No Explanation Is Needed for a Believer; No Explanation Suffices for an Unbeliever

Franz Werfel? John LaFarge? George Seaton? Irving Wallace? Charles Brent? James G. Stahlman? Dwain Hobbs? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Events deemed miraculous have always been controversial. Believers readily accept a supernatural explanation, but skeptics are unwilling to endorse this viewpoint. Religious pilgrimage sites such as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France boast many seemingly miraculous cures, but detractors resist unconventional explications. A two part statement depicts these clashing perspectives. Here are four versions:

No explanation is needed for a believer;
no explanation suffices for an unbeliever.

To a non-believer, no explanation is possible.
For a believer, no explanation is necessary.

To those who believe no explanation is necessary;
to those who do not believe no explanation will satisfy.

For those who believe in God no explanation is necessary.
For those who do not believe in God no explanation is possible.

A message of this type appears at the beginning of the popular award-winning 1943 film “The Song of Bernadette”. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” of Missouri in December 1882. This concise instance occurred within an editorial discussing the credibility of the biblical tale of the prophet Jonah who was engulfed by a giant aquatic creature and survived. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The story of Jonah and the Whale is of course one of the first biblical difficulties which skeptics and unbelievers take hold of, and the temptation to gain this easy vantage-ground has been strengthened by the attempt on the part of Bishop Ryan to reconcile the miracle with natural law and by the assumption that the great sea monster which swallowed the prophet was a special creation or an animal otherwise unknown to science.

There is no necessity of resorting to such explanations. No single miracle can be explained, and there is no use in trying. No explanation is needed for a believer; no explanation suffices for an unbeliever. There are people who honestly refuse to believe in any miracle, either of Christ or of the prophets before Him or of the saints since His day.

No author was specified for the passage above; hence, it should be considered anonymous. Attempting to trace this saying has been very difficult because it can be expressed in many ways.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No Explanation Is Needed for a Believer; No Explanation Suffices for an Unbeliever

Notes:

  1. 1882 December 22, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jonah and the Whale, Quote Page 4, Column 2, St. Louis, Missouri. (Newspapers_com)

I Often Quote Myself. It Adds Spice To My Conversation

George Bernard Shaw? Brendan Behan? Reba Lombard? Arthur Caesar? George Jean Nathan? Erskine Johnson? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A remarkably large number of utterances from the prominent Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw appear in quotation collections. Apparently, he once humorously commented on his quoteworthiness. Here are three versions:

  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
  • I like to quote from myself; it adds spice to the conversation
  • I always quote myself. It adds spice to the conversation.

Did Shaw really make one of these remarks? Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in the June 1943 issue of “Reader’s Digest” magazine within a section called “Patter” which printed miscellaneous quotations. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Bernard Shaw once remarked: “I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”

QI has not found this quotation in the writings or interviews of Shaw. The items in “Patter” were contributed by readers who received compensation, and some items were of doubtful accuracy. Shaw died in 1950; hence, this quotation was circulating for several years while he was alive which increases its credibility. Nevertheless, QI does not know whether this quotation is authentic.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Often Quote Myself. It Adds Spice To My Conversation

Notes:

  1. 1943 June, Reader’s Digest, Volume 42, Patter, Quote Page 18, Column 2, The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)

Some of the Biggest Failures I Ever Had Were Successes

Pearl Bailey? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Everyone experiences failures in life. Yet, each setback can be transformed into an energizing event and an episode of learning. Even the largest failures can be changed into successes. The prominent U.S. actress and singer Pearl Bailey said something like this. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1971 Pearl Bailey published the memoir “Talking To Myself” which included the following passage: 1

Some of the biggest failures I ever had were successes. A man has to try in order to grow, and try again. The point is that it’s the trying that does it, and not necessarily achieving what he is attempting to do.

For every failure, one grows a bit. Failure inspires some people to go on, at least that’s the way it affects the greats of show business as I’ve observed them.

This remark combines two contradictory words: “failures” and “successes”. The resulting figure of speech is called an oxymoron, and it seems inconsistent from a narrow overly literal viewpoint; however, a wider perspective reveals its insightfulness.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Some of the Biggest Failures I Ever Had Were Successes

Notes:

  1. 1973 (1971 Copyright), Talking To Myself by Pearl Bailey, Chapter: The measure of its contents, Quote Page 176, Pocket Books: A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified with scans)

Every King Springs From a Race of Slaves, and Every Slave Has Had Kings Among His Ancestors

Helen Keller? Socrates? Plato? Seneca the Younger? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A person has two genetic parents, four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents. The number of ancestors in a generation roughly doubles when going backwards in time, and this exponential growth implies that each individual has an enormous number of ancestors. This line of reasoning suggests two remarkable insights about human lineages and fluctuating social power:

  • Every king has ancestors who were slaves.
  • Every slave has ancestors who were kings.

