Acting Shakespeare script page 54


"It's from a play he helped to write called Sir Thomas More about the hero of A Man for All Seasons, a Catholic martyr. The play was oddly not done in his lifetime nor indeed until 1964 when I was lucky enough to play Sir Thomas More in the first ever professional production. So you're actually looking at the last actor to create a part by Shakespeare; until, of course, they find Love's Labour 2 or Henry V part II or something. Shakespeare wrote just one speech. Thomas More is sent by the King to quell a riot in the streets of London.

"The riot is happening just up the road at St. Martins in the Fields and a young apprentice shouts that the strangers should be removed, and Thomas More replies:

"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 with their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silenced by your brawl, And you in rough 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.

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!

You'll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in liom,
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 momtainish inhumanity.

The London premier of Sir Thomas More by William Shakespeare

"Thank you very much on behalf of the entire cast."
"I rather agree with Mark Twain, who said"
"* Lighthouse Speech/Appeal, Auds Appeal, 'Thomas More' intro & speech. (Not Matinees)."

Click pages to enlarge

Ian McKellen's Home Page

Acting Shakespeare Ian McKellen DVD