Tips for Use. Making mistakes is a property of human nature and the craft of language has provided remedies from time immemorial. But remedies are like antibiotics – overusing them reduces their effectiveness. Shakespeare provides a kind of anti-antidote. By recognizing that the excuse may be ineffectual you place the potential excuser at arm’s length and you (the excusand) improve the chances that your justification(s) may be accepted.
Try, for example, “I know that excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse…” and then proceed with the excuse proper.
The quotation may also work very well during a job interview when you may have to admit to some shortcomings in your career.
The precarious nature of excuses is recognized universally in many languages and dialects. For example, in the dialect spoken in Venice we find, “El tacon xe pejor del buso.” (the patched hole is worse than the hole). Or in French, “Qui s’excuse, s’accuse” (who excuses himself accuses himself), etc. Then there is the case when excuses are offered when not necessary. This calls for the Latin “Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta” (An excuse not requested makes the accusation manifest).
If the reader can offer examples in other languages or dialects, please write and your entry will be published. All these references and additional cross-reference to other relevant Shakespeare quotes you will find in the book “Your Daily Shakespeare”. Click on “The book” in the menu for more information.
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In the play. Pembroke and Salisbury advise King John to limit additional parades and ceremonies, given the turbulent situation the King finds himself in. He has instructed a minister to assassinate the rightful heir to the throne, Arthur. The Pentagon would call King John’s action a “preventive strike”.
In the image, St. Andreas’ “fault”, California