TAKE, O take those el-lips-es away,
. . . that do mislead the morn!
my queries bring again
search’d in vain,
Search’d in vain!
(with apologies to W. Shakespeare
f/k/a . . . .: Shakespeare and LawyersShakespeare and Lawyers. … In fact, the famous quote from Shakespeare is not a criticismof lawyers, but actually is the greatest possible compliment. …
Please allow me to sound-off about a particularly dastardly example of disinformation by lawyers — the party line propaganda used to combat the ubiquitous quotation from Shakespeare:
“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”–Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part II, IV, ii
- [T]he Bar has decided to put down its lawyer’s license and engage in artistic license and fiction writing. In the name of setting the record straight, they have decided to misinform the public about the meaning and context of Shakespeare’s famous line.
- The party line is, therefore, that the sentence demonstrates Shakespeare’s unshakable recognition of the important role lawyers play in maintaining the rule of law and the fruits of civilization.
- There’s one problem, neither the play itself nor English history supports the legal profession’s interpretation of Shakespeare. First, the conversation between Jack Cade and Dick the Butcher is not a discussion on how to plot to win a rebellion against lawful government. Quite the opposite, Cade is proclaiming what he will do “when I am king, — as king I will be.” When Butcher yells out that the first thing he wants done is to kill all the lawyers, Cade responds, “Nay, that I mean to do,” and laments “I was never mine own man” since signing a contract [“scribbled” on parchment by a lawyer and sealed with bee’s wax].
- . . . . That’s the unlawyered version of the story. In this historic context, lawyers were seen as protecting the privileged and corrupt establishment, as part of the resistance to needed social change and justice. Whatever William Shakespeare actually felt about the legal profession, a good part of his audience would have enjoyed hearing Dick the Butcher’s idea for improving society once their rebellion was successful. The royal “we” here at ethicalEsq are not advocating slaughtering all the lawyers — just stifling all the liars.
fractured poetry inspired by my sylvan friend