[Ads-l] Where was Moses?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 16 04:53:03 UTC 2017

In 1830 a book about Bishop Reginald Heber described an incident that
occurred when he was a child circa 1789. The riddle "Where was Moses
when his candle went out?" was posed, and I conjecture that the
intended answer was "In the dark", but young Reginald provided a
different response.

[ref] 1830, The Life of Reginald Heber, D.D. Lord Bishop of Calcutta
by His Widow, Volume 1 of 2, Chapter I Anecdotes (Time 1789), Quote
Page 3, John Murray, London. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
A trifling anecdote will serve to prove his intimate acquaintance with
the Sacred Volume; when he was about seven years old a party of his
young companions were amusing themselves with riddles and cross
questions in the room where he was reading. His attention was
attracted by the question, "Where was Moses when his candle went out?"
"On Mount Nebo," was Reginald's immediate reply; "for there he died,
and it may well be said that his lamp of life went out."
[End excerpt]

By 1908 the sauerkraut response was in circulation.

Date: October 16, 1908
Newspaper: The Allentown Morning Call
Newspaper Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Article: A Way To Improve Banking System
Quote Page 5, Column 5
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Should a financial calamity happen where would the unsecured depositor
be? He would in all probability be where Moses was when the light went
out—down in the cellar eating sauer-kraut.
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 9:01 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> When the lights go out in the London Underground in _Five Million Years to
> Earth_ (1967), the doomed sucker asks rhetorically, "Where was Moses when
> the lights went out?"  He answers himself, "In the dark."
> When my grandmother asked the same question, her answer was the more
> precise but still consistent, "In the cellar eating sauerkraut."
> Go figure.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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