Who said it: Mark Twain or Clarence Darrow?


I ended my ruminations on the death of Osama bin Laden yesterday with this quote: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

I said it was by Clarence Darrow, but my sister-in-law just informed me that it has been winging its way around Facebook as being by Mark Twain.
A Google search was inconclusive.  Mark Twain is alleged to have said all kinds of witticisms that he never really said.  Likewise, if Mark Twain isn’t cited it is often Samuel Johnson or Yogi Berra.  But as Yogi once said himself (or did he?), “I didn’t really say everything I said.”
So who said it?

5 thoughts on “Who said it: Mark Twain or Clarence Darrow?

  1. >Rick, I believe that you were correct the first time. The words are recorded in Darrow's The Story of My Life (1932): 'All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike some one they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction' (p. 86 in the 1960 edition published by C. Scribner's Sons).

  2. >Thanks, Jason. So yet another example of the Internet, so helpful in many ways, spreading misinformation. I think the NYT obit cited it as Twain, but perhaps in this poor economy they have fired their fact-checker.

  3. >Regarding the Yogi quote:In a reliable quote published in a 1984 New York Magazine interview, Yogi is quoted (in a context that suggests he never said much at all and that sportswriters manufactured most of his sayings):"I don't remember all the things I say, but I don't mind the saying I said them. Anyway, I thought I said them the right way at the time."This may be the origin of the "never said all those things I said" meme, which is most often rendered as "I didn't really say all those things I said."I will leave the theological implications of this to you. http://books.google.com/books?id=iOUCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=yogi+berra+all+those+things+I+said&source=bl&ots=TwyZ2_bF1W&sig=HHe35xZEgMUW8hyEjbfWdQ5EI_I&hl=en&ei=2PrDTfH5J8XUgQeeuPnMBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22things%20I%20said%3A&f=false

  4. >Martin,Sounds like I need to do a post on Yogi as a forerunner of post-modernism. As in, it doesn't really matter what you say as long as it sounds good when it is picked up in a Google search. Working title: “ Yogi Berra and the Epistemology of Popular Quotations.”Rick

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