[Ads-l] Adages: Easy writing's vile hard reading & Easy reading is damn hard writing

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 2 19:30:12 UTC 2014

List members: With considerable kindness and alacrity Bonnie sent me
"The Rival Beauties; A Poetical Contest" which included "Clio's
Protest; Or, The Picture Varnished". The date of the introductory
letter was January 26, 1772.

Many thanks,

On Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 12:22 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> I've have received two requests to examine the provenance of the
> following saying:
> Easy reading is damn hard writing.
> During the exploration I've found another statement with a different
> meaning that historically has caused some confusion:
> Easy writing's vile hard reading.
> Now, I hope to create entries for both sayings. The Yale Book of
> Quotations and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations have entries for a
> couplet written by Sheridan. Both claim 1771 as the date of
> composition:
> [Begin excerpt]
>     You write with ease, to show your breeding,
>     But easy writing's vile hard reading.
>       "Clio's Protest" (written 1771)
> [End excerpt]
> Google Books has a 1786 collection titled "The New Foundling Hospital
> for Wit" which included "Clio's Protest", but earlier evidence would
> be desirable.
> Perhaps someone with access to one of the early English databases
> would be willing to look for the couplet above. The goal is to
> construct a complete and accurate citation for the couplet or the full
> poem.
> Below is the earliest citation I've located so far:
> [ref] 1786, The New Foundling Hospital for Wit: Being a Collection of
> Fugitive Pieces, in Prose and Verse, Not in Any Other Collection,
> Poem: Clio's Protest or, the Picture Varnished, Addressed to the
> Honourable Lady M-rg-r-t F-rd-ce, By Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Start
> Page 117, Quote Page 130, Printed for J. Debrett, Opposite Burlington
> House in Piccadilly, London. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
> http://books.google.com/books?id=migJAAAAQAAJ&q=%22vile+hard%22#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> You write with ease, to shew your breeding;
> But easy writing's vile hard reading.
> [End excerpt]
> Your help is appreciated,
> Garson

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

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