Tag Archives: Samuel Rogers

We Love Music for the Buried Hopes, the Garnered Memories, the Tender Feelings, It Can Summon with a Touch

Letitia Elizabeth Landon? Pablo Picasso? Samuel Rogers?

landon09Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement has been attributed to the major artist Pablo Picasso:

Art! I love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings it can summon at a touch.

Curiously, a similar remark about music has been attributed to the Victorian novelist and poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon:

We love music for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings it can summon at a touch.

The poet Samuel Rogers has also been linked to the words above. Would you please help to dispel this confusion?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the novel “Romance and Reality” by L.E.L. The three initials were used to designate the author Letitia Elizabeth Landon. The following passage employed a simile based on a magic lamp. Thus, the phrase “summon with a touch” referred to both a magical genie and intense feelings. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

The man who stands listening to even a barrel-organ, because it repeats the tones “he loved from the lips of his nurse”—or who follows a common ballad-singer, because her song is familiar in its sweetness, or linked with touching words, or hallowed by the remembrance of some other and dearest voice—surely that man has a thousand times more “soul for music” than he who raves about execution, chromatic runs, semi-tones, &c. We would liken music to Aladdin’s lamp–worthless in itself, not so for the spirits which obey its call. We love it for the buried hopes, the garnered memories, the tender feelings, it can summon with a touch.

The parallel saying about art was attributed to Pablo Picasso in 1964, but the artist was not being quoted directly, and this linkage might be spurious. A detailed citation is given further below. By 2003 the saying about music was being credited to Samuel Rogers who had died in 1855. QI believes this linkage was not substantive.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1831, Romance and Reality by L.E.L. (Letitia Elizabeth Landon), Volume 1 of 3, Chapter 8, Quote Page 64, Published by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, London. (Google Books Full View) link

Ah, Would That I Were Only 80 Years Old!

Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle? Samuel Rogers? Walter Besant? Helmuth von Moltke the Elder? Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.? Georges Clemenceau?

fontenelle07Dear Quote Investigator: An amusing remark about longevity and libido has been ascribed to septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians. A venerable gentleman was sitting on a park bench with a friend, and he gazed at a beautiful woman who walked by them. He turned to his companion and said one of the following:

1) Oh, to be sixty again!
2) Ah! To be seventy again, with thirty years more to live!
3) Ah! What wouldn’t I give to be seventy again!
4) If I could only be eighty once more.

This type of comment has been attributed to the French author Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, the English poet Samuel Rogers, and the American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1813 a collection of letters was published under the title “Correspondance Littéraire, Philosophique et Critique”. A letter dated February 1, 1757 discussed Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle, and his place in the exclusive salons of France. Fontenelle had died during the previous month when he was 99 years old. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Sans sa surdité qui l’empêchait de prendre part à la conversation, il eût été aussi agréable dans la société qu’il l’avait été à l’âge de trente ans. Il disait, il n’y a pas longtemps à une jeune femme, pour lui faire sentir l’impression que sa beauté faisait sur lui: Ah! si je n’avais que quatre-vingts ans.

Here’s one possible translation into English:

If his deafness hadn’t kept him from participating in conversation, he would have been as pleasant in society as he was at the age of 30. Not long ago he said to a young woman, to show her how impressed he was by her beauty, “Ah, would that I were only 80 years old!”

The remark above was the earliest instance in this family located by QI. During the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s the expression was often ascribed to Fontenelle though the precise phrasing and circumstances varied. QI conjectures that other members in the family were derived directly or indirectly from the words of Fontenelle.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1813, Title: Correspondance Littéraire, Philosophique et Critique: Adressée à Un Souverain d’Allemagne, depuis 1753 jusqu’en 1769, Part 1, Volume 2, Letter Date: 1er Février 1757 (February 1, 1757), Letter Location: Paris, Start Page 147, Quote Page 151 and 152, Publisher: Longchamps, F. Buisson, Paris. (Google Books Full View) link