Dry land exists in contrast to water, tides, and the sea. It represents society and the laws of mankind, as opposed to the laws of religion or personal morality. Dry land is unchanging, predictable, and safe. Thomas More relies upon human law to protect himself, when he feels like religion is too complicated and open to various interpretations.
Dry Land Quotes in A Man for All Seasons
The great thing’s not to get out of your depth…What I can tell them’s common knowledge! But now they’ve given money for it and everyone wants value for his money. They’ll make a secret of it now to prove they’ve not been bilked…They’ll make it a secret by making it dangerous…Mm…Oh, when I can’t touch the bottom I’ll go deaf, blind, and dumb. (He holds out coins) And that’s more than I earn in a fortnight!
More: …I’m not a God. 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, thank God…
Alice; While you talk, he’s gone!
More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
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: 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’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 like to give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
Cromwell: I put it to the Court that the prisoner is perverting the law—making smoky what should be a clear light to discover to the Court his own wrongdoing!
More: The law is not a “light” for you or any man to see by; the law is not an instrument of any king. The law is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely. In matters of conscience—
Cromwell: The conscience, the conscience…
More: The word is not familiar to you?
Cromwell: By God, too familiar! I am very used to hear it in the mouths of criminals!