I Prayed That God Would Emancipate Me, But It Was Not Till I Prayed With My Legs That I Was Emancipated

Frederick Douglass? Richard Theodore Greener? Samuel Byron Brittan? Rufus K. Noyes? James Clear? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: You must be willing to take constructive actions to resolve your own problems. If you rely solely on the help of others you will be disheartened. Also, if you depend solely on supernatural intervention you will be disappointed.

The great orator Frederick Douglass provided a cogent anecdote. When he was held in bondage he frequently prayed for freedom. Yet, he only achieved freedom when he took action and prayed with his legs, i.e., he successfully ran away.

I am having trouble finding solid citations for this tale. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared within a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass in 1859 at the annual meeting of the “Friends of Human Progress” held in Waterloo, New York. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1859, Proceedings of the Yearly Meeting of the Friends of Human Progress, Held at Waterloo, Seneca Co., N.Y., the 3d, 4th and 5th of June, 1859, Second Day, (Description of speech by Frederick … Continue reading

We want practical religion—religion that will do something. When I commenced praying with my legs, I felt the answer coming down.

See the 1876 citation further below for a pertinent excerpt from a later speech by Frederick Douglass. Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Prayed That God Would Emancipate Me, But It Was Not Till I Prayed With My Legs That I Was Emancipated

References

References
1 1859, Proceedings of the Yearly Meeting of the Friends of Human Progress, Held at Waterloo, Seneca Co., N.Y., the 3d, 4th and 5th of June, 1859, Second Day, (Description of speech by Frederick Douglass), Quote Page 8, Press of C. W. Hebard & Company, Rochester, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Any Fool Can Know. The Point Is To Understand

Albert Einstein? Ernest Kinoy? Gotthold Ephraim Lessing? James L. Christian? George F. Simmons? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Comprehending a subject requires more than memorizing a set of facts and formulas. The famous physicist Albert Einstein supposedly made the following pertinent remark:

Any fool can know. The point is to understand.

I am skeptical of this attribution because I have been unable to find a citation. Would you please explore the provenance of this remark?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Albert Einstein wrote or spoke this statement. It is not listed in the comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press.[1] 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, (The quotation is absent), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified with hardcopy)

In 1973 the NBC television network broadcast a program titled “Dr. Einstein Before Lunch” featuring a fictional version of Albert Einstein.[2] 1973 May 21, New York Times, TV: Father of Relativity by Howard Thompson, (This article describes the NBC program, but does not contain the quotation), Quote Page 67, New York. (ProQuest) During the drama a supernatural being visited Einstein shortly before his death. The visitor offered to give Einstein an equation representing the breakthrough theory in physics that Einstein had been attempting to discover for many years. Einstein asked about the mathematical and experimental underpinnings for the derivation of the equation, but the visitor did not provide any scientific justification; instead, the visitor said “I can make you know!” The Einstein character rejected the offer.

An excerpt of the television script by Ernest Kinoy appeared in the 1990 textbook “Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering” by James L. Christian. Ellipses occurred in the reprinted script. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[3]1990, Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering by James L. Christian (Rancho Santiago College, Santa Ana, California), Fifth Edition, Chapter 1-2: The Spirit of Philosophy, Quote Page 34, … Continue reading

EINSTEIN: No thank you.

VISITOR: But Doctor . . . I offer you what you have been searching for for thirty years. I offer you the . . . the answer of your soul’s question. I offer you the . . . confirmation of your faith.

EINSTEIN: Any fool can KNOW! The point is . . . to understand! To follow the thought . . . to build a structure of theory and mathematics which is . . . True! That is science . . .

QI believes that the quotation originated with Ernest Kinoy who penned the line for a fictional Einstein within a drama televised in 1973.

