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Long, long labour, little rest,
poor wretch's lot, Born within the straw-roofd cot.
While the peasant works—to sleep;
• When Adam delv'd, and Eve span, • Who was then the gentleman?,
Or leave me. I dare answer the bold deed
Piers is gone on Through all the neiglıbouring villages, to spread The glorious tidings.
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.
On to LondouThe tidings fly before us—the court tremblesLiberty !--Vengeauce-Justice!
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.».
We will assert our rights.
We 'll trample down Not one who riots in the poor man's spoil,
These insolent oppressors.
In good truth
Oh then remember mercy;
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!
And while you spurn the hated name of slaves,
Long live our honest priest!
Ele shall be made archbishop.
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.
March we for London.
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
[Exeunt, with cries of «Liberty»-«No Poll-Tax»-«
War.»] Almighty God! such blasphemies believ'd !
Scene changes to the Tower.
King RICHARD, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, Sir Would tell you truths like these?
JOIN THESILIAN, WALWORTH, Philpot.
There was never a bishop amoug all the apostles.
Silence, the good priest speaks.
What must we do? the danger grows more imminent-
Every moment brings Fresh tidings of our peril.
It were well
Ayc, that, my liege,
you of your promise.
Were but their ringleaders cut off-the rabble
Richard the Second, by the grace of God,
Of England, Ireland, France, and Scotland, King,
And of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed,
Let him know
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
young monarch; as lie comes to me I dread their fury
Trusting my honour, on your lives I charge you,
Let none attempt to harm him.
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
By the cold policy that still suspects.
Enter King, WALWORTL, Pailpot, etc.
I would speak to thee, Wat Tyler: bid the mob
Nay, do not go
Let me attend you.
Wherefore should I fear?
Am I not arm'd with a just cause ?-retire,
And I will boldly plead the cause of Freedom. For they detest me much.
[Advances. [Shouts again.
Tyler, why have you killed my officer ?
Thus to rebel against the Lord's anointed ?
Because they were oppress'd.
Was this the way
To remedy the ill ?--you should have tried
The throne will always listen to petitions.
King of England,
Petitioning for pity is most weak,
I kill'd your officer, for his lewd hand
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,
But to support your court's extravagance,
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,
This Archbishop! He was oppressive to his humble vassals : Proud, haughty, avaricious.
your taxes: reap we
(Comes behind him and stabs him.) Insolent rebel, threatening the King.
Seize the King.
I must be bold.
A true bigla-priest!
But must not vice Be punished ?
Is not punishment revenge?
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.
Piers (mecting John Ball). You look disturb'd, my father?
Piers, I am so.
'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
Confirm the royal charter: tell your King so:
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.
(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.
We must remain embodied; else the King
And when the storm of danger is pass'd over,
Forget his promises.
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;
When well recover'd, laugh at his own terrors.
Oh! I am grieved that we must gain so little!
Why are not all these empty ranks abolishid,
King, slave, and lord, « ennobled into MAN ?»
Are we not equal all ?—have you not told me,
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
Peaceably to return, content with little,
With this half restitution of our rights,
Or boldly to proceed through blood and slaughter,
Till we sliould all be equal, and all happy.
I chose the milder way :-perhaps I errd.
I fear me—by the mass, the unsteady people
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!