A monologue from Act II, Scene II
by: John Galsworthy
|NOTE: Strife was first published in 1909. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.
ROBERTS: Mr. Simon Harness is a clever man, but he has come
too late. For all that Mr. Simon Harness says, for all that Thomas,
Rous, for all that any man present here can say -- We've won
the fight! You've felt the pinch o't in your bellies. You've
forgotten what the fight 'as been; many times I have told you;
I will tell you now this once again. The fight o' the country's
body and blood against a blood-sucker. The fight of those that
spend themselves with every blow they strike and every breath
they draw, against a thing that fattens on them, and grows and
grows by the law of merciful Nature. That thing is Capital!
A thing that buys the sweat o' men's brows, and the tortures
o' their brains, at his own price. Don't I know that?
Was n't the work o' my brains bought for seven hundred
pounds, and has n't one hundred thousand pounds been gained them
by that seven hundred without the stirring of a finger. It is
a thing that will take as much and give you as little as it can.
That's Capital! A thing that will say -- "I'm very
sorry for you, poor fellows -- you have a cruel time of it, I
know," but will not give one sixpence of its dividends to
help you have a better time. That's Capital! Tell me, for all
their talk, is there one of them that will consent to another
penny on the Income Tax to help the poor? That's Capital! A white-faced,
stony-hearted monster! Ye have got it on its knees; are ye to
give up at the last minute to save your miserable bodies pain?
When I went this morning to those old men from London, I looked
into their very 'earts. One of them was sitting there -- Mr.
Scantlebury, a mass of flesh nourished on us: sittin' there for
all the world like the shareholders in this Company, that sit
not moving tongue nor finger, takin' dividends -- a great dumb
ox that can only be roused when its food is threatened. I looked
into his eyes and I saw he was afraid -- afraid for himself
and his dividends, afraid for his fees, afraid of the very shareholders
he stands for; and all but one of them's afraid -- like children
that get into a wood at night, and start at every rustle of the
leaves. I ask you men -- give me a free hand to tell them: "Go
you back to London. The men have nothing for you!" Give
me that, an' I swear to you, within a week you shall have from
London all you want.