Quote about an hourglass by Jean Paul Richter - Request help with German

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 15 16:08:28 UTC 2013

Dear ADSLers: On the Wombats mailing list a request was made to trace
a quotation that has been attributed to  Machiavelli. A list member
presented evidence that connected the expression to "Jean Paul", a
pseudonym of Johann Paul Friedrich Richter.

Perhaps a person who can read German can help with the questions posed
further below.

First, here is an instance of the saying in English in 1837. The
expression was attributed to Jean Paul in the title of the article:
"Original Translations: Scraps from Jean Paul".

[ref] 1837 May 13, New-York Mirror: A Weekly Journal, Devoted to
Literature and the Fine Arts, Volume XIV, Number 46, Original
Translations: Scraps from Jean Paul, Quote Page 362, Column 2, New
York. (Google Books full view) (Metadata supplied for this match by
Google is inaccurate; This data is from the page images)[/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
The more sand has escaped from the hour-glass of our life, the clearer
we should see through it.
[End excerpt]

Using Google Translate for iterative guidance I searched for a German
instance of the saying. I think the excerpt below is a German version
of the quotation. The 2003 book credited Jean Paul Dicther instead of
Jean Paul Richter, but the dates of birth and death match the ones
given for "Jean Paul, pseudonym of Johann Paul Friedrich Richter" in
Encyclopedia Britannica.

Title: Trost für Kranke: Lebensweisheiten aus ärztlicher Sicht
Author: Ernst Lautenbach
Publication: LIT Verlag Münster, 2003
Page: 162
(Google Books Preview)

[Begin excerpt]
Je mehr Sand aus der Lebens-Sanduhr herausgefallen ist, desto heller
sieht man durch das leere Glas hindurch.

Jean Paul, Dichter, 1763-1825, Über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele, II, 1827
[End excerpt]

Using this German text as a template I searched for early instances in
Google Books. Here is a link to a GB page image in a 1795 book by Jean
Paul that seems to contain an instance of the saying in German, Maybe
some German reading Wombat can evaluate this match and decode the

Short link:


There also appears to be an instance in Jean Paul's sämmtliche Werke
(Jean Paul's collected works) published in 1826 shortly after his
death in 1825. Here is the link into GB for evaluation:

Short link:


The goal is to obtain a transcription of the target quotation text
(and some surrounding text) together with a translation to English.
Additional information about the context would be helpful.

How is this related to American dialect? (1) An American high school
student wants to use the quotation in a yearbook. (2) The New-York
Mirror published an aphoristic version in 1837. (3) Maybe it is not on
topic, so I request your forbearance.

Thanks for any help you can provide,
Garson O'Toole

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list