Robert Louis Stevenson? William Arthur Ward? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: An eloquent agricultural metaphor occurs within an astute proverb about the value of preparation and investment:
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.
The prominent Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson has received credit for this saying, but I have never seen a solid citation. Would you please help me to determine the true crafter of this remark?
Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Robert Louis Stevenson said or wrote this statement. He died in 1894, and the earliest match located by QI occurred several decades afterwards in May 1963 within the “Oklahoma City Star” newspaper of Oklahoma.
The saying was ascribed to William Arthur Ward who achieved fame as a motivational author and educator. Ward’s phrasing slightly differed from the version later attributed to Stevenson. Boldface added to excerpts: 1
Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.—William A. Ward
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1963 May 17, Oklahoma City Star, Page Title: Pennsylvania Avenue Methodist Church, Post Script, Quote Page M-110, Column 1, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Newspapers_com) ↩