ANTHONY: This is very true, cousin, indeed, and well objected too. But then you must consider that he is not in danger of death by reason of the prison into which he is put peradventure but for a little brawl, but his danger of death is by the other imprisonment, by which he is prisoner in the great prison of this whole earth, in which prison all the princes of the world be prisoners as well as he.If a man condemned to death were put up in a large prison, and while his execution were respited he were, for fighting with his fellows, put up in a strait place, part of that prison, then would he be in danger of death in that strait prison, but not by the being in that, for there is he but for the brawl. But his deadly imprisonment was the other—the larger, I say, into which he was put for death. So the prisoner that you speak of is, beside the narrow prison, a prisoner of the broad world, and all the princes of the world are prisoners there with him. And by that imprisonment both they and he are in like danger of death, not by that strait imprisonment that is commonly called imprisonment, but by that imprisonment which, because of the large walk, men call liberty—and which you therefore thought but a sophistical fancy to prove it a prison at all!
But now may you, methinketh, very plainly perceive that this whole earth is not only for all the whole of mankind a very plain prison indeed, but also that all men without exception (even those that are most at their liberty in it, and reckon themselves great lords and possessors of very great pieces of it, and thereby wax with wantonness so forgetful of their state that they think they stand in great wealth) do stand for all that indeed, by reason of their imprisonment in this large prison of the whole earth, in the selfsame condition that the others do stand who, in the narrow prisons which alone are called prisons, and which alone are reputed prisons in the opinion of the common people, stand in the most fearful and in the most odious case—that is, condemned already to death.
And now, cousin, if this thing that I tell you seem but a sophistical fancy of your mind, I would be glad to know what moveth you so to think. For, in good faith, as I have told you twice, I am no wiser but what I verily think that it is very plain truth indeed.
-Sir Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, Book III, chapter XIX