James L. Christian published several editions of “Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering”. The script excerpt containing the quotation first appeared in the fifth edition in 1990; it did not appear the fourth edition in 1986.[4]1986, Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering by James L. Christian (Rancho Santiago College, Santa Ana, California), Fourth Edition, (The quotation is absent), Holt, Rinehart and … Continue reading

Thanks to top German quotation expert Gerald Krieghofer who located the crucial 1990 citation containing the script excerpt. His article in German is available here.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Any Fool Can Know. The Point Is To Understand

References

References
1 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, (The quotation is absent), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified with hardcopy)
2 1973 May 21, New York Times, TV: Father of Relativity by Howard Thompson, (This article describes the NBC program, but does not contain the quotation), Quote Page 67, New York. (ProQuest)
3 1990, Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering by James L. Christian (Rancho Santiago College, Santa Ana, California), Fifth Edition, Chapter 1-2: The Spirit of Philosophy, Quote Page 34, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Fort Worth, Texas. (Verified with scans)
4 1986, Philosophy: An Introduction to The Art of Wondering by James L. Christian (Rancho Santiago College, Santa Ana, California), Fourth Edition, (The quotation is absent), Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. (Verified with scans)

The Search for Truth Is More Precious Than Its Possession

Albert Einstein? Gotthold Ephraim Lessing? Alexander Grant? J. A. Turner? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The pursuit of truth is fascinating and energizing while the actual attainment of truth may feel anticlimactic. Here are four instances from a family of sayings:

(1) The search for truth is more precious than its possession
(2) The search for truth is more precious than truth itself
(3) The pursuit of truth is more valuable than the attainment of truth
(4) The pursuit of an object is more pleasurable than its possession

This saying has been attributed to the famous physicist Albert Einstein and the prominent German philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1778 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published “Eine Duplik” which contained a passage discussing the struggle to attain the truth. Below is a translation of Lessing’s remarks from German into English published in 1866 by E. P. Evans. QI believes that the family of sayings under examination were derived from Lessing’s viewpoint. Boldface added to excerpt by QI:[1]1866, The Life and Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing From the German of Adolf Stahr by E. P. Evans Ph.D. (Professor of Modern Languages and Literature in the University of Michigan), Volume 2, Book … Continue reading

The worth of man lies not in the truth which he possesses, or believes that he possesses, but in the honest endeavor which he puts forth to secure that truth; for not by the possession of, but by the search after, truth, are his powers enlarged, wherein, alone, consists his ever-increasing perfection. Possession fosters content, indolence, and pride.

If God should hold enclosed in His right hand all truth, and in His left hand only the ever-active impulse after truth, although with the condition that I must always and forever err, I would, with humility, turn to His left hand, and say, ‘Father, give me this; pure truth is for Thee alone.’

In 1940 Albert Einstein published “Considerations Concerning the Fundaments of Theoretical Physics” in the journal “Science”. Einstein employed the first instance from the family above, and he credited Lessing. Einstein did not use quotation marks, and QI believes the physicist presented an encapsulation of Lessing’s perspective and not a direct quotation:[2]1940 May 24, Science, Volume 91, Number 2369, Considerations Concerning the Fundaments of Theoretical Physics by Dr. Albert Einstein (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey), Start Page … Continue reading

Some physicists, among them myself, can not believe that we must abandon, actually and forever, the idea of direct representation of physical reality in space and time; or that we must accept the view that events in nature are analogous to a game of chance. It is open to every man to choose the direction of his striving; and also every man may draw comfort from Lessing’s fine saying, that the search for truth is more precious than its possession.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Search for Truth Is More Precious Than Its Possession

References

References
1 1866, The Life and Works of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing From the German of Adolf Stahr by E. P. Evans Ph.D. (Professor of Modern Languages and Literature in the University of Michigan), Volume 2, Book 12, Chapter 5: The Controversy with Götze, Quote Page 257, William V. Spencer, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link
2 1940 May 24, Science, Volume 91, Number 2369, Considerations Concerning the Fundaments of Theoretical Physics by Dr. Albert Einstein (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey), Start Page 487, Quote Page 492, Column 2, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington D.C. (JSTOR) link

“Education Isn’t Everything” “You’re Right, For a Start It’s Not Elephants”

Spike Milligan? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Education is enormously important, but it is not a cure-all for the ailments of society. An absurdist quip highlights this limitation:

Education isn’t everything; for a start it isn’t an elephant.

