All Wars Are Planned by Older Men in Council Rooms Apart

Grantland Rice? Herman Melville? Herbert Hoover? Reverend E. W. Elstron? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A mournful anti-war poem contains this line:

All wars are planned by older men in council rooms apart.

The poem has been attributed to Grantland Rice who was a popular sports journalist. I have seen a version of the verse that used the word “old” instead “older”. Do you know which version is correct? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Grantland Rice published a long-running syndicated column called “The Sportlight”. In 1921 he shared his poem titled “The Two Sides of War” with his readers. The following was the first verse. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who plan for greater armament
And map the battle chart.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All Wars Are Planned by Older Men in Council Rooms Apart

Notes:

  1. 1921 March 26, New York Tribune, Column: The Sportlight, Poem: The Two Sides of War Quote by Grantland Rice, Quote Page 11, Column 2, New York, New York. (Chronicling America Library of Congress) link

Better To Fail in Originality than To Succeed in Imitation

Herman Melville? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The major literary figure Herman Melville was famous for envisioning an archetypal beast and a fateful battle in “Moby-Dick; or, The Whale” published in 1851. Reportedly, Melville wrote an article that extolled creativity with the following assertion:

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

I would like to use this statement in an essay, but I have been unable to locate its source. Are these really the words of Melville? Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: In August 1850 a New York journal called “The Literary World” published an article of literary criticism titled “Hawthorne and His Mosses”, and the critic was described as “A Virginian Spending July in Vermont”. Eventually, Herman Melville was identified as the essayist, and in one section of the article he chided a “graceful writer” who was imitating works from other countries. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

But that graceful writer, who perhaps of all Americans has received the most plaudits from his own country for his productions,—that very popular and amiable writer, however good and self-reliant in many things, perhaps owes his chief reputation to the self-acknowledged imitation of a foreign model, and to the studied avoidance of all topics but smooth ones. But it is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great. Failure is the true test of greatness.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Better To Fail in Originality than To Succeed in Imitation

Notes:

  1. 1850 August 24, The Literary World, Hawthorne and His Mosses by A Virginian Spending July in Vermont (Herman Melville), Start Page 145, Quote Page 146, E. A. & G. L. Duyckinck, New York. (Google Books Full View) link