What Do We Live For, If It Is Not To Make Life Less Difficult To Each Other?

George Eliot? Mary Ann Evans? F. O. Hamilton? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: George Eliot was a prominent English novelist of the Victorian era. The author’s real name was Mary Ann Evans. The following remark has been ascribed to her:

What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?

I am having trouble locating this statement within her oeuvre. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: The quotation can be found in Eliot’s novel “Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life”. Volume four of the work appeared in 1872. The correct phrasing differed from the version specified by the questioner. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Mr Lydgate would understand that if his friends hear a calumny about him their first wish must be to justify him. What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? I cannot be indifferent to the troubles of a man who advised me in my trouble, and attended me in my illness.”

The quotation included the additional words “it is”. The word “life” occurred instead of “world”, and the preposition “to” occurred instead of “for”.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading What Do We Live For, If It Is Not To Make Life Less Difficult To Each Other?

Notes:

  1. 1872, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot, Volume IV, Book VIII: Sunset and Sunrise, Chapter 72, Quote Page 180 and 181, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. (Google Books Full View) link

A Man Who Is His Own Lawyer Has a Fool for a Client

Abraham Lincoln? William De Britaine? Roger L’Estrange? Italian Proverb? Benjamin Franklin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Evaluating complex legal issues requires expertise. Abraham Lincoln reportedly employed the following adage. Here are two versions:

  • If you are your own lawyer you have a fool for a client.
  • He who represents himself has a fool for a client.

Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest partial match known to QI appeared in the 1682 book “Humane Prudence, or, The Art by which a Man May Raise Himself and Fortune to Grandeur” by William De Britaine. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Before you act, it’s Prudence soberly to consider; for after Action you cannot recede without dishonour: Take the Advice of some Prudent Friend; for he who will be his own Counsellour, shall be sure to have a Fool for his Client.

This adage is ambiguous because the term “counselor” has more than one pertinent meaning. A counselor is a person who gives counsel, i.e., an adviser. Alternatively, a counsellor is an attorney, especially one who pleads cases in court. The context suggests to QI that the first interpretation is the most likely.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Man Who Is His Own Lawyer Has a Fool for a Client

Notes:

  1. Year: 1682 (MDCLXXXII), Author: William De Britaine, Title: Humane Prudence, or, The Art by which a Man May Raise Himself and Fortune to Grandeur by A.B., Section 18, Quote Page 57, Publication: Printed for John Lawrence, London. (Early English Books Online) link

He Who Acts as His Own Doctor Has a Fool for a Patient

Roger L’Estrange? William Grant? John Bristed? William J. Flagg? William Osler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A person with a serious malady should be very cautious about treating himself or herself. This holds true even if the person is a physician. Here are some versions of a pertinent adage:

  • He who treats himself has a fool for a patient.
  • A physician who treats himself has a fool for a patient.
  • The person who is his own doctor has a simpleton for a patient.

Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: A precursor appeared in a 1692 collection of fables translated into English by Sir Roger L’Estrange. In one fable a wealthy Dutchman rejects the advice of his physicians. The section containing the moral of the fable presents an adage about teachers which is generalized to apply to doctors. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The MORAL
He that Consults his Physician, and will not Follow his Advice, must be his Own Doctor: But let him take the Old Adage along with him. He that Teaches Himself has a Fool to his Master.

In 1781 a medical book written for doctors by William Grant included a discussion of gout. Grant presented a version of the adage: 2

The last common cause of irregularity in the gout, is a complication with other diseases; of which I have given some examples in the first Chapter of this Essay. These always require the assistance of a skilful person; in such cases no man ought to be his own physician, for fear of having a fool for his patient.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading He Who Acts as His Own Doctor Has a Fool for a Patient

Notes:

  1. 1692, Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists with Morals and Reflecions by Sir Roger L’Estrange, Abstemius’s Fables, Fable CCCXIII, Quote Page 274 and 275, Printed for R. Sare, T. Sawbridge, B. Took, M. Gillyflower, A. & J. Churchil, and J. Hindmarsh, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1781, Some Observations on the Origin and Progress of the Atrabilious Constitution and Gout, Chapter V: Containing the irregular and complicated gout by William Grant M.D., Quote Page 6, Printed for T. Cadell, London. (Google Books Full View) link

You Will Continue To Suffer If You Have an Emotional Reaction To Everything

Warren Buffett? Bruce Lee? Cindy Flores? Sylvester McNutt III? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A paragraph of advice about maintaining equanimity is popular on social media. Here is the first sentence:

You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you.

These words have been attributed to the influential martial artist Bruce Lee and the famous investor Warren Buffett. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that this passage has been spoken or written by Bruce Lee or Warren Buffett. It is very difficult to trace because it has been shared via several social media platforms. The search engines for social media platforms are typically defective or non-existent. In addition, messages are sometimes undated.

