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Immigration

By meagain
December 29, 2019 4:38 pm
Category: Politics

(5.0 from 1 vote)
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I think this is it worth a read if only to show how timeless and relevant Shakespeare is in all circumstances. There was for the times, substantial immigration to England between the late 14th century and the mid 16th. There was a reaction where a mob gathered in Moore's time to attack and harm immigrants who were "taking their jobs." Notwithstanding that many immigrants were better educated and more productive and produced a substantial economic benefit.

Shakespeare sympathised and supported them as he did with Jews. The work was a collaboration of Shakespeare and other writers though he wrote this speech. The censors would not pass it and it was banned for a long time.

It seems that inhumanity is a primeval human instinct and always with us.

The text begins with More’s response to the mob.

The Book of Sir Thomas More, Act 2, Scene 4

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 to the ports and coasts 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….
Say now the king
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, 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 mountainish inhumanity."

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Comments on "Immigration":

  1. by Curt Anderson on December 29, 2019 5:00 pm
    Meagain,
    Thanks for sharing that!

    I proud to say that my thinking about immigration today tracks the thinking of Shakespeare, More and their like-minded contemporaries in their day.

    You inspired me to research the topic and I found this:
    "Some six hundred years ago in medieval England, feverish xenophobia swept through the population as 64,000 foreigners, from wealthy Lombard bankers to Flemish laborers, arrived on English shores between 1330 and 1550 in search of better lives. Locals blamed them for taking their jobs and distorting their culture. Tensions reached a zenith on May 1, 1517, as riots broke out in London and a mob armed with stones, bricks, bats, boots and boiling water attacked the immigrants and looted their homes. Thomas More, then the city’s deputy sherif, tried to reason with the crowd.

    This dark day in history, known as Evil May Day, was portrayed in a then-banned play called The Book of Sir Thomas More, believed to be written between 1596 and 1601. William Shakespeare and two other writers were called to edit the manuscript, with the Bard contributing the 147 lines of More’s emphatic pro-immigrant monologue."

    qz.com


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