If I Ever Find Myself in Heaven, It Will Be From Backing Away From Hell

Carrie Fisher? Courtney Love? Edward Dowling? Mariette Hartley? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Terrible experiences often cause an individual to seek a superior pathway through life. Here is a pertinent adage:

Some of us can’t find heaven without backing away from hell.

This saying has been attributed to actress and writer Carrie Fisher and to singer and actress Courtney Love. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Priest Edward Dowling was an advisor to Bill W. (William Griffith Wilson) who was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Dowling delivered the following advice that was recorded in a chapter of the 1957 book “Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A.”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1985 (1957 Copyright), Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., Chapter: Religion Looks at Alcoholics Anonymous by Edward Dowling and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Quote Page 256, … Continue reading

I doubt if there is anybody in this hall who really ever sought sobriety. I think we were trying to get away from drunkenness. I don’t think we should despise the negative. I have a feeling that if I ever find myself in Heaven, it will be from backing away from Hell.

QI believes that Edward Dowling is the leading candidate for creator of this saying.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If I Ever Find Myself in Heaven, It Will Be From Backing Away From Hell

References

References
1 1985 (1957 Copyright), Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A., Chapter: Religion Looks at Alcoholics Anonymous by Edward Dowling and Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Quote Page 256, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)

There Are Only Nine Meals Between Mankind and Anarchy

Alfred Henry Lewis? Larry Niven? Jerry Pournelle? Eric Sevareid? George Allan England? Donald Lowrie? John J. Fitzgerald? Hiram Motherwell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: When the food supplies of a society are disrupted it takes only a few days before extreme behaviors emerge, e.g., chaos, mayhem, and rebellion. An adage states that:

There are only a small number of meals between humanity and anarchy.

Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This saying is difficult to trace because it can be expressed in many ways. Here is an overview showing selected examples with dates and ascriptions:

1896: The only barrier between us and anarchy is the last nine meals we’ve had. (Alfred Henry Lewis)
1906: There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy. (Alfred Henry Lewis)
1911: Only nine meals stood between civilization and anarchy. (Anonymous)
1916: Only about seven meals stand between a man and anarchy. (Anonymous)
1932: We are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. (John J. Fitzgerald)
1942: There are only nine meals between man and revolution. (Anonymous)
1946: No one is more than nine meals away from murder. (Theo. G. Lurman Jr.)
1947: Every man is only nine meals away from Communism. (Leland L. Sage)
1974: No man was ever more than about nine meals away from crime or suicide. (Eric Sevareid)
1977: No country is more than three meals away from a revolution. (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle)
1980: You’re only nine meals away from being a criminal. (Anonymous prison inmate)
1980: Each of us is only nine meals away from stealing. (Robert L. Eddy)

Below are the details for these citations.

Continue reading There Are Only Nine Meals Between Mankind and Anarchy

One Half of What I Have Told You May Be Proved Untrue. Unfortunately, I Cannot Tell You Which Half

Charles Sidney Burwell? Charles F. Kettering? Helen Clapesattle? Carl Sandburg? Camille Pierre Dadant? Josh Billings? William Osler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Educators and researchers know that knowledge in fields like science and medicine is continuously growing and changing. Thus, today’s verities become tomorrow’s fallacies. A lecturer once candidly admitted these weaknesses by saying something like the following:

Half of what we are teaching you is wrong. Unfortunately, we don’t know which half.

This humble message has been attributed to Charles Sidney Burwell who was Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Charles F. Kettering who was the head of research at General Motors Corporation, and Carl Sandburg who was a poet and historian. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This is a difficult saying to trace because it can be expressed in many ways. The earliest match located by QI appeared in a talk delivered at an agricultural conference in 1917 by Camille Pierre Dadant who was the editor of “American Bee Journal”. Dadant spoke about bees and horticulture while acknowledging the limitations of contemporary scientific insights:[1]1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, … Continue reading

It is quite probable that half of what I am going to tell you to-day ain’t so, but I don’t know which half. It will be for you to find out. [Laughter.]

