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 upten 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 nightdon'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."
Credits: Reprinted from Strife. John Galsworthy. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1918.
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