Hurt People Hurt People

Rick Warren? Will Bowen? Yehuda Berg? Charles Eads? Oprah Winfrey? Helen Boyd? Doug Manning? Emotions Anonymous? Barbara Johnson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: People who have been hurt or damaged in life sometimes respond by striking out and hurting the people who are around them. A concise adage expresses this viewpoint:

Hurt people hurt people.

This statement been ascribed to pastor Rick Warren, minister Will Bowen, and rabbi Yehuda Berg who are all bestselling authors. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: These three influential religious figures have all employed the saying, but only after it was circulating.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in an Amarillo, Texas newspaper in 1959. A columnist described a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association held at a local Junior High. One of the speakers was named Charles Eads. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Charles claimed the teacher’s job is to take 25 or 30 live wires and make sure they are well grounded. And he said the human anatomy is a most peculiar mechanism. If you pat it on the back it often makes the head swell.

Then he made a statement that might give pause to a student of psychology. It’s worded peculiarly. The statement is, “Hurt people hurt people.” So, maybe before I wound someone next time, I’ll stop and think if it’s because I’ve been hurt, myself.

It is possible that Charles Eads coined the saying; alternatively, he was simply repeating a phrase he had heard previously.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Hurt People Hurt People

Notes:

  1. 1959 February 26, Amarillo Globe-Times, Polk Street Professor, Quote Page 30, Column 1, Amarillo, Texas. (Newspapers_com)

Behold the Turtle. He Makes Progress Only When His Neck Is Out

James B. Conant? Atomic Scientist? Anonymous Cartoonist? Leslie Groves? G. B. Carter? P. C. Keith?

Dear Quote Investigator: Making headway in life requires taking significant risks. This thought has been presented with a homespun aquatic analogy. Here are three versions:

  • Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when his neck is out.
  • Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.
  • Behold the turtle. He must stick his neck out if he’s ever to get anywhere.

This saying has been credited to James B. Conant, a chemist who was the President of Harvard University from 1933 to 1953. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: James B. Conant did employ this motto during a speech in 1949, but he did not take credit; instead, he attributed the expression to unnamed atomic scientists.

Evidence in 1945 indicates that the saying was circulating amongst the scientists and administrators of the Manhattan Project which produced the first nuclear weapons. The program began in 1942 and was disbanded in 1947.

On October 13, 1945 “Collier’s Weekly” published a piece about Major General Leslie R. Groves who directed the Manhattan Project. The single word “Manhattan” was used in the article as a synecdoche for the project. The article claimed that the adage appeared as a caption of a picture that was affixed to the wall of an office that was used by participants in the project. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

On the wall of one of Manhattan’s offices in Washington is a drawing of a turtle, head strained forward and trying hard to get up speed. Beneath the drawing are the words: “Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when his neck is out.” That is one of several reminders in Manhattan’s Washington offices that everyone from Groves down was expected to keep his neck out regardless of the consequences.

The article does not reveal the identity of the creator of the picture. So the ascription remains anonymous. The originator appears to have been a member of the Manhattan Project. A few years later James B. Conant helped to popularize the expression.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Behold the Turtle. He Makes Progress Only When His Neck Is Out

Notes:

  1. 1945 October 13, Collier’s Weekly, The Man Who Made Manhattan by Robert de Vore, Start Page 12, Quote Page 13, Column 1, The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, Springfield, Ohio. (Unz)

The Mystery of Human Existence Lies Not In Just Staying Alive, But In Finding Something To Live For

Fyodor Dostoevsky? Andrew H. MacAndrew? Constance Garnett? Max Tegmark? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky contended that simply staying alive would not make a person content. A person must find something to live for. Strictly speaking, this viewpoint was articulated by a character in a story by Dostoevsky and not by Dostoevsky himself. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky appeared in 1880. A crucial chapter of the book called “The Grand Inquisitor” is sometimes published as a freestanding work. The Imaginative scenario in the chapter depicts the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition confronting a Christ-like figure. The following passage is from a translation into English by Andrew H. MacAndrew. Boldface has been added: 1