The Irish-English comedian Spike Milligan has received credit for this line, but I haven’t been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: In 1974 Spike Milligan published “Rommel? Gunner Who?: A Confrontation in the Desert”, the second volume of a seven-volume memoir recounting his experiences during World War 2. The book was set primarily in North Africa in 1943. Milligan described an episode communicating with a pilot and a fellow soldier. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1975 (1974 Copyright), “Rommel?” “Gunner Who?”: A Confrontation in the Desert by Spike Milligan, Quote Page 166, Book Club Associates, London. (Verified with scans)

‘He must have had a good education’ Edgington remarked later, ‘I mean, controlling the plane and issuing fire orders at the same time.’
‘Education isn’t everything.’
‘You’re right, for a start it’s not elephants.’

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading “Education Isn’t Everything” “You’re Right, For a Start It’s Not Elephants”

References

References
1 1975 (1974 Copyright), “Rommel?” “Gunner Who?”: A Confrontation in the Desert by Spike Milligan, Quote Page 166, Book Club Associates, London. (Verified with scans)

A Sure Cure for Seasickness Is To Sit Under a Tree

Spike Milligan? John MacGregor? William Gordon Stables? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The nausea of seasickness feels endless. An absurdist quip suggests that the only genuine remedy is a return to solid ground:

The best cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.

The Irish-English comedian Spike Milligan has received credit for this line, but I haven’t been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: In 1971 Spike Milligan published “Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall”, the first volume of a seven-volume memoir recounting his experiences during World War 2. During one episode in 1943 the troopship Milligan was traveling on encountered turbulent weather. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1972 (1971 Copyright), Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan, Part 3, Chapter: January 1943 — At Sea, Quote Page 135, Book Club Associates, London. (Verified with scans)

The storm never let up. It was only this that prevented U-boat attacks, though I know many a sick-covered wreck who would rather have had calm seas and been torpedoed. A poor green-faced thing asked, “Isn’t there any bloody cure for seasickness?”

“Yes,” I said. “Sit under a tree.” I had to be quick.

Milligan presented the joke in a question-answer format. Yet, he did not create this jest which has a long history.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Sure Cure for Seasickness Is To Sit Under a Tree

References

References
1 1972 (1971 Copyright), Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan, Part 3, Chapter: January 1943 — At Sea, Quote Page 135, Book Club Associates, London. (Verified with scans)

I Drink To Keep Body and Soul Apart

Oscar Wilde? Seamus Heaney? Dorothy Parker? Israel Zangwill? Jen Kirkman? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The body and the soul separate at the time of death according to many religious systems. Hence, the idiom “keep body and soul together” refers to maintaining life, i.e., earning enough money to maintain health and activity. The famous Irish wit Oscar Wilde has received credit for a reversal of the idiom. Here are two versions:

(1) I drink to keep body and soul apart.
(2) I drink to separate my body from my soul.

I am skeptical because I have not seen a good citation. Would you please explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence supporting the ascription to Oscar Wilde. It is not listed in the compendium “Oscar Wilde in Quotation: 3,100 Insults, Anecdotes, and Aphorisms”.[1]2006, Oscar Wilde in Quotation: 3,100 Insults, Anecdotes, and Aphorisms, Topically Arranged with Attributions, Compiled and edited by Tweed Conrad, (There is no quotation using “body and … Continue reading Also, it does not appear in researcher Ralph Keyes’s collection “The Wit & Wisdom of Oscar Wilde”.[2]1996, The Wit & Wisdom of Oscar Wilde, Edited by Ralph Keyes, (There is no quotation using “body and soul” and “drink / drank” in this book), HarperCollins Publishers, New … Continue reading

Wilde died in 1900, and the earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Boston Globe” in 1981. The newspaper published a profile of Irish poet and translator Seamus Heaney who later received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Heaney told the “Globe” journalist that Wilde crafted the saying. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[3]1981 February 26, The Boston Globe, Poet Seamus Heaney: This most rooted of men, bard of the Irish soul by Shaun O’Connell (Special to The Globe), Quote Page 53, Column 3, Boston, … Continue reading

He is particularly at ease in his own kitchen, brewing a fresh pot of tea, slicing bread for a guest, talking. He is not, I rush to add, exactly uncomfortable hunched over a pint in a pub, talking.

