Sorrow Is the Mere Rust of the Soul. Activity Will Cleanse and Brighten It

Samuel Johnson? Frances Burney? Hester Lynch Piozzi? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The superlative English lexicographer Samuel Johnson once defined sorrow as the rust of the soul which could be scoured away by engaging with life and becoming active. Would you please help me to find a citation.

Quote Investigator: In 1750 Samuel Johnson began to publish a periodical called “The Rambler”. He penned the following passage for the August 28, 1750 issue. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul, which every new idea contributes in it’s passage to scour away. It is the putrefaction of stagnant life, and is remedied by exercise and motion.

Samuel Johnson’s friend Hester Lynch Piozzi heard a similar remark from the dictionary maker, and she repeated it within a letter she wrote in 1821. See the citation further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Sorrow Is the Mere Rust of the Soul. Activity Will Cleanse and Brighten It

Notes:

  1. 1785, Harrison’s Edition: The Rambler by Samuel Johnson, Volume One of Four, Issue Number 47, Issue Date: August 28, 1750, (Filler item), Quote Page 111, Column 2, Printed for Harrison and Company, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link

People Are Entitled To Their Own Opinions But Not To Their Own Facts

Bernard Baruch? Daniel Patrick Moynihan? Rayburn H. Carrell? James R. Schlesinger? Alan Greenspan?

Dear Quote Investigator: A family of popular sayings highlights the difference between opinions and facts. Here are three thematically related expressions:

(1) Everybody has a right to their opinion, but nobody has a right to be wrong in their facts.

(2) You are entitled to your own views, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

(3) People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

These sayings do not have identical meanings, but it is helpful to group them together while exploring their provenance. Financier Bernard Baruch and politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan have been given credit for these thoughts. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI occurred in an Associated Press article from 1946. Bernard Baruch was quoted when he complained about an opponent’s assertions which he believed were inaccurate. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Every man has the right to an opinion but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading People Are Entitled To Their Own Opinions But Not To Their Own Facts

Notes:

  1. 1946 October 9, The Galveston Daily News, (AP article dateline Oct. 8), Baruch Upholds U.S. Atom Plan; Hits at Wallace, Quote Page 1, Column 3, Galveston, Texas (NewspaperArchive)

Hope Is the Feeling We Have That the Feeling We Have Is Not Permanent

Mignon McLaughlin? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Feeling discouraged is a natural reaction to the state of the world sometimes. Currently, there is a pandemic curtailing social and economic activity almost everywhere. Yet, these pessimistic feelings will not last forever. My favorite witty person, Mignon McLaughlin, once presented a clever definition of “hope” that is pertinent.

Quote Investigator: In 1963 the U.S. journalist Mignon McLaughlin published a collection of quips and observations titled “The Neurotic’s Notebook”. Here is her germane remark: 1

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.

McLaughlin’s book included two other statements mentioning hope: 2

When hope is hungry, everything feeds it.

There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi

Image Notes: Painting of Pandora by John William Waterhouse circa 1896. Image has been resized, retouched and cropped. The opening of Pandora’s box released death, sickness, and other maladies. The final item in the box was hope.

Notes:

  1. 1963, The Neurotic’s Notebook by Mignon McLaughlin, Chapter: The General Orneriness of Things, Quote Page 58, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1963, The Neurotic’s Notebook by Mignon McLaughlin, Quote Page 49 and 93, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verified with scans)

A Bottle of Wine Contains More Philosophy Than All the Books in the World

Louis Pasteur? René Vallery-Radot? Jacques Orhon? Malcolm Kushner? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous French scientist Louis Pasteur has received credit for the following remark:

A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.

I have been unable to find a good citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: Louis Pasteur lived between 1822 and 1895. QI conjectures that the statement above evolved from a passage in a letter written by Pasteur in 1843.

René Vallery-Radot was Pasteur’s son-in-law, supporter, companion, and biographer. In November 1900 Vallery-Radot published an article in “Revue Politique et Littéraire: Revue Bleue” (“Political and Literary Review: Blue Review”) titled “La Vie de Pasteur” (“The Life of Pasteur”) which included the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Nouvelle lettre au mois de décembre 1843, recommandation directe à son fils.