This is something about which You were right. For the mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. Without a concrete idea of what he is living for, man would refuse to live, would rather exterminate himself than remain on this earth, even if bread were scattered all around him.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Mystery of Human Existence Lies Not In Just Staying Alive, But In Finding Something To Live For

Notes:

  1. 1981, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Translated by Andrew H. MacAndrew, Translation Copyright 1970, Book V: Pro and Contra, Chapter 5: The Grand Inquisitor, Quote Page 306 and 307, Bantam Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

One Had To Accept the Art of Our Day As It Was a Living Thing

Peggy Guggenheim? Ilya Ilyich Oblomov? Samuel Beckett?

Dear Quote Investigator: Peggy Guggenheim was one of the most powerful and influential collectors of modern art in the twentieth century. Yet, her initial tastes in art were classical. She preferred the works of old masters. Her viewpoint changed dramatically during a tempestuous love affair with an author and playwright who later became a Nobel Prize winner, Samuel Beckett. He suggested to her that one should accept the art of the day because it is a living thing. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1946 “Out of This Century: The Informal Memoirs of Peggy Guggenheim” appeared. The wealthy socialite described her intense relationship with Samuel Beckett during the 1930s, but she used the pseudonym “Oblomov” for Beckett. Ilya Ilyich Oblomov was the main character in a novel by the Russian writer Ivan Goncharov. Guggenheim’s name choice reflected an intriguing insight into Beckett’s nature. Oblomov’s nearly stationary ineffectuality was mirrored in the behaviors of several characters in Beckett’s later works.

Guggenheim did not use quotation marks when she relayed the advice she heard from Beckett. Boldface has been added to excerpts by QI: 1

In spite of the fact that I was opening a modern art gallery in London I much preferred old masters. Oblomov told me one had to accept the art of our day as it was a living thing. He had two passions besides James Joyce. One was Jack Yeats and the other a Dutch painter, Van Velde, a man of nearly forty, who seemed to be completely dominated by Picasso. To please Oblomov I bought a picture of Van Velde’s and promised to give him a show in London.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading One Had To Accept the Art of Our Day As It Was a Living Thing

Notes:

  1. 1946, Out of This Century: The Informal Memoirs of Peggy Guggenheim, Part 5, Chapter 1: Guggenheim Jeune, Quote Page 195, The Dial Press, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link

The Eighth Wonder of the World Is Compound Interest

Albert Einstein? Napoleon Bonaparte? Baron Rothschild? Paul Samuelson? John D. Rockefeller? Advertising Copy Writer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Salespeople and advertisers invoke the name of the scientific genius Albert Einstein when they wish to impress gullible individuals. The following grandiose statement has been attributed to Einstein:

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.

Sometimes the remark is credited to financial luminaries such as Baron Rothschild or John D. Rockefeller. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The saying appeared in a section titled “Probably Not By Einstein” in the authoritative volume “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1

The earliest close match located by QI appeared in an advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Company published in the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” of Ohio in 1925. No attribution was specified. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

The Eighth Wonder of the World—is compound interest. It does things to money. At the Equity it doubles your money every 14 years, but here is an even greater wonder of it—

Deposit five dollars a week for twenty years, say, and let the interest accumulate. You will have actually put away only $5,200, but you will have $8,876.80. The difference of $3,676.80 is what 5% compound interest has done for you.

QI hypothesizes that the statement was crafted by an unknown advertising copy writer. Over the years it has been reassigned to famous people to make the comment sound more impressive and to encourage individuals to open bank accounts or purchase interest-bearing securities.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Eighth Wonder of the World Is Compound Interest

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, Quote Page 481, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1925 April 27, Cleveland Plain Dealer, (Advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Co., 5701 Euclid Ave.) Quote Page 26, Column 6, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

Beware of Fishing for Compliments—You Might Come Up with a Boot

Carol Weston? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Displaying false modesty is sometimes intended to elicit praise. This type of behavior is called “fishing for compliments”. Yet, according to a well-known comical scenario an unlucky individual may reel in a fishing line and discover a useless boot attached to the hook. Would you please explore the provenance of the joke based on this sketch?

