Tag Archives: language

Killer Quotes – William Congreve on scorned women and the charms of music.

“Heav’n has no rage like love to hatred turn’d,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorn’d

William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

This is a famously misquoted line from William Congreve’s play ‘The Mourning Bride‘ published in 1697. These are the final lines of Act III from the play.

The Mourning Bride also gives us another famous mondegreen in the very first line spoken.

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.

William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

This line is of course the basis for the commonly misquoted ‘Music has charms to soothe the savage beast.

Congreve was a favourite restoration playwrite who flourished between 1695 and 1700 and is also responsible for giving us the injunction ‘…you must not kiss and tell.‘  This line comes from one of his earlier comedies Love for Love written in 1695 – The Mourning bride is a tragedy.

Euphemistically Speaking – Biographical Leverage

InterrobangRecently I was confronted with the term ‘biographical leverage‘ and thought to myself ‘…whatever could possibly be meant by that?

Turns out that biographical leverage is the sanitised form of the irregular verb – to blackmail.

This is a neat example of the doublespeak that is creeping into our every day language whether through political correctness, a desire to disguise moral repugnancy or to sanitise the otherwise unsanitary and indigestible for consumption by the average and right thinking man or woman in the street.

The verb ‘to blackmail‘ conjugates something like this –

Present Infinitive:- blackmail
Example: That’s blackmail!

First Person Singular:- biographical leverage
Example: I am exerting biographical leverage.

Second Person Singular:- keeping other’s secrets
Example: You are keeping his secrets.

Third Person Singular:- blackmail
Example: She is blackmailing me!

This is the sort of  double-speak of which Sir Humphrey Appleby would be rightly proud.

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