Nine Requisites for Contented Living

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe? William D. Smith? Anonymous?

health11Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has been credited with the following group of expressions called: The Nine Requisites for Contented Living:

(1) Health enough to make work a pleasure.
(2) Wealth enough to support your needs.
(3) Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
(4) Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
(5) Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
(6) Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
(7) Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
(8) Faith enough to make real the things of God.
(9) Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.

I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: QI has not found any substantive ascriptions to Goethe who died in 1832. The spurious connection may have been established by the misreading of an ambiguous passage published in 1914. Details are given further below.

The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in an article titled “A New Year’s Greeting” by Reverend William D. Smith that was printed in a religious periodical called “The Christian Work and Evangelist” in January 1904. In the following passage alphabetical labels and boldface have been added to facilitate the comparison of the two sets of expressions. In addition, the text has been reformatted into multiple separate lines instead of three paragraphs. If you wish to see the original 1904 format please click on the link in the bibliographical note: 1

(A) I wish you Health enough to make work a pleasure;
(B) Wealth enough to supply all necessary needs;
(C) Grit enough to battle with difficulty and overcome it;
(D) Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them;
(E) and Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.

(F) I wish you a Cheerfulness that shall make others glad;
(G) a Charity that shall see some good in your neighbor;
(H) a Love that shall move you to be useful and helpful;
(I) a Faith that shall make real the things of God;
(J) and a Hope that shall remove all anxious fear concerning the Future.

(K) I wish you the Dignity which befits the children of God;
(L) the Humility which is needed in every follower of Christ;
(M) the Prayerfulness which develops and enriches the soul;
(N) the Push and Progress which were manifested in the life and labors of our Saviour;
(O) and the Piety and Perseverance which come from the abiding presence and influence of the Divine Spirit.

In the text above there were fifteen elements instead of nine, but a close correspondence can be established between the two sets. 1 and A both discussed Health; 2 and B discussed Wealth; 3 and C matched, but they employed two different terms: Strength and Grit; 4 and D discussed Grace; 5 and E discussed Patience; there was no match for F which discussed Cheerfulness; 6 and G discussed Charity; 7 and H discussed Love; 8 and I discussed Faith; 9 and J discussed Hope; there were no matches for the remaining items K, L, M, N, and O.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Nine Requisites for Contented Living


  1. 1904 January 9, The Christian Work and Evangelist, Volume 76, A New Year’s Greeting by Rev. William D. Smith, Quote Page 41, Christian Work and the Evangelist, Bible House, New York. (Google Books Full View) link