From the play, “Sir Thomas More”, written by Shakespeare (and others) Act 2, Scene 4.
Sheriff More speaks; shall we hear Sheriff More speak?
Let’s hear him. ’A keeps a plentyful shrievaltry, and ’a made my brother Arthur Watchins Seriant Safes yeoman. Let’s hear Sheriff More.
Sheriff More, More, More, Sheriff More!
Even by the rule you have among yourselves,
Command still audience.
Surrey, Surrey! More, More!
Peace, peace, silence, peace.
Peace, peace, silence, peace.
You that have voice and credit with the number
Command them to a stillness.
A plague on them, they will not hold their peace; the dual cannot rule them.
Then what a rough and riotous charge have you,
To lead those that the dual cannot rule?—
Good masters, hear me speak.
Aye, by th’ mass, will we, More. Th’ art a good housekeeper, and I thank thy good worship for my brother Arthur Watchins.
Look, what you do offend you cry upon,
That is, the peace. Not one of you here present,
Had there such fellows lived when you were babes,
That could have topped the peace, as now you would,
The peace wherein you have till now grown up
Had been ta’en from you, and the bloody times
Could not have brought you to the state of men.
Alas, poor things, what is it you have got,
Although we grant you get the thing you seek?
Marry, the removing of the strangers, which cannot choose but much advantage the poor handicrafts of the city.
Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding tooth ports and costs for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silent by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Would feed on one another.
Before God, that’s as true as the Gospel.
Nay, this is a sound fellow, I tell you. Let’s mark him.
Let me set up before your thoughts, good friends,
On supposition; which if you will mark,
You shall perceive how horrible a shape
Your innovation bears. First, ’tis a sin
Which oft the apostle did forewarn us of,
Urging obedience to authority;
And ’twere no error, if I told you all,
You were in arms against your God himself.
Marry, God forbid that!
Nay, certainly you are;
For to the king God hath his office lent
Of dread, of justice, power and command,
Hath bid him rule, and willed you to obey;
And, to add ampler majesty to this,
He hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword, but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you, then,
Rising ’gainst him that God himself installs,
But rise against God? What do you to your souls
In doing this? O, desperate as you are,
Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
Tell me but this. What rebel captain,
As mutinies are incident, by his name
Can still the rout? Who will obey a traitor?
Or how can well that proclamation sound,
When there is no addition but a rebel
To qualify a rebel? You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whether would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbor? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, any where that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
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, nor that the claimants
Were not all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used?
This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.
Isn’t it funny that even 500 odd years ago, we were talking about the same problems and behaving in much the same way?