[Ads-l] Quote: Do all the good you can; in all the ways you can

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 24 12:58:28 EDT 2016

Below is a version of "Wesley's Rule" that appeared in a 1915
collection of letters by the influential religious figure John Wesley
who died in 1791:

'Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.'

The words above did not appear in the body of a letter, and
researchers have been unable to find them in the Wesley's sermons.
There are many version of this multipart saying. Apparently, the
saying was assigned to Wesley many years after his death.

The earliest close match I found appeared in 1852. The expression was
ascribed to "Dr. Murray".

[ref] 1852, The Riches that Bring No Sorrow by The Rev. Erskine Neale,
Chapter 6: Cavendish—The Philosopher, Quote Page 110, Longman, Brown,
Green, and Longmans, London. (Google Books Full View)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
And one--the most legitimate--inference from the Sacred Volume was
systematically overlooked: “Do all the good you can; in all the ways
you can; to all the people you can; and just as long as you can.”
(Footnote dagger)

(Footnote dagger) Dr. Murray.
[End excerpt]

Here is a link to the analysis on the Quote Investigator website:

A close match before 1852 would be interesting, I think.

In 1873 john Wesley was credited with an instance of the saying. An
earlier ascription to Wesley would be interesting, I think.


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

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