Dictionary: The Only Place Where Divorce Comes Before Marriage

Evan Esar? Jacob M. Braude? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: You have already explored a quip about success and work that cleverly referred to their alphabetical order. I’ve seen a similar joke about divorce and marriage:

The dictionary is the only place where divorce comes before marriage.

Which of these two jests emerged first? Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest instance of the divorce quip known to QI appeared in “The Yonkers Statesman” in April 1902. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1902 April 19, The Yonkers Statesman, Whim-Whams, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Yonkers, New York. (Newspapers_com)

Patience: “Polly has found something wrong with the dictionary.”
Patrice: “Indeed! What is it?”
“She’s discovered that divorce comes before marriage.”

This joke was reprinted in several other newspapers in May 1902 such as “The Daily Morning Journal and Courier” of New Haven, Connecticut [2] 1902 May 3, The Daily Morning Journal and Courier, Unnecessary, Quote Page 4, Column 4, New Haven, Connecticut. (Newspapers_com) and “The Times-Democrat” of New Orleans, Louisiana.[3] 1902 May 13, The Times-Democrat, All Sorts, Quote Page 6, Column 5, New Orleans, Louisiana. (Newspapers_com) Both of these papers acknowledged “The Yonkers Statesman”.

Continue reading Dictionary: The Only Place Where Divorce Comes Before Marriage

References

References
1 1902 April 19, The Yonkers Statesman, Whim-Whams, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Yonkers, New York. (Newspapers_com)
2 1902 May 3, The Daily Morning Journal and Courier, Unnecessary, Quote Page 4, Column 4, New Haven, Connecticut. (Newspapers_com)
3 1902 May 13, The Times-Democrat, All Sorts, Quote Page 6, Column 5, New Orleans, Louisiana. (Newspapers_com)

His Mother Should Have Thrown Him Away and Kept the Stork

Mae West? Jack Wagner? Joe E. Lewis? Charley Weaver? Cliff Arquette? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The Hollywood screen siren Mae West once verbally lacerated the villain of a movie by saying that when he was born his mother should have kept the stork and disposed of him. Would you please help me to determine the name of the movie?

Quote Investigator: Mae West starred in the 1934 film “Belle of the Nineties”. The reviewer in the “New York Herald Tribune” was impressed by West’s comical line about the antagonist. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1934 September 22, New York Herald Tribune, On The Screen by Richard Watts Jr., (Movie Review of “Belle of the Nineties”), Quote Page 10, Column 1, New York. (ProQuest)

I can recommend to you Miss West’s characterization of her villain, who was, it seems, so worthless that when he was born “his mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”

Mae West received credit as the primary writer of the film, and Jack Wagner received credit for additional dialogue. Hence, QI is not completely sure who created the line. Mae West certainly deserved credit for popularizing the insult; however, a form of the joke was already in circulation as indicated below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading His Mother Should Have Thrown Him Away and Kept the Stork

References

References
1 1934 September 22, New York Herald Tribune, On The Screen by Richard Watts Jr., (Movie Review of “Belle of the Nineties”), Quote Page 10, Column 1, New York. (ProQuest)

Other People’s Interruptions of Your Work Are Relatively Insignificant Compared With the Countless Times You Interrupt Yourself

Brendan Francis? Edward F. Murphy? Jonathon Green? Sherwin D. Smith? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I came across the following quotation in the 1978 reference “The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations” compiled by Edward F. Murphy:[1] 1978 Copyright, The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, Topic: Quotation, Quote Page 500, Crown Publishers, New York. (Verified with scans)

A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority.

The reference credited Brendan Francis, but I have been unable to discover anything about Francis. Does he really exist? I suspect that the name is a pseudonym. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Your suspicions are justified. “The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations” included more than sixty entries ascribed to Brendan Francis. In 1999 researcher Thomas Fuller attempted to learn more about Francis and concluded that Francis was actually a pseudonym for Edward F. Murphy who compiled the book. QI agrees with this hypothesis. Evidence is presented further below.

Here is a sampling of six statements in Murphy’s book ascribed to Brendan Francis:[2]1978 Copyright, The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, Topic: Interruption, Quote Page 382, Topic: Psychiatry, Quote Page 497, Topic: Decision, Quote Page 205, … Continue reading

Other people’s interruptions of your work are relatively insignificant compared with the countless times you interrupt yourself.

Many a patient, after countless sessions, has quit therapy, because he could detect no perceptible improvement in his shrink’s condition.

Some persons are very decisive when it comes to avoiding decisions.

Most people perform essentially meaningless work. When they retire, that truth is borne in upon them.

