Misquotation: ‘The English are a nation of shopkeepers’
An assessment now generally attributed to Napoleon, and certainly the comment was attributed to the ex-Emperor by his personal surgeon, Barry O’Meara, who was part of his houseful on St Helena. However, the association of English political power with commerce was already established, as is shown by this passage from The Wealth of Nations (1776) by the Scottish economist Adam Smith:

To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. 

 From the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. For other previous common misquotations, take a look at our Misquotation of the Week feature.
Image credit: ‘Shrewsbury, Old House On Pride Hill’, c. 1880, National Media Museum Collection, via Flickr Commons.

Misquotation: ‘The English are a nation of shopkeepers’

An assessment now generally attributed to Napoleon, and certainly the comment was attributed to the ex-Emperor by his personal surgeon, Barry O’Meara, who was part of his houseful on St Helena. However, the association of English political power with commerce was already established, as is shown by this passage from The Wealth of Nations (1776) by the Scottish economist Adam Smith:

To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.

 From the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. For other previous common misquotations, take a look at our Misquotation of the Week feature.

Image credit: ‘Shrewsbury, Old House On Pride Hill’, c. 1880, National Media Museum Collection, via Flickr Commons.