It’s Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight, It’s the Size of the Fight in the Dog

Mark Twain? Dwight D. Eisenhower? Arthur G. Lewis? Clarence Edmundson? Bear Bryant? Harry Howell? Samuel B. Pettengill? Woody Hayes? Apocryphal?

Question for Quote Investigator: When there is a conflict between two entities an observer naturally expects the larger one to prevail, but sometimes the determination and grit of the smaller one produces an upset victory. The following adage using antimetabole is pertinent:

What counts is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

This saying has been attributed to famous humorist Mark Twain and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. I am skeptical of these linkages. Would you please explore this topic?

Reply from Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Mark Twain employed this saying. Scholar Matt Seybold of the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies has also concluded that the attribution to Twain is unsupported.[1]Website: Center for Mark Twain Studies, Article: The Apocryphal Twain: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” Author: Matt Seybold, Date: July 14, … Continue reading

The earliest match known to QI appeared in the April 1911 issue of the magazine “Book of the Royal Blue” which was published for the passengers of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Columnist Arthur G. Lewis printed a collection of sayings under the title “Stub Ends of Thoughts”. Here were four items. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2]1911 April, Book of the Royal Blue, Volume 14, Number 7, Stub Ends of Thoughts by Arthur G. Lewis, Quote Page 21, Column 1, Published Monthly by the Passenger Department of the Baltimore & Ohio … Continue reading

We are constrained to respect public opinion or public opinion will not respect us.

As long as a man endeavors to make good there is always a chance for him to do so.

It is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the fight in the dog that wins.

But few friendships survive the “down and out” condition of multiplied misfortunes.

QI tentatively credits Arthur G. Lewis with crafting this adage. The above citation appeared in the excellent reference work “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” published by Yale University Press in 2012.[3] 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Quote Page 232, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It’s Not the Size of the Dog in the Fight, It’s the Size of the Fight in the Dog

References

References
1 Website: Center for Mark Twain Studies, Article: The Apocryphal Twain: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog” Author: Matt Seybold, Date: July 14, 2021, Website description: “The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is dedicated to fostering and supporting scholarship and pedagogy related to all aspects of Mark Twain”. (Accessed marktwainstudies.com on September 18, 2022) link
2 1911 April, Book of the Royal Blue, Volume 14, Number 7, Stub Ends of Thoughts by Arthur G. Lewis, Quote Page 21, Column 1, Published Monthly by the Passenger Department of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Baltimore, Maryland. (Google Books Full View) link
3 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Quote Page 232, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)

To Get the Full Value of a Joy You Must Have Somebody To Divide It With

Mark Twain? Arthur T. Pierson? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: To experience a joyful event completely one should share it with others. I think Mark Twain made a point similar to this in his collection of sayings called “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar”. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1897 Mark Twain released a travel book titled “Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World”, and the 48th chapter presented the following epigraph. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1897, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), (Chapter 48 Epigraph), Quote Page 447, American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut; Also Doubleday … Continue reading

Grief can take care of itself; but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with. —Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading To Get the Full Value of a Joy You Must Have Somebody To Divide It With

References

References
1 1897, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), (Chapter 48 Epigraph), Quote Page 447, American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut; Also Doubleday & McClure Company, New York. (Internet Archive) link

Inspiration Is for Amateurs—The Rest of Us Just Show Up and Get To Work

Chuck Close? Stephen King? Philip Roth? Harvey Mackay? Mark Twain? Charles Schulz? Rosalyn Drexler? John Barkham? Nocona Burgess? Jill Elaine Hughes?

Dear Quote Investigator: An artist must wait patiently for inspiration to occur according to a romanticized depiction of creativity. Yet, a successful professional artist offered the following contrary viewpoint:

Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.

