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Re: A mistake in Brewer?

Posted by TheFallen on November 21, 2002

In Reply to: A mistake in Brewer? posted by Word Camel on November 20, 2002

: : : odious?

: : : Comparisons are odious.
: : : Proverbs 141

: : : Comparisons are odorous.
: : : Much Ado About Nothing (1598-9) act 3, sc. 5, l. [18]

: : I came up with this line from the play:

: : Dogb. Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt, as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.
: : Verg. Yes, I thank God, I am as honest as any man living, that is an old man and no honester than I.
: : Dogb. Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.
: : Leon. Neighbours, you are tedious.

: : But the plot thickens: Brewer's Phrase and fable lists the quote "Comparisons are Odorous" this way:

: : Comparisons are Odorous.
: :
: : So says Dogberry. (Much Ado About Nothing, iii. 5.) 1
: : "We own your verses are melodious,
: : But then comparisons are odious."
: :
: : Swift Answer to Sheridan's "Simile."
: :
: :
: : Our own list of phrase origins here on Phrase Finder says it's "comparisons are odorous: but that it is often misquoted as "comparisons are odious"

: : I don't have the whole of the play handy but will try to look it up unless someone else gets there first.

: I've done a google search and the Brewer is the only source for that quote I could find. I also found an online version of the play and couldn't find the line - at least not where Brewer says it is.

: My faith is shaken - not stirred.

To put Ms. Camel's mind at rest, this from Act 3 Scene 5 of Much Ado About Nothing:

VERGES
Yes, I thank God I am as honest as any man living
that is an old man and no honester than I.

DOGBERRY
Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.

LEONATO
Neighbours, you are tedious.

This is a tad hazy, but the quotation in Brewers that Ms Camel refers to is by Jonathan Swift, who himself is knowingly misquoting (or rather correcting - see my other post) Shakespeare's Dogberry in a reply to Sheridan's "Simile". This Sheridan isn't Richard Brinsley Sheridan, as might as first be supposed, but rather Thomas Sheridan (1687-1738) who wrote something called "The Simile: or, Woman: a Cloud. A Poem"