Quote: Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart (Evidence in 1875)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 18 18:02:21 UTC 2013

The Yale Book of Quotations has an entry for the following quotation
in French with English translation:

N’être pas republicain à vingt ans est preuve d’un manque de coeur;
l’être après trente ans est preuve d’un manque de tête.

Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one
at thirty is proof of want of head.

The YBQ has entries for thematically related expressions by Georges
Clemenceau, George Bernard Shaw, and John Adams. This post
concentrates on statements that are very similar to the one above.

Fred notes that the words above were attributed to François Guizot in
"W. Gurney Benham, A Book of Quotations, new and rev. ed. (1948)."
Fred also notes "Benham asserts that ‘‘Clemenceau adapted this saying,
substituting ‘socialiste’ for 'republicain.'"

I received a request about this entry from a professor who is
preparing an article for The Chronicle Review. HathiTrust claims there
is a match for the saying in the 1936 edition of "Benham’s book of
quotations, proverbs and household words". So I asked a friend to look
in the 1936 and 1924 editions. Maybe Fred has already done this.

François Guizot died in 1874, so I also searched for earlier evidence
matching (somewhat closely) the above saying. Here is a citation in
1875 where the words were attributed to "Burke":

Book Title: Portraits Contemporains
Author: Jules Claretie
Year: 1875
Volume: 1
Chapter Topic: M. Casimir Périer
Start Page: 51
Quote Page: 55
Publisher: Librairie Illustrée, Paris


[Begin excerpt]
M. Batbie, dans une lettre trop célèbre, citait un jour, pour
expliquer ses variations personnelles et bizarres, ce paradoxe de
Burke : « Celui qui n'est pas républicain à vingt ans fait douter de
la générosité de son âme; mais celui qui, après trente ans, persévère,
fait douter de la rectitude de son esprit. »
[End excerpt]

[Begin Poor Google Translation]
Mr. Batbie in a letter too famous, quoted a day to explain his
personal and bizarre variations, this paradox of Burke: "He who is not
republican at twenty casts doubt on the generosity of his soul, but he
who, after thirty years, persevere, casts doubt on the correctness of
his mind."
[End Google Translation]

Any suggestions for the intended identity of "Burke"? Do you think the
writer meant Edmund Burke?

If someone is willing to improve this translation please contact me on
or off list.
Thanks, Garson

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

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