Benjamin Franklin? Dorothy Canfield Fisher? Arthur Wing Pinero? Abigail Van Buren? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: I recently saw an illustration of two people embracing above the following caption:
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.
At least three different people have been credited with this saying: Dorothy C. Fisher, Benjamin Franklin, and Arthur W. Pinero. Would you please trace this expression?
Quote Investigator: In 1897 the five act comedy “The Princess and The Butterfly; or, The Fantastics” by Arthur Wing Pinero was staged in London and in New York. The two primary characters were named Princess Pannonia and George Lamorant and were referred to as The Princess and The Butterfly, respectively.
Lamorant proposed marriage to Pannonia, but he also expressed uncertainty about the match to another character named Fay Zuliani who delivered the following advice. Nonstandard spelling was employed to depict an Italian accent; “those” was written as “dose”, and “they” was written as “dey”. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
FAY: [Slowly coming to the table.] Dose who love deep never grow old, I have ‘eard it said. Dey may die of age, but dey die young. You ought to love de Princess.
Note that the original line used “die of age” and not “die of old age”. Also, the word “deep” was spoken instead of “deeply”.
During a later scene in the play the initial statement was emphasized by being spoken again by both Lamorant and Pannonia though the phrasing was slightly different: 2
SIR GEORGE: That those who love deeply cannot age—
PRINCESS: That those–who love deeply–cannot age?
SIR GEORGE: Yes
PRINCESS: If it were so!
SIR GEORGE: Nor perceive age in those they love.
PRINCESS: What a blessed creed!
SIR GEORGE: Yes.
QI believes that playwright Pinero should be credited with the remark under investigation. The linkages of the quotation to Benjamin Franklin and Dorothy Canfield Fisher were not supported with substantive citations.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1898, The Princess and The Butterfly or, The Fantastics: A Comedy in Five Acts by Arthur W. Pinero (Arthur Wing Pinero), The Fifth Act, Start Page 208, Quote Page 218, Published by William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link ↩
- 1898, The Princess and The Butterfly or, The Fantastics: A Comedy in Five Acts by Arthur W. Pinero (Arthur Wing Pinero), The Fifth Act, Start Page 208, Quote Page 234, Published by William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link ↩