Always Verify Your Quotations

Winston Churchill? Martin Routh? John Burgon? G. W. Peck? Earl of Rosebery? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: According to a legend of academia, a young student once asked an illustrious professor to impart his greatest piece of wisdom, and the sage replied with one of these statements:

(1) Always verify your quotations.
(2) Always check your references.
(3) Always verify references.
(4) Always check your citations.

Ironically, few people are heeding this advice; hence, the details of this tale are uncertain. Winston Churchill sometimes receives credit for telling this story although I think it was circulating before he was born. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Martin Routh was the President of Magdalen College, Oxford for more than six decades. He was a renowned classical scholar who died in 1854, and he has usually received credit for this saying.

The student who asked Routh for advice was John Burgon who later became a leader in the Anglican Church. Burgon presented a brief description of the interaction at the beginning of his 1871 book titled “The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark”. Boldface added to excepts by QI:[1]1871, The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established by John W. Burgon (Vicar of S. Mary-The-Virgin’s, Fellow of Oriel … Continue reading

“‘Advice to you,’ sir, ‘in studying Divinity?’ Did you say that you ‘wished I would give you a few words of advice,’ sir? … Then let me recommend to you the practice of always verifying your references, sir!”
Conversation of the late President Routh

Burgon stated in a later book that the dialog occurred on November 29, 1847. Thus, the 1871 description above appeared more than two decades after the event occurred. This long delay reduced the reliability of the report.

QI has uncovered earlier published evidence of this family of sayings. The first instances referred to “quotations” instead of “references” or “citations”. Below is an overview with dates:

Continue reading Always Verify Your Quotations

References

References
1 1871, The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According to S. Mark Vindicated Against Recent Critical Objectors and Established by John W. Burgon (Vicar of S. Mary-The-Virgin’s, Fellow of Oriel College, and Gresham Lecturer in Divinity, Quote appears on title page, James Parker and Company, Oxford, England. (Google Books Full View) link

People Will Not Say Anymore That the Greeks Fight Like Heroes But Heroes Fight Like Greeks

Winston Churchill? Demetrius Caclamanos? John Rupert Colville? Queen Frederika of Greece? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A family of statements highlights the valor of military forces. Here are two examples:

Henceforth we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks

Finns don’t fight like heroes; heroes fight like Finns

These sayings use a rhetorical technique called antimetabole in which clauses are repeated while keywords are transposed. The first statement above has often been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill, but I am skeptical because I have not seen a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Manchester Guardian” of England in April 1941 within an article by Greek diplomat Demetrius Caclamanos. Boldface added to excepts by QI:[1] 1941 April 18, The Manchester Guardian, The Campaign in Greece by Demetrius Caclamanos (former Greek Minister to Britain), Start Page 4, Quote Page 6, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)

It was rightly said that “people will not say any more that the Greeks fight like heroes but heroes fight like Greeks.”

Caclamanos’s article discussed the attack on Greece by the forces of Italy and Germany during World War II in 1940 and 1941. Greek forces were initially able to repulse the attacks although the country was ultimately conquered by the Axis powers. The phrasing above signaled that Caclamanos was disclaiming credit for the quotation. Based on current evidence QI believes that the authorship of the saying remains anonymous.

The saying was attributed to Winston Churchill by 1951, but that late date meant the evidence was weak. See the 1951 citation presented further below.

Richard Langworth who is the top expert on Winston Churchill quotations has examined this topic in a posting on his website. Langworth searched a massive digital corpus containing millions of words written by and about Churchill, but he did not find evidence supporting the ascription. Langworth stated “It’s rather good, but I cannot track that quotation”.[2]Website: Richard Langworth, Article title: “Greeks Fight Like Heroes – Heroes Fight Like Greeks”: Not By Churchill, Article author: Richard Langworth, Date on website: November 5, 2021, Website … Continue reading

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading People Will Not Say Anymore That the Greeks Fight Like Heroes But Heroes Fight Like Greeks

References

References
1 1941 April 18, The Manchester Guardian, The Campaign in Greece by Demetrius Caclamanos (former Greek Minister to Britain), Start Page 4, Quote Page 6, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com)
2 Website: Richard Langworth, Article title: “Greeks Fight Like Heroes – Heroes Fight Like Greeks”: Not By Churchill, Article author: Richard Langworth, Date on website: November 5, 2021, Website description: Discussion of quotations correctly and incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill. (Accessed richardlangworth.com on June 14, 2022) link

You Have Enemies? Good. That Means You’ve Stood Up For Something, Sometime In Your Life

Winston Churchill? Victor Hugo? Thomas Jefferson? Jules Sandeau? Charles Mackay? Elminster of Shadowdale? Ed Greenwood? William J. Robinson? Jim Bunning? Eminem? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: If you become prominent and influential then you will inevitably face detractors. If you take tough stances on major issues then you will encounter adversaries. The British statesman Winston Churchill has received credit for the following expression:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

