[Ads-l] Quote: I quite agree with my friend in the Gallery - but what are two against so many? attributed to George Bernard Shaw

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 25 14:11:38 UTC 2020

Researcher Ralph Keyes's book "Nice Guys Finish Seventh" contains an
exploration of an anecdote about George Bernard Shaw which reportedly
occurred after the first performance of Shaw's comedy "Arms and the
Man" in April 1894 in London. Keyes located citations beginning in

The Quote investigator website now has an entry on this topic with
citations beginning in1896. There is room for further improvement, and
feedback would be welcome.


The earliest match I've located appeared in the Chicago, Illinois
periodical “The Chap-Book ” in November 1896.

[ref] 1896 November 1, The Chap-Book Semi-Monthly, Volume 5, Number
12, George Bernard Shaw by Clarence Rook, Start Page 529, Quote Page
539 and 540, Herbert S. Stone & Company, Chicago, Illinois. (Google
Books Full View) link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
I well remember how at the first night of "Arms and the Man" at the
Avenue Theatre, after the audience had been successively puzzled,
tickled and delighted, Shaw stepped before the curtain to face the
applause. He was tremulous, unnerved, speechless. He looked as though
he had expected cabbage stalks, and was disappointed. Suddenly a man
in the Gallery began to hoot.

Shaw was himself again at once. He opened his lips, and amid the
resulting silence he said, looking at the solitary malcontent. "I
quite agree with my friend in the Gallery — but what are two against
so many?" A single breath of opposition braced his energies. For Shaw
is like the kite, and can rise only when the popularis aura is against
[End excerpt]

British journalist Clarence Rook penned the passage above, and
apparently he directly witnessed Shaw deliver the line in 1894. But
there was a delay before his published account appeared in 1896.


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

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