The earliest match (with a solid date) located by QI appeared in two tweets from Cindy Flores:

Twitter handle: @cfloorrrr link
Timestamp: 12:56 AM · Mar 24, 2016
You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you, true power is observing everything w logic

Twitter handle: @cfloorrrr link
Timestamp: 12:57 AM · Mar 24, 2016
@cfloorrrr true power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you, breathe and allow things to pass.

The tweets did not attribute the remark to anyone; hence, Cindy Flores might be the creator. Yet, it is possible that the words were relayed from an earlier message on social media. Based on current evidence QI would label the text anonymous.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Will Continue To Suffer If You Have an Emotional Reaction To Everything

Television: It’s Called a Medium Because It’s Never Well Done

Groucho Marx? Fred Waring? Ed Gardner? Goodman Ace? Jane Ace? Fred Allen? Ernie Kovacs? Deane Binder? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The number of scripted television shows has grown dramatically in recent years and so have the plaudits. Yet, from its earliest days the medium has always attracted scorn. Here are three examples of lacerating word play:

  • Television is a medium where if anything is well done, it’s rare.
  • Television: We call it a medium because nothing’s well done.
  • Television is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well done.

Would you please explore the provenance of this humor?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI occurred in the “Chicago Sunday Tribune” of Illinois in May 1949. A concise definition of television appeared in a small box. The singer and show business personality Fred Waring received credit for the wordplay. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Definition
“Television: A new medium—rare, if well done!”
-Fred Waring.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Television: It’s Called a Medium Because It’s Never Well Done

Notes:

  1. 1949 May 15, Chicago Sunday Tribune (Chicago Tribune), Definition (Filler item), Part 6, Section 2, Quote Page 2, Column 5, Chicago, Illinois. (ProQuest)

Honesty Is the 1st Chapter in the Book of Wisdom

Thomas Jefferson? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A large number of the quotations attributed to Thomas Jefferson are apocryphal; hence, I have learned to be cautious. Do you know whether the following remark is from the pen of Jefferson?

Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.

Any help would be appreciated.

Quote Investigator: Thomas Jefferson sent a two page letter to Nathaniel Macon on January 12, 1819. The saying about honesty appeared on the second page. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Whether the succeeding generation is to be more virtuous than their predecessors, I cannot say; but I am sure they will have more worldly wisdom, and enough, I hope, to know that honesty is the 1st chapter in the book of wisdom.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Honesty Is the 1st Chapter in the Book of Wisdom

Notes:

  1. Library of Congress, Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, (Page 2 of 2 Images), Date of letter: January 12, 1819, Location of letter writer: Monticello, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Washington D.C. (Accessed loc.gov on July 21, 2019) link

There Is No Safety In Numbers, Or In Anything Else

James Thurber? Jane Austen? Charles Caleb Colton? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Many are familiar with the following adage which encourages aggregation:

There is safety in numbers.

Yet, I recall reading a short acerbic tale that presented an inverted moral of this type:

There is no safety in numbers, or anything else.

Would you please help me to find this story?

Quote Investigator: In 1939 “The New Yorker” published a set of four short tales by humorist James Thurber under the title “Fables for Our Time – II”. The first story was about a “fairly intelligent fly” who avoided being caught in an empty spider web. Unfortunately, when the fly later encountered a large group of flies together on a surface he decided to settle down among them. A bee warned the fly that the group were trapped on flypaper. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“Don’t be silly,” said the fly, “they’re dancing.” So he settled down and became stuck to the flypaper with all the other flies.

Moral: There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Is No Safety In Numbers, Or In Anything Else

Notes:

  1. 1939 February 4, The New Yorker, Fables for Our Time – II by James Thurber, Start Page 20, Quote Page 20, Column 1, F. R. Publishing Corporation, New York. (Online New Yorker archive of digital scans)

It Is Quite As Important To Know What Kind of a Patient the Disease Has Got As To Know What Kind of a Disease the Patient Has Got

William Osler? Caleb Hillier Parry? Henry George Plimmer? Woods Hutchinson? Walter Moxon? Albert Abrams? Hippocrates? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: In medicine it is crucial to identify the disease that afflicts the patient, but that is only one part of the full assessment. Determining the best treatment requires a careful examination of the history and the behavior of the patient. Here is a germane adage:

It is more important to know what kind of a patient has the disease than what kind of a disease the patient has.

This saying has been attributed to several famous medical educators including William Osler and Caleb Hillier Parry. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: A precursor adage emphasizing the need to focus on the patient was circulating in 1846 when it appeared in “The Lancet” with an anonymous attribution. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Dr. Golding Bird agreed in an observation that had fallen from a speaker at the last meeting, that, in the practice of medicine, the great point was to treat the patient, and not the disease.

In 1894 a different precursor appeared in the book “A System of Genito-Urinary Diseases, Syphilology and Dermatology”. Professor Andrew R. Robinson was the author of a section containing the following passage which highlighted the need to understand the patient: 2

Why is it that one case of scarlatina or pneumonia or smallpox is severe and even fatal, and another mild? The organism is always a definite and similar one, even if it varies in virulent powers at different periods of an epidemic; consequently it is not a question of the kind of disease (or organism) the patient has, but rather the kind of patient the disease has attacked, and an appreciation of this fact gives the best results in treatment.

