I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent researches.
Mark Twain is probably the most quoted (and misqouted) person in history. I have heard two variations of a similar statement attributed to him: ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.’ OR ‘I have been through some terrible things in my life, some which actually happened.’ I am curious if that is truly Twain.
Of course, this is not really Twain. The Yale Book of Quotations has the following entry:
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
Attributed to Mark Twain in Reader’s Digest, Apr. 1934. A similar remark, attributed to an anonymous octogenarian, appears in the Washington Post, Sept. 11, 1910.
The YBQ also has a cross-reference to the following quotation:
“There are indeed (who might say Nay) gloomy & hypochondriac minds, inhabitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, & despairing of the future; always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen. To these I say How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!”
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, Apr. 8, 1816
Maybe Garson O’Toole or one of our other crack researchers can find more pre-1910 versions of the saying attributed to Twain.
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?