libertyThere is enough for all ; but your proud baron

Justice shall be our guide : let no man darc Stands up, and, arrogant of strength, exclaims,

To plunder in the tumult. « I am a lord-- by nature I am noble: These fields are mine, for I was born to them,

Lead us on
I was born in the castle-you, poor wretchies,

Liberty! Justice!
Whelp'd in the cottage, are by birth my slaves. »
Almighty God! such blasphemies are utter'd!

[Exeunt, with cries of «Liberty»-«No Poll-Tax»-«

War.»] Almighty God! such blasphemies believ'd !

TOM MILLER.
This is something like a sermon.

Scene changes to the Tower.
Where's the bishop

King RICHARD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, Sir Would tell you truths like these?

JOIN THESILIAN, WALWORTH, Philpot.

MOB.

JACK STRAW.

JOHN BALL.

JACK STRAW,

TYLER.

NOB.

JACK STRAW.

TOB.

KING.

There was never a bishop amoug all the apostles.

JOHN BALL.

My brethren!

PIERS

Silence, the good priest speaks.

JOHN BALL.
My brethren, these are truths, and weighty ones :
Ye are all equal ; nature made ye so.

What must we do? the danger grows more imminent-
The mob increases.

PHILPOT.

Every moment brings Fresh tidings of our peril.

KING.

It were well
To yield them what they ask.

ARCHBISHOP.

Ayc, that, my liege,
Were politic. Go boldly forth to meet them,
Grant all they ask-however wild and ruinous -
Meantime the troops you have already summond
Will gather round them. Then my Christian power
Absolves

you of your promise.

JOHN BALL.
It was well judg'd: fain would I spare the shedding
Of human blood: gain we that royal pupper,
And all will follow fairly: depriv'd of him,
The nobles lose their pretext, nor will dare
Rebel against the people's majesty.

Enter flerald.

VALWORTH.

BERALD.

TYLER.

ARCHBISHOP.

Were but their ringleaders cut off-the rabble
Would soon disperse.

Richard the Second, by the grace of God,
PHILPOT.

Of England, Ireland, France, and Scotland, King,
United in a mass,

And of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed,
There's nothing can resist them-once divide them, Would parley with Wat Tyler.
And they will fall an easy sacrifice.

Let him know
Lull them by promises—bespeak them fair-

Wat Tyler is in Smithfield. Go forth, my liege-spare not, if need requires,

[Exit Herald. A solemn oath, to ratify the treaty.

I will parley
KING.

With this

young monarch; as lie comes to me I dread their fury

Trusting my honour, on your lives I charge you,
ARCHBISHOP.

Let none attempt to harm him.
'Tis a needless dread,

JOIN BALL. There is divinity about your person;

The faith of courts Ji is the sacred privilege of Kings,

Is but a weak dependence! You are honest Howe'er they act, to render no account

And better is it even to die the victim To man.

The people have been taught this lesson, Of credulous honesty, than live preserv'd
Nor can they soon forget it.

By the cold policy that still suspects.
KING.
I will go-

Enter King, WALWORTL, Pailpot, etc.
I will submit to every thing they ask;
My day of triumph will arrive at last.

I would speak to thee, Wat Tyler: bid the mob
[Shouls without. Retire awhile.

PIERS.
Enler Messenger.

Nay, do not go

alone

Let me attend you.
The mob are at the city gates.

TYLER.
ARCHBISHOP:

Wherefore should I fear?
Haste, haste,

Am I not arm'd with a just cause ?-retire,
Address them ere too late. I'll remain here,

And I will boldly plead the cause of Freedom. For they detest me much.

[Advances. [Shouts again.

KING.
Enter another Messenger.

Tyler, why have you killed my officer ?
And led my honest subjects from their homes,

Thus to rebel against the Lord's anointed ?
The Londoners have opened the city gates,

TYLER.
The rebels are admitted.

Because they were oppress'd.
KING

KING.
Fear then must give me courage: my Lord Mayor,

Was this the way
Come you with me.

To remedy the ill ?--you should have tried
(Exeunt. Shouts without. By milder means-petitioned at the throne-

The throne will always listen to petitions.

KING.

MESSENGER.

MESSENGER.

TYLER.

PIERS.

Scene-Smithfield.

King of England,
Wat TYLER, JOIN BALL, Piers, etc. Mob.

Petitioning for pity is most weak,
The sovereign people ought to demand justice.

I kill'd your officer, for his lewd hand
So far triumphant are we: how these nobles,

Insulied a maid's modesty: your subjects These petty tyrants, who so long oppress'd us,

I lead to rebel against the Lord's anointed, Shrink at the first resistance!

