Letter: Justice and juvenile crime

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Conservatives are eager for young people to be introduced to Shakespeare. The question is, will this have a lasting impact? My mother, in her nineties, was staying with us last week, and, being wakeful one night, had been reciting Shakespeare and poetry. A line or two from Portia's speech in Act IV of The Merchant of Venice had eluded her. Could we help, she asked next day.

Given John Major's speech about young offenders, suggesting that we should understand a little less and condemn a little more, I wonder if any Conservatives could have come to her assistance. With memory refreshed, perhaps she could come to theirs:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

(The lines my mother forgot came here)

It is an attribute to God himself,

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice.

Yours faithfully,


Harlow, Essex

1 March