This notion has been attributed to acclaimed photorealist painter Chuck Close, popular horror writer Stephen King, Noble Prize-winning author Philip Roth, motivational columnist Harvey Mackay, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In April 2006 Chuck Close was interviewed by fellow artist Joe Fig. The interview appeared in the 2009 book “Inside the Painter’s Studio”. The text below consists of a question posed by Fig followed by a reply from Close. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 2009, Inside the Painter’s Studio, Compiled by Joe Fig, Artist: Chuck Close, Date: April 25, 2006, Quote Page 42, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. (Verified with scans)

Do you have a motto or creed that as an artist you live by?

Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will—through work—bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great “art idea.”

Interestingly, a character in a novel by Philip Roth employed a version of this saying while crediting Chuck Close. Also, Stephen King used a version while crediting Roth. Thus, the confusion about attribution is understandable. Details are presented further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Inspiration Is for Amateurs—The Rest of Us Just Show Up and Get To Work

References

References
1 2009, Inside the Painter’s Studio, Compiled by Joe Fig, Artist: Chuck Close, Date: April 25, 2006, Quote Page 42, Princeton Architectural Press, New York. (Verified with scans)

A Person With One Watch Knows What Time It Is. A Person With Two Watches Is Never Sure

Mark Twain? Albert Einstein? Lee Segall? Lee Segal? J. Millar Watt? John Peer? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: According to a clever quip it is better to have one watch instead of two. The quip has been attributed to humorist Mark Twain, physicist Albert Einstein, broadcaster Lee Segall, and others. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in “The San Diego Union” of California in September 1930 as a filler item. The creator of the quip was unnamed. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1930 September 20, The San Diego Union, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 1, San Diego, California. (GenealogyBank)

Confusion—Retail jewelers assert that every man should carry two watches. But a man with one watch knows what time it is, and a man with two watches could never be sure.

The ascription remains anonymous. QI has found no substantive evidence supporting the attributions to Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, and John Peer. Lee Segall probably did employ the joke by 1961, but this occurred only after the joke had been circulating for three decades.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Person With One Watch Knows What Time It Is. A Person With Two Watches Is Never Sure

References

References
1 1930 September 20, The San Diego Union, (Filler item), Quote Page 4, Column 1, San Diego, California. (GenealogyBank)

There Are Three Kinds of Lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Mark Twain? Benjamin Disraeli? St. Swithin? Eliza Gutch? Charles Dilke? Charles Stewart Parnell? Robert Giffen? Arthur James Balfour? Francis Bacon? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Statistical analysis can provide deep insights into an issue. Yet, carelessness or duplicity can generate misleading results. A popular cynical adage communicates this mistrust:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

These words have been attributed to prominent humorist Mark Twain, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, and others. Do you know who should receive credit? Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Mark Twain did include this saying in an installment of his autobiography which he published in 1907; however, he did not claim to be the originator; instead, Twain credited Benjamin Disraeli. Yet, there is no substantive evidence that Disraeli crafted this remark. He died in 1881, and the remark was attributed to him posthumously by 1895.

Tracing this saying is a complex task because the expression evolved over time. Changes were incremental, and there was no single originator who deserved credit. Here is an overview showing key phrases, dates, and attributions.

1882 Apr 04: three classes—liars, great liars, and scientific witnesses (Attributed to “well-known Judge”)

1885 Jun 27: three sorts of liars, the common or garden liar … the damnable liar … and lastly the expert (Attributed to “counsel”)

1885 Nov 26: grouped witnesses into three classes: simple liars, damned liars, and experts (Attributed to “well-known lawyer”)

1886 Apr 10: three kinds of liars who testify in courts: “Lawyers, liars and experts” (Attributed to “distinguished judge”)

1889 Aug 12: There are liars, and d—-d liars and experts (Attributed to “eminent judge”)

1891 Jun 13: three kinds of falsehood: the first is a ‘fib,’ the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics (Anonymous)

1891 Oct 10: There are three degrees of falsehood: the first is a fib, the second is a lie, and then come statistics (Anonymous)