In 1899 Henry George Plimmer who was a Lecturer on Pathology and Bacteriology at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School delivered a short address that was recorded in “St. Mary’s Hospital Gazette”. The following excerpt contains the earliest strong match for the adage known to QI: 3

You will have to acquire, too, for any success to be given you, an accurate knowledge of human nature, and you will find that it is quite as important for the doctor to know what kind of patient the disease has for host, as to know what sort of disease the patient has for guest.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Is Quite As Important To Know What Kind of a Patient the Disease Has Got As To Know What Kind of a Disease the Patient Has Got

Notes:

  1. 1846 October 10, The Lancet, Medical Society of London, Monday, October 5th, Mr. Denby, President, Quote Page 407, Published at the Offices of the Lancet, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1894, A System of Genito-Urinary Diseases, Syphilology and Dermatology by Various Authors, Edited by Prince A. Morrow, Three Volumes, Volume 3: Dermatology, Sycosis by Andrew R. Robinson (Professor of Dermatology in the New York Polyclinic), Start Page 881, Quote Page 891, D. Appleton and Company, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link
  3. 1899 October, St. Mary’s Hospital Gazette, On Some Motives and Methods in Medicine by H. G. Plimmer (Lecturer on Pathology and Bacteriology at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School), Address delivered October 2, 1899, Start Page 116, Quote Page 117, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link

It Was Shaw Who Advised Young Playwrights To Gear the Length of Each Act To the Endurance of the Human Bladder

Alfred Hitchcock? George Bernard Shaw? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Enthusiastic critics treat films as elevated objects of art, but the famous director Alfred Hitchcock once insightfully remarked on the pragmatic limitations placed on commercial movies by human biology. He stated that the proper length of a film was dependent on the endurance of the human bladder. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1963 “The Oregonian” of Portland, Oregon published comments made by Alfred Hitchcock during a phone interview. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Motion pictures are the only form of entertainment where the audience is forced to sit quietly for two or three hours without interruption, Hitchcock continued. In theatrical terms, television is superior in this regard to motion pictures. The hour-long show is broken into three acts because of the commercials.

“Wasn’t it George Bernard Shaw who tried that noble experiment in one of his early plays? He tried to discover how long the first act could run, based upon the endurance of the human bladder. I wish I could recall his conclusions.”

On this occasion Hitchcock spoke on the bladder theme, but he did not utter a synoptic remark that would fit into a book of quotations. QI is unsure whether Shaw actually wrote or spoke on this topic.

A year later in 1964 Hitchcock traveled to San Francisco, California to shoot a scene for the film “Marnie”, and he communicated with a journalist working for the “San Francisco Examiner”. Hitchcock said that the running time of “Marnie” would be less than two hours, and he opposed overly-long films: 2

“If it’s a compelling story, you want to read it at one sitting. The novel can be put down and picked up again. The play is divided into three acts. But the movie should be quick, terse and all of a piece.

“I think it was Shaw who advised young playwrights to gear the length of each act to the endurance of the human bladder.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Was Shaw Who Advised Young Playwrights To Gear the Length of Each Act To the Endurance of the Human Bladder

Notes:

  1. 1963 November 22, The Oregonian, Behind the Mike by Francis Murphy, Quote Page 7, Column 1, Portland, Oregon. (GenealogyBank)
  2. 1964 February 12, San Francisco Examiner, Hitchcock on Shipboard by Jeanne Miller, Quote Page 5C, Column 5, San Francisco, California. (Newspapers_com)

The Merely Different Is Not Always Better, But the Better Is Always Different

David Rowland? Dale Dauten? Art Weinstein? William C. Johnson? Sun Microsystems? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Attempting something new and innovative is crucial to success in many fields, but triumph is not guaranteed. An unfamiliar or unusual strategy may fail. Designers have advanced the following adage:

Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.

Memorability is enhanced by the rhetorical technique called antimetabole in which a phrase is repeated, but key elements are reordered. Would you please trace this saying?

Quote Investigator: David Rowland was a New York industrial designer who created the remarkable 40/4 stackable chair. The numeric name was based on the fact that forty of the chairs could be combined to produce a stack that was only four feet tall. An article about Rowland appeared in “The Miami News” of Florida in 1965. At that time the chair had recently won an American Institute of Interior Designers International Award. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

A designer of chairs since he was 13, the California native has an artistic family background. Much of his early childhood was influenced by the designers in his family. In his approach to design, Rowland’s motto is “the merely ‘different’ is not always better, but the better is always different.”

This phrasing of the adage above differs from the typical modern version, but it still represents a close match. Rowland popularized this expression, and QI tentatively gives him credit as creator.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Merely Different Is Not Always Better, But the Better Is Always Different

Notes:

  1. 1965 February 7, The Miami News, Rowland Got To The Bottom Of That Chair Problem, Quote Page 32, Column 3, Miami, Florida. (Newspapers_com)