Immense Power Is Acquired by Assuring Yourself in Your Secret Reveries That You Were Born To Control Affairs

Andrew Carnegie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: U.S. business titan and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie apparently placed great value on psychological techniques such as envisioning success and using affirmations. He believed that one could obtain “immense power” via “secret reveries”. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1885 Andrew Carnegie addressed the graduating class of Curry Commercial College in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He encouraged the students to pursue the highest positions in society. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Assuming that you have all obtained employment and are fairly started, my first advice to you is “aim high” I would not give a fig for the young man who does not already see himself the partner or the head of an important firm. Do not rest content for a moment in your thoughts as head clerk, or foreman, or general manager in any concern, no matter how extensive. Say each to yourself, “My place is at the top.”

Be king, in your dreams. Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs. Be fully satisfied that you are intended by nature for a millionaire, an honest, useful millionaire; every poor young man is. I see the first unmistakeable mark of millionairship upon every one of you in the certificates you have just won. Make your vow that you will reach that position with untarnished reputation . . .

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Immense Power Is Acquired by Assuring Yourself in Your Secret Reveries That You Were Born To Control Affairs

Notes:

  1. 1885, Booklet: Address to the Students of the Curry Commercial College Delivered at Liberty Hall Pittsburg by Andrew Carnegie on June 23, 1885, Quote Page 6, Published by Curry Commercial College, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. (Note: Page images were appended to “Intereses de Bilbao, 1837” in Google Books Database on May 15, 2019) (Google Books Full View) link

He, Who Will Not Reason, Is a Bigot; He, Who Cannot, Is a Fool; and He, Who Dares Not, Is a Slave

Lord Byron? William Drummond? Marguerite Gardiner? Andrew Carnegie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: My favorite quotation is a brilliant tripartite observation about rationality. Here are two versions:

(1) Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.

(2) He, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.

This saying has confusingly been ascribed to two very different individuals: romantic poet Lord Byron and Scottish philosopher William Drummond. Would you please untangle this attribution?

Quote Investigator: In 1805 William Drummond published “Academical Questions”, and the target quotation appeared in the final lines of the preface. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Prejudice may be trusted to guard the outworks for a short space of time, while Reason slumbers in the citadel; but if the latter sink into a lethargy, the former will quickly erect a standard for herself. Philosophy, wisdom, and liberty, support each other; he, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.

Lord Byron should not receive credit for this saying. There are two potential sources of confusion. Byron’s major poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” has usually been published together with notes. One of the notes for the fourth canto contains the quotation above. The words are credited to William Drummond, but careless readers may have reassigned the statement directly to Byron.

The other possible wellspring of confusion is a book by Lord Byron’s friend Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington. She described at length her conversations with the poet, and she stated that Byron recommended Drummond’s works while employing the quotation under analysis. Byron credited Drummond when he used the line, but careless individuals may have incorrectly credited Byron.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading He, Who Will Not Reason, Is a Bigot; He, Who Cannot, Is a Fool; and He, Who Dares Not, Is a Slave

Notes:

  1. 1805, Academical Questions by the Right Honourable William Drummond Volume 1, Section: Preface, Start Page iii, Quote Page xv, Printed by W. Bulmer, and Company, London; Sold by Messrs. Cadell and Davies, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link

Put All Your Eggs in One Basket, and Then Watch That Basket

Mark Twain? Andrew Carnegie? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Proverbial wisdom tells us never to put all our eggs in one basket, but a humorous inversion of that advice has been ascribed to the renowned humorist Mark Twain and the business titan Andrew Carnegie. Who should receive credit?

Quote Investigator: On June 23, 1885 Andrew Carnegie addressed the students of Curry Commercial College of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He gave pungent advice to the learners which included a repudiation of the traditional adage about baskets and eggs. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also. They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.” Look round you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country. He who carries three baskets must put one on his head, which is apt to tumble and trip him up. One fault of the American business man is lack of concentration.

