A monologue from Act III
by: John Galsworthy
|NOTE: Strife was first published in 1909. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.
ANTHONY: We have been made the subject of an attack. 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.
I have had to do 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. However that
may be, I am man enough to stand to my guns. 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 Labor
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 favor. Fear of the men! Fear of
the shareholders! Fear of our own shadows! Before I am like that,
I hope to die. 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. The are 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 there --
you 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.