Friday, January 16, 2009

Like the Simpleton I am, I Couldn't Resist

Yeah, it's too late. And I posted links already. But I just had to scribble out some of my favorite lines from A Man For All Seasons. Those interested can find relevant clips on youtube. Some of these are more light hearted than others, some must be understood in the larger context, which, unfortunately, I have not the time to present. Others can be appreciated on their own.

This story of Thomas More as I first saw it in the movie starring Paul Scofield and later as I read it in the play by Robert Bolts has always captivated me. If I were to name the three movies which had the greatest influence on my childhood character formation, this would rank. Thomas More is not only morally upright and scrupulous, but a caring husband and father, and sincere friend. In addition, he has gained that happy discipline of a truthful and guarded tongue taught by a shrewd, cautious, insightful intellect guided by earnest faith. From the moment the movie opens to the drop of the axe, we have an image of a man unwilling to relinquish his convictions, who loves truth more than life, and hides that life in law and justice which ultimately is denied him.

Wolsey: "You're a fool"
More: "Thank God there is only one fool on the council."

Wolsey: "Thomas, we're alone. I give you my word; there's no one here."
More: "I didn't suppose there was, your Grace."

Meg: "Will wants to marry me, Father."
More: "Well, he can't marry you."

More: "There's nothing wrong with your family, Will. There's not much wrong with you. Except you seem to need a clock."
Roper: "I can buy a clock, Sir."
More: "Roper, the answer is "No" and will be "No" as long as you're a heretic."
Roper: "Now that's a word I don't like, Sir Thomas!"
More: "It's not a likeable word, it's not a likeable thing."
Roper: "The church is heretical! Dr. Luther's proved that to my satisfaction!"
More: "Luther is an excomunicate."
Roper: "From a heretic church! Church! It's a shop! Salvation by the shilling, and divorces..."
Meg: "Will!"
Roper: "What I know, I'll say."
Meg: "You've no sense of the place!"
More: yawning "He's no sense of the time. Now listen, Will. Two years ago, you were a passionate churchman. Now you're a passionate Lutheran. We must just pray that when you're head's finished turning, your face is to the front again....... Go along."
Roper: "May I come again?" More gestures to Meg
Meg: "Yes. Soon."

More: "That you should put away Queen Catherine, Sire? Oh, alas, as I think of it I see so clearly that I can not come with your Grace that my endeavor is not to think of it at all."

Henry: "How is it that you cannot see. Everyone else does!"
More: "Then why does your Grace need my poor support?"

About the King's musical composition
More: "I thought it seemed... delightful."
Henry: "Thomas, I chose the right man for Chancellor!"
More: "I must in fairness add that my taste in music is reputedly deplorable."
Henry: "Your taste in music is excellent and exactly coincides with my own!"

Alice: "Arrest him!"
More: "For what?"
Alice: "He's dangerous!"
Roper: "He's a spy!"
Meg: "Father, that man's bad!"
More: "There's no law against that."
Roper: "There is God's law."
More: "Then God can arrest him."
Alice: "While you talk he's gone!"
More: "And go he should if he were the Devil himself until he broke the law!"
Roper: "So, now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!"
More: "Yes, what would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?"
Roper: "Yes! I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"
More: "Oh. rises And when the last law was down and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, coast to coast - Man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes! I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake!"

Norfolk: "Cromwell! Are you threatening me!"
Cromwell quoting Norfolk's private conversation with More: "My dear Norfolk! This isn't Spain! This is England!"

More: "I understand there are certain charges."
Cromwell: "Oh, some ambiguities of behavior I should like to clarify, hardly charges."
More: "Make a note of that, will you, Master Rich? There are no charges."

More: "Yes, I wrote a letter advising her not to meddle in the affairs of state - also witnessed."
Cromwell: "You have been cautious."
More: "I like to keep my affairs regular."

Cromwell: "Thank you! You come to the point very readily. What is that authority[of Rome]..?"
More: "You will find it very ablely set out and defended, Master Secretary, in the King's book."

More: The King knows the truth of it. And whatever he may have said to you, he will not give evidence to support this accusation."
Cromwell: "Why not?"
More: "Because evidence is given on oath, and he will not perjure himself. If you don't know that, then you don't yet know him."

More: "No my lord, you don't [know that]. You may suppose I have objections. All you know is that I will not swear to it for which you cannot lawfully harm me further.
But if you were right in supposing me to have objections, and right again in supposing my objections to be treasonable, the law would let you cut my head off. "

Norfolk: "Why can't you do as I did and come join us for fellowship?"
More: "And when we die and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me for fellowship?"

More: "Some men think the earth is round. Others think it flat. It is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign."

Cromwell: "Oh, Justice is what you're threatened with!"
More: "Then I am not threatened."

Roper: "This is a hellish place!"
More: "Except it's keeping me from you my dears, it's not so bad."

Meg: "Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise!"
More: "What is an oath, then, but words we say to God? [Silence] Listen, Meg! When a man takes an oath, he's holding his own self in his own hands, like water. And if he opens his fingers then, he needn't hope to find himself again. Some men aren't capable of this, but I'd be loath to think your father one of them."

More: "That's very neat, but look now. If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that avarice, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at the risk of being heroes."
Meg: "But in reason, haven't you done as much as God can reasonably want?"sobs
More: "Well, finally, it isn't a matter of reason. Finally, it's a matter of love."

More: "Death comes for us all, my lords. Yes, even for kings he comes."
Judge: "The death of kings is not in question, Sir Thomas."
More: "Nor mine, I trust, until I'm proven guilty."
Norfolk: "You life lies in your own hands, Thomas, as it always has!"
More: "Is that so, my lord? Then I'll keep a good grip on it."

Moore: "The world must construe according to its wits. This court must construe according to the Law."

Rich: "'Supposing there were an act of Parliament stating that I, Richard Rich, were to be King. Would not you, Master More, take me for King?'
'That I would' he said. 'For then you would be King.'...Then he said, 'But I will put you a higher case. How if there were an act of Parliament to say that God should not be God?" continues from truth into perjury

More: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales?"

More: "My Lords, when I was practicing Law the custom was to ask the prisoner, before pronouncing sentence, if he had anything to say."

More: "I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then, in good faith I long not to live. "

More: "I am commanded by the king to be brief. And since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be: I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first."

More to executioner: "Be not afraid of your office. You send me to God."
Archbishop: "You are very sure of that, Sir Thomas?"
More: "He will not refuse one who is so blythe to go to Him." kneels, signs himself with the Cross, lays his neck on the block.

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