[Ads-l] Anecdote: These pictures are not on trial. It is the visitors who are on trial

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 13 20:37:11 UTC 2021

Thanks for your thoughtful efforts and your response, James. I think
your conjecture is insightful. Thanks for locating an 1874 precursor

In fact, while I was searching I developed the same thesis. Hence, I
included an 1890 religious precursor when I first posted the QI
article although I omitted this citation when I posted to this mailing

[Begin excerpt from QI article]
A precursor in the religious domain appeared within an article by
clergyman Gerald Stanley Lee in the New York periodical “The Christian
Union” in 1890. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:

[ref] 1890 May 1, The Christian Union, Volume 41, Issue 18, For the
“Live Young Man” by Gerald Stanley Lee, Quote Page 647, Column 1, New
York, New York. (ProQuest) [/ref]

The Bible is not on trial before the young men of this century. It is
we who are on trial. Any man who stands off and tries to measure the
Bible with the petty yard-stick of his criticisms is unconsciously
measuring himself, and the more he tries the smaller his measure is.
It is not the Bible that needs young men, but young men that need the
[End excerpt]


On Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 3:06 PM James Eric Lawson <jel at nventure.com> wrote:
> I suspect the origin of the anecdote lies in religious sermonizing.
> Perhaps a biblical forebear of the anecdote sponsored it. Here's an
> early iteration from the 12 Feb 1874 _The Index_ (Boston, MA),
> attributed therein to the slightly earlier sermon of Rev. C.L. Thompson
> in Chicago:
> "So [Thompson] goes on to argue that'the Bible is not on trial before
> the world--the world is on trial before the Bible'" (p 78, #88).
> https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015012321678?urlappend=%3Bseq=88
> On 4/12/21 7:32 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> > Back in December 2020 Bill Mullins mentioned to me (off list) a family
> > of anecdotes that he thought I might find interesting. The anecdotes
> > are about the evaluation of items that have been designated cultural
> > masterpieces. Now the Quote Investigator website has an entry on the
> > topic:
> >
> > https://quoteinvestigator.com/2021/04/11/painting-trial/
> >
> > Here is the earliest instance I located:
> >
> > [ref] 1904 February 13, Congregationalist and Christian World, Volume
> > 89, Issue 7, (Untitled filler item), Quote Page 232, Column 3, Boston,
> > Massachusetts. (ProQuest) [/ref]
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > F. W. Macdonald, Kipling’s Wesleyan preacher uncle, tells an apt story
> > having analogical and homiletical aptness for those talking of the
> > Bible’s permanent worth to men. "Are these masterpieces?" said a
> > tourist in a Florentine gallery. "I must admit that I don’t see much
> > in them myself." Said the reserved doorkeeper, "These pictures are not
> > on trial. It is the visitors who are on trial."
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > [Begin acknowledgement]
> > Great thanks to Brad Verter and Bill Mullins whose inquiry led QI to
> > formulate this question and perform this exploration.
> > [End acknowledgement]
> >
> > Feedback welcome
> > Garson O'Toole
> --
> James Eric Lawson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list