11 APRIL 1998, Page 28

The evil that More did

Sir: I am not a Christian, but Christ's words, 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap' seem singularly (and ironically) applicable to Thomas More. In his review of Peter Ackroyd's The Life of Thomas More (Books, 21 March), A.D. Nuttall invites us to sympathise with the terror of More's family and, indeed, of More himself. I would rather sympathise with the wretches whom More had burnt. Saying that history was against More is not good enough; killing someone for their beliefs, rather than their actions, is a dreadful thing to do. Condorcet, a more enlightened man than More, remarked somewhere that all evil proceeds from the division of men into two categories: those who think, and those who believe. More clearly fell into that second, and often foul, group.

More, of course, was a scholar, a diplo- mat, a statesman. Hitler's henchman, Hey- drich, was, we are told, an accomplished musician and had exquisite tastes. He was also an efficient administrator and died a `martyr', slain by backward Eastern Euro- peans. I wonder, will he be rehabilitated in a few hundred years, his killings glossed over for his finer points? The fact that More's killings were on a smaller scale than Heydrich's makes them no less reprehensi- ble or repugnant in my eyes.

Sinclair C. Dunnett

South Cannigall, St Ola, Orkney