Category Archives: William Lyon Phelps

The Final Test of a Gentleman: His Respect for Those Who Can Be of No Possible Service to Him

William Lyon Phelps? Apocryphal? Anonymous?


Dear Quote Investigator: I noticed that you have quotations from J. K. Rowling, Malcolm Forbes, and Paul Eldridge about how to evaluate the character of an individual. Here is another saying of this type that is credited to a charismatic Yale professor named William Lyon Phelps:

It is the final test of a gentleman—his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.

I have not seen a citation for this expression. Is this ascription accurate?

Quote Investigator: The precise statement above was attributed to William Lyon Phelps in the July 1935 issue of “Golden Book Magazine” 1 and this is the earliest evidence of a close match located by QI.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1935 July, Golden Book Magazine, Clues, (One quotation from set of eight), Quote Page 81, The Review of Reviews Corporation, New York. (Verified on paper)