Quote Investigator: The author Carol Weston has been providing advice to young women as a columnist in “Girls’ Life” magazine since the 1990s. Even before that in 1985 she wrote “Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You” which included the following guidance. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

The best way to accept a compliment is to smile and say. “Thank you.” If you like, you can add, “That’s nice of you to say.”

Beware of fishing for compliments—you might come up with a boot!

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Beware of Fishing for Compliments—You Might Come Up with a Boot

Notes:

  1. 1985, Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You by Carol Weston, Chapter 2: Friendship: You Don’t Like Everybody; Why Should Everybody Like You?, Quote Page 47, Barnes & Noble Books: A Division of Harper & Row, New York. (Verified with hard copy)

Light Travels Faster Than Sound. That’s Why Some Folks Appear Bright Until They Speak

Albert Einstein? Steven Wright? Earl Wilson? Robert Orben? Gary Apple? Bo McLeod? Brian Williams? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The speed of light is a crucial value in the theory of relativity. Perhaps that is why the following joke has been credited to Albert Einstein:

Light travels faster than sound. That’s why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

I am very skeptical that Einstein ever made this remark. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein made this quip. The most comprehensive reference about the physicist’s pronouncements is the 2010 book “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press, and the expression is absent.

A precursor appeared in Earl Wilson’s popular gossip column in 1959. The attribution was anonymous. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

EARL’S PEARLS: Someone described a second-rate singer: “Luckily light travels faster than sound — because she looks better than she sounds.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Light Travels Faster Than Sound. That’s Why Some Folks Appear Bright Until They Speak

Notes:

  1. 1959 April 20, The Raleigh Register, Ingrid In Maternity ‘Ward’—By Mistake by Earl Wilson, Quote Page 4, Column 6 and 7, Beckley, West Virginia. (Newspapers_com)

O My Dear Honeys, Heaven Is a Kentucky of a Place

Daniel Boone? Baptist Preacher? Methodist Preacher? Edward Stanly? Lewis Craig? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The U.S. state of Kentucky is well-known for its beautiful scenery. According to legend when the frontiersman Daniel Boone first encountered the land he compared it to paradise. Here are three versions of the saying:

  • Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.
  • Heaven is a real Kentuck sort of a place.
  • Heaven is a perfect Kaintuck of a place.

Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in an 1828 book by a travelling preacher named Isaac Reed who visited Paint Lick, Kentucky and wrote down his thoughts in a letter dated February 10, 1818. A resident told Reed about a memorable remark delivered during a sermon by a previous religious speaker. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

The preacher was descanting upon heaven, and the heavenly state. He wished his hearers to get a just idea of that place, and he attempted to give it by comparison: it was in the meeting-house, not half a mile from where I now write, where the preacher said to his hearers, “O my dear honeys, heaven is a Kentucky of a place.” I tell the tale as it was told to me, and leave it without comment.

QI has found no substantive evidence that Daniel Boone crafted this saying. The words were attributed to him in 1967 many decades after his death in 1820.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading O My Dear Honeys, Heaven Is a Kentucky of a Place

Notes:

  1. 1828, The Christian Traveller: In Five Parts by Isaac Reed, Letter XI, Date of letter: February 10, 1818, Letter sent to: My dear C____, Location of letter: Lancaster, Start Page 47, Quote Page 47 and 48, (Facsimile from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1973) Printed by J & J Harper, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

The Difference Between the Almost Right Word and the Right Word Is Really a Large Matter—’Tis the Difference Between the Lightning Bug and the Lightning

Mark Twain? Josh Billings? Henry Wheeler Shaw? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Writing well requires the selection of properly expressive words. There is an enormous difference between selecting ‘lightning bug’ versus ‘lightning’. Apparently, Mark Twain said something similar to this, but I was surprised to discover that Twain credited his friend Josh Billings with crafting the wordplay of this remark. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In the 1880s George Bainton contacted numerous successful authors requesting advice for beginning writers about effective work methods. Mark Twain sent a reply in 1888 that appeared in the resultant compilation titled “The Art of Authorship” in 1890.