Dis à Chappuis que j’ai mis en bouteilles du 1834 acheté tout exprès pour boire à l’honneur de l’École normale, et cela pour les premières vacances. Il y a de l’esprit au fond de ces cent litres plus que dans tous les livres de philosophie du monde. Mais pour des formules de mathématiques, ajoutait-il, je crois qu’il n’y en a pas. Dis-lui bien que nous boirons la première bouteille avec lui. Soyez toujours de bons amis.

In 1900 Vallery-Radot published a biography of Pasteur which was translated from French to English in 1902 by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire. The following passage corresponded to the text above: 2

Another letter, December, 1843, to his son this time: “Tell Chappuis that I have bottled some 1834 bought on purpose to drink the health of the Ecole Normale during the next holidays. There is more wit in those 100 litres than in all the books on philosophy in the world; but, as to mathematical formulæ, there are none, I believe. Mind you tell him that we shall drink the first bottle with him. Remain two good friends.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Bottle of Wine Contains More Philosophy Than All the Books in the World

Notes:

  1. Date: 10 Novembre 1900 (November 10, 1900), Journal: Revue Politique et Littéraire: Revue Bleue, Article: La Vie de Pasteur, Author: R. Vallery-Radot, Start Page 580, Quote Page 587 and 588, Publisher: Bureau des Revues, Paris. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1902, The Life of Pasteur by René Vallery-Radot, Translated from the French by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire, Volume 1, Chapter 1: 1822-1843, Quote Page 31, Archibald Constable & Company, Westminster. (Google Books Full View) link

Few Souls Are Saved After the First Twenty Minutes of a Sermon

Mark Twain? John Wesley? John M. Bartholomew? Arthur Twining Hadley? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Lengthy orations on spiritual topics are unlikely to change the views of resistant audience members. Here are three versions of a pertinent adage:

  • Few sinners are saved after the first 20 minutes of a sermon.
  • Few souls are saved after the first half-hour of a sermon.
  • No souls saved after the first 15 minutes.

This saying has been credited to humorist Mark Twain and 18th-century English evangelist John Wesley. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI occurred in 1864 within “The Monthly Journal of the American Unitarian Association”. No attribution was specified, and the crucial phrase was placed between quotation marks signaling that it was already in circulation. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The correct view of this subject is contained in the statement, that there should be no indecent haste in disposing of topics so dignified as those of the pulpit, but “few souls are saved after the first half-hour.”

The first known ascriptions to John Wesley and Mark Twain occurred many years after their respective deaths. Thus, the evidence supporting these ascriptions is weak.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Few Souls Are Saved After the First Twenty Minutes of a Sermon

Notes:

  1. 1864 May, The Monthly Journal of the American Unitarian Association, Volume 5, Number 5, Stray Hints Too Parishes, Start Page 215, Quote Page 219, American Unitarian Association, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link

My Candle Burns at Both Ends; It Will Not Last the Night

Edna St. Vincent Millay? Samuel Hoffenstein? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A candle burning at both ends provides magnificent radiance for a short time. The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay constructed a brilliant metaphorical verse based on this observation. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In June 1918 “Poetry: A Magazine of Verse” published a multipart work by Edna St. Vincent Millay titled “Figs from Thistles”. The initial section was called “First Fig”: 1

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night:
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

Below are additional details and selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading My Candle Burns at Both Ends; It Will Not Last the Night

Notes:

  1. 1918 June, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Edited by Harriet Monroe, Volume 11, Number 3, Figs from Thistles: First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Quote Page 130, Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

God Forbid That Any Book Should Be Banned. The Practice Is As Indefensible As Infanticide

Rebecca West? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent British author and literary critic Rebecca West once compared book banning to infanticide. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1928 Rebecca West published a collection of essays and reviews titled “The Strange Necessity” which included a piece titled “The Tosh Horse” containing West’s bold statement. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.

West continued by listing a few works that had offended censors and the censorious:

But one begins to remember what books have been banned during the last few years. Mr. D. H. Lawrence’s sincere and not for one second disgusting The Rainbow; Mr. Neil Lyons’s beautifully felt Cottage Pie; Brute Gods, that astringent product of Mr. Louis Wilkinson’s unique talent.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order

Continue reading God Forbid That Any Book Should Be Banned. The Practice Is As Indefensible As Infanticide

Notes:

  1. 1928, The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews by Rebecca West, Chapter 11: The Tosh Horse, Start Page 319, Quote Page 324, Jonathan Cape, London, England. (Verified with scans)

We Must Play What Is Dealt To Us, and the Glory Consists Not So Much In Winning As In Playing a Poor Hand Well

Jack London? Robert Louis Stevenson? Josh Billings? Henry Wheeler Shaw? H. T. Leslie? Edgar O. Achorn? Albert J. Beveridge? Frank Crane? Dale Carnegie?