Rights are something other people grant you after you’ve fought tooth-and-nail for them.

What an author likes to write most is his signature on the back of a check.

Murphy was a mathematics teacher in Manhattan.[3]1991, Baseball’s Greatest Quotations, Compiled by Paul Dickson, Section: Shakespeare On Baseball, Quote Page 390, Edward Burlingame Books: An Imprint of HarperCollins, New York. (Verified with … Continue reading He published groups of quotations in periodicals such as “The New York Times”[4] 1961 April 30, New York Times, Play Ball!, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, (Collection of quotations about baseball), Quote Page SM54, Column 2 and 3, New York. (ProQuest) and “Sports Illustrated”.[5]1976 September 13, Sports Illustrated, Football formation in which Bobby Layne, T. S. Eliot both call signals, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, (Collection of quotations about football), Page number … Continue reading

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Other People’s Interruptions of Your Work Are Relatively Insignificant Compared With the Countless Times You Interrupt Yourself

References

References
1 1978 Copyright, The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, Topic: Quotation, Quote Page 500, Crown Publishers, New York. (Verified with scans)
2 1978 Copyright, The Crown Treasury of Relevant Quotations, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, Topic: Interruption, Quote Page 382, Topic: Psychiatry, Quote Page 497, Topic: Decision, Quote Page 205, Topic: Retire, Quote Page 510, Topic: Rights, Quote Page 512, Topic: Writers and Writing, Quote Page 597, Crown Publishers, New York. (Verified with scans)
3 1991, Baseball’s Greatest Quotations, Compiled by Paul Dickson, Section: Shakespeare On Baseball, Quote Page 390, Edward Burlingame Books: An Imprint of HarperCollins, New York. (Verified with scans)
4 1961 April 30, New York Times, Play Ball!, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, (Collection of quotations about baseball), Quote Page SM54, Column 2 and 3, New York. (ProQuest)
5 1976 September 13, Sports Illustrated, Football formation in which Bobby Layne, T. S. Eliot both call signals, Compiled by Edward F. Murphy, (Collection of quotations about football), Page number unspecified, Time Inc. New York. (Sports Illustrated Vault at vault.si.com; accessed May 18, 2022)

Be Moderate In Everything Including Moderation

Mark Twain? Oscar Wilde? Socrates? Nancy Weber? Judy Tillinger? Horace Porter? J. F. Carter? Gaius Petronius Arbiter? James Ogilvy? Thomas Paine? Voltaire? Richard A. Posner? Benjamin Franklin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The ancient Greek poet Hesiod stated:[1] 2008, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth Edition, Edited by Jennifer Speake, Entry: Moderation in all things, Quote Page 213, Oxford University Press, New York. (Verified with scans)

Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.

An extended version of this statement has been attributed to many famous people including Socrates, Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, and Mark Twain. Here are two versions:

(1) All things in moderation, including moderation.
(2) Be moderate in everything, including moderation.

I am skeptical about all these ascriptions for the extended statement. Would you please explore this topic, and help me to find solid citations?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive support for attributing this extended statement to any of the five people listed above. It is difficult to trace.

A collection based on ancient Greek poetry titled “Pagan Pictures” contained a pertinent four line verse called “Moderation”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2]1927, Pagan Pictures: Freely Translated and Fully Expanded from the Greek Anthology & the Greek Lyrical Poets by Wallace Rice, Quote Page 153, Boni & Liveright, New York. (Verified with … Continue reading

Nothing too much, doth Chilo say?
Be moderate despite temptation?
Aye; moderate in every way
Be moderate in moderation.

The biographical notes for “Pagan Pictures” stated that the material was based on the Planudean anthology, the Palatine anthology, and epigrams transcribed from ancient monuments. “Pagan Pictures” was published in 1927, and the collection did not specify an author or provide a precise citation for the verse “Moderation”. Thus, its provenance and date remain uncertain.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Be Moderate In Everything Including Moderation

References

References
1 2008, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth Edition, Edited by Jennifer Speake, Entry: Moderation in all things, Quote Page 213, Oxford University Press, New York. (Verified with scans)
2 1927, Pagan Pictures: Freely Translated and Fully Expanded from the Greek Anthology & the Greek Lyrical Poets by Wallace Rice, Quote Page 153, Boni & Liveright, New York. (Verified with scans; thanks to the University of North Carolina library system)

If I Ever Find Myself in Heaven, It Will Be From Backing Away From Hell

Carrie Fisher? Courtney Love? Edward Dowling? Mariette Hartley? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Terrible experiences often cause an individual to seek a superior pathway through life. Here is a pertinent adage:

Some of us can’t find heaven without backing away from hell.