1891 Oct 14: there were three degrees of untruth—a fib, a lie, and statistics (Charles Dilke)

1891 Oct 19: false statements might be arranged according to their degree under three heads, fibs, lies, and statistics. (Attributed to Charles Dilke)

1891 Oct 28: Mr. Parnell’s dictum respecting fibs, lies, and statistics (Attributed to Charles Stewart Parnell)

1891 Nov 07: classifies falsehood under three heads: 1, the fib; 2, the lie; 3, statistics (Attributed to Mark Twain)

1892: three degrees of unveracity—“Lies, d——d lies, and statistics.” (Attributed to “some wit”)

1892 Jan: There are lies, there are outrageous lies, and there are statistics (Anonymous)

1892 Feb: three degrees in liars: the liar simple, the d — d liar, and the expert witness (Anonymous)

1892 Jun 28: three kinds of unveracity—namely, lies, damned lies, and statistics (Arthur James Balfour)

1895 July 27: three degrees of veracity—viz., lies d—d lies, and statistics (Attributed to Lord Beaconsfield, i.e., Benjamin Disraeli)

1907 Jul 5: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics (Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain)

QI gives great thanks to previous researchers particularly Stephen Goranson and Peter M. Lee who located many of the citations mentioned above.

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Are Three Kinds of Lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Be Moderate In Everything Including Moderation

Mark Twain? Oscar Wilde? Socrates? Nancy Weber? Judy Tillinger? Horace Porter? J. F. Carter? Gaius Petronius Arbiter? James Ogilvy? Thomas Paine? Voltaire? Richard A. Posner? Benjamin Franklin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The ancient Greek poet Hesiod stated:[1] 2008, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth Edition, Edited by Jennifer Speake, Entry: Moderation in all things, Quote Page 213, Oxford University Press, New York. (Verified with scans)

Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.

An extended version of this statement has been attributed to many famous people including Socrates, Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, and Mark Twain. Here are two versions:

(1) All things in moderation, including moderation.
(2) Be moderate in everything, including moderation.

I am skeptical about all these ascriptions for the extended statement. Would you please explore this topic, and help me to find solid citations?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive support for attributing this extended statement to any of the five people listed above. It is difficult to trace.

A collection based on ancient Greek poetry titled “Pagan Pictures” contained a pertinent four line verse called “Moderation”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[2]1927, Pagan Pictures: Freely Translated and Fully Expanded from the Greek Anthology & the Greek Lyrical Poets by Wallace Rice, Quote Page 153, Boni & Liveright, New York. (Verified with … Continue reading

Nothing too much, doth Chilo say?
Be moderate despite temptation?
Aye; moderate in every way
Be moderate in moderation.

The biographical notes for “Pagan Pictures” stated that the material was based on the Planudean anthology, the Palatine anthology, and epigrams transcribed from ancient monuments. “Pagan Pictures” was published in 1927, and the collection did not specify an author or provide a precise citation for the verse “Moderation”. Thus, its provenance and date remain uncertain.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Be Moderate In Everything Including Moderation

References

References
1 2008, Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth Edition, Edited by Jennifer Speake, Entry: Moderation in all things, Quote Page 213, Oxford University Press, New York. (Verified with scans)
2 1927, Pagan Pictures: Freely Translated and Fully Expanded from the Greek Anthology & the Greek Lyrical Poets by Wallace Rice, Quote Page 153, Boni & Liveright, New York. (Verified with scans; thanks to the University of North Carolina library system)

If You Don’t Like Our Weather, Just Wait a Few Minutes

Mark Twain? Will Rogers? Ring Lardner? James A. Cruikshank? T. Morris Longstreth? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Two famous humorists, Mark Twain and Will Rogers, have each received credit for a statement about the variability of weather. Here are four instances:

(1) If you don’t like our weather, wait a minute.

(2) If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.

(3) If you don’t like the Kansas weather today just wait a day and probably tomorrow will suit.

(4) If you don’t like the present brand of Nebraska weather just wait fifteen minutes and there will be a different kind of weather.