Twain used the pronoun “he” while referring to himself as a neophyte author within his description of the writing process. Twain stated that he preferred short sentences: 1

Unconsciously he accustoms himself to writing short sentences as a rule. At times he may indulge himself with a long one, but he will make sure that there are no folds in it, no vaguenesses, no parenthetical interruptions of its view as a whole.

Twain presented a vividly comical contrast while discussing word selection. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

Well, also he will notice in the course of time, as his reading goes on, that the difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

Yet, Twain willingly acknowledged that a comparable joke had been made by his friend and fellow humorist Josh Billings (pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw) a couple decades earlier.

In 1869 several U.S. newspapers published a collection of sayings from Billings which included the following four items. Billings employed dialectical spelling: 3

The greater the man, the less his virteus appear, and the larger hiz faults.

The man who hain’t got an enemy, iz really poor.

Don’t mistake vivacity for wit, thare iz just az mutch difference az thare iz between lightning and a lightning bug.

No man ever yet undertook tew alter his natur by substituting sum invenshun ov his own, but what made a botch job ov it.

Here is Billings’ wordplay quip in standard spelling:

Don’t mistake vivacity for wit, there is just as much difference as there is between lightning and a lightning bug.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Difference Between the Almost Right Word and the Right Word Is Really a Large Matter—’Tis the Difference Between the Lightning Bug and the Lightning

Notes:

  1. 1890, The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners, Compiled and edited by George Bainton, Section: Mark Twain, Start Page 85, Quote Page 87, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (Internet Archive at archive.org) link
  2. 1890, The Art of Authorship: Literary Reminiscences, Methods of Work, and Advice to Young Beginners, Compiled and edited by George Bainton, Section: Mark Twain, Start Page 85, Quote Page 87 and 88, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (Internet Archive at archive.org) link
  3. 1869 October 12, Daily Evening Herald, The Josh Billings Papers, Quote Page 4, Column 1, Stockton, California. (Newspapers_com)

When the Chess Game Is Over, the King and the Pawn Go Back in the Same Box

Italian Proverb? John Boys? Thomas Adams? John Spencer? Thomas-Simon Gueullette? Omar Khayyam? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some people live lives of opulence and celebrity while others remain mired in poverty and anonymity. On a chessboard there is a king and a queen, but there are also eight lowly pawns. A metaphorical adage highlights the uniform fate of all chess pieces and humans:

At the end of the game the king and the pawn go into the same box.

Chess pieces undergo a form of reincarnation when a new match begins. Humans may experience reincarnation, oblivion, judgment day, hades, paradise or some other continuation. Would you please help me to find a citation for the adage above?

Quote Investigator: The earliest published match located by QI occurred in a 1629 collection of writings by John Boys who was the Dean of Canterbury in England. The non-standard spelling in the following passage is from the original text. Boldface added to excepts by QI: 1

As in Chesse-play, so long as the game is in playing, all the men stand in their order, and are respected according to their place; first, the King; then, the Queene; then, the Bishops; after them, the Knights; and last of all, the common Souldier: but when once the game is ended, and the table taken away, then all are confusedly tumbled into a bag, and happily the King is lowest, and the pawne vpmost. Euen so is it with vs in this life; the world is a huge theater or stage, wherein some play the parts of Kings; other, of Bishops; some, Lords; many, Knights; other, Yeomen: but when our Lord shall come with his Angels to iudge the world; all are alike.

Further below an interesting precursor verse from Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is presented. The translation into English appeared in the 19th century, but the source material may have been circulating in the 11th century. The complete provenance of the verse is uncertain.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When the Chess Game Is Over, the King and the Pawn Go Back in the Same Box

Notes:

  1. 1629, Title: The Workes of Iohn Boys: Doctor in Diuinitie and Deane of Canterburie, Author: John Boys (1571-1625), Section: The first Sunday after the Epiphanie, Quote Page 129, Imprinted for W. Ashley, London (HathiTrust Full View) link