This saying has been attributed to actress and writer Carrie Fisher and to singer and actress Courtney Love. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Priest Edward Dowling was an advisor to Bill W. (William Griffith Wilson) who was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Dowling delivered the following advice that was recorded in a chapter of the 1957 book “Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A.”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1985 (1957 Copyright), Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., Chapter: Religion Looks at Alcoholics Anonymous by Edward Dowling and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Quote Page 256, … Continue reading

I doubt if there is anybody in this hall who really ever sought sobriety. I think we were trying to get away from drunkenness. I don’t think we should despise the negative. I have a feeling that if I ever find myself in Heaven, it will be from backing away from Hell.

QI believes that Edward Dowling is the leading candidate for creator of this saying.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If I Ever Find Myself in Heaven, It Will Be From Backing Away From Hell

References

References
1 1985 (1957 Copyright), Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., Chapter: Religion Looks at Alcoholics Anonymous by Edward Dowling and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Quote Page 256, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)

There Are Only Nine Meals Between Mankind and Anarchy

Alfred Henry Lewis? Larry Niven? Jerry Pournelle? Eric Sevareid? George Allan England? Donald Lowrie? John J. Fitzgerald? Hiram Motherwell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: When the food supplies of a society are disrupted it takes only a few days before extreme behaviors emerge, e.g., chaos, mayhem, and rebellion. An adage states that:

There are only a small number of meals between humanity and anarchy.

Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This saying is difficult to trace because it can be expressed in many ways. Here is an overview showing selected examples with dates and ascriptions:

1896: The only barrier between us and anarchy is the last nine meals we’ve had. (Alfred Henry Lewis)
1906: There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy. (Alfred Henry Lewis)
1911: Only nine meals stood between civilization and anarchy. (Anonymous)
1916: Only about seven meals stand between a man and anarchy. (Anonymous)
1932: We are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. (John J. Fitzgerald)
1942: There are only nine meals between man and revolution. (Anonymous)
1946: No one is more than nine meals away from murder. (Theo. G. Lurman Jr.)
1947: Every man is only nine meals away from Communism. (Leland L. Sage)
1974: No man was ever more than about nine meals away from crime or suicide. (Eric Sevareid)
1977: No country is more than three meals away from a revolution. (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle)
1980: You’re only nine meals away from being a criminal. (Anonymous prison inmate)
1980: Each of us is only nine meals away from stealing. (Robert L. Eddy)

Below are the details for these citations.

Continue reading There Are Only Nine Meals Between Mankind and Anarchy

One Half of What I Have Told You May Be Proved Untrue. Unfortunately, I Cannot Tell You Which Half

Charles Sidney Burwell? Charles F. Kettering? Helen Clapesattle? Carl Sandburg? Camille Pierre Dadant? Josh Billings? William Osler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Educators and researchers know that knowledge in fields like science and medicine is continuously growing and changing. Thus, today’s verities become tomorrow’s fallacies. A lecturer once candidly admitted these weaknesses by saying something like the following:

Half of what we are teaching you is wrong. Unfortunately, we don’t know which half.

This humble message has been attributed to Charles Sidney Burwell who was Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Charles F. Kettering who was the head of research at General Motors Corporation, and Carl Sandburg who was a poet and historian. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This is a difficult saying to trace because it can be expressed in many ways. The earliest match located by QI appeared in a talk delivered at an agricultural conference in 1917 by Camille Pierre Dadant who was the editor of “American Bee Journal”. Dadant spoke about bees and horticulture while acknowledging the limitations of contemporary scientific insights:[1]1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, … Continue reading

It is quite probable that half of what I am going to tell you to-day ain’t so, but I don’t know which half. It will be for you to find out. [Laughter.]

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading One Half of What I Have Told You May Be Proved Untrue. Unfortunately, I Cannot Tell You Which Half

References

References
1 1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, and 23, 1917, Friday Afternoon Session on February 23, 1917, The Usefulness of Bees in Horticulture and the Value of Honey as a Diet by Mr. C. P. Dadant, Start Page 176, Quote Page 177, Illinois State Journal Company, Springfield, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

No Snowflake in an Avalanche Ever Feels Responsible

Voltaire? George Burns? Paul Harvey? Stanisław Jerzy Lec? Percy Bysshe Shelley? Etaislaw Lee? Stanisław Leszczyński? Stanisław Lem? Jacek Galazka?