The text above was from a collection of speeches and essays published by Carnegie in 1902. The date and location of the speech were specified in the book. Contemporaneous news accounts also mentioned the event. For example, on August 19, 1885 “The Yonkers Statesman” of Yonkers, New York described the talk under the title “Success in Business”. The phrasing varied: “I tell you” versus “We tell you”, but the adage was identical: 2

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. We tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”

Mark Twain heard about Carnegie’s remark, and he was intrigued enough to record it in one of his notebooks. Later, he employed the reversed adage as a chapter epigraph in his tale titled “Pudd’nhead Wilson”. Below are additional selected citations in chronological order including detailed citations for Twain. Continue reading Put All Your Eggs in One Basket, and Then Watch That Basket

Notes:

  1. 1902, The Empire of Business by Andrew Carnegie, The Road to Business Success: A Talk to Young Men, (From an address to Students of the Curry Commercial College, Pittsburg, June 23, 1885), Start Page 3, Quote page 17, Doubleday, Page & Company, New York. (HathiTrust) link
  2. 1885 August 19, The Yonkers Statesman, Success in Business, Quote Page 2, Column 1, Yonkers, New York. (Old Fulton)

It Rolls Off My Back Like a Duck

Samuel Goldwyn? George Oppenheimer? Ellenor Stoothoff? Andrew Carnegie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The phrase “like water off a duck’s back” is a well-known idiom that refers to an incident or a comment having little or no effect on a person. 1 Here is a comically garbled version of the expression:

It rolls off my back like a duck.

This odd-duck version has been attributed to the famous movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, but I have also heard that he never said it; instead, the phrase was deliberately crafted and pinned to Goldwyn by an unhappy employee of the producer. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: The earliest connection of this remark to Samuel Goldwyn located by QI was published in a Hollywood gossip column in 1935. Interestingly, the columnist stated that Goldwyn had attributed the scrambled statement to another movie producer.

In 1937 the short biography “The Great Goldwyn” by Alva Johnston reported that the expression had been ascribed to Goldwyn by some witnesses but claimed that the truth was more convoluted; the humorous remark had been purposefully constructed by jokesters in the Goldwyn studio restaurant. Details for this citation and the one above are given further below.

Finally, in 1966 a Hollywood writer named George Oppenheimer stepped forward and asserted that he created the phrase while he was working for Goldwyn in the 1930s. In Oppenheimer’s memoir “The View from the Sixties: Memories of a Spent Life” he described his boss as follows: 2

I found him unreasonable, tyrannical, infuriating, and I admired him greatly. He made good pictures and had high ideals and standards of taste, divorced from the usual Hollywood one-track, narrow-gauge commercialism.

Oppenheimer stated that he engaged in a competition with other employees of the studio chief to manufacture a Goldwynism and to successfully place it into a newspaper. Oppenheimer achieved his victory with the mangled idiom. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 3

I can attest to the spuriousness of “It rolls off my back like a duck,” since I coined it. One day three or four of his employees, including myself, were lunching at the studio commissary. Word had gone round that Goldwyn was becoming increasingly sensitive about his reputation as a Mr. Malaprop. At the same time he had, of late, been particularly truculent and we had all suffered. So we decided that each of us would dream up a Goldwynism, attribute it to him, and the first one to appear in print would win a pot into which we put ten dollars apiece. I collected with the duck’s back.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Rolls Off My Back Like a Duck

Notes:

  1. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms, Third Edition, Edited by John Ayto, Oxford Reference Online, Entry: like water off a duck’s back, Print Publication Date: 2009, Published Online: 2010, Oxford University Press. (Accessed October 5, 2015)
  2. 1966, The View from the Sixties: Memories of a Spent Life by George Oppenheimer, Quote Page 96, Published by David McKay Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1966, The View from the Sixties: Memories of a Spent Life by George Oppenheimer, Quote Page 97, Published by David McKay Company, New York. (Verified on paper)

War Does Not Determine Who Is Right — Only Who Is Left

Bertrand Russell? Frank P. Hobgood? Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre? Reader’s Digest? Montreal Star? Andrew Carnegie? Winston Churchill? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A piquant slogan has been used by pacifists and peace activists for decades. Here are two variants:

  • War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
  • The atom bomb will never determine who is right — only who is left.

The first saying is often attributed to the philosopher and social thinker Bertrand Russell, but I have never seen a precise reference to support this connection. Would you please examine this expression?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Bertrand Russell wrote or spoke this adage.

The earliest citation located by QI appeared without attribution in “The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix” of Saskatchewan, Canada in August 1931 within an article containing miscellaneous expressions under the title “The Daily Starbeams”. Emphasis added to excepts by QI: 1

“War does not determine who is right.” It only determines who is left.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading War Does Not Determine Who Is Right — Only Who Is Left

Notes:

  1. 1931 August 22, The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, The Daily Starbeams, Quote Page 11, Column 3, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. (Newspapers_com)