The White Horse Inn. Pentrich.
The Stationary figures become animated, talking among themselves and move towards the central area as general lighting comes up, during this movement the chairs and table contents are removed. Thomas Bacon enters to encouraging remarks from the crowd. During his speech there should be spontaneous interjections from the crowd at appropriate points
BACON. Citizens! Great events are close at hand. I bring you good news from Wakefield where we had an excellent meeting. Plans for the overthrow of the government are now ready, and we are required to organise ourselves and move into action at the appointed time. It is quite clear that nothing to redress our grievances will be done by His Majesty's Ministers. Our only hope is to remove them! Citizens, that is our purpose Liberty is our aim and we will succeed! Mary fine words were spoken at Wakefleld. and I think it my duty to put the best of them clearly before you. We must not march in ignorance!
(He may read the following speech.)
We ask ourselves, *Are we in England?" Have our forefathers fought and bled and conquered for liberty? And did they not think that the fruits of their patriotism would be more abundant in peace, plenty and happiness? Are we always to stand still, or go backward; are our burthens to be as heavy as the most enslaved people? Is the condition of the poor never to be improved? Not so, Citizens! The old corrupt government must be swept away and a true one set in its place instituted for the General Good, legalised by the general will and all its action directed for the general happiness and prosperity of all honest men!
(Loud and enthusiastic applause.)
BACON (Looking round the crowd, and seeming to address certain individuals.)
If there be any doubters among you, I warrant you will change your opinions when you hear what the London Delegate, Bill Oliver here has to say. (He ushers Oliver to the front.)
OLIVER. Greeting citizens! Thomas is right. The time has come for action. Petitioning the Government for redress is useless. London feels very much for the distress of The Country and is ready to turn out. We can muster 70,000 in three or four hours notice, and Thomas Wooler the printer of THE BLACK DWARF will command them. He is as clever a man as any In London.
VOICE FROM AUDIENCE. What about the top men?
0LIVER Sir Francis Burdett, Major Cartwright and many others of high standing know of your meetings and are great friends of The Cause. (Confidentially) I must not say more.
VOICE. We'll need more than 70,000 for this job!
0LIVER Don't worry on that account! There are 150,000 true to The Cause in Birmingham, 10,000 in Sheffield, another 50,000 close at hand and a ......(He is Interrupted.)
NANNY WEIGHTNAN. (Shouting him down.) You're all talk, you men! Stop talking numbers and get something done! Exercise your guns, not your tongues!
VOICE. We'll hang that old bitch for practice.
N.W. You'll feel the heavy end of my poker if I get near! (Brandishing the weapon.) (Addressing the crowd.) Fill your bellies with real revolutionary fire instead of this pious claptrap.
(She sings a well known revolutionary song which all soon join In with enthusiasm and some jollity.)
FREEDOM AND CLARKE. (words 19th Century anon.)
Ye honest and faithful who liberty prize,
Who corruption abhor and a bribe who despise,
Your birthrights assert now and loudly maintain.
For liberty sure is the greatest of gain.
Come nobly advance scorn to lurk in the dark,
But join the true friends here of freedom.
(Laughter and some cheering.)
BACON. She's right! what we need is action, not words. And here's the man to give us it! The Nottingham Captain himself!
(He draws Brandreth to the front to murmurs of approval. Ludlam and Weightman move to his side.)
BRANDRETH. Thank you, Thomas. Yes indeed! I have been sent to join you as leader on the March, and I'm truly proud to stand before you. (Sounds of approval.) I won't waste your time with rhetoric. Here is our plan....
VOICE. (Interrupting.) Captain! There are constables present. (General commotion.)
WEIGHTMAN. Don't worry about them. I'll push them up the chimney!
