William Shakespeare: Henry VI (Pt 2), Act IV, Scene II
Enter George Bevis and John Holland
I tell thee, Jack Cade the clothier means to dress the commonwealth, and turn it, and set a new nap upon it.
So he had need, for 'tis threadbare. Well, I say it was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up.
True; and yet it is said, labour in thy vocation; which is as much to say as, let the magistrates be labouring men; and therefore should we be magistrates.
Drum. Enter Cade, Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver, and a Sawyer, with infinite numbers
For our enemies shall fall before us, inspired with the spirit of putting down kings and princes, —Command silence.
Ay, by my faith, the field is honourable; and there was he borne, under a hedge, for his father had never a house but the cage.
But methinks he should stand in fear of fire, being burnt i' the hand for stealing of sheep.
Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,—
I thank you, good people: there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.
Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since. How now! who's there?
Enter some, bringing forward the Clerk of Chatham
I am sorry for't: the man is a proper man, of mine honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.
Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?
Let me alone. Dost thou use to write thy name? or hast thou a mark to thyself, like an honest plain-dealing man?
Stand, villain, stand, or I'll fell thee down. He shall be encountered with a man as good as himself: he is but a knight, is a'?
To equal him, I will make myself a knight presently.
Rise up Sir John Mortimer.
Now have at him!
Enter Sir Humphrey and William Stafford, with drum and soldiers
Rebellious hinds, the filth and scum of Kent,
Mark'd for the gallows, lay your weapons down;
Home to your cottages, forsake this groom:
The king is merciful, if you revolt.
But angry, wrathful, and inclined to blood,
If you go forward; therefore yield, or die.
As for these silken-coated slaves, I pass not:
It is to you, good people, that I speak,
Over whom, in time to come, I hope to reign;
For I am rightful heir unto the crown.
Ay, there's the question; but I say, 'tis true:
The elder of them, being put to nurse,
Was by a beggar-woman stolen away;
And, ignorant of his birth and parentage,
Became a bricklayer when he came to age:
His son am I; deny it, if you can.
Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it; therefore deny it not.
[Aside] He lies, for I invented it myself. Go to, sirrah, tell the king from me, that, for his father's sake, Henry the Fifth, in whose time boys went to span-counter for French crowns, I am content he shall reign; but I'll be protector over him.
And good reason; for thereby is England mained, and fain to go with a staff, but that my puissance holds it up. Fellow kings, I tell you that that Lord Say hath gelded the commonwealth, and made it an eunuch: and more than that, he can speak French; and therefore he is a traitor.
Nay, answer, if you can: the Frenchmen are our enemies; go to, then, I ask but this: can he that speaks with the tongue of an enemy be a good counsellor, or no?
Herald, away; and throughout every town
Proclaim them traitors that are up with Cade;
That those which fly before the battle ends
May, even in their wives' and children's sight,
Be hang'd up for example at their doors:
And you that be the king's friends, follow me.
Exeunt William Stafford and Sir Humphrey, and soldiers
And you that love the commons, follow me.
Now show yourselves men; 'tis for liberty.
We will not leave one lord, one gentleman:
Spare none but such as go in clouted shoon;
For they are thrifty honest men, and such
As would, but that they dare not, take our parts.