Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grab Tight, Learn Lots

"But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever going to grow dim or doubtful."

 -- from Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain, (aka Samuel Clemens, 1894)

And that, my friends, is what Mr. Twain actually wrote. Not "A man who grabs a cat by the tail learns something he never forgets" which, while more succinct, is not what the man said.

So there.

But does it really matter what he exactly said? I have fallen prey to the idea that an accurate and direct quote means more, but a moment's reflection shows that to be absurd; language is always evolving, so why shouldn't the wisdom built of it likewise evolve?


All right, then.  I'll try my hand at this.

"She who grabs a cat's tail tightly learns something she is unlikely to forget."

Or even:

"He who grabs an unwilling cat will remember the lesson."

Not bad. Now I think I'll go try it and see if it's true.

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