Did either Twain or Rogers really employ this expression? Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “Field and Stream” magazine in January 1909 within an article by James A. Cruikshank who indicated that the saying was circulating in Chicago, Illinois with an anonymous attribution. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1909 January, Field and Stream, Volume 13, Number 9, Where To Go Hunting, Fishing & Resorts of The United States & Canada by Jas. A. Cruikshank, Start Page 794, Quote Page 794, Column 2, … Continue reading

In Chicago—where they have a saying “If you do not like our weather, wait a minute”—it seems to a good many of us that, after waiting several weeks of winter, we like the latest weather less than the earlier.

Researchers have been unable to find this saying in the writings and speeches of Mark Twain. He died in 1910, and the earliest known attribution to him appeared a decade later in 1920. Will Rogers died in 1935, and the saying was ascribed to him in 1940. Based on current evidence, the originator of this remark remains anonymous.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If You Don’t Like Our Weather, Just Wait a Few Minutes

References

References
1 1909 January, Field and Stream, Volume 13, Number 9, Where To Go Hunting, Fishing & Resorts of The United States & Canada by Jas. A. Cruikshank, Start Page 794, Quote Page 794, Column 2, Field and Stream Publishing Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

All You Need In This Life Is Ignorance and Confidence; Then Success Is Sure

Mark Twain? Benjamin De Casseres? Richard Grant White? Mary Hallock Foote? Cordelia Foote? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Mark Twain once joked that the key to success was a combination of ignorance and confidence. I do not know the precise phrasing. Would you please help me to find the exact quotation and a citation?

Quote Investigator: Mark Twain penned this amusing remark in a letter dated December 2, 1887 which he sent to “Mrs. Foote”. The letter was reprinted in the “Los Angeles Times” on March 16, 1930.[1] 1930 March 16, Los Angeles Times, Twain Letter Unearthed by Neeta Marquis, Section 3, Quote Page 22, Column 1 and 2, Los Angeles, California. (Newspapers_com) link Also, in 1934 a facsimile of the missive appeared in the book “When Huck Finn Went Highbrow” by Benjamin De Casseres, a limited edition with 125 copies.

There was a long delay between the letter’s composition and its publication, but Twain scholars believe that it is authentic. The famed humorist discussed leading a study group who were exploring the poetry of Robert Browning.[2]1978, Browning Institute Studies, Volume 6, Article: “A Splendor of Stars & Suns”: Twain as a Reader of Browning’s Poems by Alan Gribben, Start Page 87, End Page 107, Published by … Continue reading The quotation reflected Twain’s comical reaction to holding a position of leadership:[3]1934, When Huck Finn Went Highbrow by Benjamin De Casseres, Limited edition with 125 copies, (Book includes facsimile of letter sent from Mark Twain to Mrs. Foote dated December 2, 1887), Quote Page … Continue reading

Now when you come to think of it, wasn’t it a curious idea—I mean for a dozen ladies of (apparently) high intelligence to elect me their Browning reader? Of course you think I declined at first; but I didn’t. I’m not the declining sort. I would take charge of the constellations if I were asked to do it. All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading All You Need In This Life Is Ignorance and Confidence; Then Success Is Sure

References

References
1 1930 March 16, Los Angeles Times, Twain Letter Unearthed by Neeta Marquis, Section 3, Quote Page 22, Column 1 and 2, Los Angeles, California. (Newspapers_com) link
2 1978, Browning Institute Studies, Volume 6, Article: “A Splendor of Stars & Suns”: Twain as a Reader of Browning’s Poems by Alan Gribben, Start Page 87, End Page 107, Published by Cambridge University Press. (JSTOR; Accessed September 5, 2021) link
3 1934, When Huck Finn Went Highbrow by Benjamin De Casseres, Limited edition with 125 copies, (Book includes facsimile of letter sent from Mark Twain to Mrs. Foote dated December 2, 1887), Quote Page 7, Thomas F. Madigan, New York. (Verified with page scans; thanks to Barbara Schmidt and Kevin Mac Donnell)

