[Ads-l] lies and statistics; Dilke or Darnell or...?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 18 15:10:58 EDT 2016

On July 2, 1892 "The Hastings & St. Leonards Observer" newspaper
reported on a speech given by Mr. F. G. Langham who was supporting the
candidate Mr. Wilson Noble. Langtry used the expression "lies, damned
lies, and statistics", but the convoluted ascription was anonymous.

Date: July 2, 1892
Newspaper: The Hastings & St. Leonards Observer
Newspaper Location: East Sussex, England
Article: Enthusiastic Assembly at the Market Hall: Mr. Noble and the
Irish Question
Start Page 2, Quote Page 3, Column 4
Database: The British Newspaper

[Begin excerpt]
Captain Bryant, in his speech, had not quoted exactly correctly what
had been said the other day about the misrepresentation of the
Radicals. He knew Mrs. Noble would excuse him, but the words used were
"lies, damned lies, and statistics." (Laughter and applause.) He held
in his hand a pamphlet which had been freely distributed in the town,
and which was one of the worst examples and of the worst species of
lies with statistics that could have been issued against Mr. Noble.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 2:08 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> An exact match for the phrase "lies, damned lies, and statistics" was
> ascribed to Mr. Balfour on July 6, 1892. An exact match was also
> published July 2, 1892 and I will share that shortly.
> Balfour was mentioned in the Wikipedia article but no citation was given.
> This is a complex topic and I do not know the date of the earliest
> match with "damned lies", but I hope this citation is useful.
> Date: July 6, 1892
> Newspaper: The Pall Mall Gazette
> Newspaper Location: London, England
> Article: How Large Will It Be
> Quote Page 1, Column 2
> Database: The British Newspaper
> [Begin excerpt]
> WHAT is the outcome of yesterday's results? One thinks at once of Mr.
> BALFOUR'S categories of untruths, "lies, damned lies, and statistics,"
> when one reads the amusing contradictions and audacious
> misrepresentations in the Unionist papers.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 1:05 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
>> Thanks, Garson. Similar reports apparently appeared in many papers.
>> And thanks to John Baker I now have a copy of the Wed. 28 Oct. 1891, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer page 3 [col. 7] article mentioned below. It's a letter to the editor, Oct. 23 from Fair Play in Leeds, "The Religious Census in Liverpool," and the name in the text is Mr. Parnell [Charles Stewart Parnell?] not Mr. Darnell:
>> "Thus real information would be afforded as to the relative numbers of worshippers, and Mr. Parnell's dictum respecting fibs, lies, and statistics might--in one instance at least--be falsified."
>> Stephen Goranson
>> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>> ________________________________________
>> From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 12:27 PM
>> To: ...
>> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] lies and statistics; Dilke or Darnell or...?
>> Based on Stephen's request I looked in the British Newspaper Archive.
>> Here is an instance of "a fib, a lie, and statistics" that was spoken
>> by Sir Charles Dilke and printed October 15, 1891. There are
>> additional pertinent citations I will share soon.
>> Date: October 15, 1891
>> Newspaper: The Nottingham Evening Post
>> Newspaper Location: Nottinghamshire, England
>> Article: Sir Charles Dilke and the Bishops
>> Quote Page 2, Column 6
>> Database: The British Newspaper Archive
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> A mass meeting of the slate quarrymen of Festiniog was held last night
>> to protest against certain dismissals from one of the quarries. Sir
>> Charles Dilke, who was present, was received with cheers, mingled with
>> hisses. He alluded incidentally to the Church Congress, and observed
>> that the speeches of the Bishops on the disestablishment question
>> reminded him that there were three degrees of untruth —a fib, a lie,
>> and statistics.  (Laughter.) As to Welsh questions generally, he
>> contended that Parliament must settle them according to the wishes of
>> Wales, or else give Wales power to settle them herself.
>> [End excerpt]
>> Garson
>> On Wed, May 18, 2016 at 7:14 AM, Stephen Goranson <...> wrote:
>>> We know a great deal about the history and pre-history of "lies, damned lies and statistics." An apparently earlier variant was popularized in many newspapers in 1891, e.g.:
>>> "Sir Charles Dilke was saying the other day that false statements might be arranged according to their degree under three heads, fibs, lies, and statistics." The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Monday, October 19, 1891. Cf. The Derby Mercury, Wednesday, October 21, 1891 and several other newspapers also mentioning Charles Wentworth Dilke (1843-1911). Earlier that year two writers, Thomas Mackay (June 8) and "St. Swithin" (Mrs. Eliza Gutch; Oct. 10) recorded similar versions. E.R.L. Gould attributed the saying to Dilke in Nov. 1894. So Dilke may have been the first, as well as a popularizer.
>>> But here is another early (1891) attribution (from an unconfirmed snippet):
>>> "...two masses. Thus real information would be afforded as the relative numbers of worshippers, and Mr. Darnell's dictum respecting fibs, lies, and statistics, might--in one instance at [least?]..." The discussion seems to be in the context of proposed Disestablishment and Disendowment, as was the case in reports about Dilke. The quote is from Wed. 28 Oct. 1891, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer page 3 via British Newspaper Archive (any subscriber willing to check?). Apparently this Darnell was a solicitor, A. J. Darnell (sometime of Messrs. Darnell and Price, Northampton), and a founder of the Northampton Football Club. Perhaps Darnell got it from the earlier Dilke reports and the reporter didn't know. Or vice versa?
>>> Stephen Goranson
>>> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list