I am skeptical of this attribution because I have been unable to find a solid citation. This notion has also been credited to U.S. President Thomas Jefferson and French novelist Victor Hugo. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Winston Churchill made this remark. He died in 1965, and he received credit many years later in 2002. Churchill quotation expert Richard M. Langworth was unable to find a citation. He placed this saying into an appendix titled “Red Herrings” of his indispensable compilation “Churchill By Himself: In His Own Words”.[1] 2013 (Kindle Edition), Churchill By Himself: In His Own Words by Winston S. Churchill, Compiled and edited by Richard M. Langworth, Appendix I: Red Herrings, RosettaBooks. (Kindle Location 19660)

Thematic matches did appear in the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Victor Hugo, but these quotations were not close matches. The earliest close match found by QI appeared in an “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” fantasy book in 1993. See further below for details.

Here are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Have Enemies? Good. That Means You’ve Stood Up For Something, Sometime In Your Life

References

References
1 2013 (Kindle Edition), Churchill By Himself: In His Own Words by Winston S. Churchill, Compiled and edited by Richard M. Langworth, Appendix I: Red Herrings, RosettaBooks. (Kindle Location 19660)

A Place and Station To Which Our Tradition and Undying Genius Entitle Us

Winston Churchill? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Winston Churchill once spoke about the “undying genius” of his fellow citizens while exhorting them to make a “supreme effort” to maintain a successful country. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1952 Winston Churchill visited his alma mater, the Harrow School in London, and delivered a speech which was described in “The Yorkshire Post”[1] 1952 November 8, The Yorkshire Post, Mr. Churchill at his old school: Hears Harrow boys sing songs he selected, Quote Page 1, Column 6, Yorkshire, England. (British Newspaper Archive) and the “Manchester Guardian”. He spoke about Britain’s future after the extreme experiences of WW2. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2] 1952 November 8, Manchester Guardian, Sixty Years On: Mr Churchill Hears Harrovians Sing, Quote Page 10, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com) link

You must not suppose that the troubles of Britain are over . . .
On the contrary, we may feel that in the world which has grown so much vaster all round us and towers up about us, we in this small island have to make a supreme effort to keep our place and station, a place and station to which our tradition and undying genius entitle us. A great effort is required and you, to whom much of the future belongs, will play your part in this proud, equal, democratic England.

Below is one more citation and a conclusion.

Continue reading A Place and Station To Which Our Tradition and Undying Genius Entitle Us

References

References
1 1952 November 8, The Yorkshire Post, Mr. Churchill at his old school: Hears Harrow boys sing songs he selected, Quote Page 1, Column 6, Yorkshire, England. (British Newspaper Archive)
2 1952 November 8, Manchester Guardian, Sixty Years On: Mr Churchill Hears Harrovians Sing, Quote Page 10, Column 2, Manchester, England. (Newspapers_com) link

“Now That He Is Minister of War I Feel Safe” “Why?” “Well, When He Was Minister of Fuel We Had No Fuel”

Winston Churchill? Alexander Ince? Leonard Lyons? Emanuel Shinwell? John Williams Hughes? Drew Pearson? Eleanor Boardman? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Ensuring the smooth operation of the industry sector that supplies energy to a country is a crucial task. Here is an example of the type of mockery aimed at a politician who botched this important mission:

“Wonderful news about the new Minister of War. Peace is assured!”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, when he was Minster of Coal we had no coal. Now that he is Minister of War, surely we shall have no war.”

This joke has been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The “New York Herald Tribune” reported that British Prime Minister Clement Attlee changed several ministerial appointees on October 7, 1947. Emanuel Shinwell who had been the Minister of Fuel and Power was transferred to the post of Secretary of State for War (also known as Minister of War).[1] 1947 October 8, New York Herald Tribune, Attlee Drops 11 Labor Ministers Ousts Shinwell From Fuel Pos by Ned Russell, Quote Page 1, Column 6, New York. (ProQuest)

The earliest match for the quotation located by QI appeared in the syndicated U.S. newspaper column of Leonard Lyons on October 25, 1947. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2] 1947 October 25, Asbury Park Evening Press, The Lyons Den by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 8, Column 5,Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Newspapers_com)

Alexander Ince reports that when Emanuel Shinwell was removed as minister of fuel and became minister of war, his friends rejoiced and said: “Peace at last is assured us. Because when Shinwell was minister of fuel, we had no fuel. And now he’s minister of war, so we’ll have no war.”

