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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Sir George Cornewall Lewis

  • [An English statesman; born in London, 1806; educated at Oxford; entered Parliament, 1847; chancellor of the exchequer, 1855; home secretary, 1859; secretary for war, 1861; died 1863.]
  • Life would be quite tolerable, if it were not for its amusements.

  • Having regard, probably, to that characteristic of the English which led Froissart to say of them in his “Chronicles,” “They take their pleasures sadly.”
  • In Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, the author says, “To turn the gay side of life to him, and give him a notion of its pleasures, whither could I conduct him,—to a ball, to an opera, to court? He might think I was only showing him a diversity of distress and sorrow.”—Essays and Treatises, II. 502. Sir John Cheke, in a letter dated Cambridge, May 30, 1549, wrote: “Oh, what pleasure is it to lacke pleasures!”
  • A tempest in a teapot.

  • Talleyrand, when asked if Geneva were not dull, replied, “Especially when they amuse themselves.”
  • It was of the troubles of the republic of Geneva, near the close of the last century, that the equivalent of our expression, “a tempest in a teapot,” was first used in modern times by, as some say, an Austrian archduke, Leopold; or, according to others, by a Russian, Paul (c’est une tempête dans un verre d’eau). Weber (“Democritus”) assigns it to Linguet, a French advocate and author (1736–1794). It was a proverb in Rome, and is thus used by Cicero, who says that one Gratidius excitabat fluctus in simpulo, ut dicitur.—De Legibus, III. Balzac (“Le Curé de Tours”) refers the French proverb to Montesquieu, speaking of the unstable tenure of office in the republic of San Marino, where a man who seized power one day lost it the next. Athenæus, who wrote in the third century, represents (in “Deipnosophisten,” VIII. 19) the flute-player Dorion ridiculing Timotheos, a virtuoso on the zither, who wished to imitate a storm at sea on his instrument,—“I have heard a greater storm in a boiling teapot.”