Quote: Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect (slight antedating 1869 March 27) (attrib Bismarck unverified 1944)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 24 04:14:45 UTC 2010

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know
how they are made.

The earliest known citation I can find for this saying is 1869 March
29 presented by Fred Shapiro at the NYT blog (2009 March 5).

Cite: 1869 March 27, University Chronicle: University of Michigan,
Page 4, Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Google Books full view)

"Laws," says that illustrious rhymer, Mr. John Godfrey Saxe, "like
sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they
are made;" and we fancy it is much the same with impeachment trials.


YBQ has an attribution to Otto von Bismarck in 1958. In an "On
Language" column dated 2008 July 21 Fred Shapiro discusses the "law
and sausages" quote and says "the Iron Chancellor was not associated
with that quip until the 1930s". Thus, there is probably a citation in
the 1930s that connects Bismarck to the quotation but I do not know
it. The best I have found so far is an unverified 1944 cite.

Cite: Circa 1944, Government in the United States by Claudius O.
Johnson, Page 335, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York. (Google
snippet view only, not verified on paper)

I think it was Bismarck who said that the man who wishes to keep his
respect for sausages and laws should not see how either is made.


A probe for 1944 produces a snippet of what looks like the copyright
page which says: "Copyright. 1933, 1937, 1940, 1944, by". So the date
of 1944 is plausible. I was only able to check the 1956 (Sixth
edition) of the textbook on paper. I did not find the sausage
quotation. This is unsurprising because Google Books does not give a
match in the 1956 edition.

Would love to hear the specifics for the 1930s cite from any list
member. Alternatively, a verification on paper of this circa 1944 cite
would be nice. Johnson wrote another textbook dated 1945 by GB with
the same quote. A probe with "copyright" produces a snippet that says
"Copyright 1945".

Cite: Circa 1945, American National Government by Claudius O. Johnson,
Page 263, Crowell, New York. (Google snippet view only, not verified
on paper)



If you enjoyed this note then you are a delightful person. You may be
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