This dual notion has been credited to three famous ancient sages: Socrates, Plato, and Seneca the Younger. It has also been attributed to the deaf-blind social activist Helen Keller. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Plato presented a dialogue between Socrates and Theaetetus on the nature of knowledge. Socrates discussed the pride some feel about having an illustrious ancestry, and he indicated that a person with a philosophical temperament would be skeptical about this undeserved self-approval. The following excerpt is from a translation by Harold N. Fowler. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

And when people sing the praises of lineage and say someone is of noble birth, because he can show seven wealthy ancestors, he thinks that such praises betray an altogether dull and narrow vision on the part of those who utter them; because of lack of education they cannot keep their eyes fixed upon the whole and are unable to calculate that every man has had countless thousands of ancestors and progenitors, among whom have been in any instance rich and poor, kings and slaves, barbarians and Greeks.

The phrasing above differed from the two target quotations. Yet, this passage from Plato’s instantiation of Socrates did logically imply that each king had some slave as an ancestor, and each slave had some king as an ancestor.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Every King Springs From a Race of Slaves, and Every Slave Has Had Kings Among His Ancestors

Notes:

  1. 1921, Plato, English Translation by Harold N. Fowler (Western Reserve University), Volume 2, Section: Theaetetus, Quote Page 123 to 125, William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link

A Notable Family Named Stein With Gertrude, Ep, and Ein

A. H. Reginald Buller? Resident of Brighton? E. V. Lucas? Carolyn Wells? Walter Winchell? Robert Conquest? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a comical limerick about a “family” named Stein. The three referents were prominent writer Gertrude Stein, influential sculpture Jacob Epstein, and famous scientist Albert Einstein. Wordplay was used to split “Stein” from “Gertrude”, “Ep”, and “Ein”. Would you please explore the provenance of this poem?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match for the limerick located by QI appeared in March 1931, and that citation is given further below.

An interesting precursor occurred in the London humor magazine “Punch” in September 1929. The poem was titled “Precious Steins”, and it employed the same splitting wordplay. These were the first three verses: 1

What with Gertrude, Ep and Ein,
When I hear the name of Stein,
I go creepy down the spine.

Ein has caught the ether bending,
Gert has sentences unending,
Ep is really most art-rending.

Ein’s made straight lines parabolic,
Eppie’s “Night” is alcoholic,
Gertie’s grammar has the colic.

The final fifth verse suggested that life and art were out of step, and the poem’s creator was down-hearted. No attribution was specified for the poem. Thus, it was either written by a staff member of “Punch”, or it was sent to the magazine by a reader who was compensated.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Notable Family Named Stein With Gertrude, Ep, and Ein

Notes:

  1. 1929 September 11, Punch, Or The London Charivari, Volume 177, Precious Steins, Quote Page 282, Column 3, Published at the Office of Punch, London. (Verified with scans)

Fear of Something Is at the Root of Hate for Others, and Hate Within Will Ultimately Destroy the Hater

George Washington Carver? Alvin D. Smith? Martin Luther King Jr.? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Prominent scientist and educator George Washington Carver believed that fear lay at the root of hatred, and hatred would eventually lead to the destruction of the hater. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Alvin D. Smith attended the Bible Classes conducted by George Washington Carver during the years 1915 to 1919. Smith often took notes, and many years later in 1954 he published “George Washington Carver: Man of God” which included material based on Carver’s lectures Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Right off, he began talking about David and Goliath. He said, “As we tune in with our Creator and study our Bible, we get the answer to any problem.

“Fear of something is at the root of hate for others and hate within will ultimately destroy the hater. Keep your thoughts free from hate, and you need have no fear from those who hate you,” said he.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Fear of Something Is at the Root of Hate for Others, and Hate Within Will Ultimately Destroy the Hater

Notes:

  1. 1954, George Washington Carver: Man of God by Alvin D. Smith, Chapter: Race Hate—David and Goliath, Quote Page 43, Exposition Press, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link

Hate Ultimately Destroys the Hater

Henry Norman? A. P. Buchman? George Washington Carver? Alvin D. Smith? Louis N. Whealton? Frederick C. Walcott? Peter Witt? Martin Luther King Jr.? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Loathing and hostility are intense emotions which are difficult to control. Here is an applicable adage:

Hatred destroys the hater.

Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: The 2018 issue of “Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship” includes a supplementary article for the important reference work titled “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs”. Three variants of this important saying were listed: 1

Hate (Hating, Hatred) destroys the hater.

Tracing this adage is difficult because it can be expressed in many different ways, and its concision evolved over time. A lengthy version appeared in the 1897 book “Real” by Henry Norman, Bold face added to excerpts by QI: 2

Revenge can gratify for a short time only, but it never can satisfy for revenge is an agent of hatred, and the nature of hatred is to first destroy the hated one and then destroy the hater.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Hate Ultimately Destroys the Hater

Notes:

  1. 2018, Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship, Volume 35, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs: Second Supplement by Charles Clay Doyle and Wolfgang Mieder, Start Page 15, Quote Page 25, Published by The University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1897, Real by Henry Norman, Quote Page 21 and 22, Jno. F. McCarty & Company, Printers, Lynn, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link

Love, Anger, Sorrow, and a Cough Cannot Be Hid

Dorothy L. Sayers? George Eliot? Thomas Fuller? George Herbert? George Latimer Apperson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The ongoing pandemic reminded me of an eccentric proverb I once heard:

Love and a cough cannot be hidden.

