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PLAY: Hamlet ACT/SCENE: 5.1 SPEAKER: Hamlet CONTEXT: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that. DUTCH: Laas, arme Yorick! – Ik heb hem gekend, Horatio /
Ach, arme Yorick ! Ik heb hem gekend, Horatio
MORE: One of Shakespeare’s best-known speeches.
Often misquoted as “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well.” Topics: misquoted, still in use, friendship

PLAY: Macbeth
SPEAKER: Macbeth
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff,
And damned be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

Ik waag het uiterst; val dus uit, Macduff;
‘k Werp voor mij ‘t schild, dat meen’gen houw verdroeg;
Verdoemd wie ‘t eerste roept: „Houd op, genoeg!”

Frequently misquoted as “Lead on, Macduff!”
Bait=To harass in a manner like that of dogs
Rabble=the mean people, populace
Bait=Aas leggen, lokken lokaazen
Rabble=Het graauw, jan hagel, jan-rap en zyn maat, het gespuis
ECLI:EU:C:2011:254 Case C-53/10 Land Hessen v Franz Mūksch OHG
Opinion of A-G Sharpston
“It is common ground that Merck’s establishment was originally situated at a greater distance from the city, parts of which have crept towards it – reminding the agent for the German Government, as he stated at the hearing, of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane (Macbeth, Act 5).”

Topics: misquoted, still in use

PLAY: King Henry IV Part 1
SPEAKER: Falstaff
Counterfeit? I lie. I am no counterfeit. To die is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man; but to counterfeit dying when a man thereby liveth is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life. Zounds, I am afraid of this gunpowder Percy, though he be dead. How if he should counterfeit too and rise? By my faith, I am afraid he would prove the better counterfeit.

Het beste deel van moed is voorzichtigheid./ Het betere deel van de dapperheid is voorzichtigheid.

Frequently misquoted, or rearranged, as “Discretion is the better part of valour”.

Topics: misquoted, proverbs and idioms, risk, courage, caution

PLAY: King Henry VI Part 2
SPEAKER: Dick the Butcher

Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
reformation. There shall be in England seven
halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony
to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,—
God save your majesty!
I thank you, good people. There will be no money. Everyone
will eat and drink on me, and I will dress them all in one
uniform, so that they may get on like brothers and worship
me, their lord.
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o’er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, ’tis the bee’s wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man
since. How now! who’s there?

Als het eerste wat wij doen, willen wij alle advocaten


NYT: June 1990:
Shakespeare’s exact line ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” was stated by Dick the Butcher in ”Henry VI,” Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. Dick the Butcher was a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who thought that if he disturbed law and order, he could become king. Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society.

CITED IN E&W LAW: Miller, R (On the Application Of) v The College of Policing & Anor [2020] EWHC 225 (Admin) (14 February 2020)
Walters v. Nat’l Ass’n of Radiation Survivors, 473 U.S. 305 (U.S. 1985)
[The] statement (“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”) was spoken by a rebel, not a friend of liberty. … As a careful reading of that text will reveal, Shakespeare insightfully realized that disposing of lawyers is a step in the direction of a totalitarian form of government;
Williams v. First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Arlington, 651 F.2d 910, 926 (4th Cir. 1981);
First Wisconsin Mortgage Trust v. First Wisconsin Corporation, 571 F.2d 390, 399 (7th Cir. 1978); Wagoner v. Wagoner, 176 Cal. App.3d 936, 943, 222 Cal. Rptr. 479, 483 (1986); Glenbrook Road Association v. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment, 605 A.2d 22 n.5 (D.C. 1992)(“In spite of the oft-quoted declaration by a follower of the outlaw Jack Cade that … we are not prepared to equate a reputable law school with a junk yard or with some other trade or industry ‘commonly known as objectionable and obnoxious.'”);
Thompson v. U.S., 546 A.2d 414 n.24 (D.C. 1988);
Greene v. Greene, 56 N.Y.2d 86, 96,436 N.E.2d 496,502,451 N.Y.S.2d 46 (1982);
People v. Hobson, 39 N.Y.2d 479, 485, 348 N.E.2d 894, 384 N.Y.S.2d 419, 42.3 (1976);
People v. Ryan, 204 Mise. 861,867, 124 N.Y.S.2d 690,696 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1953).

Three-looped=Ref to the hoops on a beer pot, often used as a measure
Small beer=Weak, diluted beer

Small beer=Dun bier

Topics: cited in law, , law/legal, misquoted, justice, evidence

PLAY: Hamlet
SPEAKER: Gertrude
Madam, how like you this play?
The lady protests too much, methinks.
O, but she’ll keep her word.
Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in ’t?

