query for phrase finders

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 17 01:23:02 UTC 2014

Thanks much, Garson; these are excellent.  I suspected before I started that it was at least as old as the 19th c. (seems like something from "the other Victorians"), and this one seems pretty close to our phrasing.  Actually, I had forgotten that one of my web hunts last week led me to _My Secret Life_, when I was just searching under "prick" + "conscience" and not insisting on the non-nominal components of the standing…er, standard contemporary version.  Jefferson would best both "Anonymous" and our poor Spermatorrhoetic below, but seems unlikely to have done so.


On Apr 16, 2014, at 9:11 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

> LH: Here's a close match in English in 1896.
> Date: June 1896
> Journal: The Eclectic Medical Gleaner
> Volume 7, Number 6
> Article: Spermatorrhoea
> Start Page 150
> Quote Page 151
> http://books.google.com/books?id=eGIDAAAAYAAJ&q=%22an+erect%22#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> The young man needs all the moral bracing he can get, and with all
> that, enough of them go to the devil by the "wine-women" route. An
> erect penis has no conscience—It should be kept under control, not
> given its own head. Shame on the man who will suffer himself to be
> victimized by his sexual passion. He deserves what he will get in the
> end—hell
> [End excerpt]
> On Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 8:20 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      query for phrase finders
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> "A stiff prick has no conscience."
>> I haven't been able to trace this one by searching in YBOQ or online sites, in most of which it doesn't appear at all. It does show up in profusion on the web, attributed or "attributed" variously (and in some cases I assume jocularly) to Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Don Iovino, Thomas Jefferson, Confucius, and F. E. L. Bell of Lunenburg, Massachusetts, among others, but often just shows up as "popular wisdom", "a World War II saying", "an ancient truism", an espied graffito, etc. No Twain or Lincoln this time.  No doubt the line appears in Miller's Tropic of Capricorn (and maybe of Cancer too), and quite possibly in Mailer, but I suspect the truism had already been around for awhile by then, and probably well before the World War II dates. I think I may have even once come across its German equivalent (in Freud?).  In any someone must have said it/written it first; perhaps it appears with slightly different wording or syntax.  Anyone know?
>> LH
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