A Misquoted Couplet


While reading an interesting article written by former UK Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone titled “Kin Beyond Sea” in The North American Review, Vol. 127, September-October 1878, I noticed a misquotation. He misquoted the following couplet from Reginald Heber’s long poem Palestine (1803):

No hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung,
Like some tall palm the mystic fabric sprung.

What Gladstone wrote was:

No workman steel, no ponderous hammers rung,
Like some tall palm the stately fabric sprung.

While I’m not sure how he made the error, I suspect that like several writers in the past, he may have a habit of writing from memory.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

2 thoughts on “A Misquoted Couplet

  1. It seems that his misquotation respected the true line, though. If he was writing from memory, I find the near-accuracy impressive, especially from as long as poem as “Palestine.”

    Liked by 1 person

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