Sydney J. Harris? Sydney Smith? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Different types of regret may be experienced when you do something and when you refrain from doing something. A statement on this topic has been attributed to two disparate Sydneys: the English wit Sydney Smith and the U.S. columnist Sydney J. Harris. Would you please determine the correct ascription?
Quote Investigator: The column of Sydney J. Harris appeared in many newspapers. In 1951 he wrote a piece that included the saying. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
PURELY PERSONAL PREJUDICES: Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.
QI has found no substantive evidence that Reverend Sydney Smith who died in 1845 employed the quotation.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1951 January 5, Akron Beacon Journal, Syd Cannot Stand Christmas Neckties by Sydney J. Harris, Quote Page 6, Column 5, Akron, Ohio. (Newspapers_com) ↩