Wear a Smile and Have Friends; Wear a Scowl and Have Wrinkles

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

Dear Quote Investigator: The following adage encourages sociability and the projection of happiness:

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.

This statement has been credited to George Eliot, a popular Victorian era novelist whose real name was Mary Ann Evans. I am skeptical of this ascription because I have been unable to find a solid citation. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that George Eliot who died in 1880 spoke or wrote this quotation. The earliest close match located by QI appeared in a 1938 article about friendship by F. O. Hamilton. The statement was adjacent to a remark attributed to George Eliot. Shortly afterward the two statements from the essay were quoted together, and both were mistakenly attributed to Eliot. The details are given further below.

The notion that smiling will help a person to gain friends has a long history. In 1871 a newspaper in Yorkville, South Carolina printed the following. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is just as easy to smile as it is to frown. A smile will make you friends, and a frown will make you enemies.

The above statement partially matched the quotation, but it referred to frowning instead of scowling.

Continue reading Wear a Smile and Have Friends; Wear a Scowl and Have Wrinkles

Notes:

  1. 1871 January 12, Yorkville Enquirer, Children’s Department: How To Be a Man, Quote Page 4, Column 4, Yorkville, South Carolina. (Newspapers_com)

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