Quotes Uncovered: I Am a Soldier

Photo: Stockbyte

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.

Ben asked:

“I am a soldier so my son can be a shop-keeper and so his son can be an artist.”  Supposedly by George Washington?

The Yale Book of Quotations documents this resonant quotation as being by John Adams:

I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy.  My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce, and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry, and Porcelaine.
Letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?


I'm curious about the origin of the term "lawyer up", as in, "That guy's going to sue you, so you'd better lawyer up."

Mark l

See also:

"The first generation works their fingers to the bone. Second generation goes to college and innovates new ideas. The third generation goes snowboarding and takes improv classes."

-Jack Donaghy


(A Song After Reading Toynbee)

Has it come to your attention how the race of man
Has been climbing upwards since time began,
How it's been climbing steady, and it's climbing there still,
But every time you notice it, it's going down hill?

Going downhill is the natural way,
For the old folks work and the young folks play,
And the pioneer morals universally decay -
Yet definite improvement is discernible today!
Hi-yo, hi-yo, discernible today!

Now there's been a quite demonstrable and healthy gain
In higher mathematics and the size of the brain,
Between us and the oyster there were great strides made -
But every time you look at us, we're slipping down grade.

Going downhill is the natural trend,
For the old folks gather and the young folks spend,
Yet line up all our forebears on the path that we descend
And a definite improvement is apparent at this end!
Hi-yo, hi-yo, apparent at this end!

The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Greeks and Romans, too,
Hung up some fancy records when their world was new,
And some they hung so high the boys are shooting at them still -
But they saw themselves continually going down hill.

Going downhill is the way things run,
For the old have illusions and the young have fun,
And our manners and religions everlastingly decay,
Yet astonishing improvement is discernible today!
Hi-yo, hi-yo, discernible today!

Maxwell Anderson, , May 8, 1948



I'd love to know if "Youth is wasted on the young." preceded It's a Wonderful Life.


amazing quote. i'll have to admit that with only about 200 years of history americans really take care of their legacy. some euro nations should try and do the same.


Please get a different picture. Clearly that young man is not a U.S. soldier. Worst salute I've every seen.


Could you try to uncover the origins of "Cheers!"? Most things I've found online make it seem like they just made up a reason for why we say this particular word as a toast before drinks. What I am particularly interested in is why so other languages toast to health and why we don't. Thanks!