To Be Able To Fill Leisure Intelligently Is the Last Product of Civilization

Bertrand Russell? Arnold J. Toynbee? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: People who are attempting to climb the ladder of success today are often working more hours than ever before. Yet, the notable mathematician and intellectual Bertrand Russell envisioned a different future world in which the crucial challenge would be deciding how to fill leisure time intelligently.

A similar observation has been credited to the historian Arnold Toynbee. Perhaps advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will reactivate questions about pursuing leisure. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1930 Bertrand Russell published “The Conquest of Happiness” which included the following passage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice, are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. And whatever they decide on, they are troubled by the feeling that something else would have been pleasanter. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading To Be Able To Fill Leisure Intelligently Is the Last Product of Civilization

Notes:

  1. 1930, The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell, Chapter 14: Work, Quote Page 208, George Allen & Unwin, London. (Verified with scans)

If I Had Known That These Legs Were One Day To Carry a Chancellor, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Them

Robert Henley? Lord Northampton? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Experiencing happiness and maintaining a positive outlook toward life is much easier to accomplish when one is enjoying good health. An English Lord once complained that he would have taken better care of his legs if he had known how long he was going to live. Would you please help me to find the precise quotation and a citation?

Quote Investigator: Robert Henley, Earl of Northington served as the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain in the 1760s. In 1831 his grandson published a book about his prominent ancestor. Henley who died in 1772 sometimes experienced severe fits of gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis. His grandson reported the Earl’s remark about his legs: 1

When suffering from its effects, he was once overheard in the House of Lords to mutter after some painful walks between the Woolsack and the Bar, “If I had known that these legs were one day to carry a Chancellor, I’d have taken better care of them when I was a lad.”

The QI website has a separate article about the following related saying: “If I had known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If I Had Known That These Legs Were One Day To Carry a Chancellor, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Them

Notes:

  1. 1831, A Memoir of the Life of Robert Henley, Earl of Northington, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain by The Right Honourable Robert Lord Henley (His Grandson), Quote Page 13, John Murray, Albemarle Street, London; Printer: C. Roworth and Sons, Bell Yard, Temple Bar, London. (Internet Archive archive.org) link

There Are Only Four Stories: The Siege of the City, the Return Home, the Quest, and the Sacrifice of a God

Jorge Luis Borges? Paulo Coelho? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Argentinian short-story writer Jorge Luis Borges apparently believed that there were only four archetypal tales. Would you please explore this topic and identify the four tales?

Quote Investigator: In 1972 Jorge Luis Borges published a collection titled “El Oro de los Tigres” (“The Gold of the Tigers”). Most of the pieces were poems, but one piece was an essay titled “Los Cuatro Ciclos” (“The Four Cycles”) which described four fundamental stories that have been told and retold throughout the history of humankind. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

In the brief prose “The Four Cycles” he reviews four stories: one about a city sieged and defended by brave men (the Troy of the Homeric poems); another, the story of a return (Ulysses comes back to Ithaca); the third, a variation of the last, is about a search (Jason and the Golden Fleece, the thirty birds and the Simurg, Ahab and the whale, the heroes of James and Kafka); and the last one about a sacrifice of a god (Attis, Odin, Christ). Borges then concludes: “Four are the stories. During the time left to us we will continue telling them, transformed.”

The analytical passage above was from “Borges and the Kabbalah: And Other Essays on His Fiction and Poetry” by Jaime Alazraki. QI has not yet seen the original essay in Spanish by Borges.

The QI website has a separate article about the following related saying: There are only two plots: (1) A person goes on a journey (2) A stranger comes to town.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Are Only Four Stories: The Siege of the City, the Return Home, the Quest, and the Sacrifice of a God

Notes:

  1. 2009 (1988 Copyright), Borges and the Kabbalah: And Other Essays on His Fiction and Poetry by Jaime Alazraki, Chapter 13: Epilogue: On Borge’s Death, Start Page 176, Quote Page 184, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. (Google Books Preview)

I Have No Doubt You Have a Sufficiently Good Opinion of Yourself To Bear Mine With Equanimity

W. Somerset Maugham? John Colton? Clemence Randolph? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: As a high school student I came across a wonderful zinger spoken to a self-important individual. I cannot recall the exact wording, but it was something like this:

I perceive, Sir, you have a sufficiently good opinion of yourself that you can bear mine with equanimity.

