Famous quotation about the weather in San Francisco (Duluth in 1900) and a mystery volume with restricted access in Google Books

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Jul 12 10:46:07 UTC 2011

The Life of Mr. James Quin, comedian: with the history of the stage from his ... (London, 1766) page 100:
One summer, when the month of July happened to be extremely cold, someone asked Quin if he ever remembered such a summer.
"Oh, yes," replied the wag, "last winter."


For a version that has: Quin being once asked, if he had ever seen so bad a winter, replied, "Yes,  just such a one last summer."
In a 29 July 1789 letter from Horace Walpole to Mary Berry
The Yale edition of Horace Walpole's correspondence
Volume 11 p45 (confirmed)

Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Garson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2011 6:35 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] Famous quotation about the weather in San Francisco              (Duluth in              1900) and a mystery volume with restricted access in Google Books

The periodical "The Sporting Magazine; or Monthly Calendar of the
Transactions of the Turf" was the first English sporting periodical,
and it was published between 1792 and 1870 according to Wikipedia an
occasionally reliable website. So why is the following digital volume
locked up in Google Books?


The images were created from a copy at Oxford University. GB does not
give a date or any other bibliographic data about this mystery volume.
I cannot find the volume at HathiTrust. I do not know how to search
for it at the Internet Archive because I have been unable to extract a
date. The volume interests me because it contains the following

All admit this to have been the most open winter in their remembrance.
Beresford, when asked if he ever knew such a Winter, replied with his
usual quickness, "Yes, last Summer."


I sent a message to Google to request the full display of "The
Sporting Magazine" volume. If some list member can extract a date from
this book or has a suggestion for obtaining access please let me know.

Here is some additional background for this topic. I am exploring the
following well-known saying attributed to Mark Twain: The coldest
winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

Multiple references state that there is no compelling evidence that
Twain is responsible for this saying. However, the references also
note that Twain did write a letter containing the following:

  ...anywhere is better than Paris. Paris the cold, Paris the drizzly,
Paris the rainy, Paris the damnable. More than a hundred years ago
somebody asked Quin, "Did you ever see such a winter in all your life
before?" "Yes," said he, "Last summer." I judge he spent his summer in

- letter to Lucius Fairchild, 28 April 1880, reprinted in Mark Twain,
The Letter Writer


The quotation in "The Sporting Magazine" may help to illuminate the
history of the quip used by Twain. If someone wishes to offer an
interpretation for the term "open winter" I would like to hear it. My
guess is that the phrase refers to the existence of a large number of
competitive race horses.

I am also tracing jokes matching the template of the San Francisco
saying. Here are the two earliest I have found so far in 1900 and

Cite: 1900 June 17, Duluth News-Tribune, [No article title], Page 12,
Column 3, Duluth, Minnesota. (GenealogyBank)

One of these days somebody will tell that mouldy chestnut about the
finest winter he ever saw being the summer he spent in Duluth, and one
or these husky commercial travelers, who have been here and know all
about our climate, will smite him with an uppercut and break his
slanderous jaw. The truth will come out in time.

Cite: 1901 June 17, Morning Herald, Interesting Experiences Of Local
Man Who Deals in Weather - Exciting Incidents That Do Not Appear In
His Records, GBK Page 6, Column 2, Lexington, Kentucky.

Another assignment was to Duluth, Minn., where he learned to
appreciate rapid changes in temperature. He says the coldest winter he
ever experienced was the summer he spent in Duluth.

Over a span of more than one hundred years many locations were
substituted into this joke including: Milwaukee, Two Harbors, Grand
Marais, Puget Sound, Buffalo, Minneapolis, and San Francisco.

Thanks for any help

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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