Monday, November 25, 2013

Album of the Heart ~ March 13, 1874

From friend Fanny Johnson
I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Researching the origins and authorship of this quote proved quite interesting. It is generally credited to Stephen Grellet, born Ettiene De Grellet du Mabillier (1773 -1855). He was the son of a counselor to King Louis XVI. 

During the French Revolution of 1792 he was sentenced to be executed, but in 1795 he escaped and fled to the United States. Impressed by the writings of William Penn and Quaker beliefs, he joined the Society of Friends in 1796 and became involved in missionary work across North America and Europe.

The quote, with a slight variation in wording, is also attributed to William Penn 1644-1718. He was born in London, the son of an admiral and landowner. He was educated in theology and law and was jailed several times for his resistance to the Church of England. In his twenties he converted to the Quaker religion. In 1681 he received a royal charter to form a new colony in America, to be named Pennsylvania. His vision for this territory was a peaceful refuge for members of all religious beliefs.  
In Cassell's Book of Quotations, published in 1914 by W. Gurney Benham, the author states that every effort to identify the author of this much quoted saying had failed. There seems to be some authority in favor of Stephen Grellet being the author, but the passage does not appear in any of his printed works.

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.
You certainly usually find something, if you look,
but it is not always quite the something you were after.
JRR Tolkien