Quote: better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool (antedating 1907)

Sun Feb 21 03:27:25 UTC 2010

The text in Mrs. Goose, Her Book appears to be original, except to the extent that it parodies classic nursery rhymes, so there is an excellent possibility that this is the origin of the aphorism.
Although Mrs. Goose, Her Book is a work of humor for adults, its title obviously derives from that of Father Goose, His Book, by L. Frank Baum.  Little known today, it was hugely successful when first published in 1899 and paved the way for Baum's later success with the Oz books and Broadway show.
John Baker


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Garson O'Toole
Sent: Sat 2/20/2010 2:12 PM
Subject: Quote: better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool (antedating 1907)

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and
remove all doubt.

This remark is attributed to Abraham Lincoln in 1931 as noted in the
Yale Book of Quotations. The earliest instance of the quip in YBQ is
dated 1923. Here is a version with a publication date of 1907 and an
internally specified copyright date of 1906. The witticism is

Citation: 1907, "Mrs. Goose, Her Book" by Maurice Switzer, Page 29,
Moffat, Yard & Company, New York. (Google Books full view. WorldCat
agrees with the publication and copyright dates.)

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool,
than to talk and remove all doubt of it

Ralph Keyes in The Quote Verifier notes that there is a Biblical
proverb that makes a related point though without as much humor. A
cross-reference makes sense I think. Of course space is limited in a
physical book, but an ebook or online repository can include the
linkage and some do.

Proverbs 17:28 - King James Version (according to bible.cc)
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that
shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.


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

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