Would you please help me to trace this expression?

Quote Investigator: In 1921 W. Somerset Maugham published the short story “Miss Thompson” in “The Smart Set” magazine. 1 Within the tale a missionary, Reverend Alfred Davidson, believed that he could change the behavior of a prostitute, Sadie Thompson, but he dramatically failed in the task. The quotation was spoken during a dialog between Davidson and the character Dr. MacPhail. The tale has been reprinted many times under the title “Rain”. 2

“Please don’t bear me malice because I can’t accede to your wish,” said Davidson, with a melancholy smile. “I respect you very much, doctor, and I should be sorry if you thought ill of me.”

“I have no doubt you have a sufficiently good opinion of yourself to bear mine with equanimity,” he retorted.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Have No Doubt You Have a Sufficiently Good Opinion of Yourself To Bear Mine With Equanimity

Notes:

  1. 1921 April, The Smart Set, Miss Thompson by W. Somerset Maugham, Start Page 3, Quote Page 19, Column 1, The Smart Set Company, New York. (ProQuest American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries)
  2. 1939 (1921 Copyright), The Trembling of a Leaf: Little Stories of the South Sea Islands by W. Somerset Maugham, Short Story: Rain, Start Page 241, Quote Page 282 and 283, Doubleday, Doran and Company, New York. (Internet Archive at archive.org) link

How Can Any Deny Themselves the Pleasure of My Company! It’s Beyond Me

Zora Neale Hurston? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Author Zora Neale Hurston was a prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Her robust self-confidence provided resilience when facing prejudice. Apparently, she wrote or said the following:

How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company!

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1928 Zora Neale Hurston published the essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” in the journal “The World Tomorrow”. The piece was reprinted in the “The Best American Essays of the Century” in 2000. Here is an excerpt: 1

I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries. My country, right or wrong.

Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company! It’s beyond me.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading How Can Any Deny Themselves the Pleasure of My Company! It’s Beyond Me

Notes:

  1. 2000, The Best American Essays of the Century, Edited by Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Atwan, Essay: How It Feels to Be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston, (First published in The World Tomorrow, May 1928), Start Page 114, Quote Page 117, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans)

If I Had Known I Was Going To Live So Long, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Myself

Eubie Blake? Erma Bombeck? Mickey Mantle? Adolph Zukor? Billy Noonan? Robert Henley? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Looking back on one’s younger years it is natural to experience some regrets. The following comment has a humorous edge:

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.

This saying has been attributed to U.S composer Eubie Blake, baseball player Mickey Mantle, Hollywood producer Adolph Zukor and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in a Minneapolis, Minnesota newspaper in September 1951. Seventy-year-old editorial columnist Billy Noonan attended a dinner with fellow journalists who praised him. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

At the dinner many nice things were said about Billy and the hope was expressed that he would live forever.

Noonan responded: “If I had known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

There is some evidence that others such as Eubie Blake and Adolph Zukor employed this saying in later years as indicated further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If I Had Known I Was Going To Live So Long, I’d Have Taken Better Care of Myself

Notes:

  1. 1951 September 16, Minneapolis Sunday Tribune (Star Tribune), Section: Feature News, Billy Noonan: The Sage of Baudette (Continuation title: Noonan) by George L. Peterson, Start Page 1, Quote Page 10, Column 6, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Newspapers_com)

All Wars Are Planned by Older Men in Council Rooms Apart

Grantland Rice? Herman Melville? Herbert Hoover? Reverend E. W. Elstron? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A mournful anti-war poem contains this line:

All wars are planned by older men in council rooms apart.

