Benjamin Franklin? Dorothy Canfield Fisher? Arthur Wing Pinero? Abigail Van Buren? Anonymous?
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.
At least three different people have been credited with this saying: Dorothy C. Fisher, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur W. Pinero. Would you please trace this expression?
Quote Investigator: In 1897 the five act comedy “The Princess and The Butterfly; or, The Fantastics” by Arthur Wing Pinero was staged in London and in New York. The two primary characters were named Princess Pannonia and George Lamorant and were referred to as The Princess and The Butterfly, respectively.
Lamorant proposed marriage to Pannonia, but he also expressed uncertainty about the match to another character named Fay Zuliani who delivered the following advice. Dialectical spelling was employed to depict an Italian accent; “those” was written as “dose”, and “they” was written as “dey”. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
FAY: [Slowly coming to the table.] Dose who love deep never grow old, I have ‘eard it said. Dey may die of age, but dey die young. You ought to love de Princess.
Note that the original line used “die of age” and not “die of old age”. Also, the word “deep” was spoken instead of “deeply”.
During a later scene in the play the initial statement was emphasized by being spoken again by both Lamorant and Pannonia though the phrasing was slightly different: 2
SIR GEORGE: That those who love deeply cannot age—
PRINCESS: That those–who love deeply–cannot age?
SIR GEORGE: Yes
PRINCESS: If it were so!
SIR GEORGE: Nor perceive age in those they love.
PRINCESS: What a blessed creed!
SIR GEORGE: Yes.
QI believes that playwright Pinero should be credited with the remark under investigation. The linkages of the quotation to Benjamin Franklin and Dorothy Canfield Fisher were not supported with substantive citations.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
In April 1897 a drama critic writing in the London periodical “The Speaker” found the words spoken by Fay Zuliani memorable and reprinted them in the review of the “The Princess and the Butterfly”. Dialectical spelling was used: 3
Listen to the broken English of “that sweet Italian thing,” Fay Zuliani. “Dose who love deep never grow old, I have ‘eard it said. Dey may die of age, but dey die young.”
In December 1897 an advertisement for the play was published in “The New York Times” featuring a catch phrase. The copywriter decided to use a slightly inaccurate version of the line from Zuliani using the word “deeply” instead of “deep”. 4
“Those who love deeply, never grow old.”
Here is an image of the commercial message:
In 1922 “The American Magazine” published a profile of the actress Blanche Whiffen who reminisced about her experiences at the Lyceum Theatre. She imperfectly recalled a touching statement from the play: 5
A good many years ago, when I was with the old Lyceum company, we put on a play called ‘The Princess and the Butterfly.’ One of the lines in that play ran something like this: ‘Those who love deeply never grow old.’ I’ve always remembered that line, and thought there was much of truth in it.
Q. What is the source of the quotation, “Those who love deeply never grow old”? —B.R.H
A. The line, “Those who love deeply cannot age,” is from “The Princess and the Butterfly,” act V, by Pinero.
In 1950 a compilation titled “Poor Richard’s Anthology of Thoughts on Charity and Relative Subjects” was published, and an instance of Pinero’s statement was included. The playwright was credited; nevertheless, it was possible that this volume may have caused some confusion. The title “Poor Richard’s” has been very closely associated with Benjamin Franklin; hence, a saying in the book might have been reassigned to Franklin by an inattentive person: 8
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young. —Arthur Wing Pinero
In 1987 Abigail Van Buren, the pseudonymous author of the famous “Dear Abby” advice column, employed the saying without attribution: 9
DEAR ABBY: Some years ago you wrote something quite beautiful about people who love deeply never growing old. What was it?
RUTH COMSTOCK, SAN DIEGO
DEAR RUTH: “Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” And thanks for asking because I’m one of those people.
In 1993 the remark was printed in the “Dear Abby” column again without ascription. This time the phrasing was altered: 10
DEAR READERS Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share a thought with you. Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but no matter how many birthdays they have celebrated, they die young. Love, ABBY
In 2001 “The Everything Wedding Vows Book” credited the renowned statesman Benjamin Franklin with the remark: 11
Those who love deeply never grow old. They may die of old age, but they die young.
In 2013 a compilation of “Quotable Quotes” from Reader’s Digest attributed the saying to a social activist named Dorothy Canfield Fisher: 12
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.
—DOROTHY CANFIELD FISHER
In conclusion, Arthur Wing Pinero should be credited with the lines he wrote for his 1897 play “The Princess and The Butterfly”. Presenting the quotation using both dialectical spelling and standard spelling would probably be helpful.
Images Notes: Man and woman embracing from maumau97 at Pixabay. Mother and child at sunrise or sunset from VaniaRaposo at Pixabay.
(Great thanks to Earl Appleby whose query led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)
- 1898, The Princess and The Butterfly or, The Fantastics: A Comedy in Five Acts by Arthur W. Pinero (Arthur Wing Pinero), The Fifth Act, Start Page 208, Quote Page 218, Published by William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1898, The Princess and The Butterfly or, The Fantastics: A Comedy in Five Acts by Arthur W. Pinero (Arthur Wing Pinero), The Fifth Act, Start Page 208, Quote Page 234, Published by William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1897 April 3, The Speaker, Volume 15, The Drama: “The Princess and the Butterfly” (Review by A.B.W.), Start Page 373, Quote Page 373, Fleet Street, London. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1897 December 9, New York Times, (Advertisement for the play The Princess and the Butterfly at the Lyceum), Quote Page 12, Column 6, New York. (ProQuest) ↩
- 1922 October, The American Magazine, Volume 94, Number 4, A Wonderful Old Lady Who Has Been On the Stage 57 Years by Keene Sumner, (Profile of Mrs. Thomas Whiffen), Start Page 34, Quote Page 170, Column 2, Crowell Publishing Company, Springfield, Ohio. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1942 September 11, Evening Star, Haskin’s Answers To Questions by Frederic J. Haskin, Quote Page A-10, Column 7, Washington D.C., District of Columbia. (GenealogyBank) ↩
- 1942 September 11, The Kokomo Tribune, Questions (Question and Answer column for readers of The Kokomo Tribune), Quote Page 4, Column 5, Kokomo, Indiana. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1950, Poor Richard’s Anthology of Thoughts on Charity and Relative Subjects by C. F. Kleinknecht (Christian Frederick Kleinknecht), Love Chapter III, Quote Page 168, Published in Washington D. C. (HathiTrust Full View) ↩
- 1987 April 28, Laurel Leader-Call, Dear Abby: Contacting old flame could spark the wrong response by Abigail Van Buren (Universal Press Syndicate), Quote Page 7, Column 5, Laurel, Mississippi. (NewspaperArchive) ↩
- 1993 February 14, The Intelligencer (Doylestown Intelligencer), Rules for love guide life by Abigail Van Buren (Universal Press Syndicate), Quote Page C-5, Column 2, Doylestown, Pennsylvania. (NewspaperArchive) ↩
- 2001 Copyright, The Everything Wedding Vows Book by Janet Anastasio and Michelle Bevilacqua, (Revised and Expanded Second Edition), Quote Page 94, Published by Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company, Avon, Massachusetts. (Google Books Preview) ↩
- 2013 Copyright, Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes: All New Wit & Wisdom from The Greatest Minds of Our Time Section: The Perfect Words for Birthday Cards, Unnumbered Page, A Reader’s Digest Book: The Reader’s Digest Association, White Plains, New York. (Google Books Preview) ↩