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Chapter and Verse

July-August 2010

Winthrop Thies would like both the name of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote, “Wisdom is so rare an attribute that it were better it come late than not at all” (or words very similar) in an opinion from, he thinks, the mid 1930s, and the name of the case being decided, which involved the federal estate tax.


Bernard Levine seeks the exact wording, context, and source for a remark attributed to François-René de Chateaubriand: “A nation can have a constitution or it can have a bureaucracy. It cannot have both.”


Benjamin Karney requests the source of a quotation (frequently attributed on the Internet to Albert Einstein) about men’s and women’s expectations for each other in marriage: “Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So each is inevitably disappointed.” He has yet to find a precise citation, although he has seen similar statements attributed to others, for example: “Women hope men will change after marriage but they don’t; men hope women won’t change but they do,” from Bettina Arndt, Private Lives (1986).


“I have spent sleepless nights that others might rest” (November-December 2009). Michael Comenetz provided a very different interpretation of the possible meaning of the original assertion by forwarding lines 93-94 from Book I of Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad: “While pensive Poets painful vigils keep,/Sleepless themselves to give their readers sleep.”


“You tell me I am wrong” (May-June). Ralph Gallagher was first to identify the opening lines of D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Pomegranate” (the second line runs, correctly, “Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?”), later published in his book Birds, Beasts and Flowers. Dan Rosenberg, citing details from A Bibliography of D. H. Lawrence by Warren Roberts and Paul Poplawski, reported that the poem, which was written near Florence in 1920, was originally published in the literary magazine The Dial (70: 317-318) in March 1921.