What a wonderful thing it is to have erudite readers. A few entries back I wondered aloud about the expression “gilding the lily”. Now William James has written to say that it’s a misquotation of Shakespeare, from King John, Act IV, scene 2:
To gild refinèd gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.