It’s not often that politicians quote Shakespeare. Nicholas that is, not William.
Nicholas Shakespeare is a book critic for the British Daily Telegraph Newspaper. He penned the line…”They failed because they didn’t have a dream” A nice line that might have gone unnoticed were it not for the French Socialist politician Francois Hollande – who became the next President of France – and who quoted the words in a speech, proclaiming it to be Shakespeare, assuming it to be William, not Nicholas.
Scholars who knew the Bard’s work backwards were puzzled by this unknown quote and were soon on the trail of its authorship. It took a matter of a couple of hours before Hollande’s blunder was uncovered, and at the speed of light, the story spread round the wolrd’s press and blogoshpere and the French candidate wound up with egg on his face.
Now – Nicholas Shakespeare is not sure that he wrote the immortal line either. He is re-reading his books to try and find the quote.
So Once again, we have a Shakespeare who may not be the author of the works attributed to him. Since Elizabethan times, there has raged, in literary circles, a debate as to who actually wrote the great works of Shakespeare. Many scholars claim that most of his works were in fact penned by contemporaries Sir Francis Bacon or possibly Christopher Marlow. Short of finding a confession note on a slip of parchment from William; the works will remain Shakespearean.
Politicians will now be a little more careful when quoting Shakespeare in their speeches. But I urge them to relax. They will be quoting the great man, whether they like it or not; as pointed out by the Times Theatre critic, the late Bernard Levin in his history of the English language. He wrote:-
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare “It’s Greek to me”, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness’ sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.
William that is – not Nicholas.