[Ads-l] Bogus Poe attribution

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 23 11:28:08 EDT 2017


Edgar Allan Poe seems to be the leading candidate.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (2003) has a pertinent entry:

[Begin excerpt]
BELIEVE nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see

Cf. a 1300 Proverbs of Alfred (1907) 35 Gin thu neuere leuen alle
monnis spechen, Ne alle the thinge that thu herest singen;

1770 C. CARROLL Letter 4 Sept. in Maryland Hist. Mag. (1918) XIII. 58
You must not take Everything to be true that is told to you.

1845 in Graham's Mag. Nov. 194 You are young yet .. but the time will
arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself … Believe nothing you
hear, and only one half that you see.
[End excerpt]

The first citation for the popular saying with "half" is from 1845. In
fact, that citation points to the story by Edgar Allan Poe.

HathiTrust has the November 1845 issue of Graham's Magazine. Here is a
link to the page of Poe's story containing the saying:

https://hdl.handle.net/2027/chi.29908254
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/chi.29908254?urlappend=%3Bseq=236

H. L. Mencken has an entry with an 1858 citation.

[ref] 1942, A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles
from Ancient and Modern Sources, Selected and Edited by H. L. Mencken
(Henry Louis Mencken)Section: Belief, Quote Page 96, Column 2, Alfred
A. Knopf. New York. (Verified on paper)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
DINAH MULOCK CRAIK: A Woman's Thoughts, 1858 (Quoted as "a cynical saying")
[End excerpt]

Nigel Rees has also has an entry in "The Best Guide to Humorous
Quotations" (2011) with an 1858 citation

[Begin excerpt]
Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.
Anonymous. Quoted in Mrs (Dinah) Craik, A Woman’s Thoughts (1858).
[End excerpt]

Garson


On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:02 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Edgar Allan Poe did employ the saying in "The System of Doctor Tarr
> and Professor Fether". Apparently, this story was published in
> Graham's Magazine in November 1845.
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> 'You are young yet, my friend,' replied my host, 'but the time will
> arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself of what is going on
> in the world without trusting to the gossip of others:--Believe
> nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
>
> On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:16 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Andre Bauer, former Lt. Gov. of SC:, on CNN:
>>
>> "You know, Edgar Allan Poe once said, 'Believe half of what you see and
>> nothing of what you hear,' and we really haven't seen a whole lot of
>> evidence that said Russia tried to help one party versus another."
>>
>> An odd quote to be fathered on Poe. Bauer must have meant Mark Twain,
>> Winston Churchil, or Shakespeare.l
>>
>> JL
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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