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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1978
AUTHOR: Author unknown
QUOTATION: Mr. Toastmaster, Gentlemen: I feel highly honored indeed to be one of the chosen to say a few words this evening. I am requested to respond to the toast: “Water, the purest and most wonderful thing that was ever created.” You, as well as I, have seen it glistening in small globular teardrops on the eyelids of troubled sweethearts and peevish infants, as well as go rushing in torrents down the wrinkled cheeks of the aged ones. And in the early morning I have seen it glistening and sparkling like so many diamonds on the grass blades and the flowers. I have seen it rushing like some wild thing down the rapids of the river, only to flow quietly and lazily where the river widens. I have heard it roar and rumble as it dashed down some steep precipice. And what I have seen—I have seen—Gentlemen, what I want to say is, that as a beverage, it’s a failure.
ATTRIBUTION: Author unknown.—Arthur Leroy Kaser, Good Toasts and Funny Stories, p. 98 (1923). This quotation was submitted to the Queries column of The New York Times Book Review in 1971. One response to the query attributed this toast to a Colonel Bob Maxe at an annual dinner of the Bar Association of North Arkansas. The wording varied, and the attribution has not been verified in a published source.

A more succinct version found its way into Congressional Research Service files: “Gentlemen—I have seen water in all of its majesty, pouring in torrents over great falls, rushing madly through deep gorges, and tossing wildly as waves of the oceans. I have seen it in the frozen stillness of a winter pond, in the flower-like crystals of snow flakes. I have seen it as the soft morning dew, and as the gentle teardrop in the eye of a beautiful lady—But gentlemen, as a beverage, it is a damn failure!”