“Do know that Oscar Wilde said he drank to keep body and soul apart? That’s good, isn’t it?”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Drink To Keep Body and Soul Apart

References

References
1 2006, Oscar Wilde in Quotation: 3,100 Insults, Anecdotes, and Aphorisms, Topically Arranged with Attributions, Compiled and edited by Tweed Conrad, (There is no quotation using “body and soul” and “drink” or “drank” in this book), McFarland & Company Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina. (Verified with scans)
2 1996, The Wit & Wisdom of Oscar Wilde, Edited by Ralph Keyes, (There is no quotation using “body and soul” and “drink / drank” in this book), HarperCollins Publishers, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)
3 1981 February 26, The Boston Globe, Poet Seamus Heaney: This most rooted of men, bard of the Irish soul by Shaun O’Connell (Special to The Globe), Quote Page 53, Column 3, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)

I Was Responsible for Myself, and I Had To Make Good

Oprah Winfrey? Anne Saidman? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: At an early age U.S. talk show host, producer, and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey believed that she was responsible for her own choices and actions. She worked hard to make a good life and obtain success. One of her inspirational quotations used the phrase “responsible for myself”. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The 1990 book “Oprah Winfrey: Media Success Story” by Anne Saidman described Winfrey’s activities as a volunteer. She often delivered speeches at churches, YMCAs, and shelters. She helped form a Big Sisters group to support young women in a Chicago housing project. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1990, Oprah Winfrey: Media Success Story by Anne Saidman, Chapter 6: Spectacular Success, Quote Page 41 and 42, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Verified with scans)

She encourages the girls in the group to stay in school, get an education, and take responsibility for their futures. Her advice to them has a lot to do with how she sees herself: “I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I Was Responsible for Myself, and I Had To Make Good

References

References
1 1990, Oprah Winfrey: Media Success Story by Anne Saidman, Chapter 6: Spectacular Success, Quote Page 41 and 42, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Verified with scans)

Salary Is No Object; I Want Only Enough To Keep Body and Soul Apart

Dorothy Parker? Alexander Woollcott? Israel Zangwill? Oscar Wilde? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The body and the soul separate at the time of death according to many religious systems. Hence, the idiom “keep body and soul together” refers to maintaining life, i.e., earning enough money to maintain health and activity. A quipster once reversed this formula and said something like:

I only want enough money to keep body and soul apart.

Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: In 1928 poet, critic, and wit Dorothy Parker published a book review in “The New Yorker” magazine which included a comical plea for employment. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1928 February 4, The New Yorker, Reading and Writing: A Good Novel, and a Great Story by Constant Reader (Dorothy Parker), Start Page 74, Quote Page 77, Column 1, F. R. Publishing Corporation, New … Continue reading

And now that this review is over, do you mind if I talk business for a moment? If you yourself haven’t any spare jobs for a retired book-reviewer, maybe some friend of yours might have something. Maybe you wouldn’t mind asking around. Salary is no object; I want only enough to keep body and soul apart.

Dorothy Parker deserves credit for the remark immediately above. Yet, this type of joke has a longer history, and an 1891 citation for author Israel Zangwill appears further below.

Here are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Salary Is No Object; I Want Only Enough To Keep Body and Soul Apart

References

References
1 1928 February 4, The New Yorker, Reading and Writing: A Good Novel, and a Great Story by Constant Reader (Dorothy Parker), Start Page 74, Quote Page 77, Column 1, F. R. Publishing Corporation, New York. (Online New Yorker archive of digital scans)

Canada Was Built On Dead Beavers

Margaret Atwood? David? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The North American fur trade between First Nations and Europeans began in the 16th century. In the 19th century millions of beaver pelts were sold in Europe. The importance of this trade has been summarized with the following blunt statement:

Canada was built on dead beavers.

The famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood whose best known novel is “The Handmaid’s Tale” has received credit for this remark. Is this attribution accurate? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1972 Margaret Atwood published her second novel titled “Surfacing” which contains the following statement spoken by one of the main characters. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1983 (First Published 1972), Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, Chapter 4, Quote Page 43, General Publishing Company, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Verified with scans)

“Do you realize,” David says, “that this country is founded on the bodies of dead animals? Dead fish, dead seals, and historically dead beavers . . .”

