Monday, May 02, 2016

not of an age but for all time

You can see the only surviving example of William Shakespeare's handwriting on the British Library website. It is a scene added to a short play - The Book of Sir Thomas More - in which he calls for the humane treatment of asylum seekers. Still relevant; "He was not of an age but for all time!"

It is a gripping speech delivered to an aggressive mob, who are baying for so-called ‘strangers’ to be banished:
You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in lyam
To slip him like a hound; alas, alas, say now the King,
As he is clement if th’offender mourn,
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you: whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, Spain or Portugal,
Nay, anywhere that not adheres to England,
Why, you must needs be strangers, would you be pleas’d
To find a nation of such barbarous temper
That breaking out in hideous violence
Would not afford you an abode on earth.
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, not that the elements
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But charter’d unto them? What would you think
To be us’d thus? This is the strangers’ case
And this your mountainish inhumanity.

No comments: