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The AJ knows not what it quotes

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There are two misunderstandings or misquotations that always - or nearly always - cause me to write to the perpetrators and complain: one is to those who think that King Canute was under the impression that he could stop the tide, whereas in fact he was demonstrating to his over-obsequious courtiers that he could not and he knew perfectly well that he could not; and the other is misunderstanding Hamlet's remark that something was more honoured in the breach than the observance - he did not mean, as the misusers, including I am sorry to say you in aj 19.11.98, most usually do, that something was more often broken than observed: he meant that it was more honourable to break the custom than to observe it, because it was a custom which he thought was a bad one.


London EC1

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