Dear Quote Investigator: A mob or a mass movement can cause enormous destruction. Also, the inaction of a large apathetic group in a perilous time can lead to ruination. Yet, individuals disavow liability. Here are three versions of a pertinent metaphorical adage:

(1) No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
(2) Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.
(3) In an avalanche, no one snowflake ever feels responsible.

This saying has been attributed to French wit Voltaire, Polish aphorist Stanisław Jerzy Lec, U.S. comedian George Burns, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in the 1964 Polish book “Myśli Nieuczesane Nowe” (“More Unkempt Thoughts”) by Stanisław Jerzy Lec which contained many short humorous remarks.[1]Website: Wikiquote, Person: Stanisław Jerzy Lec, A Wikimedia Project of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Accessed wikiquote.org on April 26, 2022; Polish version of the quotation was obtained from … Continue reading The work was translated into English by Jacek Galazka and published in 1968. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2] 1968 Copyright, More Unkempt Thoughts by Stanisław J. Lec, Translated by Jacek Galazka, Quote Page 9, Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Verified with scans)

Żaden płatek śniegu nie czuje się odpowiedzialny za lawinę.
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No Snowflake in an Avalanche Ever Feels Responsible

References

References
1 Website: Wikiquote, Person: Stanisław Jerzy Lec, A Wikimedia Project of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Accessed wikiquote.org on April 26, 2022; Polish version of the quotation was obtained from Wikiquote; QI has not yet verified the Polish quotation directly in “Myśli Nieuczesane Nowe”) link
2 1968 Copyright, More Unkempt Thoughts by Stanisław J. Lec, Translated by Jacek Galazka, Quote Page 9, Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Verified with scans)

A Little More Persistence, Courage, Vim!

Henry Austin? Henry Austen? Robert Burns Wilson? C. C. Cameron? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A poem about tenacity begins with the following four lines:

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
Continuous effort, of itself, implies,
In spite of countless falls, the power to rise.

This verse has been attributed to Henry Austin and C. C. Cameron. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match for the full poem located by QI appeared in 1898 within the trade publication “Dental Brief” of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Henry Austin received credit. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1898 November, Dental Brief, Volume 3, Number 4, Section: For Our Patients, Perseverance Conquers All by Henry Austin, Quote Page 245, L. D. Caulk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Google Books Full … Continue reading

PERSEVERANCE CONQUERS ALL.

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
Continuous effort, of itself, implies,
In spite of countless falls, the power to rise.

’Twixt failure and success the point’s so fine
Men sometimes know not when they touch the line.
Just when the Pearl was waiting one more plunge,
How many a struggler has thrown up the sponge!

As the tide goes clear out, it comes clear in;
In business ’tis at turns the wisest win.
And oh! how true, when shades of doubt dismay,
“’Tis often darkest just before the day,”

A little more persistence, courage, vim!
Success will dawn o’er fortune’s cloudy rim.
Then take this honey for the bitterest cup:
“There is no failure, save in giving up,—

No real fall as long as one still tries,—
For seeming setbacks make the strong man wise.
There’s no defeat, in truth, save from within;
Unless you’re beaten there, you’re bound to win.”

Henry Austin

Based on current evidence, Henry Austin is the leading candidate for author of this full poem; however, the work evolved from earlier material as outlined below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Little More Persistence, Courage, Vim!

References

References
1 1898 November, Dental Brief, Volume 3, Number 4, Section: For Our Patients, Perseverance Conquers All by Henry Austin, Quote Page 245, L. D. Caulk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Google Books Full View) link

Genius Is Really Only the Power of Making Continuous Efforts

Elbert Hubbard? Robert Burns Wilson? Dale Carnegie? Kin Hubbard? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A short motivational piece of about 130 words begins with the following sentence: “Genius is really only the power of making continuous efforts.” The piece has been attributed to aphorist Elbert Hubbard and poet Robert Burns Wilson. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match for the full piece located by QI appeared in 1895 within “Mining and Scientific Press” of San Francisco, California. Boldface added to excerpts by QI. No attribution was given:[1] 1895 June 1, Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 70, Number 22, Keeping Everlastingly At It Brings Success, Quote Page 344, Column 3, San Francisco, California. (Google Books Full View) link

Genius is really only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it—so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success. As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.

Based on current evidence the author of this piece remains anonymous. Interestingly, the text contains material lifted from an 1887 essay by Robert Burns Wilson. See details further below.

The first ascription to Elbert Hubbard occurred in a book published in 1911. But this evidence is weak because of its late date.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Genius Is Really Only the Power of Making Continuous Efforts

References

References
1 1895 June 1, Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 70, Number 22, Keeping Everlastingly At It Brings Success, Quote Page 344, Column 3, San Francisco, California. (Google Books Full View) link