Because his ministers have made him odious:

His yoke is licavy, and his burden grievous.

They were powerful Why do we carry on this fatal war, Only because we fondly thought them so!

To force upon the French a king they hate; Where is Jack Straw?

Tearing our young men from their peaceful homes; TYLER.

Forcing his hard-earned fruits from the honest peasant; Jack Straw is gone to the Tower Distressing us to desolate our neighbours ? To seize the king, and so to end resistance.

Why is this ruinous poll-tax impos'd,

HOB.

But to support your court's extravagance,
And
your

mad title to the crown of France ? Shall we sit tamely down beneath these evils, Petitioning for pily?

King of England! Why are we sold like cattle in your marketsDepriv'd of ev'ry privilege of man? Must we lie tamely at our tyrant's feet, And, like your Spaniels, lick the hand that beats us? You sit at ease in your gay palaces, The costly banquet courts your appetite, Sweet music soothes your slumbers; we, the while, Scarce by hard toil can earn a little food, And sleep scarce shelter'd from the cold night wind: Whilst your wild projects wrest the little from us Which might have cheer'd the wintry hour of age: The Parliament for ever asks more money : We toil and sweat for money

for Where is the benefit, what food From all the councils of your government? Think you that we should quarrel with the French? What boots to us your victories, your glory? We pay, we fight, you profit at your ease. Do you not claim the country as you own? Do you not call the venison of the forest, The birds of heaven, your own ?-prohibiting us, Even though in want of food, to seize the prey Which nature offers ?—King! is all this just? Think you we do not feel the wrongs we suffer? The hour of retribution is at hand, And tyrants tremble-mark me, King of England.

Jack Straw has forc'd the Tower; seiz'd the Archbishop,
And beheaded him.

PIERS.
The curse of insurrection!

JOHN BALL.
Aye, Piers ! our nobles level down their vassals-
Keep them at endless labour like their brutes,
Degrading ev'ry faculty by servitude,
Repressing all the energy of mind.
We must not wonder then, that, like wild beasts,
When they have burst their chaios, with brutal rage
They revenge them on their tyrants,

PIERS.

This Archbishop! He was oppressive to his humble vassals : Proud, haughty, avaricious.

JOHN BALL.

your taxes: reap we

WALWORTH.

(Comes behind him and stabs him.) Insolent rebel, threatening the King.

PIERS.

Vengeance! vengeance!

HOB, .

Seize the King.

KING.

I must be bold.

[ Advancing.
My friends and loving subjects,
I will grant all you ask : you shall be free-
The tax shall be repcald-all, all you

wish.
Your leader menac'd me, he deservd his fate.
Quiet your angers ; on my royal word
Your grievances shall all be done away,
Your vassalage abolistid--a free pardon
Allow'd to all: so help me God, it shall be.

JOIN BALL,
Revenge, my brethren, beseems pot Christians.
Send us these terms sigu'd with your seal of state.
We will await in peace: deceive us not-
Act justly, so to excuse your late foul deed.

KING.
The charter shall be drawn out: on mine honour,
All shall be justly done.

A true bigla-priest!
Preaching humility with his mitre on!
Praising up alms and Christian charity,
Even whilst his unforgiving hand distress'd
His honest tenants.

PIERS.
He desery'd his fate then.

JOIN BALL,
Justice can never link with cruelty.
Is there among the catalogue of crimes
A sin so black that only Death can expiate?
Will Reason never rouse her from her slumbers,
And darting through the veil her eagle eye,
See in the sable garment of the law
Revenge conceald? This high-priest has been

haughty-
He has oppress'd his vassals: tell me, Piers,
Does his Death remedy the ills he caus d?
Were it not better to repress his power
Of doing wrong-that so his future life
Might expiate the evils of the past,
And benefit mankind 7

PIERS.

But must not vice Be punished ?

JOHN BALL.

Is not punishment revenge?
The momentary violence of anger
May be excus'd: the indignant heart will throb
Against oppression, and the outstretch'd arm
Resent its injur'd feelings: the Collector
Insulied Alice, and rous'd the keen emotions
Of a fond father. Tyler murder'd him.

PIERS.
Murder'd !-a most harsh word.

JOHN BALL

Yes, murder'd him: His mangled feelings prompted the bad act, And Nature will almost commend the deed That Justice blames; but will the awaken'd feelings Plead with their heart-emoving eloquence For the cool deliberate murder of Revenge? Would you, Piers, in your calmer hour of reason, Condemn an erring brother to be slain? Cut him at once from all the joys of life, All hopes of reformation! to revenge The deed his punishment cannot recall ? My blood boil'd in me at the fate of Tyler, Yet I revenged it not.

