Category Archives: John Godfrey Saxe

The Worm Was Punished for Early Rising

John Godfrey Saxe? Frederick Locker-Lampson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: “The early bird catches the worm” has become an irritating cliché. I love this entertaining comical response:

But the worm was punished for getting up early.

Do you know who crafted this rejoinder?

Quote Investigator: The work “Early Rising” appeared in the 1876 collection “The Poems of John Godfrey Saxe”. The stanza below expressed the unhappiness of the author with leaving his bed early in the morning: 1

Yes — bless the man who first invented sleep
(I really can’t avoid the iteration);
But blast the man, with curses loud and deep,
Whate’er the rascal’s name, or age, or station,
Who first invented, and went round advising,
That artificial cut-off, — Early Rising!

The final stanza of the poem contained the quip. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

So let us sleep, and give the Maker praise.
I like the lad who, when his father thought
To clip his morning nap by hackneyed phrase
Of vagrant worm by early songster caught,
Cried, “Served him right! — it’s not at all surprising;
The worm was punished, sir, for early rising!”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1876, The Poems of John Godfrey Saxe Complete in One Volume, Poem: Early Rising (Stanza Two and Final Stanza), Start Page 133, Quote Page 133 and 134, James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link

Laws are Like Sausages. Better Not to See Them Being Made

Otto von Bismarck? John Godfrey Saxe? Claudius O. Johnson?


Dear Quote Investigator: The quotation of Otto von Bismarck about laws and sausages has been a favorite of mine for years. I found several versions using Google, and here are two:

Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.

To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.

I looked for some clear references to texts written by Otto von Bismarck and translated into English to justify the attributions. I could not find anything. Could you investigate this quotation to find out who really said it originally?

Quote Investigator: Quotation experts Fred Shapiro and Ralph Keyes have identified the most likely originator of the aphorism. Before presenting that evidence QI will give the details of a citation in an American history textbook from the 1930s. This post ends with information about a bizarre duel involving sausages that was reported in the 1860s.

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