Quote: I shall lose no time in reading it: antedating (1871) (Gladstone 1897) (Disraeli 1898)

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 16 17:00:43 UTC 2010

Part II

A slight change in the search pattern more than doubled the number of
hits. Some appear to be of interest.

The Foreign Quarterly Review. Volume 15. No. 29. March 1835
Art. IV. [Review of] Wanderungen dutch Sicilien und die Levante.
(Wanderings through Sicily and the Levant.) p. 108
> We now lay down the pen, but look forward with pleasure to our traveller's wanderings in the Levant, which we shall lose no time in presenting to the reading public of England.

This places the date much closer to the Boston Unitarians. And, once
again, the use is /not/ ironic.

In another publication--in the preface to a collection of his columns
from the Manchester Examiner and Times--an author cites the line as
"the old equivoque".

There and back; or, Three weeks in America. By John Fox Turner. London: 1883
Preface. p. vii
> It will be no impeachment of the sincerity of this desire to remark, at the same time, that ones friends—so expressing themselves—are not supposed thereby to guarantee that they will either purchase or peruse the pamphlet, respecting which, on the contrary, they may adopt the old equivoque—"We have received your book, and /shall lose no time in reading it/ !"

There is yet another attribution from the late 1890s. This one
attributes the line to Aldrich, but also mentions Holmes.

The Writer. Volume 13(3). March 1900
p. 38/1
> According to a current anecdote, Thomas Bailey Aldrich is said to have received not long ago from an ambitious young author a volume of forbidding length "for him to read." For a moment he was staggered; then a happy inspiration seized him, and he made this delightfully ambiguous reply : "My dear Mr. Smith : I have received your book and shall lose no time in reading it." Dr. Holmes when he was similarly favored always used to write : "My dear Sir: I have received your book of poems, and anticipate much pleasure in reading it." If the kind-hearted Autocrat was ever disappointed in these optimistic anticipations, the author never knew it.

This sandwiches nicely between Garson's finds of January 1900
attribution to Aldrich and the 1902 one to Holmes. Given that the
latter cites "The Writer", it seems this was an editorial
error--unless The Writer republished the line with alternate
attribution or there was someone writing under the pseudonym "the
Writer", the original passage cites Holmes as secondary and clearly
attributes a /different/ line to him. Also note that the same issue
starts out with a passage about Max O'Rell.

p. 36/1
> Max O'Rell calls attention to a serious evil when he says : "An American newspaper is like a shop-window where each article is labeled in loud letters, black and sometimes red, to attract the attention and tickle the eyes of the passerby. The appearance of the American papers is spoiled by all these gigantic headlines, as the whole of this great continent, is disfigured by the advertisements for soap and liver pills."

There is another interesting twist involving Holmes. This one
specifically cites the Disraeli bio and contrasts the line in question
with a completely different one attributed to Holmes--well, not even.
It is a line Holmes claims to have borrowed.

The Independent. Volume 55. No. 2871. New York: December 10, 1903
[Review of Meynell's biography of] Benjamin Disraeli. p. 2932
> To an author from whom he accepted a book he had no intention of reading, he said: "Many thanks: I shall lose no time in reading it ;'' which is hardly as neat, however, as the formula which Oliver Wendell Holmes ascribes to "the master," who, after a few flattering adjectives about a similar presentation volume, added: "I am lying under a sense of obligation."

Yet another attribution pops up, this time in a novel.

A beginner: a novel. By Rhoda Broughton. 1894. p. 244
> Mr. Greville is in what is vulgarly known as a "hole." In point of fact no one would apply a torch with a better will than he to the funeral pyre of "Miching Mallecho," but he is not going to imperil his lately-won and dearly-prized forgiveness by saying so. In his need he summons to his memory all the clever evasions of impossible truths that he has ever heard of, and even distressfully cries to the Jesuits for aid. It is Bishop Wilberforce who in the end comes to his assistance, a happy flash of reminiscence bringing to his mind that prelate's masterly acknowledgment of a presentation copy addressed to the author. "I have received your book, and shall lose no time in reading it."

Although the author--and many others--refer to the expression as
"evasive", it appears to have started out asan earnest one. To make
matters worse, a number of similar late 1890s-early 1900s references
uses the phrase directly to state that the book will not or should not
be read, again, without any hint of "evasiveness" or irony. Many of
these suggest giving interpretive texts a miss and read the Bible


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