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

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 12 21:08:34 UTC 2011

Fantastic! Thanks Stephen. As you noted "The Life of Mr. James Quin,
comedian" is a reprint according to the "Prefatory Note" which states:

The first portion of the following work is a reprint of the
exceedingly scarce life of James Quin published in 1766

The quip appears on page 100 and may be part of the added material.
WorldCat and the University of North Carolina catalog give a
publication date of 1887, but I cannot find that date in the scanned
images of the GB copy. The year 1864 is mentioned on page 12. But an
erratum on page 107 says "Page 12  - for 1864 read 1684" so that
occurrence is a misprint.


The version of the joke in "The Life of Mr. James Quin, comedian" is
intriguing and does differ from the version Mark Twain heard credited
to Quin.

The "The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford" were published in
multiple editions. The first publication date that I can see in Google
Books is dated 1840.


The occurrence of a variant of the joke in Sporting Magazine appears
to be circa 1846 so it may have been created by someone who had read
(or been influenced by) "The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of

The version of the quip in the "The Letters of Horace Walpole" is
similar to the version that Mark Twain attributed to Quin in 1880. The
"Letters" were reprinted several times. Below is a link to an edition
in 1866. So the joke may have been transmitted to Mark Twain directly
or indirectly via an edition of the "Letters". Twain said that Quin
made his witty remark more than one hundred years ago. The letter with
the gag is given a date of 1789 (as Stephen notes) in the "Letters",
so Twain may have had knowledge of that date, or he may have been told
about that approximate date.



On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 7:00 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Famous quotation about the weather in San Francisco (Duluth
>              in              1900) and a mystery volume with restricted access
>              in Google Books
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Oops, the Google "Life" is a supplemented reprint.
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Stephen Goranson [goranson at DUKE.EDU]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 6:46 AM
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Famous quotation about the weather in San Francisco              (Duluth              in              1900) and a mystery volume with restricted access              in Google Books
> Compare;
> 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."
> http://books.google.com/books?id=6FwLAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA100&dq=summer+quin+%22last+winter%22&hl=en&ei=TCMcTqq9OYzPgAe66cHICQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=summer%20quin%20%22last%20winter%22&f=false
> 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)
> http://books.google.com/books?id=ZSMJAQAAIAAJ&q=winter+%22last+summer%22+%22james+quin%22&dq=winter+%22last+summer%22+%22james+quin%22&hl=en&ei=GR4cTtLuHOTl0QHjl_DPBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg
> Stephen Goranson
> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list