Theodore Roosevelt? Albert Einstein? Benjamin Franklin? Samuel Smiles? mock Billings? Mr. Phelps? G. K. Chesterton? Robert smith Surtees? Joseph Conrad? will Rogers? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: mistakes are inescapable in the life that an energetic and vital person. Numerous adages to mark this crucial theme:

1) A male who never ever makes a failure will never ever make anything.2) The person who never made a mistake never ever tried anything new.3) A other who never makes a mistake need to get exhausted of act nothing.

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Many famous names have been connected to sayings of this kind including Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and also Albert Einstein. Would you please study this topic?

Quote Investigator: This is a large and complicated topic. Below is a an introduction that presents a perform of expressions that fit right into this family together with dates and also attributions:

1832: that who never ever makes an effort, never dangers a failure. (Anonymous)

1859: that who never ever made a mistake, never made a discovery. (Samuel Smiles)

1874: The man who never ever makes enny blunders seldum renders enny good hits. (Josh Billings)

1889: A male who never makes a mistake will never make anything. (Attributed: Mr. Phelps)

1896: It’s just those who perform nothing the make no mistakes. (Joseph Conrad)

1900: The only man who never ever makes a wrong is the man who never ever does anything. (Solid Attribution: Theodore Roosevelt)

1901: display me a man who has never do a mistake, and also I will present you one who has never tried anything. (Anonymous)

1903: The man who does points makes plenty of mistakes, yet he never ever makes the best mistake that all—doing nothing. (Poor Richard Junior’s Philosophy)

1911: The fellow who never makes any kind of failures, never makes any kind of successes either. (Anonymous)

1927: Every male makes mistakes; they say a male who never makes mistakes never makes anything else. (G. K. Chesterton)

1936: The man who does things makes numerous mistakes, however he never ever makes the best mistake the all—doing nothing. (Flawed Attribution: Benjamin Franklin)

1969: The man who never makes a mistake must obtain plenty worn down of law nothing. (Anonymous)

1993: The guy who never makes a mistake should get exhausted of law nothing. (Weak Attribution: will Rogers)

1995: A human who never ever made a mistake never ever tried anything new. (Weak Attribution: Albert Einstein.)

Here room selected citations in chronological order.

In 1832 “The brand-new Sporting Magazine” of London published a remark within the ambit the this theme. The phrasing suggested that the writer was no claiming coinage. Boldface has actually been added to excerpts: 1

It has actually been justly observed, the he who never makes an effort, never risks a failure, and, “In great attempts ’tis glorious to fail!”

In 1850 the saying about effort and also failure appeared in among the popular comical tales featuring the personality Soapey Sponge through Robert blacksmith Surtees which to be serialized in “The new Monthly Magazine and Humorist”: 2

“I don’t wish, sir, to dissuade you, sir, native the attempt, sir,” ongoing Mr. Bragg; “far from it, sir—for he, sir, who never ever makes one effort, sir, never dangers a failure, sir, and also in great attempts, sir, ’tis glorious come fail, sir;”

Samuel Smiles to be an influential number in the field of an individual development literature. In 1859 he released “Self-Help: v Illustrations that Character and Conduct” and included the following: 3

We discover wisdom from failure more than native success: we often uncover what will certainly do, through finding the end what will certainly not do; and he who never made a mistake, never made a discovery.

In the nineteenth century the reputation of humorist mockery Billings was comparable to that of the luminary mark Twain. Billings offered dialectical order such as “enny” because that “any” and also “seldum” for “seldom”. The 1874 volume “Everybody’s Friend: Or josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and also Proverbial ideology of Wit and also Humor” contained this adage: 4

The male who never makes enny blunders seldum provides enny an excellent hits.

In February 1889 the well-known London humor magazine “Punch” explained a farewell banquet for an American minister named Mr. Phelps throughout which the adage was spoken. QI walk not know the very first name of Mr. Phelps: 5

Telling epigram by Mr. Phelps, “A man who never makes a wrong will never make anything.” Mr. Phelps must have made plenty of mistakes, or he never would have made this epigram; because that this is an epigram and also no mistake!

In April 1889 a spiritual periodical dubbed “The Unitarian Review” printed an instance of the saying attributed to Phelps. The phrasing to be slightly different: 6

He comforts himself, meanwhile, v Mr. Phelps’s so late dictum, that “a man who never ever makes mistakes never makes anything.”

In 1891 a writer in “Punch” magazine discussed the adage ascribed come Phelps and was reminded the a thematically connected saying that appeared in the searching novel through Surtees featuring Soapey Sponge: 7

“The guy who never ever makes a mistake, never makes anything,” stated Mr. Phelps, the American Minister, in the food of a bye after-dinner speech. Keep going to it is in re-reading Mr. Surtees’ inimitable Soapy Sponge, we find that Mr. Bragg, when using for the situation of Huntsman come Mr. Puffington, remarked, “He, Sir, who never ever makes one effort, Sir, never dangers a failure,” i m sorry is just the premiss come Mr. Phelps’s commemorated conclusion.

In 1896 the prominent literary figure Joseph Conrad published “An Outcast that the Islands” which contained an instance: 8

“Well! well! It’s only those who perform nothing the make no mistakes, i suppose. However it’s hard. Hard.”

In 1897 a fraternal organization dubbed “The Concatenated stimulate of Hoo-Hoo” published a newsletter that contained a wistful poem on the theme. The an initial verse of the poem shows up below: 9

A man who never ever makes mistakes never makes anything else. This is a thought which has afforded great consolation to the writer, who provides several hundreds mistakes a day. Possibly there room others in the stimulate to who the adhering to poem, clipped native a Chicago daily, might appeal:


There to be a guy who never madeA blunder in his life;He love a girl, however was afraidIf she ended up being his wifeThat he or she might rue the dayThat carried them bliss; and soHe placed the delight awayThat wedded lovers know.

In 1900 “The American Monthly review of Reviews” published a file of Theodore Roosevelt who was elevated native the Vice-Presidency to the Presidency the the U.S. During the next year. The short article was written by a long-time friend of Roosevelt’s named Jacob A. Riis that reported the the an effective politician to work the adage. QI believes this attribution is solid, however the expression was already in circulation and also Roosevelt was not the coiner: 10

Roosevelt is no an ext infallible 보다 the rest of us. