The Often Misquoted

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.

Aaron asked:

I’ve heard that Ben Franklin was misquoted when he said 'Jack of all Trades, Master of None,' and that he actually said 'Jack of all Trades, Master of Some.' Is there any truth to this?

I believe neither of these sayings appears in Benjamin Franklin's writings.

A Grain of Salt

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.

Jamie asked:

'Take it with a grain of salt' is one I always have trouble with – do you know the origin?

The Yale Book of Quotations has the following entry:

 

"Addito salis grano
With the addition of a grain of salt.

Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis bk. 23, sec. 149. Usually quoted as 'Cum grano salis' (with a grain of salt). The reference is to salt being added to Pompey's antidote to poison."

 

The Price of Liberty

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.

James Curran asked:

Could you try a question that is of some import to my family… The saying 'Price of Liberty is eternal vigilance' is generally attributed to Thomas Jefferson. However, the original sentiment was phrased as 'The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance' by the Irish statesman John Philpot Curran (of whom a complete lack of evidence has never stopped my family from claiming as an ancestor).

So the question becomes, did Jefferson paraphrase Curran? Or is the modern wording the work of some nameless editor who can’t quote or attribute correctly?

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them

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.

Barry Ritholtz asked:

"I keep hearing variations of the following as Twain: 'History may not repeat but it rhymes.' But I have never been able to track that back to Twain anywhere."

Finally, the Gravy Train

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.

Sam asked:

"gravy train"

Sam has been patiently asking about this over and over again, so here goes. Jonathon Green, in his magnificent, just-published Green's Dictionary of Slang, has as its earliest citation for "gravy train" the following:

Ink by the Barrel

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.

Alicia Calzada asked:

Let me know if you have any luck with this one: 'Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel' It has been credited in case law to both Mark Twain and publicist William I. Greener, Jr. Brown v. Kelly Broad. Co., 48 Cal. 3d 711, 744 (Cal. 1989) crediting Twain as the source of the famous adage; State ex rel. Plain Dealer Publ’g Co. v. Geauga Cty. Court of Common Pleas, Juv. Div., 90 Ohio St. 3d79,89 (Pfiefer, J., dissenting) ('The majority has elevated Greener’s law' (‘Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel")')

It has also been credited as undetermined, which I think is most accurate: Ralph Keyes, the quote verifier: who said what, where and when 64. The Mark Twain House in Connecticut has no record of Twain saying the phrase.

Quotes Uncovered: Honest Abe

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. Hugo asked: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abe Lincoln. The Yale Book of Quotations has the following entry.

Quotes Uncovered: Twain or Not Twain

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 research.

Quotes Uncovered: Youth and the Young

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 research.

Quotes Uncovered: How Lies Travel

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 research.

Smashley asked:

I heard recently that the quote, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes," usually attributed to Mark Twain, is not actually by him.  Which is delightfully ironic, if true.