The prominent mystery wrote Dorothy L. Sayers once referred to a statement like this. Would you please explore the history of this remark?

Quote Investigator: These types of adages have been circulating for several hundred years. Each variant lists a set of conditions or emotions which are difficult to conceal because they are expressed spontaneously or uncontrollably.

George Latimer Apperson’s important reference “English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases” contains an entry that that begins with a citation circa 1300: 1

Love and a cough cannot be hid.
c. 1300: Cursor Mundi, l. 4276

In 1590 a pertinent adage appeared in the book titled “The Royal Exchange Contayning sundry aphorismes of phylosophie, and golden principles of morrall and naturall quadruplicities”. This title reveals that spelling was not standardized in 1590. Here are standard spellings for three words that occur in the passage below: foure, four; hydden, hidden; loue, love. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

There are foure things cannot be hydden.

1. The cough.
2. Loue.
3. Anger.
4. And sorrow.

These affectons are addicted to much impatience, and maketh a man so passionate, as they are almost impossible to be concealed.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Love, Anger, Sorrow, and a Cough Cannot Be Hid

Notes:

  1. 1929, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases: A Historical Dictionary by G. L. Apperson (George Latimer Apperson), Topic: Love, Quote Page 384, Column 1, J. M. Dent and Sons Limited, London, Facsimile republished in 1969 by Gale Research Company, Detroit, Michigan. (Verified with hardcopy of 1969 edition)
  2. 1590, Title: The Royal Exchange Contayning sundry aphorismes of phylosophie, and golden principles of morrall and naturall quadruplicities, Author: Oraziofin Rinaldi, Publisher: Offered to the cittie of London. Rob. Greene, in Artibus Magister, Printer: Printed by I. Charlewood for William VVright At London. (Early English Books Online EEBO) link

The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Naval Officer? Voltaire? William Pitt Lennox? Herb Caen? Howard Jacobs? Norman R. Augustine? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: When an organization encounters difficulties, and its members experience low morale, it is counterproductive to enforce harsh discipline. This notion can be captured with the following sarcastic remark:

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Close variants of this statement replace the word “beatings” with “whippings” or “floggings”. Would you please explore the provenance of this family of remarks?

Quote Investigator: There are many comical statements containing the phrase “until morale improves”. Some researchers have asserted that instances were circulating during World War II, but QI has found no evidence to support that claim. The saying is difficult to trace because of its mutability. Here is a sampling together with years of occurrence that provides an overview:

  • 1961: . . . all liberty is canceled until morale improves
  • 1964: Layoffs will continue until morale improves
  • 1965: No Beer, Card Playing, Mail Call, . . . until morale improves
  • 1967: . . . no leave until morale improves
  • 1977: Firing will continue until morale improves
  • 1986: . . . cancel all vacations until morale improved
  • 1988: Restructuring will continue until morale improves
  • 1988: The floggings will continue until morale improves
  • 1989: The beatings will continue, until morale improves
  • 1992: The Whippings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Days Into Which 20 Years Are Compressed

Vladimir Lenin? Karl Marx? Louis C. Fraina? Homero Aridjis? Carlos Fuentes? Saint Peter? George Galloway? Liz Smith? Steve Bannon? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Many societal changes do not follow smooth trajectories. Instead, change occurs via irregular starts and stops. Here are two versions of this notion:

  • There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.
  • There are centuries in which nothing happens and years in which centuries pass.

The first saying has been ascribed to Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, but I am skeptical because I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: Vladimir Lenin died in 1924; however, the earliest citation located by QI that attributed the remark to him appeared in 2001. This long delay greatly reduced the credibility of the ascription to Lenin.

A biblical precursor mentioning the compression and decompression of time appeared in the second epistle of St. Peter. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (New International Version)

Karl Marx wrote a letter dated April 9, 1863 that included a passage expressing a similar idea in which the changes occurring during twenty years were compressed into days. The following English translation was published in 1985: 2

How soon the English workers will throw off what seems to be a bourgeois contagion remains to be seen. So far as the main theses in your book are concerned, by the by, they have been corroborated down to the very last detail by developments subsequent to 1844. For I have again been comparing the book with the notes I made on the ensuing period. Only your small-minded German philistine who measures world history by the ell and by what he happens to think are ‘interesting news items’, could regard 20 years as more than a day where major developments of this kind are concerned, though these may be again succeeded by days into which 20 years are compressed.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Days Into Which 20 Years Are Compressed

Notes:

  1. Website: BibleHub, Second Epistle of Peter, 2 Peter 3. Lines 8 and 9, Translation: New International Version (NIV), Website description: Online Bible Study Suite; Bible Hub is a production of the Online Parallel Bible Project. (Accessed BibleHub.com on August 7, 2019) link
  2. 1985, Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Volume 41: Marx and Engels: 1860-64, Letter Number: 281, Description: From Marx to Engels in Manchester, Date: April 9, 1863, Start Page 466, Quote Page 468, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Russia. (Verified with scans from Internet Archive)