If the Sight of the Blue Skies Fills You With Joy . . . Rejoice, for Your Soul Is Alive

Eleonora Duse? John Martin Harvey? Eva Le Gallienne? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent Italian actress Eleonora Duse believed that the joyful appreciation of nature provided evidence of a vivacious soul. She highlighted the simple beauty inherent in blue skies and blades of grass. Would you please help me to find a citation.

Quote Investigator: English stage actor John Martin Harvey delivered a lecture titled “Character and the Actor” before the Ethological Society in London, and the text was printed in pamphlet form in 1908 by a publisher based in Florence, Italy. Harvey quoted the famous Italian thespian: 1

There seems a subtle truth in Eleonora Dusé’s words, when she says:—

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, rejoice, for your soul is alive; and then aspire to learn that other truth—that the least of what you receive can be divided. To help and share—that is the sum of all knowledge, that is the meaning of art.”

Harvey popularized this quotation, and its accuracy depends on his veracity. Duse was an international star who appeared in Paris, London, and New York; however, she always preferred to speak Italian during her performances. Thus, QI conjectures that the original quotation was in Italian.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If the Sight of the Blue Skies Fills You With Joy . . . Rejoice, for Your Soul Is Alive

Notes:

  1. 1908, Character and the Actor by J. Martin Harvey, A Lecture Delivered Before the Ethological Society, Quote Page 23, For Sale at D. J. Rider, London; Published by “The Mask” Press; Arena Goldoni, Florence, Italy. (HathiTrust Full View) link

If Liberty Means Anything At All It Means the Right To Tell People What They Do Not Want To Hear

George Orwell? Eric Arthur Blair? Bernard Crick? Sonia Orwell? Norman Lear? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: George Orwell apparently once made a fascinating comment about the essence of liberty. Here are two versions:

  1. Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
  2. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Would you please help me to determine the correct phrasing and to locate a solid citation?

Quote Investigator: George Orwell (pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair) had great difficulty finding a publisher willing to release his famous fable “Animal Farm” because of its caustic allegory. He prepared a germane preface on the topic of freedom of the press. Yet, when he finally succeeded in finding a publisher, and the work was issued in 1945 by Secker and Warburg of London, the preface was not included.

The preface was rediscovered in May 1971 among some books owned by Roger Senhouse, the former partner of publisher Fred Warburg, and it was placed into the Orwell Archive at University College London. 1 Next, the preface was published in “TLS: The Times Literary Supplement” of London in September 1972. The following passage was included. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

I know that the English intelligentsia have plenty of reason for their timidity and dishonesty, indeed I know by heart the arguments by which they justify themselves. But at least let us have no more nonsense about defending liberty against Fascism. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. The common people still vaguely subscribe to that doctrine and act on it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If Liberty Means Anything At All It Means the Right To Tell People What They Do Not Want To Hear

Notes:

  1. 1972 September 15, TLS: The Times Literary Supplement, How the essay came to be written by Bernard Crick, (Crick discusses the essay titled “The freedom of the press” that appeared in the same issue of TLS immediately before his piece. Crick explains why he believes that the essay was written by George Orwell) Start Page 1039, Quote Page 1039, London, England. (The Times Literary Supplement in Gale Primary Sources)
  2. 1972 September 15, TLS: The Times Literary Supplement, The freedom of the press by George Orwell, (Essay that was originally intended to appear as the preface of the August 1945 edition of “Animal Farm”; it did not appear in the book; the typescript was acquired by the Orwell Archive of University College London and printed in TLS), Start Page 1037, Quote age 1039, Column 5, London, England. (The Times Literary Supplement in Gale Primary Sources)

Nothing Contributes So Much To Tranquillize the Mind As a Steady Purpose,—a Point On Which the Soul May Fix Its Intellectual Eye

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley? Robert Walton? Victor Frankenstein? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Finding a goal or purpose to strive for in life is wonderfully helpful; uncertainty and anxiety are replaced by mental tranquility. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley who authored the groundbreaking science fiction novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” once made this point. Would you please help me to find citation?

Quote Investigator: Shelley’s “Frankenstein” begins with the text of a letter from the explorer Robert Walton to his sister. The fictional Walton is leading an expedition toward the North Pole while hoping to make a major discovery such as a navigable passage connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven; for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose,—a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole.