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading One Half of What I Have Told You May Be Proved Untrue. Unfortunately, I Cannot Tell You Which Half

References

References
1 1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, and 23, 1917, Friday Afternoon Session on February 23, 1917, The Usefulness of Bees in Horticulture and the Value of Honey as a Diet by Mr. C. P. Dadant, Start Page 176, Quote Page 177, Illinois State Journal Company, Springfield, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

No Snowflake in an Avalanche Ever Feels Responsible

Voltaire? George Burns? Paul Harvey? Stanisław Jerzy Lec? Percy Bysshe Shelley? Etaislaw Lee? Stanisław Leszczyński? Stanisław Lem? Jacek Galazka?

Dear Quote Investigator: A mob or a mass movement can cause enormous destruction. Also, the inaction of a large apathetic group in a perilous time can lead to ruination. Yet, individuals disavow liability. Here are three versions of a pertinent metaphorical adage:

(1) No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
(2) Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.
(3) In an avalanche, no one snowflake ever feels responsible.

This saying has been attributed to French wit Voltaire, Polish aphorist Stanisław Jerzy Lec, U.S. comedian George Burns, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This adage appeared in the 1968 book “More Unkempt Thoughts” by Stanisław Jerzy Lec. Here were three items from that book. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1968 Copyright, More Unkempt Thoughts by Stanisław J. Lec, Translated by Jacek Galazka, Quote Page 9, Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Verified with scans)

It is the high priests that make demands—not the gods they serve.
No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
Do not trust people. They are capable of greatness.

This book was translated from Polish by Jacek Galazka. Some sources have suggested that the Polish source book was titled “Myśli Nieuczesane Nowe” (“Unkempt New Thoughts”); however, QI has corresponded with two individuals who have carefully examined 1964 and 1966 editions of that book and determined that the quotation was absent. Thus, the identity of the Polish source book for the quotation remains uncertain.[2]Personal communication via twitter between Garson O’Toole (@QuoteResearch) and FranekVetulani (@FranekVetulani) on May 29, 2022; Also, personal communication via twitter between Garson O’Toole … Continue reading

A volunteer editor at the crowdsourced website Wikiquote suggested that the following was the original Polish quotation, but QI has not yet verified this claim, and this quotation may be inaccurate:[3]Website: Wikiquote, Person: Stanisław Jerzy Lec, A Wikimedia Project of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Accessed wikiquote.org on April 26, 2022; Polish version of the quotation was obtained from … Continue reading

Żaden płatek śniegu nie czuje się odpowiedzialny za lawinę.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading No Snowflake in an Avalanche Ever Feels Responsible

References

References
1 1968 Copyright, More Unkempt Thoughts by Stanisław J. Lec, Translated by Jacek Galazka, Quote Page 9, Funk & Wagnalls, New York. (Verified with scans)
2 Personal communication via twitter between Garson O’Toole (@QuoteResearch) and FranekVetulani (@FranekVetulani) on May 29, 2022; Also, personal communication via twitter between Garson O’Toole (@QuoteResearch) and @szescstopni on May 29, 2022.
3 Website: Wikiquote, Person: Stanisław Jerzy Lec, A Wikimedia Project of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (Accessed wikiquote.org on April 26, 2022; Polish version of the quotation was obtained from Wikiquote; QI has not yet verified the Polish quotation) link

A Little More Persistence, Courage, Vim!

Henry Austin? Henry Austen? Robert Burns Wilson? C. C. Cameron? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A poem about tenacity begins with the following four lines:

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
Continuous effort, of itself, implies,
In spite of countless falls, the power to rise.

This verse has been attributed to Henry Austin and C. C. Cameron. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match for the full poem located by QI appeared in 1898 within the trade publication “Dental Brief” of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Henry Austin received credit. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1898 November, Dental Brief, Volume 3, Number 4, Section: For Our Patients, Perseverance Conquers All by Henry Austin, Quote Page 245, L. D. Caulk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Google Books Full … Continue reading

PERSEVERANCE CONQUERS ALL.

Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes,
Is oft but perseverance in disguise.
Continuous effort, of itself, implies,
In spite of countless falls, the power to rise.

’Twixt failure and success the point’s so fine
Men sometimes know not when they touch the line.
Just when the Pearl was waiting one more plunge,
How many a struggler has thrown up the sponge!

As the tide goes clear out, it comes clear in;
In business ’tis at turns the wisest win.
And oh! how true, when shades of doubt dismay,
“’Tis often darkest just before the day,”

A little more persistence, courage, vim!
Success will dawn o’er fortune’s cloudy rim.
Then take this honey for the bitterest cup:
“There is no failure, save in giving up,—

No real fall as long as one still tries,—
For seeming setbacks make the strong man wise.
There’s no defeat, in truth, save from within;
Unless you’re beaten there, you’re bound to win.”