ACT III.

Scene-Smithfield.

Piers (mecting John Ball). You look disturb'd, my father?

JOHN BALL.

Piers, I am so.

PIERS.

[ocr errors]

JOHN BALL,

PIERS.

'insurrections. All this shall be faithfully performed Oh my Christian father! on our royal word. So help us God. They would not argue thus humanely on us,

God save the King! Were we within their power.

(Loud and repeated shouts.) JOHN BALL. I know they would not : Now then depart in quiet to

your homes. But we must pity them that they are vicious, Not imitate their vice.

Nay, my good friend-the people will remain

Embodied peaceably, till Parliament
Alas, poor Tyler!

Confirm the royal charter: tell your King so:
I do repent me much that I stood back,

We will await the Charter's confirmation, When he advanced fearless in rectitude

Meanwhile comporting ourselves orderly, To meet these royal assassins.

As peaceful citizens, not riseu in tumult,

But to redress their evils.
Not for myself,

(Exit Herald, etc. Hob, Piers, and JouN BALL reThough I have lost an honest virtuous friend,

main.) Mourn I the death of Tyler: he was one Gifted with the strong energy of mind,

'T was well order'd; Quick to perceive the right, and prompt to act

I place but little trust in courtly faith.
When Justice needed : he would listen to me
With due attention, yet not yielding lightly

We must remain embodied; else the King
What had to him seem'd good: severe in virtue, Will plunge again in royal luxury;
He aw'd the ruder people whom he led

And when the storm of danger is pass'd over,
By bis stern rectitude.

Forget his promises.

JOIN DALL.

HOB.

JOHN BALL.

[ocr errors]

HOB.

PIERS.

PIERS.

Witness that day

Aye, like an aguish sinner, When they destroy'd the palace of the Gaunt;

He 'll promise to repent when the fit 's on him;
And burl'd the wealth his avarice had amass'd,

When well recover'd, laugh at his own terrors.
Amid the fire: the people, fierce in zeal,
Threw in the flames the wretch whose selfish hand

Oh! I am grieved that we must gain so little!
Purloju'd amid the tumult.

Why are not all these empty ranks abolishid,
JOHN BALL.

King, slave, and lord, « ennobled into MAN ?»
I lament

Are we not equal all ?—have you not told me,
The death of Tyler, for my country's sake.

Equality is the sacred riglit of man, I shudder lest posterity enslav'd

Inalienable, though by force withheld ? Should rue his murder!-- who shall now control

JOAN BALL The giddy multitude, blind to their own good,

Even so: but, Piers, my frail and fallible judgment And listening with avidity to the tale

Knows hardly to decide, if it be right
Of courtly falsehood?

Peaceably to return, content with little,
PIERS.

With this half restitution of our rights,
The King must perform

Or boldly to proceed through blood and slaughter,
His plighted promise.

Till we sliould all be equal, and all happy.
(Cry without)-The Charter!--the Charter!

I chose the milder way :-perhaps I errd.
Enter Mob and Herald.
TOM MILLER.

I fear me—by the mass, the unsteady people
Read it out-read it out.

Are flocking homewards! how the multitude

Diminishies ! Aye, aye, let's hear the Charter.

Go thou, my son, and stay them. Richard Plantagenet, by the grace of God, King of Carter, do you exert your influence, England, Ireland, France, Scotland, and the town of All depends on their stay: my mind is troubled, Berwick upon Tweed, to all whom it may concern, And I would fain compose my thoughts for action. these presents : Whereas our loving subjects have com

(Exeunt Hos and Piers.) plained to us of the heavy burdens they endure, par- Father of mercies! I do fear me much ticularly from our late enacted poll-tax; and whereas That I have err'd : thou gavest my ardent mind they have risen in arms against our officers, and de- To pierce the mists of superstitious falsehood ;manded the abolition of personal slavery, vassalage, and Gavest me to know the truth. I should have urged it manorial rights; we, ever ready in our sovereigu mercy Through every opposition: now, perhaps, to listen to the petitions of our loving subjects, do The seemly voice of pity has deceived me, annul all these grievances.

And all this mighty movement ends in ruin!

I fear me, I have been like the weak leech, Huzza! long live the King!

Who, sparing to cut deep, with cruel mercy

Mangles his patient without curing him. And do, of our royal mercy, grant a free pardon to

(Great tumult) all who may have been any ways concerned in the late What means this tumuit? hark! the clang of arms!

gНОВ.

JOHN BALL.

HERALD.

MOB.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »