Quotes Uncovered: Cicero, Franklin, and Thatcher

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

Eighteen weeks ago I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.

epsilon asked:

“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence.” This topical comment is widely attributed to Cicero, and equally widely deemed to be fake. What do you say?

Quotation Rule #1: Quotes that a politically conservative quoter disagrees with that are attributed to Lenin, Stalin, or Hitler are almost always phony.

Quotation Rule #2: Quotes that a politically conservative quoter agrees with that are attributed to Lincoln are almost always phony.

Quotation Rule #3: Quotes that a politically conservative quoter attributes to classical figures like Cicero, and that criticize modern, allegedly liberal trends are almost always phony.

JoyLuck76 asked:

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Attributed to Margaret Thatcher. Wondering if that is accurate before I start referencing it. Thanks.

The eminent researcher Barry Popik has traced “It’s the Labour Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They’ve got the usual socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money,” to a speech by Thatcher at a Conservative Party conference, Oct. 10, 1975. He also found an alleged 1944 occurrence through Google Books, but this is probably the usual Google Books’ misdating of a serial publication.

AJ Venter

One of my favorite quotes I would love to know the true source of is usually attributed to George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, or occasionally to Thomas Jefferson and reads: “A nation that would trade freedom for a little temporary security will lose both and deserve neither.”

The Yale Book of Quotations
, which attempts to trace all famous quotations to their sources, has the following:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin, “Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor,” November 11, 1755.

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

Mark Ritter

Thank you. There is one which this 79 year old mind can't bring up. It's the one about
behaving as your enemy does, you have lost what you were fighting for.


It's often attributed to Samuel Clemens, but can you verify that he said:

"The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco."

Jake Taylor

Thanks for your work on these, always nice to have the record set straight. However, curious about your comments re the "Cicero" quote - First off, your implied conclusion is that the quote is not from Cicero, correct?

Secondly, why do you frame the debate from the perspective of a phantom "politically conservative quoter?"

Do you consider a balanced budget, reduction of debt, decreased foreign intervention and government arrogance, and the desire to have people work for their money implicitly conservative positions?

I would think that these qualities would be desirable by most anyone, although it speaks poorly of our society that they have apparently become strictly "conservative" traits.


"People receive the government they deserve."

Who said this? I always come across it online as "it is said that..."


Two music ones:

"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."

Seen it attributed to just about every musician ever, including Robyn Hitchcock and Anonymous.

"I may not believe in God, but I believe in Bach."

Seen it attributed to Bela Bartok, among others.


I have searched for this but cant find it, the quote is something like" I am a soldier so my chidren can be farmers so theire children can be poets", or something along those lines - Thanks, Patrick


In the interest of fair play, can you add the rules for when politically liberal quoter is citing a phony source?


Phony quote...no such thing... Phony attribution, sure.


Thanks for tracking these down! I've heard this quote attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Ben Hogan: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."


Quotation Rule #1: Quotes that a politically liberal quoter disagrees with that are attributed to Satan, George W Bush, or Ann Coulter are almost always phony.

Quotation Rule #2: Quotes that a politically liberal quoter agrees with that are attributed to Barbara Streisand, Alex Baldwin, or Oprah are almost always phony.

Quotation Rule #3: Quotes that a politically liberal quoter attributes to classical figures like Karl Marx, and that criticize modern, allegedly conservative trends are almost always...well, true.


"Education in not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of a fire."

I have heard that one attributed to William Butler Yeats, but have also read that there is no proof that it came from him.

AJ Venter

Thanks for setting the record straight and getting the wording right as well - now I can keep using the quote correctly and authoritatively :)

Eric M. Jones

Okay, here's one for you!

Who wrote this? (I am posting this because a Google and Dogpile COULD NOT FIND IT!)

Go calmly amid the daily hurly burly. Remember the peace
there is in silence. Be on good terms with people. Speak your truth quietly and convincingly but listen to others; they have their side to tell. Avoid loudness and aggression. Comparisons are to no purpose for there are always greater and smaller persons that yourself. Enjoy your plans as well as your achievements. Keep a vital interest
in your own professional life and progress, a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Do not feign love, nor simulate affection. Neither be ironic about love. In the face of all disillusionment and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Grow old gracefully surrendering at appropriate times the things of youth. Do not borrow
trouble with dark imaginings. Be gentle. You are a child of the universe no less than the stars and the trees and whether you see it or not no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Be at peace withGod whatever you conceive him to be. In the noisy confusion of life be at peace with your soul.

Ans: This is the copyrighted Disiderata by Max Ehrmann in 1927. Copyright (No. 962402). The versions have morphed over time.


Matthew R.

I'm just glad that liberals never misattribute a quotation. They just quote accurately out of context.


Don't just do something, stand there!

I think its Reagan but I'm not sure, also was it sit there or stand there?


I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.

Quotation from John Adams, as sought by Patrick.

Here's one I'm seeking, roughly:

"A book read me yesterday. Initially I bored it, but with patience it found the subtler points I was attempting to convey."


If you go to Politifact
you will see that conservatives make about twice to three times as many inaccurate statements as liberals.
Their "pants on fire" rating is also about 3 to 1.


Regardless of which party you're with, your partisans lie too.


How about the very recent "Don't waste a crisis." Did that phrase/quote have usage prior to Rahm Emanuel?


Here's a quote I first learned from my business statistics prof, then two years later from a different prof in finance: "there are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies, and statistics". Both professors credited Benjamin Disraeli. I have since heard someone in the media credit Mark Twain. What say you?