Quote: "Horace Greeley is 'a self-made man who worships his Creator'" (1868)

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Wed Jun 11 14:11:16 UTC 2014

From: Charles C Doyle

Good quotations, Robin.  However, isn't the essence of the joke or quip not
the concept of the self-made man per se, but rather the follow-up point
about his worship or adoration his creator?


It probably +is+ a bit of a stretch, Charlie, but an earlier occasion where
Shakespeare has an echo of this bit of Pico perhaps does suggest a degree of

Richard (to be III) of Gloucester in 3 Henry VI, V.vi:

        I have no brother, I am like no brother;
        And this word 'love,' which graybeards call divine,
        Be resident in men like one another
        And not in me: I am myself alone.

The self-creating figures in Shakespeare who show traces of Pico's statement
(Edmund in Lear, Parolles in All's Well) do tend to be self-loving lads (to
misapply a phrase from Fulke Greville).

Then there's Mosca in Ben Jonson's Volpone, III,i: "I fear I shall begin to
grow in love / With my dear self ..."

A stretch, I agree, but maybe we have a set of statements linked around
certain figures in English Renaissance Drama that re-surface later,
independently, via the Greeley joke, with the same point being made in a
different fashion.

But yes, a loooong stretch ...


Poster:       Robin Hamilton

From: ADSGarson O'Toole

There is a family of jokes that follow two basic templates:

He is a self-made man, and he worships his creator.
He is a self-made man, and he adores his maker

Reminds me of Coriolanus, "[I] will stand / As if a man were author of
himself / And knew no other kin". (V.iii).

Possibly echoing Pico della Mirandola, _Oration_, where man is somewhat
heretically suggested to be "the maker and moulder of himself".

So the trope maybe can be carried back as far as the Renaissance Phoenix of
his time.

Robin Hamilton

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

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

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