We have been made the subject of an attack. [Looking
round at WILDER and SCANTLEBURY with ironical contempt.] I take it
on my shoulders. I am seventy-six years old. I have been Chairman of this
Company since its inception two-and-thirty years ago. I have seen it pass
through good and evil report. My connection with it began in the year
that this young man was born. [EDGAR bows his head. ANTHONY, gripping
his chair, goes on.] I have had do to with "men" for fifty
years; I've always stood up to them; I have never been beaten yet. I have
fought the men of this Company four times, and four times I have beaten
them. It has been said that I am not the man I was. [He looks at Wilder.]
However that may be, I am man enough to stand to my guns. [His voice
grows stronger. The double-doors are opened. ENID slips in, followed by
UNDERWOOD, who restrains her.] The men have been treated justly, they
have had fair wages, we have always been ready to listen to complaints.
It has been said that times have changed; if they have, I have not changed
with them. Neither will I. It has been said that masters and men are equal!
Cant! There can only be one master in a house! Where two men meet the
better man will rule. It has been said that Capital and Labour have the
same interests. Cant! Their interests are as wide asunder as the poles.
It has been said that the Board is only part of a machine. Cant! We are
the machine; its brains and sinews; it is for us to lead and to determine
what is to be done, and to do it without fear or favour. Fear of the men!
Fear of the shareholders! Fear of our own shadows! Before I am like that,
I hope to die. [He pauses, and meeting his son's eyes, goes on.]
There is only one way of treating "men"with the iron hand.
This half and half business, the half and half manners of this generation,
has brought all this upon us. Sentiment and softness, and what this young
man, no doubt, would call his social policy. You can't eat cake and have
it! This middle-class sentiment, or socialism, or whatever it may be,
is rotten. Masters are masters, men are men! Yield one demand, and they
will make it six. They are [he smiles grimly] like Oliver Twist,
asking for more. If I were in their place I should be the same. But I
am not in their place. Mark my words: one fine morning, when you have
given way here, and given way thereyou will find you have parted
with the ground beneath your feet, and are deep in the bog of bankruptcy;
and with you, floundering in that bog, will be the very men you have given
way to. I have been accused of being a domineering tyrant, thinking only
of my prideI am thinking of the future of this country, threatened
with the black waters of confusion, threatened with mob government, threatened
with what I cannot see. If by any conduct of mine I help to bring this
on us, I shall be ashamed to look my fellows in the face.
Credits: Reprinted from Strife. John Galsworthy. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1918.
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