The poem has been attributed to Grantland Rice who was a popular sports journalist. I have seen a version of the verse that used the word “old” instead “older”. Do you know which version is correct? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Grantland Rice published a long-running syndicated column called “The Sportlight”. In 1921 he shared his poem titled “The Two Sides of War” with his readers. The following was the first verse. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who plan for greater armament
And map the battle chart.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All Wars Are Planned by Older Men in Council Rooms Apart

Notes:

  1. 1921 March 26, New York Tribune, Column: The Sportlight, Poem: The Two Sides of War Quote by Grantland Rice, Quote Page 11, Column 2, New York, New York. (Chronicling America Library of Congress) link

It Is the Greatest of All Mistakes, To Do Nothing Because You Can Only Do Little

Edmund Burke? Sydney Smith? Bob Geldof? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Trying to solve an enormous problem can be demoralizing. Each action can only achieve a small amount of progress. The following saying is designed to help maintain morale:

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.

This notion has been credited to Irish philosopher Edmund Burke and English cleric Sydney Smith. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Currently, QI has located no substantive evidence that Edmund Burke employed this saying. Burke died in 1797, and he received credit in 1981.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in the 1850 book “Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy” by Reverend Sydney Smith. This posthumous work was based on lectures delivered by Smith at the Royal Institution of London between 1804 and 1806. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is the greatest of all mistakes, to do nothing because you can only do little: but there are men who are always clamouring for immediate and stupendous effects, and think that virtue and knowledge are to be increased as a tower or a temple are to be increased, where the growth of its magnitude can be measured from day to day, and you cannot approach it without perceiving a fresh pillar, or admiring an added pinnacle.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Is the Greatest of All Mistakes, To Do Nothing Because You Can Only Do Little

Notes:

  1. 1850, Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy: Delivered at the Royal Institution, in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806, By the Late Rev. Sydney Smith, Lecture XIX: On the Conduct of the Understanding – Part II, Quote Page 290 and 291, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, London. (Google Books Full View) link

To (The Hungry) God Can Only Appear as Bread and Butter

Mohandas Gandhi? Corita Kent? Nirmal Kumar Bose? David Guy Powers? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The experience of hunger causes one’s motivations to focus on the need to acquire food. The following saying reflects this single-mindedness:

God himself dare not appear to a hungry person except in the form of bread.

This remark has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and Corita Kent; however, I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: For more than a decade Mohandas Gandhi was the editor of the weekly journal “Young India”. In 1931 the journal published a piece about Gandhi’s visit to Lancashire, England, a region that exported cloth to India. Gandhi wished to halt this transfer of goods because he envisioned an economy with homespun cloth produced locally by Indian workers. He met with English workers and discussed the prevalence of hunger in India. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is good enough to talk of God whilst we are sitting here after a nice breakfast and looking forward to a nicer luncheon, but how am I to talk of God to the millions who have to go without two meals a day. To them God can only appear as bread and butter.

This passage embodies a semantic match and a partial syntactic match for the quotation. There is also evidence that Gandhi expressed this notion on other occasions.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading To (The Hungry) God Can Only Appear as Bread and Butter

Notes:

  1. 1931 October 15, Young India: A Weekly Journal, Volume 13, Number 42, Edited by M. K. Gandhi, Gandhiji in Lancashire, Start Page 309, Quote Page 310, Column 1, Ahmedabad, India. (Young India archive at gandhiheritageportal.org) link

May You All Live Forever. May I Live Forever Less A Day

A. A. Milne? Winnie the Pooh? Tom Phillips? Walter Kerr? Jack Valenti? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following poignant and memorable quotation about love and companionship appears on many websites:

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

Usually these words are attributed to the author A. A. Milne who created the character Winnie the Pooh and his companions Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Christopher Robin and others. Yet, I have never seen a citation, and I suspect that the Milne never wrote it. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has been unable to find this quotation in the writings of A. A. Milne. The earliest conceptual match located by QI appeared in “The Rotarian” magazine in 1917. An advertisement from Tom Phillips presented a four-line verse containing the central idea of the quotation. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Greetings—
May you all live forever
May I live forever less a day
For I would not wish to live
When all my friends had passed away

TOM PHILLIPS
See you on Peachtree St., June 17th

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading May You All Live Forever. May I Live Forever Less A Day

Notes:

  1. 1917 January, The Rotarian, Volume 10, Number 1, (Advertisement placed by Tom Phillips), Quote Page 94, Column 1, Rotary International, Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link