Ancient wisdom, or my own?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 17 20:33:30 UTC 2013

I haven't had time to search yet. Harry Truman employed a saying that
was thematically similar. In this variant of the saying the dismount
is too difficult to attempt. Ralph Keyes lists the expression in his
book of Truman quotes and Google Books shows a snippet:

[ref] 1995, The Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, Edited by Ralph Keyes,
Page 56, HarperCollins Publishers, New York. (Verified on paper)[/ref]
[Begin excerpt]
Being a president is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding
or be swallowed.
[End excerpt]

Keyes says the quotation is on page one of:  Truman, Harry S. 1956.
Memoirs. Volume 2, Years of Trial and Hope. Garden City, New York:

A snippet in Google Books shows the following extended quote on page
one of a volume in Truman's Memoirs

[Begin excerpt]
Within the first few months I discovered that being a President is
like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.
[End excerpt]


On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:01 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Ancient wisdom, or my own?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> George,
> There appears to be lots of evidence that it's not your own wisdom,
> but ancient.  At least to Winston Churchill.  :-)  [As everyone can
> tell, my investigation has been very superficial.  I leave the rest
> to the quote-hunters, who may need to consult Chinese texts.]
> Joel
> At 10/17/2013 11:46 AM, George Thompson wrote:
>>An apophthegm that has been in my mind for the last 5 years of so, is to
>>the effect that riding a tiger is really not all that difficult.  It's only
>>the dismount that is can be tricky.
>>The thought has been coming into my mind whenever the fanatics who has been
>>so useful to their party's bosses in spewing delusional falsehoods and
>>allowing the bosses to look virtuous and say "We don't believe that he's a
>>foreign born Muslim, though surely many Americans do -- we wonder why",
>>&c., have gotten obstropolous, challenged the bosses' status, and otherwise
>>proven themselves a burden and an embarrassment.
>>Please note that by careful attention to my wording, I have not indicated
>>which political party I have in mind, nor even what country they infest.
>>George A. Thompson
>>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>>Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.
>>The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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