This report indicated that the creator of the quip was anonymous. Also, the remark originated as a friendly barb and not a harsh criticism.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading “Now That He Is Minister of War I Feel Safe” “Why?” “Well, When He Was Minister of Fuel We Had No Fuel”

References

References
1 1947 October 8, New York Herald Tribune, Attlee Drops 11 Labor Ministers Ousts Shinwell From Fuel Pos by Ned Russell, Quote Page 1, Column 6, New York. (ProQuest)
2 1947 October 25, Asbury Park Evening Press, The Lyons Den by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 8, Column 5,Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Newspapers_com)

Events, My Dear Boy, Events

Harold Macmillan? Winston Churchill? Adam Raphael? Peter Kellner? Kenneth Fleet? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Public figures around the world have faced major difficulties in 2020. Several decades ago, a powerful British politician experienced a series of setbacks during a period of economic and social upheaval. A journalist asked him to identify the greatest challenge to his administration, and he replied:

Events, my dear boy, events.

Politicians of today may sympathize with this sentiment. Would you please help me to determine the name of the politician and the correct quotation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Observer” newspaper of London in March 1984. Journalist Adam Raphael attributed the remark to Harold Macmillan who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1957 and 1963. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1984 March 11, The Observer, Mrs T looks out of touch by Adam Raphael, Quote Page 4, Column 2, London, England. (Newspapers_com)

Harold Macmillan was once asked what the most troubling problem of his Prime Ministership was. ‘Events, my dear boy, events,’ was his reply.

The phrase “was once asked” suggests that Raphael did not know when the quotation was spoken. Macmillan died in 1986 when he was 92 years old.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Events, My Dear Boy, Events

References

References
1 1984 March 11, The Observer, Mrs T looks out of touch by Adam Raphael, Quote Page 4, Column 2, London, England. (Newspapers_com)

I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That

John Bent? Navy Sailor? Drunken Fellow? Winston Churchill? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The state of inebriation is temporary, but the state of stupidity is durable. A clever dialog hinges on this fundamental difference:

“You are drunk.”
“Yes, and you are a fool. But I will be sober in the morning, and you will remain a fool.”

Would you please explore the provenance of this thrust and parry?

Quote Investigator: This comical interaction is a member of a family of anecdotes which famously includes a story about Winston Churchill’s jousting with an antagonist. A separate QI article centered on the Churchill anecdote and tales from the U.K Parliament can be read by following this link.

This article will center on the earliest matches located by QI. In 1863 the “Urbana Union” newspaper of Urbana, Ohio published the following short item. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1863 July 1, Urbana Union, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 1, Urbana, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

The drunken fellow’s reply to the reprimand of a temperance lecture, delivered in some of the stupid forms of that order of men is worth remembering. “I’m drunk-but-I’ll get over that pretty soon; but you’re a fool-and you’ll never get over that.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I’m Drunk, But I’ll Get Over That Soon. You’re a Fool and You’ll Never Get Over That

References

References
1 1863 July 1, Urbana Union, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 1, Urbana, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

Courage Is Rightly Esteemed the First of Human Qualities Because . . . It Is the Quality Which Guarantees All Others

Winston Churchill? Samuel Johnson? James Boswell? Aristotle? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The rights and freedoms enshrined in political documents are sometimes nullified by oppressive governments. The health of a society depends on the principles and the bravery of the populace. Here is a pertinent adage:

Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.

These words have been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill, but I have not been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: In 1931 Winston Churchill wrote an article published in “Collier’s” magazine about King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and the piece included Churchill’s cogent remark about courage. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1931 June 27, Collier’s, Unlucky Alfonso by Winston Churchill, Start Page 11, Quote Page 49, Column 2, P. F. Collier and Son, New York. (Unz Database)

Men and kings must be judged in the testing moments of their lives. Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others. Courage, physical and moral, King Alfonso has proved on every occasion of personal danger or political stress. Many years ago in the face of a difficult situation Alfonso made the proud declaration, no easy boast in Spain, “I was born on the throne, I shall die on it.”

The common modern version of this quotation has been simplified and streamlined. The phrase “as has been said” is typically omitted. Churchill was probably referring to a remark by the famous 18th-century man of letters Samuel Johnson. The quintessential biographer James Boswell who authored “The Life of Samuel Johnson” described a conversation about public speaking that occurred in 1775:[2]1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.: Comprehending an Account of His Studies and Numerous Works, in Chronological Order by James Boswell, Volume 1 of 2, Time period specified: April 5, 1775, … Continue reading

“Why then, (I asked,) is it thought disgraceful for a man not to fight, and not disgraceful not to speak in publick?” Johnson. “Because there may be other reasons for a man’s not speaking in publick than want of resolution: he may have nothing to say, (laughing). Whereas, Sir, you know courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Courage Is Rightly Esteemed the First of Human Qualities Because . . . It Is the Quality Which Guarantees All Others

References

References
1 1931 June 27, Collier’s, Unlucky Alfonso by Winston Churchill, Start Page 11, Quote Page 49, Column 2, P. F. Collier and Son, New York. (Unz Database)
2 1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.: Comprehending an Account of His Studies and Numerous Works, in Chronological Order by James Boswell, Volume 1 of 2, Time period specified: April 5, 1775, Quote Page 473, Printed by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link

When You’re 60 You Realize No One Was Ever Thinking About You

Winston Churchill? Will Rogers? Jock Falkson? Ann Landers? Ewan McGregor? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: One’s sensitivity to the opinions of others often changes as one matures. The following statement has been attributed to statesman Winston Churchill:

When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.

