In Robert Bolt's play "A Man for All Seasons," (Sir) Thomas
More argues with his ambitious underling, Roper:
More: There is no law against that.
Roper: There is! God's law!
More: Then God can arrest him.
Roper: Sophistication upon sophistication.
More: No, sheer simplicity. The law,
Roper, the law. I know what's legal, not what's right. And I'll stick
to what's legal.
Roper: Then you set man's law above God's!
More: No, far below; but let me draw your
attention to a fact - I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and
wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no
voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forrester. I
doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God....
Alice: While you talk, he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he was the
Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So now you'd give the devil the
benefit of law?
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great
road through the law to get after the devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in England
to do that.
More: Oh, and when the last law was down,
and the devil turned on you, where would you hide, Roper, all the laws
being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from 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 that you could stand
upright in the winds that would blow then?
Yes, I'd give
the devil the benefit of the law, for my own safety's sake.
Robert Bolt, A Man for All
For more about More, read God's Bestseller: William
Tyndale, Thomas More, and the writing of the English Bible--a story of
martyrdom and betrayal by Brian Moynahan.
Geoffrey A. Landis, 2005.