Years Wrinkle the Skin, But To Give Up Enthusiasm Wrinkles the Soul

Frank Crane? Douglas MacArthur? Watterson Lowe? Ann Landers? Jay B. Nash? L. F. Phelan? Samuel Ullman?

Dear Quote Investigator: According to a popular essay about youth the primary cause of aging is the desertion of one’s ideals. Also, years may wrinkle the skin, but losing enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. This essay has been attributed to U.S. General Douglas MacArthur and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in a Carlsbad, New Mexico newspaper in April 1914. Prominent columnist and minister Dr. Frank Crane penned the essay which began with the following paragraphs. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips, and supple knees; it is a tempter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions. It is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty more than in a boy of twenty.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals.

Years wrinkle the skin; but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

Below are additional selected citations and comments.

Continue reading Years Wrinkle the Skin, But To Give Up Enthusiasm Wrinkles the Soul


  1. 1914 April 17, The Carlsbad Argus, Society: Youth by Dr. Frank Crane, Quote Page 8, Column 1, Carlsbad, New Mexico. (Newspapers_com)

The Person Who is Clever and Lazy Qualifies for the Highest Leadership Posts

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder? Erich von Manstein? Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord? Douglas MacArthur? Frederick the Great? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: In self-help books I have repeatedly seen a two-by-two matrix used to evaluate individuals. The four elements in the matrix were labeled: Brilliant & Lazy, Brilliant & Energetic, Dumb & Lazy, and Dumb & Energetic. Curiously, the brilliant and lazy were extolled above all others.

Sometimes a different vocabulary was employed. Brilliant was replaced by smart, bright, clever, or intelligent. Energetic was replaced by industrious or diligent. Dumb was replaced by stupid.

This four-class categorization has been ascribed to several German generals, e.g., Helmuth von Moltke, Erich von Manstein, Carl von Clausewitz, and Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord. Would you please explore the origins of this matrix?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in January 1933 in a periodical called “Army, Navy & Air Force Gazette” based in Great Britain. A passage attributed to German General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord described the placing of officers into four classes.

The text was reprinted under the title “Selecting Officers” in the “United States Naval Institute Proceedings” in March 1933 1 and in the “Review of Military Literature: The Command and General Staff School Quarterly” in September 1933. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 2

General Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord, the present chief of the German Army, has a method of selecting officers which strikes us as being highly original and peculiarly un-­Prussian. According to Exchange, a Berlin newspaper has printed the following as his answer to a query as to how he judged his officers: “I divide my officers into four classes as follows: The clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities.

Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Person Who is Clever and Lazy Qualifies for the Highest Leadership Posts


  1. 1933 March, United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Professional Notes: January 1 to January 31, Section: Germany: Selecting Officers, Start Page 437, Quote Page 448, The Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. (This document states that the material from “Army, Navy & Air Force Gazette” was published January 19) (Verified on microfilm)
  2. 1933 September, Review of Military Literature: The Command and General Staff School Quarterly, Volume 13, Number 50, Section 1: Abstracts of Foreign-Language Articles, Selection of German Officers, (Excerpt from “Army, Navy & Air Force Gazette” of UK; dated January 18, 1933), Quote Page 23 and 24, Published Quarterly by The Command and General Staff School Library, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (Special note: QI has not yet seen the issue of “Army, Navy & Air Force Gazette” containing the excerpt; this data is from “Review of Military Literature”) (Verified with scans from Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library)