The Cat / Dog Is Always On the Wrong Side of the Door

T. S. Eliot? Ogden Nash? Kate Upson Clark? William Lyon Phelps? O. M. Gregor? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Some pets are constantly signaling a desire to enter or leave a domicile. Here are two pertinent expressions:

  • A cat is always on the wrong side of a door.
  • A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

This notion has been attributed to the poets T. S. Eliot and Ogden Nash. Would you please help me to find citations and precise phrasings?

Quote Investigator: This saying can be phrased in many ways; thus, it is difficult to trace. The expression has been applied to individual animals and to classes of animals. The earliest match located by QI appeared in the “Manchester Weekly Times” of England in 1898 within an article about pets owned by royalty. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Cats cannot be picked up and carried from pillar to post, while dog’s rather enjoy change of scene. In fact, the pet dog is always on the wrong side of the door, and never happy unless he is either going out or coming in.

The journalist who wrote the text above was unidentified, and QI conjectures that he or she was repeating a remark that was already in circulation.

A 1939 poem by T. S. Eliot about a cat includes an instance of this statement. Ogden Nash included instances in two different poems in 1941 and 1953. Details for these citations are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Cat / Dog Is Always On the Wrong Side of the Door

Notes:

  1. 1898 November 11, Manchester Weekly Times, Cream of Current Literature: Some Royal Favourites Dogs and Cats, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Manchester, Greater Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)

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

William Lyon Phelps? Apocryphal? Anonymous?

grip02

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.

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

Notes:

  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)