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'?
Enter Sir Humphrey and William Stafford, with drum and soldiers
Mark'd for the gallows, lay your weapons down;
Home to your cottages, forsake this groom:
The king is merciful, if you revolt.
If you go forward; therefore yield, or die.
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.
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?
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
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.