The 1818 edition employed the spelling “tranquillize”. Variant spellings include: tranquillise, tranquilize, and tranquilise.

Walton’s crew discover a man on a sledge who is nearly dead. The man is nursed back to health, and Shelley switches the narration of the novel. The rescued man is the ill-fated scientist Victor Frankenstein, and he recounts the rest of the tale.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Nothing Contributes So Much To Tranquillize the Mind As a Steady Purpose,—a Point On Which the Soul May Fix Its Intellectual Eye

Notes:

  1. 1818, Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Volume 1 of 3, Letter 1, To: Mrs. Saville, England, Location: St. Petersburgh, Date: Dec. 11, 17–, Start Page 1, Quote Page 4, Printed for Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, London. (Google Books Full View) link

The Cat / Dog Is Always On the Wrong Side of the Door

T. S. Eliot? Ogden Nash? Kate Upson Clark? William Lyon Phelps? O. M. Gregor? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some pets are constantly signaling a desire to enter or leave a domicile. Here are two pertinent expressions:

  • A cat is always on the wrong side of a door.
  • A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

This notion has been attributed to the poets T. S. Eliot and Ogden Nash. Would you please help me to find citations and precise phrasings?

Quote Investigator: This saying can be phrased in many ways; thus, it is difficult to trace. The expression has been applied to individual animals and to classes of animals. The earliest match located by QI appeared in the “Manchester Weekly Times” of England in 1898 within an article about pets owned by royalty. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Cats cannot be picked up and carried from pillar to post, while dog’s rather enjoy change of scene. In fact, the pet dog is always on the wrong side of the door, and never happy unless he is either going out or coming in.

The journalist who wrote the text above was unidentified, and QI conjectures that he or she was repeating a remark that was already in circulation.

A 1939 poem by T. S. Eliot about a cat includes an instance of this statement. Ogden Nash included instances in two different poems in 1941 and 1953. Details for these citations are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Cat / Dog Is Always On the Wrong Side of the Door

Notes:

  1. 1898 November 11, Manchester Weekly Times, Cream of Current Literature: Some Royal Favourites Dogs and Cats, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Manchester, Greater Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)

The Men the American People Admire Most Extravagantly Are the Most Daring Liars

H. L. Mencken? George Jean Nathan? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous curmudgeon H. L. Mencken asserted that the most daring liars were rewarded with public admiration. I do not recall the precise phrasing Mencken employed. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1922 “The Smart Set” magazine published a piece under the byline of H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan containing the following passage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. A Galileo could no more be elected President of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome.

The proper ascription to Mencken was clarified when the quotation appeared in his collections titled “Prejudices Fourth Series” and “A Mencken Chrestomathy”. The details are presented further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Men the American People Admire Most Extravagantly Are the Most Daring Liars

Notes:

  1. 1922 August, The Smart Set: The Aristocrat Among Magazines, Volume 68, Number 4, Répétition Générale by George Jean Nathan and H. L. Mencken, Start Page 45, Quote Page 49, Column 2, Smart Set Company Inc., New York. (Google Books Full View) link

No One Is More Dangerous Than He Who Imagines Himself Pure In Heart; For His Purity, By Definition, Is Unassailable

James Baldwin? Norman Mailer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Individuals who consider themselves to be pure in heart are unable to recognize their own flaws. This can lead to wrong-headed and disastrous actions. The prominent novelist and essayist James Baldwin once made a comparable point about benighted self-assessment. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1961 James Baldwin published an essay in “Esquire” magazine that was sharply critical of fellow author Norman Mailer. Baldwin included the following cogent remark. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

No one is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart; for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No One Is More Dangerous Than He Who Imagines Himself Pure In Heart; For His Purity, By Definition, Is Unassailable

Notes:

  1. 1961 May, Esquire, The Black Boy Looks at the White Boy (The Journey of Norman Mailer) by James Baldwin, Start Page 102, Quote Page 105, Column 1, Esquire Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Verified with scans)

I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That

John Bent? Navy Sailor? Drunken Fellow? Winston Churchill? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The state of inebriation is temporary, but the state of stupidity is durable. A clever dialog hinges on this fundamental difference:

“You are drunk.”
“Yes, and you are a fool. But I will be sober in the morning, and you will remain a fool.”