The statement under examination was semantically contained within this prolix remark. An exact match for the shorter statement occurred several years later. “The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations” included the following entry indicating that Atwood spoke the line in 1988:[2]1993, The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations, Edited by Lewis D. Eigen and Jonathan P. Siegel, Chapter 27: The Environment and Natural Resources, Quote Page 161, Macmillan Publishing … Continue reading

Canada was built on dead beavers.
Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet. Quoted on National Public Radio, Canada: True North, Sept. 19, 1988.

Below are three more citations and a conclusion.

Continue reading Canada Was Built On Dead Beavers

References

References
1 1983 (First Published 1972), Surfacing by Margaret Atwood, Chapter 4, Quote Page 43, General Publishing Company, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Verified with scans)
2 1993, The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations, Edited by Lewis D. Eigen and Jonathan P. Siegel, Chapter 27: The Environment and Natural Resources, Quote Page 161, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. (Verified with scans)

Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities Can Make You Commit Atrocities

Voltaire? Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan? Desmond MacCarthy? Sissela Bok? Joseph Wood Krutch? Norman L. Torrey? Marvin Lowenthal? Henry Hazlitt? Richard Dawkins? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A system that forces people to embrace absurd beliefs causes damage to their processes of rational thought. These impaired people are more likely to act illogically and destructively. With encouragement they may act barbarously. Here are three instances from a family of related sayings:

(1) Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

(2) People will continue to commit atrocities as long as they continue to believe absurdities.

(3) If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities.

The famous French philosopher Voltaire (pen name of François-Marie Arouet) supposedly made one of these remarks, but I have been unable to find a precise citation. Would you please explore the provenance of these sayings?

Quote Investigator: Researchers have been unable to find an exact match for any of these statements in the works of Voltaire. There is a partial match using the word “unjust” instead of “atrocities”. Here is the original French statement followed by three possible translations:[1]1767 (Letters dated 1765), Collection des Lettres sur les Miracles: Écrites a Geneve, et a Neufchatel, Voltaire, Letter XI, Ecrite par Mr. Théro à Mr. Covelle (Robert Covelle), Start Page 145, … Continue reading

1765: Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde, est en droit de vous rendre injuste

Translation 01: Certainly, whoever has the right to make you absurd has the right to make you unjust

Translation 02: Truly, whoever can make you look absurd can make you act unjustly

Translation 03: Certainly anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices

The line above appeared within letter number eleven published in 1765 in Voltaire’s work “Collection des Lettres sur les Miracles” (“Collection of Letters on Miracles”). A larger excerpt appears further below.

Pertinent matches in English using the word “atrocities” began to appear by 1914. Voltaire usually received credit for these sayings, and they form a natural family although the precise phrasings and meanings vary. The following overview with dates shows the evolution:

1914: As long as people continue to believe absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities (Spoken by a fictional version of Voltaire)

1933: Men will continue to commit atrocities as long as they continue to believe absurdities (Described as “formula of Voltaire”)

1936: Men will continue to commit atrocities as long as they continue to believe absurdities (Attributed to Voltaire)

1937: If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities (Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan)

1944: Men will be brutal so long as they believe absurdities (Attributed to Voltaire)

1946: People who believe in absurdities will commit atrocities (Attributed to a great thinker)

1960: Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices. (Translation of Voltaire by Norman L. Torrey)

1963: Those who can persuade us to believe absurdities can make us commit atrocities (Described as a dictum of Voltaire by Norman L. Torrey)

1977: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities (Attributed to Voltaire)

Here are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities Can Make You Commit Atrocities

References

References
1 1767 (Letters dated 1765), Collection des Lettres sur les Miracles: Écrites a Geneve, et a Neufchatel, Voltaire, Letter XI, Ecrite par Mr. Théro à Mr. Covelle (Robert Covelle), Start Page 145, Quote Page 150 and 151, Published A Neufchatel.(Google Books Full View) link