Henry Austin

Based on current evidence, Henry Austin is the leading candidate for author of this full poem; however, the work evolved from earlier material as outlined below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Little More Persistence, Courage, Vim!

References

References
1 1898 November, Dental Brief, Volume 3, Number 4, Section: For Our Patients, Perseverance Conquers All by Henry Austin, Quote Page 245, L. D. Caulk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Google Books Full View) link

Genius Is Really Only the Power of Making Continuous Efforts

Elbert Hubbard? Robert Burns Wilson? Dale Carnegie? Kin Hubbard? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A short motivational piece of about 130 words begins with the following sentence: “Genius is really only the power of making continuous efforts.” The piece has been attributed to aphorist Elbert Hubbard and poet Robert Burns Wilson. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match for the full piece located by QI appeared in 1895 within “Mining and Scientific Press” of San Francisco, California. Boldface added to excerpts by QI. No attribution was given:[1] 1895 June 1, Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 70, Number 22, Keeping Everlastingly At It Brings Success, Quote Page 344, Column 3, San Francisco, California. (Google Books Full View) link

Genius is really only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it—so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success. As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.

Based on current evidence the author of this piece remains anonymous. Interestingly, the text contains material lifted from an 1887 essay by Robert Burns Wilson. See details further below.

The first ascription to Elbert Hubbard occurred in a book published in 1911. But this evidence is weak because of its late date.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Genius Is Really Only the Power of Making Continuous Efforts

References

References
1 1895 June 1, Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 70, Number 22, Keeping Everlastingly At It Brings Success, Quote Page 344, Column 3, San Francisco, California. (Google Books Full View) link

There Is Really No Insurmountable Barrier, Save Your Own Inherent Weakness of Purpose

Elbert Hubbard? Kin Hubbard? Ralph Waldo Emerson? Robert Burns Wilson? Henry Austin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Success is often achieved via persistence. Here is a popular elaboration of this notion:

There is no defeat except from within. There is really no insurmountable barrier, save your own inherent weakness of purpose.

This remark has been attributed to essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, publisher and aphorist Elbert Hubbard, painter and poet Robert Burns Wilson, cartoonist and humorist Kin Hubbard and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in the New York journal “The Critic” in 1887 within a five paragraph piece titled “And So—I Gave Up Trying!” by Robert Burns Wilson. Here is an excerpt with boldface added by QI:[1]1887 October 8, The Critic: A Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts, “And So—I Gave Up Trying!” by Robert Burns Wilson, Start Page 173, Quote Page 173, The Critic Company, New York. (Google … Continue reading

There is no defeat except from within. There is really no insurmountable barrier, save your own inherent weakness of purpose. There is no power either in heaven or earth that can successfully oppose the onward course of the perfectly determined soul.

Success as the world names it is but a word, which with the next breath may signify defeat. But success as the soul knows it, is to have within the sustaining sense of right and an unselfish purpose. There is no failure except in no longer trying.

Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1882 before the text above appeared. The first attribution to Emerson known to QI occurred in 1905. This citation was not substantive. Other linkages to prominent individuals were also quite weak.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Is Really No Insurmountable Barrier, Save Your Own Inherent Weakness of Purpose

References

References
1 1887 October 8, The Critic: A Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts, “And So—I Gave Up Trying!” by Robert Burns Wilson, Start Page 173, Quote Page 173, The Critic Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

One-Half the Money I Spend for Advertising Is Wasted, But I Have Never Been Able To Decide Which Half

John Wanamaker? William Hesketh Lever? William Hulme Lever? Lord Leverhulme? William Wrigley Jr.? John T. Dorrance? Robert C. Ogden? George Washington Hill? Roy L. Smith? David Ogilvy? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Readers often ignore advertisements, but sometimes ads decisively influence purchasing decisions. A business mogul once humorously commented on this hit-or-miss quality. Here are two versions:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is I don’t know which half.

Fifty cents out of every dollar I spent for advertising was wasted, but I could never be sure which fifty cents it was.

