(Sir Thomas More; Lord Mayor; Sir John Munday; Second Messenger; Shrewsbury; Surrey; Palmer; Cholmley)
Sir John Munday reports that the apprentices, who have cudgeled him, have gone to join the main body of rioters. More adds the information that they have freed people from debtors’ prison and are aiming to attack the city bankers. He insists it’s time either to talk with them or attack them. More news arrives: the rioters have opened Newgate prison and freed all the prisoners. Shrewsbury and the other nobles arrive, sent by the King to help the Mayor quell the disturbances. More proposes talking to the rioters forth, and the others agree. (50 lines)
Enter at one door Sir Thomas More and Lord Mayor; at another door Sir John Munday hurt.
What, Sir John Munday, are you hurt?
A little knock, my lord. There was even now
A sort of prentices playing at cudgels;
I did command them to their masters’ houses;
But now, I fear me, they are gone to join
With Lincoln, Sherwin, and their dangerous train.
The captains of this insurrection
Have taken themselves to arms, and came but now
To both the Counters, where they have released
Sundry indebted prisoners, and from thence
I hear that they are gone into St. Martin’s,
Where they intend to offer violence
To the amazed Lombards. Therefore, my lord,
If we expect the safety of the city,
Tis time that force or parley do encounter
With these displeasèd men.
Enter Second Messenger.
How now! What news?
My lord, the rebels have broke open Newgate,
From whence they have delivered many prisoners,
Both felons and notorious murderers,
That desperately cleave to their lawless train.
Up with the drawbridge, gather some forces
To Cornhill and Cheapside:—and, gentlemen,
If diligence be weighed on every side,
A quiet ebb will follow this rough tide.
Enter Shrewsbury, Surrey, Palmer, and Cholmley.
Lord Mayor, his majesty, receiving notice
Of this most dangerous insurrection,
Hath sent my lord of Surrey and myself,
Sir Thomas Palmer and our followers,
To add unto your forces our best means
For pacifying of this mutiny.
In God’s name, then, set on with happy speed!
The king laments, if one true subject bleed.
I hear they mean to fire the Lombards’ houses:
Oh power, what art thou in a madman’s eyes!
Thou mak’st the plodding idiot bloody-wise.
My lords, I doubt not but we shall appease
With a calm breath this flux of discontent:
To call them to a parley, questionless—
May fall out good. ’Tis well said, Master More.
Let’s to these simple men; for many sweat
Under this act, that knows not the law’s debt
Which hangs upon their lives; for silly men
Plod on they know not how, like a fool’s pen,
That, ending, shows not any sentence writ,
Linked but to common reason or slightest wit:
These follow for no harm; but yet incur
Self penalty with those that raised this stir.
I’God’s name, on, to calm our private foes
With breath of gravity, not dangerous blows!