Never Disregard a Book Because the Author of It Is a Ridiculous Fellow

Lord Melbourne? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I once saw a proverb stating that one should not ignore a book simply because the author is a foolish person. Are you familiar with this proverb of encouragement for many writers?

Quote Investigator: Lord Melbourne (William Lamb) served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1830s. He wrote notes about his life and his thoughts in a commonplace book he kept from about 1809 until 1832. Decades later an editor selected material from the commonplace book and included it within the 1889 book “Lord Melbourne’s Papers”. Here were two statements penned by the statesman. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Never disregard a book because the author of it is a ridiculous fellow.

Nothing injures poetry so much as over-consideration and cold and critical correction.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Never Disregard a Book Because the Author of It Is a Ridiculous Fellow

Notes:

  1. 1889, Lord Melbourne’s Papers (Viscount William Lamb Melbourne), Edited by Lloyd C. Sanders, Preface by The Earl Cowper, Chapter 3: Married Life and Literature: 1805-1828, Quote Page 86, Longmans, Green, and Co., London. (Google Books Full View) link

I Wish I Was As Sure of Any One Thing As He is of Everything

Lord Melbourne? William Windham? Benjamin Disraeli? Sydney Smith? William Lamb? Thomas B. Macaulay?

melbourne03Dear Quote Investigator: Each of us has encountered an individual who with highhanded convictions presents an answer to every question. There is a famous witticism aimed at a person of this type:

I only wish that I was as cocksure of any one thing as he is sure of everything.

Do you know who crafted this expression?

Quote Investigator: There are many different versions of this statement which evolved over time. The earliest evidence indicates that William Lamb who was the Second Viscount Melbourne constructed this quip, and he aimed the barb at the prominent historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay. The first strong match located by QI was printed in 1851. Boldface has been added:

“I wish,” said he, “that I knew any thing as well as Tom Macaulay knows every thing.”

Details for this cite are given further below.

Here are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Wish I Was As Sure of Any One Thing As He is of Everything