This saying has been attributed to U.S. department story magnate John Wanamaker and to English industrialist William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme). Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI occurred within a 1919 speech delivered at a bible conference held in Indiana. Reverend Roy L. Smith spoke about “The Salesmanship of Preaching”, and he ascribed the saying to Wanamaker. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1919, Winona Echoes: Addresses Delivered at the Winona Bible Conference, Held in Winona Lake, Indiana in August 1919, The Salesmanship of Preaching by Reverend Roy L. Smith, Start Page 333, Quote … Continue reading

John Wanamaker once said, “I am convinced that about one-half the money I spend for advertising is wasted, but I have never been able to decide which half.”

Wanamaker died in 1922 when he was 84 years old. QI has been unable to find a direct citation to a written or spoken instance from Wannamaker; hence, this ascription remains uncertain. Nevertheless, Wannamaker is currently the leading candidate.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading One-Half the Money I Spend for Advertising Is Wasted, But I Have Never Been Able To Decide Which Half

References

References
1 1919, Winona Echoes: Addresses Delivered at the Winona Bible Conference, Held in Winona Lake, Indiana in August 1919, The Salesmanship of Preaching by Reverend Roy L. Smith, Start Page 333, Quote Page 333, Published by Authority of Winona Publishing Society. (Google Books Full View) link

Optimist: The Glass Is Half Full. Pessimist: The Glass Is Half Empty. Comedian: The Glass Is the Wrong Size

Steve Martin? George Carlin? Terry Pratchett? O. J. Anderson? Davis Merritt Jr.? Tom Page? Allen Klein? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Different attitudes towards life are vividly illustrated by divergent reactions to a partially filled glass:

Optimist: The glass half full
Pessimist: The glass is half empty

A third humorous category is sometimes added to the two categories above. Here are some examples:

Realist: The glass is too big
Comedian: The glass is simply the wrong size
Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

Would you please explore the history of this extended joke?

Quote Investigator: If readers wish to learn about the original simple bipartite split then they should follow this link to a separate QI article on the topic.

The family of sayings which presents a comical tripartite split is difficult to trace because the family is highly variable.

The first match located by QI appeared in the “Fort Lauderdale News” of Florida in 1977. An unnamed sports writer used an instance while describing a college football player named O.J. Anderson who emphasized the positive. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1977 November 8, Fort Lauderdale News, College Scene: Hurricanes: Anderson Believes Miami Can Win Remaining Three, Quote Page 4E, Column 1, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Newspapers_com)

Optimists say the water glass is half full. Pessimists claim that it is half empty. O.J. Anderson would probably say the water is really overflowing except you can’t tell because the glass is too big. That’s how much of a positive thinker Anderson is.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Optimist: The Glass Is Half Full. Pessimist: The Glass Is Half Empty. Comedian: The Glass Is the Wrong Size

References

References
1 1977 November 8, Fort Lauderdale News, College Scene: Hurricanes: Anderson Believes Miami Can Win Remaining Three, Quote Page 4E, Column 1, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Newspapers_com)

Optimist: The Glass Is Half Full. Pessimist: The Glass Is Half Empty

Josiah Stamp? Vivian F. Rausch? David Dodge? Hugh Overman? Ted Healy? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Life impressions differ dramatically between people with sunny dispositions versus morose temperaments. This point is cleverly illustrated via the disparate reactions elicited by a container partially filled with liquid:

The optimist says the container is half full.
The pessimist says the container is half empty.

Variants of this saying refer to different containers, e.g., a bottle, a glass, and a gas tank. Josiah Stamp who was the director of the Bank of England has received credit for this expression, but I have not seen a solid citation. Would you please explore the provenance of this proverbial saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match found by QI appeared in “The Evening Sun” of Baltimore, Maryland in April 1929. The statement occurred in a filler item without attribution. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1929 April 9, The Evening Sun, (Filler item), Quote Page 1, Column 2, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newspapers_com)

If he says his gas tank is half-full he’s an optimist. If he says it’s half-empty he’s a pessimist.

Based on current evidence the originator remains anonymous.

Josiah Stamp helped to popularize this witty comparison by using it during a speech he gave in 1935, but the saying was already in circulation.

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Optimist: The Glass Is Half Full. Pessimist: The Glass Is Half Empty

References

References
1 1929 April 9, The Evening Sun, (Filler item), Quote Page 1, Column 2, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newspapers_com)