Quotes from A Man for All Seasons

Robert Bolt ·  192 pages

Rating: (9.9K votes)


“Thomas More: ...And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you--where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast--man's laws, not God's--and if you cut them down...d'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.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that /needs/ no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all... why then perhaps we /must/ stand fast a little --even at the risk of being heroes.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“Thomas More: Will, I'd trust you with my life. But not your principles. You see, we speak of being anchored to our principles. But if the weather turns nasty you up with an anchor and let it down where there's less wind, and the fishing's better. And "Look," we say, "look, I'm anchored! To my principles!”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“When statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons



“The law is not a "light" for you or any man to see by; the law is not an instrument of any kind. ...The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“I'm breathing . . . are you breathing too? It's nice, isn't it?”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“Lord, grant us rest tonight, and if we must be wakeful, cheerful.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“RICH I’m lamenting. I’ve lost my innocence.

CROMWELL You lost that some time ago. If you’ve only just noticed, it can’t have been very important to you.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“Your taste in music is excellent. It exactly coinsides with my own!”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons



“I am used to hear bad men misuse the name of God, yet God exists.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“The nobility of England would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount. But you'll labor like scholars over a bulldog's pedigree.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

William Roper: “Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!”

Sir Thomas More: “Oh? 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, 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 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!”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“This account of him [Thomas More] developed as I wrote: what first attracted me was a person who could not be accused of any incapacity for life, who indeed seized life in great variety and almost greedy quantities, who nevertheless found something in himself without which life was valueless and when that was denied him was able to grasp his death.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“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 forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there ...
...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's 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-d'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.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons



“My master Thomas More would give anything to anyone. Some say that’s good and some say that’s bad, but I say he can’t help it—and that’s bad…because some day someone’s going to ask him for something that he wants to keep; and he’ll be out of practice”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“I'm breathing . . . Are you breathing too? . . . It's nice, isn't it? It isn't difficult to keep alive, friends just don't -make trouble-or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that's expected. Well, I don't need to tell you that. Good night. If we should bump into one another, recognize me”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“Alice More: As for understanding, I understand that you are the best man that I ever met,
or am likely to;
And, if you go...Well, God knows why I suppose.
Though as God's my witness God's kept deadly quiet about it!”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons


“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 (roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper.) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (Leaves him.) This country’s 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 – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly.) Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”
― Robert Bolt, quote from A Man for All Seasons



About the author

Robert Bolt
Born place: in Sale, Cheshire, The United Kingdom
Born date August 15, 1924
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