Aphorism: Every dogma has its day (1873, precursor 1865)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 17 03:29:21 UTC 2011

LH mentioned Anthony Burgess and listed a quotation which is sometimes
attributed to him:

> Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), novelist, philologist, and author
> of _A Clockwork Orange_ as well as the less famous _The Doctor
> is Sick_, which features a linguistics professor as protagonist.
> "Every dogma has its day."  [To be sure, others may have come up
> with this one.]

Last year I explored this saying and found a precursor in 1865.
Looking again now I see an exact match in 1873. In 1898 a variant was
disseminated that included the word "must". Limerick composer,
aphorist, and writer Carolyn Wells composed this version. Israel
Zangwill, a British humorist, employed the basic expression by 1898,
and he is sometimes credited today.

Compelling evidence that Burgess actually used the saying has so far
eluded me. Big databases such as BrainyQuote attach the quote to
Burgess. There is an instance in the National Post in 2010 that
attributes the expression to Burgess.

Here are a few selected citations:

Cite: 1865 December 16, London Review, Prophetic Almanacks, Page 639,
Column 1, Printers Cox & Wyman, London. (HathiTrust)
<Begin excerpt>
Mesmerism, electro-biology, clairvoyance, spirit-rapping, and the
séances of those ingenious jugglers the brothers Davenport, have all
been ostensibly based on some occult principle in physics of which the
existence has been emphatically declared, but which no one has been
able to explain. But every dog - not to say every dogma - has its day,
and one by one the exponents of these mysterious doctrines, as well as
the doctrines themselves pass into oblivion.
<End excerpt>

Cite: 1873 April 1, Critic-Record [Daily Critic], Jottings About Town,
GNB Page 6, Column 3, Washington, D.C. (GenealogyBank)
<Begin excerpt>
The manifest decadence of belief in certain "articles of faith"
promulgated by churches has instigated a local merry-andrew to improve
an old saying into "every dogma has its day."
<End excerpt>

Cite: 1880 June 1, Unity: Freedom, Fellowship and Character in
Religion, Editorial, Page 105, Volume 5, Number 7, Chicago. (Google
Books full view)
<Begin excerpt>
But is there not also an agnosticism of dogmatism, which, in the name
of science, warns the soul off from all the border lands of knowledge,
forbids head or heart looking toward wonderland. This, like other
dogmas, must have its day and die, for, the soul has rights which even
logic is bound to respect, for it is the mint in which logic is
<End excerpt>

In 1888 a London newspaper published an article that reprinted
material from comics. The saying was taken from a periodical called
Moonshine. A hyphen was apparently used to show the connection to
phrase "Every dog has its day".

Cite: 1888 January 8, Lloyds Weekly [London] Newspaper, Cuttings From
the Comics, NA Page 5, Column 3, London, Middlesex. (NewspaperArchive)
<Begin excerpt>
(From Moonshine.)
NEW READING.—Every dog-ma has its day.
<End excerpt>

Cite: 1888 December 1, The Fortnightly Review, The Fate of Roumania by
James D. Bourchier, Start Page 785, Quote Page 786, Chapman and Hall,
London. (Google Books full view)
<Begin excerpt>
That cherished article in the creed of the patriotic Englishman – the
integrity of the Ottoman Empire - has died hard; but at last it has
gone to its long home; it has "joined the majority" of forsaken
beliefs in an age which holds nothing sacred, which declares ironclads
obsolete before they are launched, and questions the authority of the
Duke of Argyle. Every dogma, as well as every dog, has its day.
<End excerpt>

In 1898 a variant of the adage by Carolyn Wells was printed in an Iowa
newspaper. Several "Mixed Maxims" were reprinted from a work called
the Chap-Book by Wells. (I have not seen this work.)

