[Ads-l] Quote: We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 12 17:09:50 UTC 2015

The Yale Book of Quotations has the following saying attributed to the
English politician Harold Nicolson based on a Readers Digest citation
dated May 1936:

[Begin quotation]
We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.
[End quotation]

I was asked to trace this saying and found that some other works have
assigned the words to the diplomat Dwight Morrow. Below is a revealing
citation. Harold Nicolson wrote a 1935 biography of Morrow and
Nicolson ascribed the adage to Morrow:

[ref] 1975 (Copyright 1935), Dwight Morrow by Harold Nicolson, Quote
Page 50 and 51, Series: Wall Street and the Security Markets,
Published by Arno Press, New York. (Reprint of 1935 Harcourt, Brace
and Company, New York edition) (Verified on paper)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
His magnanimity, again, was something more than a subjectively
generous attitude towards life; it was a positive and energetic
tolerance. "Remember," he would often repeat, "that we are all
inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts."
[End excerpt]

I am still researching the saying. Here is a 1932 citation that credits Morrow:

[ref] 1932 April, The Rattle of Theta Chi, Volume 20, Number 7, Has
Faith in Youth, Start Page 20, Quote Page 20, (Report on speech by
Seward Reese), Official Publication of Theta Chi Fraternity, Published
in Athens, Ohio. (Google Books Full View)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
He believes that the critics of youth make the mistake of judging them
by their attainments rather than their aims, and quotes the late
Dwight Morrow:

"The cause of intolerance and misunderstanding is that we judge
ourselves by our ideals, and others by their deeds."

"Let older people reverse the process," says Reese, "judging
themselves by their actions, and students by their ideals, and it
would end a lot of harsh criticism."
[End excerpt]

There are precursors in the 1800s including a line by the poet Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow. An analysis will probably be posted on the Quote
Investigator website in a week or two.


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

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