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The Roundheads by Aphra Behn

The Roundheads

The Good Old Cause


subjects: Plays, Playscripts

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Mrs. Behn has (quite legitimately) made considerable departures from strict historical fact and the sequence of events for her dramatic purposes. Lambert and Fleetwood are scheming for the supreme power, and both intrigue with Lord Wariston, the chairman of the Committee of Safety, for his good word and influence….the ladies hold a council to correct and enquire into women’s wrongs, but on a sudden, news is brought that Lambert’s followers have turned against him and that he is imprisoned in the Tower. The city rises against the Parliament and the Rump is dissolved. Loveless and Freeman rescue Lady Lambert and Lady Desbro’, whose old husband has fallen down dead with fright. The parliamentarians endeavour to escape, but Wariston, Goggle, and Hewson– a leading member of the Committee– are detected and maltreated by the mob. As they are haled away to prison the people give themselves up to general merry-making and joy.

110 pages with a reading time of ~1.75 hours (27652 words), and first published in 1681. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Cor. Ah, Rogue, the World runs finely round, the business is done.

1 Sold. Done! the Town’s our own, my fine Rascal.

2 Sold. We’ll have Harlots by the Belly, Sirrah.

1 Sold. Those are Commodities I confess I wou’d fain be trucking for– but no words of that, Boy.

Cor. Stand, who goes there?

[To them a Joyner and a Felt-maker.

1 Sold. Who are you for?– hah!

Joy. Are for, Friend? we are for Gad and the Lord Fleetwood.

1 Sold. Fleetwood! knock ‘em down, Fleetwood, that sniveling Thief?

Felt. Why, Friends, who are ye for?

Cor. For! who shou’d we be for, but Lambert, Noble Lambert? Is this a time o’th’ day to declare for Fleetwood, with a Pox? indeed, i’th’ Morning ‘twas a Question had like to have been decided with push a Pike.

2 Sold. Dry blows wou’d ne’er ha’ don’t, some must have sweat Blood for’t; but– ‘tis now decided.

Joy. Decided!

2 Sold. Yes, decided, Sir, without your Rule for’t.

Joy. Decided! by whom, Sir? by us the Free-born Subjects of England, by the Honourable Committee of Safety, or the Right Reverend City? without which, Sir, I humbly conceive, your Declaration for Lambert is illegal, and against the Property of the People.

2 Sold. Plain Lambert; here’s a saucy Dog of a Joyner; Sirrah, get ye home, and mind your Trade, and save the Hangman a labour.

Joy. Look ye, Friend, I fear no Hang-man in Christendom; for Conscience and Publick Good, for Liberty and Property, I dare as far as any Man.

2 Sold. Liberty and Property, with a Pox, in the Mouth of a Joyner: you are a pretty Fellow to settle the Nation– what says my Neighbour Felt-maker?

Felt. Why, verily, I have a high respect for my honourable Lord Fleetwood, he is my intimate Friend; and till I find his Party the weaker, I hope my Zeal will be strengthned for him.

2 Sold. Zeal for Fleetwood! Zeal for a Halter, and that’s your due: Why, what has he ever done for you? Can he lead you out to Battle? Can he silence the very Cannon with his Eloquence alone?– Can he talk– or fight– or–

Felt. But verily he can pay those that can, and that’s as good– and he can pray–

2 Sold. Let him pray, and we’ll fight, and see whose business is done first; we are for the General who carries Charms in every Syllable; can act both the Soldier and the Courtier, at once expose his Breast to Dangers for our sakes– and tell the rest of the pretended Slaves a fair Tale, but hang ‘em sooner than trust ‘em.

1 Sold. Ay, ay, a Lambert, a Lambert, he has Courage, Fleetwood’s an Ass to him.

Felt. Hum– here’s Reason, Neighbour. [To the Joyner.

Joy. That’s all one, we do not act by Reason.

Cor. Fleetwood’s a Coward.

2 Sold. A Blockhead.

1 Sold. A sniveling Fool; a General in the Hangings, no better.

Joy. What think you then of Vane?

2 Sold. As of a Fool, that has dreamt of a new Religion, and is only fit to reign in the Fifth Monarchy he preaches so much up? but no King in this Age.

Felt. What of Haslerig?

2 Sold. A Hangman for Haslerig. I cry, No, no, One and all, a Lambert, a Lambert; he is our General, our Protector, our Keiser, our– even what he pleases himself.

1 Sold. Well, if he pleases himself, he pleases me.

2 Sold. He’s our Rising Sun, and we’ll adore him, for the Speaker’s Glory’s set.

Cor. At nought, Boys; how the Rogue look’d when his Coach was stop’d!

Joy. Under favour, what said the Speaker?

2 Sold. What said he? prithee, what cou’d he say that we wou’d admit for Reason? Reason and our Bus’ness are two things: Our Will was Reason and Law too, and the Word of Command lodg’d in our Hilts: Cobbet and Duckenfield shew’d ‘em Cockpit-Law.

Cor. He understood not Soldier’s Dialect; the Language of the Sword puzzled his Understanding; the Keenness of which was too sharp for his Wit, and over-rul’d his Robes– therefore he very mannerly kiss’d his Hand, and wheel’d about–

2 Sold. To the place from whence he came.

Cor. And e’er long to the place of Execution.

1 Sold. No, damn him, he’ll have his Clergy.

Joy. Why, is he such an Infidel to love the Clergy?

Cor. For his Ends; but come let’s go drink the General’s Health, Lambert; not Fleetwood, that Son of a Custard, always quaking.

2 Sold. Ay, ay, Lambert I say– besides, he’s a Gentleman.

Felt. Come, come, Brother Soldier, let me tell you, I fear you have a Stewart in your Belly.

Cor. I am sure you have a Rogue in your Heart, Sirrah, which a Man may perceive thro that sanctified Dog’s Face of yours; and so get ye gone, ye Rascals, and delude the Rabble with your canting Politicks. [Every one beats ‘em.

Felt. Nay, an you be in Wrath, I’ll leave you.

Joy. No matter, Sir, I’ll make you know I’m a Freeborn Subject, there’s Law for the Righteous, Sir, there’s Law. [Go out.

Cor. There’s Halters, ye Rogues–