De dame verzekert te veel, dunkt me. /
De dame, dunkt mij, protesteert te gul. /
Ik vind dat de koningin veel te veel belooft.

Often misquoted starting with “methinks”. Also because in Shakespeare’s time the word ‘protest’ meant a solemn declaration (Asseveration), so in Hamlet this implied that the Queen was too excessive to be believable. Modern usage: for overly emphatic objections or denials.


Sigma Financial Corp v Gotham Insurance Co. (2016 WL 7508172 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 22, 2016)).
Harris v. Reeves, 946 F.2d 214, 226 (3d Cir. 1991)(dissent);
Collazo v. Estelle. 940 F.2d 411,434 (9th Cir. 1991)(dissent);
Jenkins v. State of Missouri, 807 F.2d 657, 667 (8th Cir. 1986)(complaining of dissenter);
Rosen v. Aristocrat Angus Ranch, 639 F.2d 8~1 87 (2d Cir. 1980);
U.S. v. Chaffen, 587 F.2d 920, 923 (8th Cir. 1978);
Refco, Inc. v. Troika Investment Limited, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9508, at 32 (N.D.Ill.);
Hudson v. Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services, 101 F.R.D. 349, 354 lN.D.Ind. 1984); VanHuss v. Associated Milk Producers, Inc., 415 F.Supp. 356, 361 N.D.Tex. 1976);
McCormick v. Carnett-Partsnett System, Ine., 396 F.Supp. 251, 255 M.D.Fla.1975);
Jackson v. State, 452P.2d 104 (Alaska 1982);
Meyering v. General Motors Corporation, 232 Cal. App.3d 1163, 275 Cal. Rptr. 346 (1990);
People v. Santey, 220 Cal. App.3d 651, 661, 270 Cal. Rptr. 53 (1990);
Ogozalek v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 22 Conn. Sup. 100, 163 A.2d 114 (Super.Ct. 1960);
Kunz v. Utah Power & Light Company, 117 Idaho 901, 908, 792 P.2d 926 (1990);
Jolley v. Puregro, 94 Idaho 702, 496 P.2d 939 (1972);
Benson v. Custer, 236 lowa 345, 17 N.W.2d 889, 895 (1945);
Parish v. Casner, 282 S.W.2d 392 (Mo. 1926).

Topics: misquoted, still in use, cited in law

PLAY: Hamlet
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Er is meer tussen hemel en aarde dan uw filosofie vermoedt /
Er is op aarde en in den hemel meer, Dan waar uw schoolsche kennisleer van droomt /
Daar is meer in de hemel en op aarde, vriend Horatio, dan waarvan uw wijsheid droomt.

Perhaps one of the most widely debated quotations from Hamlet.
Often misquoted as “between heaven and earth”.

Topics: misquoted, still in use

PLAY: Hamlet
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born,

Schoon ik hier thuis behoor /
Al ben ik er van kindsbeen af vertrouwd mee

Meaning “with a natural skill/the traditional skill/heritage”.
Often misquoted as “To the manor born” (as in the TV series), meaning to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth.

Topics: misquoted, still in use

PLAY: The Tempest
SPEAKER: Prospero
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed. Be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air.
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself—
Yea, all which it inherit—shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed.
Bear with my weakness. My old brain is troubled.
Be not disturbed with my infirmity.
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose. A turn or two I’ll walk
To still my beating mind.

Wij zijn van de stof, Waar droomen van gevormd zijn; ‘t korte leven Is van een slaap omringd./
Van dezelfde stof zijn wij als onze dromen; en ons kleine leven is door de slaap omringd

Frequently misquoted as “Such stuff as dreams are made of”
These our actors…not a rack behind. This passage is often extracted from its context and treated as farewell to his art; Al Pacino recited it in his 1996 film ‘Looking for Richard’.
In a moved sort=Agitated, upset
Revels=Courtly entertainment
Insubstantial pageant=imagined pageant
Baseless fabric of this vision=Having no basis in reality
Rack=’driving mist or fog’ (OED): scarcely a trace
Pageant=Een grootsche vertooning. Pageantry+Praal, pracht, triiomfelyke vertooning. Het is but meer (sic) pageantry=Het is maar klatergoud, niets anders dan een ydele vertooning.
Moved=Bewoogen, verroerd, ontroerd

Topics: life, age/experience, misquoted

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