Would you please explore the provenance of this thrust and parry?

Quote Investigator: This comical interaction is a member of a family of anecdotes which famously includes a story about Winston Churchill’s jousting with an antagonist. A separate QI article centered on the Churchill anecdote and tales from the U.K Parliament can be read by following this link.

This article will center on the earliest matches located by QI. In 1863 the “Urbana Union” newspaper of Urbana, Ohio published the following short item. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The drunken fellow’s reply to the reprimand of a temperance lecture, delivered in some of the stupid forms of that order of men is worth remembering. “I’m drunk-but-I’ll get over that pretty soon; but you’re a fool-and you’ll never get over that.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That

Notes:

  1. 1863 July 1, Urbana Union, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 1, Urbana, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

Puritanism — The Haunting Fear That Someone, Somewhere, May Be Happy

H. L. Mencken? George Jean Nathan? Nellie McClung? Beverly Gray? John Cleese? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Here are four versions of a mordant definition of puritanism:

  1. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
  2. The lurking fear that someone somewhere is happy.
  3. The gnawing worry that someone somewhere might be happy.
  4. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having a good time.

This quip has been attributed to the prominent journalist Henry Louis Mencken. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In January 1925 “The American Mercury” published a collection of items under the title “Clinical Notes” by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. The following remark appeared as a freestanding item. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Puritanism.—The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

The proper ascription to Mencken was clarified when the quotation appeared in his 1949 collection “A Mencken Chrestomathy”. The details are presented further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Puritanism — The Haunting Fear That Someone, Somewhere, May Be Happy

Notes:

  1. 1925 January, The American Mercury, Volume 4, Number 13, Clinical Notes by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, Start Page 56, Quote Page 59, Column 1, The American Mercury, New York. (Unz)

When We’re Growing Up There Are All Sorts of People Telling Us What To Do . . .

Ellen Page? Lisa O’Kelly? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I once heard an insightful remark about growing up from the prize-winning Canadian actress Ellen Page. I do not remember the exact phrasing. Roughly, she said that young people are often told what to do when they should be given space to decide what to become. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 2010 “The Guardian” newspaper of London published an interview of Ellen Page conducted by journalist Lisa O’Kelly. Page discussed the plot of the 2009 film “Whip It” in which she played a beauty pageant queen trying to please her mother. Her character secretly rebelled by joining a roller derby league. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is more that she loves her mother and wants to please her and that becomes the strongest dilemma for her: how to establish a sense of self while still fulfilling her obligations to other people. I can identify with that. When we’re growing up there are all sorts of people telling us what to do when really what we need is space to work out who to be.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When We’re Growing Up There Are All Sorts of People Telling Us What To Do . . .

Notes:

  1. Website: The Guardian newspaper, Article title: Interview: Ellen Page: ‘I’m totally pro-choice. I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?’, Article description: Interview of Ellen Page by Lisa O’Kelly, Date on website: April 3, 2010, Website description: Newspaper in London England. (Accessed theguardian.com on June 24, 2020)

Once a Newspaper Touches a Story, the Facts Are Lost Forever, Even To the Protagonists

Norman Mailer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: U.S. journalist and best-selling novelist Norman Mailer once sardonically stated that when newspapers focus on a story the facts are lost forever; inevitably, even the participants lose track of the facts. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In June 1960 “Esquire” magazine published comments from Norman Mailer inspired by a photo essay. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It was a dull, hot, newsless day in summer, so it made the newspapers. All too inaccurately according to the Dealers. Ten vicious juvenile delinquents beat up a cripple, went the jazz. “Hell, man, it wasn’t like that at all,” one of them said, “it was a fair rumble.” We’ll never know. Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Once a Newspaper Touches a Story, the Facts Are Lost Forever, Even To the Protagonists

Notes:

  1. 1960 June, Esquire, Brooklyn Minority Report, Photographs by Bruce Davidson; “She Thought the Russians Was Coming”, (Commentary on photographs by Norman Mailer), Start Page 129, Quote Page 137, Published by Esquire Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Internet Archive)