[Ads-l] Catherine the Great Quote

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 31 14:00:07 UTC 2017

I haven't found any early citations for the expression attributed to
Catherine the Great, but the following collection of sayings from an
1894 book may be germane. William S. Walsh did not include the target
remark attributed to Catherine, and I think he would have reprinted it
if he knew of its existence.

Two of the expressions below can be combined to yield something
similar to the target. This may be coincidental:

1) "I am a king; that is my trade" ascribed to Victor Emmanuel.

2) "Dieu me pardonnera. C'est son métier" ("God will pardon me. It is
his trade") ascribed to Heine

Year: 1894
Book: Handy-book of Literary Curiosities
Author: William S. Walsh (William Shepard Walsh)
Publisher: Gibbings & Company, London
Quote Page 984


[Begin excerpt]
Royalist. "I am a royalist by trade," a famous mot attributed to
Joseph II., Emperor of Germany. He was visiting his brother-in-law
Louis XVI. in Paris, travelling, as was his wont, under the incognito
of Count Falkenstein. At an evening party Jefferson, the American
minister, was playing chess with the old duchess. "How happens it, M.
le Comte," asked the latter, "that while we all feel so great an
interest in the cause of the Americans, you say nothing for them?"
"C'est mon métier d'être royaliste," was the reply,–"most unexpected
from a philosophe," is Carlyle's comment. Joseph, it is well known,
had advised against any French assistance to the colonies. But a very
similar sentiment had some years previously been uttered by Frederick
the Great to Dr. Franklin, when the latter sought his aid in
establishing freedom in America. "Born a prince, and become a king, I
shall not employ my power to ruin my own trade," was Frederick's
reply. Did Victor Emmanuel remember these famous sayings when, on
being asked how he could attend to affairs of state after the death of
his mother and his brother in the same year (1855), he replied, "I am
a king; that is my trade"? Heine's audacious and yet strangely
reverent mot on his death-bed springs to mind at once: "Dieu me
pardonnera. C'est son métier" ("God will pardon me. It is his trade").
[End excerpt]

Fred has an entry for the Heine remark in the Yale Book of Quotations:

[Begin excerpt]
Heinrich Heine
German poet, 1797–1856

[Deathbed remark:] Dieu me pardonnera, c’est son métier.
God will pardon me, it is His trade.
Quoted in Alfred Meissner, Heinrich Heine (1856)
[End excerpt]

Below is a citation for the Thomas Carlyle passage mentioned above.

Year: 1837
Book: The French Revolution: A History. In Three Volumes,
Author: Thomas Carlyle
Volume 1: The Bastille
Publisher: James Fraser, London
Quote Page 62


[Begin excerpt]
A spectacle indeed; over which saloons may cackle joyous,—though
Kaiser Joseph, questioned on it, gave this answer, most unexpected
from a Philosophe: "Madame, the trade I live by is that of royalist
(Mon métier à moi c'est d'être royaliste)."
[End excerpt]


On Sat, Jul 29, 2017 at 10:14 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has the following quote listed under Catherine the Great:
> Moi, je serai autocrate: c'est mon metier.  Et le bon Dieu me pardonnera: c'est son metier.  [diacritics omitted]
> I shall be an autocrat: that's my trade.  And the good Lord will forgive me: that's his.
> attributed
> Can anyone help me determine the earliest findable occurrence of this attributed quotation?
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list