[Ads-l] "I expected the worst, and it was worse than I expected."

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 6 22:56:00 EST 2020


Interesting topic, JL.
Henry Adams did employ versions of this expression in letters dated
1909 and 1912.

[ref] 1947, Henry Adams and His Friends: A Collection of His
Unpublished Letters, Edited by Harold Dean Cater, Letter From: Henry
Adams, Letter To: Henry Cabot Lodge, Letter Date: September 5, 1909,
Start Page 662, Quote Page 663, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston,
Massachusetts. (Verified with scans) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
My own formula that I always expect the worst, and always find it
worse than I expected, comes into play now with awful application.
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1947, Henry Adams and His Friends: A Collection of His
Unpublished Letters, Edited by Harold Dean Cater, Letter From: Henry
Adams, Letter To: Mabel Hooper La Farge, Letter Date: February 19,
1912, Start Page 728, Quote Page 729, Houghton Mifflin Company,
Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
You know my diagnosis which covers every possible event in life and
saves the trouble of thought: — “I have always expected the worst, and
have always found it worse than I expected.” If you arrange your
expectations on this principle, you can’t go far wrong; but I really
do not divine, and cannot imagine, who is the worse candidate, or will
make the worst president.
[End excerpt]

A variant expression appeared in 1865.

[ref] 1865, A Mere Story by the Author of "Twice lost" (Menella Bute
Smedley), Volume 2 of 3, Chapter 11: Anne At Home, Quote Page 185,
Sampson Low, Son, and Marston, London. (Google Books Full View) [/ref]

https://books.google.com/books?id=7M4BAAAAQAAJ&q=%22hardly+say+this%22#v=snippet&

[Begin excerpt]
"I can hardly say this is worse than I expected," observed he,
"because I expected the worst. There is no way out of this." He mused
again. "I wonder if she knows it!" cried he at last.
[End excerpt]

Garson O'Toole

On Sun, Dec 6, 2020 at 6:14 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> The New York Times quotes a historian who repeats this remark as
> "attributed to Henry Adams."
>
> It doesn't sound much like the Hank I know, but never mind that.
>
> The earliest ex. I can find is from the Ohio State University Lantern in
> 1976:
>
> https://osupublicationarchives.osu.edu/?a=d&d=LTN19760601-01.2.13&e=-------en-20--1--txt-txIN-------
>
> The speaker was Lisa Bauman, 21, OSU marching band member.
>
> 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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