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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Source of Churchill Quotation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0135  Wednesday, 27 February 2008

[1] 	From:	Arnie Perlstein <
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	Date:	Monday, 25 Feb 2008 18:56:36 -0500
	Subj:	Churchill on Shakespeare

[2] 	From:	Joseph Egert <
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	Date:	Monday, 25 Feb 2008 17:01:12 -0800 (PST)
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0127 Source of Churchill Quotation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date:		Monday, 25 Feb 2008 18:56:36 -0500
Subject:	Churchill on Shakespeare

I found three well-known writers who passed on this anecdote about John 
Churchill and Shakespeare.

Most recent of the three is Winston Churchill, who in _Marlborough: His 
Life and Times_, at P. 20, wrote:

"Although no scholar, and for all his comical spelling, he wrote a 
rugged forceful English worthy of the Shakespeare on which his education 
was mainly founded."

Quite a bit earlier, George Saintsbury, _Marlborough_,  1885, at ppg. 
4-5 wrote:

"The well known saying that he learnt all the English history he knew 
out of Shakespeare is another of the anecdotes which only dulness takes 
literally. The son of the author of "Divi Britannici" is nearly certain 
to have received historical instruction from the author of that work, 
though if Shakespeare's teaching stuck in his memory better, it is not 
to his discredit. The story, however, is of some value as illustrating 
the baselessness, easily proved from other sources, of a notion--often 
put forward in vulgar histories of literature and the stage--that 
Shakespeare was forgotten in England during the last half of the 
seventeenth century."

And earliest of the three was Coleridge who wrote, in an analysis of 
Shakespeare's historical plays:

"Marlborough, we know, was not ashamed to confess that his principal 
acquaintance with English history was derived from them [Shakespeare's 
historic dramas]; and I believe that a large part of the information as 
to our old names and achievements even now abroad is due, directly or 
indirectly, to Shakespeare."

Now, whether these were based on something John Churchill wrote himself, 
I cannot detect--I did not find anything in the versions of his Memoirs 
at Google Books.

Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Joseph Egert <
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 >
Date:		Monday, 25 Feb 2008 17:01:12 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 19.0127 Source of Churchill Quotation
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0127 Source of Churchill Quotation

Hilde Slinger asks:

 >In the course of my work for the Shakespeare
 >Society of Southern Africa, I shall be most obliged
 >if you will kindly assist with the tracing of the following
 >quote:-
 >
 >"John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722),
 >supposedly said he knew no English history but what
 >he had learned from Shakespeare (or words to that
 >effect). Could someone supply the original source for
 >this reported remark? I would be most grateful."

Check out Ferdinando Warner's REMARKS ON THE HISTORY OF FINGAL (1762), 
excerpted in GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE (1774). Here's a link to get you started:

http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/anecdtes/c16/shkspear.htm

Good luck,
J Egert

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