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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Identify This Quote?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1641  Friday, 3 September 2004

[1]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 07:56:12 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 12:58:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 07:29:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[4]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 21:16:39 +0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[5]     From:   Brad Berens <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 08:00:31 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[6]     From:   Steve Neville <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 16:15:43 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[7]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 13:47:10 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[8]     From:   Greg McSweeney <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 15:40:20 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[9]     From:   Mac Jackson <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Sep 2004 12:34:53 +1200
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[10]     From:  Chris Jacobs <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Sep 2004 09:18:38 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[11]     From:  Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 22:16:47 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[12]     From:  Louise Lotz <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Sep 2004 5:26:02 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

[13]     From:  Rebecca Gillis <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Sep 2004 09:51:57 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 07:56:12 EDT
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

I'm not sure who J.R. Pope is but the third line points to a stanza by
Dorothy Parker, who has incorporated a version of the original lines for
her own purposes. (Thanks Google!)

  Oh what tangled webs we weave
  When first we practive to deceive.
  And when we've practiced for awhile,
  How we do improve our style!


As to the originals yes, Sir Walter Scott... why not? But it's often
thought to be Shakespearean-- I've been asked before where in
Shakespeare it can be found. Some other candidates for faux-Shakespeare
quotes are Congreve's lines from The Mourning Bride

  Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.

and

  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

In my experience "most people" think these are from Shakespeare. Any others?

This just in... at
http://www.shakespeare-online.com/faq/misquotesfaq.html there's whole
page of quotations sometimes attributed wrongly to Shakespeare--
including the Scott, and more correct versions of the Congreve than I've
given.  Pogo???

Bill Lloyd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 12:58:11 +0100
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

The "tangled web we weave" quote is certainly not Shakespeare, although
it is commonly misattributed to him.  My Concordance tells me that
Shakespeare only ever used the word "tangled" twice, "weave" four times,
and the word "web" twelve times, and none of the quotations look
anything like this quote.  The only uses of "tangled" in Shakespeare are
"His speech was like a tangled chain" (Midsummer Night's Dream, 5.1.125)
and "My king is tangled in affection to / A creature of the queen's"
(Henry VIII, 3.2.35).

You can find the "tangled web" quote in place in Walter Scott's
"Marmion" canto vi. stanza 17 at
http://www.geocities.com/poeminister/canto6.htm (the website also
contains the rest of the book, but this is the page on which the
"tangled web" quote appears).  This is most commonly given as the
original source of the quotation, and there seems no obvious reason to
doubt that this was the case.  "Marmion" was apparently first published
in 1808.

The only appearance of the "And when we've practiced for a while"
continuation on the internet, that I can find, is its use as a signature
attributed to Dorothy Parker.  "Oh, what tangled web we weave, when
first we practice to deceive. And when we've practiced for awhile, How
we do improve our style!".  I don't know if this is part of a longer
poem, or just a witty two-liner based on the famous quote.  The
attribution is not necessarily a safe one, given that this is just an
Internet source, but I couldn't find your "J.R. Pope" reference on
Bartleby.com, just a reference to Scott, and a similar Ogden Nash satire
on the phrase: "Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave / When they
think their children are naive".

I'm not sure how any of this can help your private investigator friend.
  "Oh, what a tangled web" is now a commonplace proverbial phrase or
saying, and most people have no idea whatever where it came from, but
use it anyway.  An abusive-letter writer is likely simply to associate
the phrase with liars without knowing anything about its origins.

Thomas Larque.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 07:29:34 -0500
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

 >They say this town is full of cozenage; 100
 >As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
 >Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
 >Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
 >Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks, 104
 >And many such-like liberties of sin:
 >If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.              --King John

This is not from King John, but Comedy of Errors.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 21:16:39 +0800
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

What a tangled web, etc. is indeed Scott, _Marmion_.

Arthur Lindley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brad Berens <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 08:00:31 -0700
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

This is for Nancy Charlton:

I don't know if Scott is the FIRST one to use the snippet, but it does
appear in his poem Marmion (1808).

You can find a free eText of it here at Project Gutenberg:
http://gutenberg.org/etext/4010

This is a common phenomenon in which famous phrases by other authors get
attributed to Shakespeare because he's the source of so many famous
phrases.  Marge Garber did a wonderful riff on how the author of "hell
hath no fury like a woman scorned" (Congreve, I think) totally derailed
the Congressional confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas a decade ago.

     Best,
     Brad

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Neville <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 16:15:43 +0100
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

It is Scott. It's from Marmion (1808) canto 5, stanza 12, according to
the ODQ

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 13:47:10 -0400
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

The entirety of the J. R. Pope is:

O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
But when we've practised quite a while
How vastly we improve our style.
   -A Word of Encouragement (updating Sir Walter Scott's Marmion)

The couplet first appears, as Pope indicates, in /Marmion/.  The poem is
a long narrative, and the lines need an inordinately long extract to
provide a meaningful context.  The whole is available at
<URL:http://www.gutenberg.net/dirs/etext03/marmn10.txt>

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Greg McSweeney <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Sep 2004 15:40:20 -0400
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

I believe it is Scott: The Lay of the Minstrel or something similar?

Greg

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mac Jackson <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Sep 2004 12:34:53 +1200
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
when first we practise to deceive!

New Zealand poet A.R.D. Fairburn (1904-57) added the following couplet
in his squib entitled "Political Jotting":

And when the practice is perfected
we're just the boys to get elected.

Mac Jackson

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Jacobs <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Sep 2004 09:18:38 +0800
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

Dear Nancy,

Yes, the quote is from the epic poem 'Marmion' by Sir Walter Scott -
though slightly awry.  It should read.......

"O what tangled webs we weave
  When first we practice to deceive."

It is very frequently mistakenly attributed to the Bard, but no, this
one cannot be claimed on his behalf.

Kindly
Christopher Jacobs

[11]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Sep 2004 22:16:47 -0700
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

 >And many such-like liberties of sin:
 >If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.              --King John

This quote is from Comedy of Errors.

[12]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louise Lotz <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Sep 2004 5:26:02 +0000
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

Nancy, the next line goes:

How vastly we improve our style!!

Original is indeed by Scott,

Marmion, Canto 5, St 9

Regards,
Louise Lotz

[13]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rebecca Gillis <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Sep 2004 09:51:57 +0100
Subject: 15.1625 Identify This Quote?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1625 Identify This Quote?

It's from chap xviii of "Marmion", by Sir Walter Scott

Rebecca Gillis

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