Cite: 1898 January 14, Des Moines Daily News, Mixed Maxims, NA Page 4,
Column 4, Des Moines, Iowa. (NewspaperArchive)
<Begin excerpt>
Straws show which way the gin goes.
"Heaven lies about us in our infancy," and this world lies about us
when we are grown up.
It is not good for man to give a loan.
The wages of sin is debt.
Every dogma must have its day.—Carolyn Wells in the Chap-Book.
<End excerpt>

The first item above is a quip based on: Straws show which way the
wind blows. The material between quotes in the second item is a line
in "Ode" by William Wordsworth. I think the third item is based on: It
is not good for man to be alone. Alternative suggestions welcome. The
fourth item references: The wages of sin is death. The fifth item
references: Every dog must have his day.

In October 1898 a speech by Israel Zangwill containing the expression
was printed in The Critic.

Cite: 1898 October, The Critic, In Honor of Tolstoy: A Dinner in
Celebration of the Seventieth Birthday of the Russian Novelist and
Reformer, [The Speeches: Speech by Israel Zangwill], Start Page 278,
Quote Page 279, The Critic Company, New York. (Google Books full view)
<Begin excerpt>
Therefore art for art's sake simply means stimulating life and human
souls, only with that view, and not with the idea of preaching any set
of doctrines; and this art for art's sake, which is really for
humanity's sake, this is really perhaps the highest way in which a man
can influence his time, because great art is greater than all dogmas,
which have their short life - every dogma has its day, just as every
dog has, - but great art lives on with fresh meaning and fresh
inspiration every year.
<End excerpt>

The seventh incarnation of Dr. Who employed the saying in 1987 claims WikiQuote.


On Sat, Oct 15, 2011 at 11:34 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Further Antedating of "Biblical"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Oct 15, 2011, at 10:35 PM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>> Here's a still earlier antedating:
>> biblical (OED 1790)
>> 1652 Anthony Burgess _Spiritual Refining_ 527 (Early English Books =
> Online)  It will be very impertinent to give you a Theological, and =
> Biblical use of the word _Spirit_, which is of a great latitude in its =
> signification.
> I suspect the OED dismissed this as a potential antedate on the =
> assumption that this was written by *our* Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), =
> novelist, philologist, and author of _A Clockwork Orange_ as well as the =
> less famous _The Doctor is Sick_, which features a linguistics professor =
> as protagonist.  Based on my reading of him, Burgess is a man who I =
> wouldn't put time-traveling past.  Other quotes from Burgess bearing on =
> this:
> "The aura of the theocratic death penalty for adultery still clings to =
> America, even outside New England, and multiple divorce, which looks to =
> the European like serial polygamy, is the moral solution to the problem =
> of the itch."
> "Every dogma has its day."  [To be sure, others may have come up with =
> this one.]
> and especially=20
> "All human life is here, but the Holy Ghost seems to be somewhere else."
> --clearly authored by the same pen as the 1652 one above, although =
> Burgess must have decided to be more circumspect while dwelling in the =
> 17th century.
> (I also like his observation that =93The downtrodden...are the great =
> creators of slang", but that's of less theological relevance for current =
> purposes.)
> LH=20
>> ________________________________________
>> From: Shapiro, Fred
>> Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 4:40 PM
>> Subject: Antedating of "Biblical"
>> Here's an interesting antedating.  Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but the =
> OED first use for _biblical_ is so late that it almost seems like the =
> editors lost a batch of slips.  It's one of the few antedatings I ever =
> found that made me feel that way (another one was _literary_, which the =
> original OED dated 1749 although Francis Bacon had used it in 1605 and =
> Samuel Johnson had used it frequently beginning in 1734).
>> biblical (OED 1790)
>> 1684 John Lightfoot _The works of the Reverend and learned John =
> Lightfoot D. D._ Preface (Early English Books Online)  This is very =
> precarious, and such an Ellipsis ... as seems contrary to the Genius of =
> the Biblical _Hebrew_.
>> Fred Shapiro
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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