Tortoises All the Way Down

Hester Lynch Piozzi? William James? Bertrand Russell? Mark Twain? Henry David Thoreau? Carl Sagan? Terry Pratchett? Samuel Purchas? John Locke? George B. Cheever? Joseph F. Berg? George Chainey? John Phoenix? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: According to legend a prominent scientist once presented a lecture on cosmology which discussed the solar system and galaxies. Afterwards, a critical audience member approached and stated that the information given was completely wrong.

Instead, the world was supported by four great elephants, and the elephants stood on the back of an enormous turtle. The scientist inquired what the turtle stood upon. Another more massive turtle was the reply. The scientist asked about the support of the last turtle and elicited this response:

“Oh, it’s turtles all the way down.”

Some versions of this anecdote use tortoises instead of turtles. A variety of individuals have been linked to this tale including writer Hester Lynch Piozzi, psychologist William James, logician Bertrand Russell, humorist Mark Twain, transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, astronomer Carl Sagan, and fantasy author Terry Pratchett. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This anecdote evolved over time. It began with European interpretations of Hindu cosmography. Early instances featuring tortoises and elephants did not mention an infinite iteration; instead, the lowest creature was sitting upon something unknown or on nothing. In 1838 a humorous version employed the punchline “there’s rocks all the way down!” In 1854 a debater used the phrase “there are tortoises all the way down.” By 1886 another punchline was circulating: “it is turtle all the way down!” Here is an overview sampling showing pertinent statements with dates:

1626: the Elephants feete stood on Tortoises, and they were borne by they know not what.
1690: what gave support to the broad-back’d Tortoise, replied, something, he knew not what.
1804: And on what does the tortoise stand? I cannot tell.
1826: tortoise rests on mud, the mud on water, and the water on air!
1836: what does the tortoise rest on? Nothing!
1838: there’s rocks all the way down!
1842: extremely anxious to know what it is that the tortoise stands upon.
1844: after the tortoise is chaotic mud.
1852: had nothing to put under the tortoise.
1854: there are tortoises all the way down.
1867: elephants . . . their legs “reach all the way down.”
1882: the snake reaching all the way down.
1886: it is turtle all the way down!
1904: a big turtle whose legs reach all the way down!
1917: there are turtles all the way down
1927: he was tired of metaphysics and wanted to change the subject.
1967: It’s no use, Mr. James — it’s turtles all the way down.

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Tortoises All the Way Down

Nearly Any Invented Quotation, Played With Confidence, Stands a Good Chance To Deceive

Mark Twain? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Mark Twain once spun a tale in which he won an argument by concocting a fake quotation. His successful deception led him to pronounce a maxim similar to this: Any invented quotation, spoken with confidence, will be accepted by listeners. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Mark Twain published his popular travel book “Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World” in 1897. He described a dinner with companions who disagreed about the pronunciation of the word “three” by common Scottish people. The two options were “three” and “thraw”. Twain created a verse he attributed to the prominent Scottish poet Robert Burns that rhymed the word with “knee”. Twain won the argument because of the prestige of the poet. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1897, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), Chapter 5, Quote Page 78, American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut; Also Doubleday & McClure … Continue reading

“Does Robbie Burns say — what does he say?”

“This is what he says :
“There were nae bairns but only three —
Ane at the breast, twa at the knee.”

It ended the discussion. There was no man there profane enough, disloyal enough, to say any word against a thing which Robert Burns had settled. I shall always honor that great name for the salvation it brought me in this time of my sore need.

It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive. There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it.

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Nearly Any Invented Quotation, Played With Confidence, Stands a Good Chance To Deceive

References

References
1 1897, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), Chapter 5, Quote Page 78, American Publishing Company, Hartford, Connecticut; Also Doubleday & McClure Company, New York. (Internet Archive) link