Shakespeare’s plea for tolerance towards immigrants

Recently heard, “history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” From the British Library:

“At some point in the development of Sir Thomas More, Shakespeare seems to have been commissioned to write the play’s emotional highpoint, in which the heroic More – who is at this point in the play the sheriff of London – pleads with the crowd to accept and welcome the asylum seekers in their midst. ‘Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,’ More cries,

Their babies at their backs, with their poor luggage,
Plodding to th’ ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silenced by your brawl … (Sc. 6, 84–88)

More turns the rioters’ arguments back on themselves: if they themselves were refugees, where would they go? Which country would want them? ‘Why, you must needs be strangers,’ he concludes, finding no ‘abode on earth’, with ‘detested knives against your throats, / Spurn[ed] like dogs’ (ll. 148–50). Ashamed and contrite, the mob backs down.”

A related event at the BL is an exhibit talk on Th. Oct. 25, 2018: African Abbots and Stories in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.: “Early England was a vibrant, multicultural society, hugely influenced by its connections to distant lands.”

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