I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive support for the attribution to Winston Churchill. Historian and Churchill quotation expert Richard M. Langworth signaled his skepticism when he included the statement in an article titled “All the ‘Quotes’ Winston Churchill Never Said”.[1] Website: Richard M. Langworth, Title: All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (1), Date on website: November 8, 2018, Sub-section: Caring What Others Think. (Accessed May 31, 2019) link

QI believes that the saying evolved over time, and famous humorist Will Rogers popularized an intriguing tripartite variant in the 1930s. See further below.

A thematic precursor was written by prominent lexicographer Samuel Johnson in 1751 who noted that most people were preoccupied with their own affairs. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:[2] 1752, The Rambler, Issue date: 1751 September 24, Number 159, (Essay by Samuel Johnson), Quote Page 6, Printed by Sands, Murray, and Cochran, Edinburgh. (Google Books Full View) link

But the truth is, that no man is much regarded by the rest of the world, except where the interest of others is involved in his fortune. The common employments or pleasures of life, love or opposition, loss or gain, keep almost every mind in perpetual agitation. If any man would consider how little he dwells upon the condition of others, he would learn how little the attention of others is attracted by himself.

In August 1934 “The Minneapolis Star” of Minnesota printed an anonymous three-part saying based on the ages of 20, 30, and 40 instead of 20, 40, and 60. The attitudes expressed in the first two parts were flipped with respect to the target quotation. The attitude specified in the third part matched the target:[3] 1934 August 6, The Minneapolis Star, (Filler item), Quote Page 6, Column 1, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Newspapers_com)

At 20 we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30 we worry about what it thinks of us; at 40 we discover it doesn’t think of us.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When You’re 60 You Realize No One Was Ever Thinking About You

References

References
1 Website: Richard M. Langworth, Title: All the “Quotes” Winston Churchill Never Said (1), Date on website: November 8, 2018, Sub-section: Caring What Others Think. (Accessed May 31, 2019) link
2 1752, The Rambler, Issue date: 1751 September 24, Number 159, (Essay by Samuel Johnson), Quote Page 6, Printed by Sands, Murray, and Cochran, Edinburgh. (Google Books Full View) link
3 1934 August 6, The Minneapolis Star, (Filler item), Quote Page 6, Column 1, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Newspapers_com)

You Are My Fifth Favorite Actor. The First Four Are the Marx Brothers

George Bernard Shaw? Winston Churchill? Cedric Hardwicke? Blanche Patch? Leonard Lyons? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: According to a Hollywood legend, a famous intellectual or statesman once praised a prominent actor with a left-handed compliment. Here are two versions:

  • You are my fifth favorite actor. The first four are the Marx Brothers.
  • You are my fourth favorite actor. The first three are the Marx Brothers.

The famous person was supposedly George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill. The actor was the English star of the stage and screen Cedric Hardwicke. Would you please explore this entertaining tale?

Quote Investigator: Five Marx brothers were involved in the entertainment business; they employed the following stage names: Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo, and Gummo. The first four appeared in several movies together, but only the first three achieved stardom.

The earliest strong match for the anecdote located by QI appeared in the Hollywood gossip column of Leonard Lyons in 1946. The quotation emerged via a dialog. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1946 March 14, The Dayton Daily News, The Lyons Den: Pauley Turns Ickes Photo To the Wall by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 11, Column 3, Dayton, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)

Sir Cedric Hardwicke, now, co-starring with Katharine Cornell in “Antigone,” starred in some of Shaw’s plays in London. Shaw once told him: “Cedric, you are my fourth favorite actor.” Hardwicke asked: “G. B. S., who are the other three?” And Shaw replied: “The Marx Bros.”

This version referred to three Marx Brothers instead of four. Lyons indicated that he heard the anecdote from Hardwicke, and QI conjectures that Hardwicke constructed this humorous story by altering a comment made by Shaw. This conjecture is based on the 1951 citation given immediately below and the April 17, 1959 citation given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Are My Fifth Favorite Actor. The First Four Are the Marx Brothers

References

References
1 1946 March 14, The Dayton Daily News, The Lyons Den: Pauley Turns Ickes Photo To the Wall by Leonard Lyons, Quote Page 11, Column 3, Dayton, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)