LUDLAM Hold your peace! We'll shoot down anyone who shows us opposition. No good can be done until this government is brought down. That's our aim, and no one will stand in our way, least of all a few half-baked constables! (Cheers)
BRANDRETH. Thank you Isaac. But we waste time, and our plans must be laid carefully. (Deliberately and with great fervour.)WE MARCH TOMORROW NIGHT! (Cheers.) You men from the nearby towns and villages, Swanwick, Ripley, Heanor, Alfreton, you must gather your men together, kill the vermin those who oppose you and meet with us at Hunt's Barn early tomorrow night. When we are all assembled, our first task will be to dispose of the magistrate Colonel Halton. We will light a straw fire outside his house and when the badger comes out, we'll shoot him! As for our weapons, Isaac here has arms hidden in his quarry.
LUDLAM. Aye, I have pikes and arms hidden, but we'll need many more.
WEIGHTMAN. There are guns and pistols aplenty if you know where to look! (Brandreth draws a plan from his pocket and lays it out on the table.)
BRANDRETH. We'll visit every farm and dwelling in the area and round up arms and men. Anyone refusing us will be shot. Here, (pointing to the plan.) I have marked out our routes. You George will command one party and I the other. We'll meet up at Pentrich Lane End.
B. (Looking up.) Is there anyone here who can lay their hands on a barrel of gunpowder?
VOICE. Aye, I can.
B. Good! We have a good supply of bullets, but we need more cartridges. I will show you how to make them, and we'll need to take lead from the churches.
WEIGHTMAN. Surely our plan is to take the Ironworks with its cannon? That's a rare place to make arms at.
B. When our business at Pentrich is done, we march to Butterley. We'll kill Jessop and his manager Goodwin. The Ironworks will be ours!
LUDLAM. (Enthusiastically.) Then we take the road to Nottingham and a band of music will lead us on our way.
WEIGHTMAN. Aye, and we'll fall in with thousands coming from The North to join us.
B. All this is true lads. And what's more, when we get to Nottingham, there will be 100 guineas, bread, beef and a half pint of rum for every man.
(General sounds of approval.)
B. (Judging the moment right for slogans, comes forward and raises his fist dramatically.) Down with the King! Down with the Constitution!
He sings EV'RY MAN.... soon joined by Ludlam and Weightman.)
REBEL'S SONG (Words attributed to Shirley Asbury, rebel and constable.)
Ev'ry man his skill must try.
He must turn out and not deny.
No bloody soldier must he dread,
He must turn out and fight for bread.
The time is come you plainly see,
The government opposed must be.
B. A fine song, with fine sentiments. (Turning to the audience.) I have had distributed among you a copy of this inspiring work. I beg of you, join us in song, join us in revolution!
(Music starts, and all are encouraged to join in. Song should be repeated until a strong sense of excitement is achieved.)
(As noise abates.) Now citizens, are there any questions?
VOICE. What happens at Nottingham?
B. We meet with the Nottingham group in the Forest, and proceed to take the city. The soldiers in the barracks will be asked to join us. If they do not, we will raise the black flag and go to work! We then proceed by boat to take Newark.
WEIGHTMAN. It'll be a real pleasure trip chaps!
B. Then on to London to see Sir Francis Burdett raise the red white and green tricolor over the new British Republic!
VOICE. Will there be a proclamation printed. And a new king?
LUDLAM. Damn It! We shall have no time to read papers.
WEIGHTMAN. There'll be no king, them fellows I despise!
B. Sir Francis will be President, Sir Robert Wilson and Mr Bruce will have the Army and Lord Cochrane the Navy, Together they will set up a provisional government. There will be provisions for all! Come chaps, the rich shall be poor, and the poor shall be rich! (Cheers.)
WOMAN. All we want is a bigger loaf, and the times altering.
LUDLAM. That you shall have and more.
WOMAN. What is to happen to us while you're away?
B. You'll be given money and provisions.
WEIGHTMAN. With luck we'll be back in a couple of days.
B. (Forcefully, with great rhetoric.) Everything will be taken care of. Our plans are well laid. Our cause is just. WE WILL SUCCEED! (Cheers.) Now is the time lads. Lets be about our business.
(He starts singing Ev'ry Man, then leads the way off stage, all joining In the singing.)
END OF SCENE
Click here for scene 3