Tag Archives: New Year

Youth Is When You’re Allowed to Stay Up Late on New Year’s Eve. Middle Age Is When You’re Forced To

Bill Vaughan? Anonymous?


Dear Quote Investigator: I once read a humorous comment about New Year’s Eve that contrasted the experiences of the young and the middle aged. The young were joyful because they were “allowed to stay up late” while the older people held a different opinion. Are you familiar with this joke and its origin?

Quote Investigator: A long running syndicated newspaper column in the U.S. presented the remarks of a fictional politician named ‘Senator Soaper’. The author of the column changed during the decades it was published. The following quip appeared in 1958 and was written by Bill Vaughan whose full name was William Edward Vaughan: 1

Senator Soaper Says …
Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to.

Senator Soaper’s remark was printed in multiple newspapers in 1958. In 1959 the same statement was printed in an Ohio newspaper together with miscellaneous comical items under the title “As We Were Saying”. However, no attribution was given. 2

Here is one additional selected citation.

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  1. 1958 December 31, Oregonian, “Senator Soaper Says …”, (Column of Bill Vaughan), Quote Page 10, Column 2, Portland, Oregon. (GenealogyBank)
  2. 1959 January 10, Findlay Republican Courier, As We Were Saying, Quote Page 14, Column 1, Findlay, Ohio. (NewspaperArchive)

Be at War with Your Vices, at Peace with Your Neighbours, and Let Every New Year Find You a Better Man

Benjamin Franklin? Apocryphal? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: This is the season for New Year’s resolutions and toasts, and I have found a quotation credited to Benjamin Franklin that fits this theme:

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man (or woman).

However, there are so many fake quotes attributed to Franklin that I have no idea if this one is authentic. Could you tell me if this one is real? Also, if these are Franklin’s words where did they appear?

Quote Investigator: Franklin published a series of almanacs in the 1700s that were very popular, and many of the proverbs that are credited to him today were printed in these almanacs.  This sentence did appear in the 1755 edition of “Poor Richard’s  Almanac” whose more complete title is: “Poor Richard improved: Being an Almanack and Ephemeris of the Motions of the Sun and Moon; the True Places and Aspects of the Planets; the Rising and Setting of the Sun, And The Rising Setting and Southing of the Moon.”

The words of the expression were interleaved with astronomical facts concerning December 1755, and the salient terms in the phrase were capitalized. The word neighbors was spelled with a “u”, and New Year was hyphenated [PRBF]:

Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.

Many of the sayings that Franklin presented in his almanacs were obtained from other sources, and QI does not know if this advice originated with Franklin.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order together with a digital image showing how the saying was  printed within the almanac. Continue reading