[Ads-l] Quote: If I owned Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell

Fri Jul 2 12:47:46 EDT 2021

I think the idea of owning two places, of which one is rented out and the other is lived in, has been around for a while.  Normally it’s just a factual statement, not a joke.

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Dan Goncharoff
Sent: Friday, July 2, 2021 12:07 PM
Subject: Re: Quote: If I owned Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell

The phrase is unusual enough to make me ask: is there a "rent out X and
live in Y" that is older?

On Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 11:03 AM Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com<mailto:JBAKER at stradley.com>> wrote:

> Sheridan’s 1880 speech, in which he specifically stated that the quip was
> from 1866, was printed in the Galveston News, Mar. 25, 1880, which is
> available in Gale Primary Sources: Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers.
> Sheridan’s remarks were a reply to a toast, given at a banquet for
> ex-president Grant at the Tremont Hotel in Galveston on Mar. 24, 1880. The
> relevant passage was as follows:
> “Speaking so kindly of Texas – and I speak from my heart – probably I
> ought to explain a remark I once made about it [loud applause], and I can
> do it in this way: It was in 1866. At that time we had some trouble with
> Mexico, and I went down to the border operating under the direction and
> influence of your honored guest here to-night. I went down there to meet
> some of the representatives of the president of that country who were then
> at Chihuahua, and on my return to San Antonio I found a dispatch there
> which required me to go with the greatest haste to New Orleans. I remember
> that I hired relays and coaches from San Antonio to Galveston, so that I
> had only to hitch on the wagon and go speedily. I traveled day and night.
> It was in August and very warm, the dust being about as deep as it is in
> Mexico, where it has not rained for several months. One or two officers
> fell sick and I left them. I arrived in Galveton [sic] covered with dust.
> My eyes and ears and throat were filled with it; and I think I had about as
> much of the soil of Texas on me as would have raised a cotton crop. I went
> to a little hotel (a voice: the Washington); and in that condition, as I
> went up to register, one of these newspaper mem rushed up to me and said
> he: “How do you like Texas?” I was mad, and I said if I owned Texas and
> all hell, I would rent out Texas and live in hell. [Applause.] Now I want
> to assure you that by that expression I only meant to convey how much I was
> disgusted with that newspaper man. It did not represent my opinion of
> Texas, and I know a great deal more about Texas than most people who are
> about here, and I have always had the very highest regard for Texas. Every
> time I visit Texas I think a little more of it than ever before, as Gen.
> Grant said of his country when he came back to it. [Applause.]”
> This version is similar to, but differs somewhat from, the version of the
> speech reprinted in 1938 and included in the Quote Investigator article.
> Let me know if you need a copy of the PDF.
> John Baker
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>> On Behalf Of
> ADSGarson O'Toole
> Sent: Friday, July 2, 2021 4:18 AM
> Subject: Quote: If I owned Hell and Texas, I would rent out Texas and live
> in Hell
> External Email - Think Before You Click
> I received a request from a political pundit to explore the provenance
> of the quip in the subject line. Here is a link to the Quote
> Investigator article:
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/07/01/texas-hell/<https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/07/01/texas-hell><
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/07/01/texas-hell<https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/07/01/texas-hell>>
> The Yale Book of Quotations and Barry Popik have entries on this
> topic. The earliest match I found appeared a couple months before the
> previously known citations.
> [ref] 1866 February 22, The Mobile Daily Times, Communicated from
> TRAVELER to the Editor of Mobile Times, Quote Page 2, Column 1,
> Mobile, Alabama. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> So Gen. Sheridan, who was obliged to stop in Texas awhile on duty,
> said if “he owned Texas and h--l both, he would rent Texas and live in
> h--l!”
> [End excerpt]
> The other most important cites in the QI article are dated July 8,
> 1883 and 1938. The 1938 cite presents an excerpt from a speech by
> General Philip Sheridan that supposedly occurred in 1880. It would be
> nice to have earlier evidence for that speech.
> H. L. Mencken’s “A New Dictionary of Quotations” and Burton
> Stevenson's "The Macmillan Book Of Proverbs" (1948) both claim that
> Sheridan used the expression in 1855. Mencken and Stevenson usually
> provide valuable information, but I have found no evidence before
> 1866.
> Feedback welcome
> Garson O'Toole
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