21 February 2006

Since they can't stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead

I could have just referred to this post and left it at that. But it just has to be repeated.

From Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais' 1784 stage comedy Marriage of Figaro (adapted by Mozart for the great opera), from the famous Freedom of Speech monologue in Act V, Scene 3:

"I cobble together a verse comedy about the customs of the harem, assuming that, as a Spanish writer, I can say what I like about Mohammed without drawing hostile fire. Next thing, some envoy from God knows where turns up and complains that in my play I have offended the Ottoman empire, Persia, a large slice of the Indian peninsula, the whole of Egypt, and the kingdoms of Barca {Ethiopia}, Tripoli, Tunisi, Algeria, and Morocco. And so my play sinks without trace, all to placate a bunch of Muslim princes, not one of whom, as far as I know, can read but who beat the living daylights out of us and say we are 'Christian dogs.' Since they can't stop a man thinking, they take it out on his hide instead..."
A disclaimer: the last I read Beaumarchais was lotsa years ago. I don't have the book at home and cannot vouch for authenticity of the text, but I got the same quote in another language from another source. It is too good anyway to disregard - even as a fake.

Hat tip: ES