Dear Quote Investigator: Life is particularly challenging if you are born with medical impairments or negligent parents. Metaphorically, while playing cards you may be dealt a poor hand. You are triumphant when you play the cards you have received well.

An adage of this type has been credited to U.S. novelist Jack London, Scottish storyteller Robert Louis Stevenson, American humorist Josh Billings, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the 1868 book “Josh Billings on Ice, and Other Things” by Henry Wheeler Shaw who used the pseudonym Josh Billings. The chapter containing the quotation was called “Perkussion Caps”, i.e., “Percussion Caps”. Billings often employed dialectical spelling. Here were three short items from the chapter. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Give me liberty, or giv me deth”—but ov the 2 I prefer the liberty.

As in a game ov cards, so in the game ov life, we must play what is dealt tew us, and the glory consists, not so mutch in winning, as in playing a poor hand well.

The time tew pray is not when we are in a tight spot, but jist as soon as we git out ov it.

Here are the three items using standard spelling:

“Give me liberty, or give me death”—but of the two I prefer the liberty.

As in a game of cards, so in the game of life, we must play what is dealt to us, and the glory consists, not so much in winning, as in playing a poor hand well.

The time to pray is not when we are in a tight spot, but just as soon as we get out of it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading We Must Play What Is Dealt To Us, and the Glory Consists Not So Much In Winning As In Playing a Poor Hand Well

Notes:

  1. 1868, Josh Billings on Ice, and Other Things by Josh Billings (Henry Wheeler Shaw), Chapter 24: Perkussion Caps, Quote Page 89 and 80, G. W. Carleton & Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

I Predict the Internet Will Soon Go Spectacularly Supernova and in 1996 Catastrophically Collapse

Robert Metcalfe? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I recently read a collection of quotations highlighting wildly inaccurate technology predictions. One faulty forecast was made by Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet. He contended that the internet was going to collapse in the 1990s. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: On December 4, 1995 Robert Metcalfe published a column in “InfoWorld” magazine titled “Predicting the Internet’s catastrophic collapse and ghost sites galore”. The column began with the following words. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet, which only just recently got this section here in InfoWorld, will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.

Metcalfe offered several reasons for the collapse. For example, he believed that the internet’s crucial data links would be overloaded, and the “naïve flat-rate business model is incapable of financing the new capacity it would need to serve continued growth”. He contended that investor’s would be unwilling to “absorb projected continuing losses”. He thought that “another series of major security breaches will drive the rest of the productive Internet to safety and out of reach.” Yet, he was incorrect, and internet continued to grow exponentially in 1996.

Below are additional details and selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Predict the Internet Will Soon Go Spectacularly Supernova and in 1996 Catastrophically Collapse

Notes:

  1. 1995 December 4, InfoWorld, From the Ether: Predicting the Internet’s catastrophic collapse and ghost sites galore in 1996 by Bob Metcalfe, Quote Page 61, InfoWorld Publishing Group: IDG International Data Group, San Mateo, California. (Google Books Full View)

Any Authentic Work of Art Must Start an Argument Between the Artist and His Audience

Rebecca West? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: True artists are often troublemakers. They challenge their audience and cause argumentation. The prominent British author and literary critic Rebecca West said something similar to this. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote investigator: Rebecca West’s 1957 book “The Court and the Castle” discussed themes present in the works of Shakespeare, Proust, and Kafka. In the first chapter she offered the following thesis. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

For any authentic work of art must start an argument between the artist and his audience. The artist creates that work of art by analyzing an experience and synthesizing the results of his analysis into a form which excites an appetite for further experience.

Below are additional details and selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Any Authentic Work of Art Must Start an Argument Between the Artist and His Audience

Notes:

  1. 1957, The Court and the Castle: Some Treatments of a Recurrent Theme by Rebecca West, Part One: The Court of Kings, Chapter 1: Was Hamlet Without Will?, Quote Page 5, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified with scans)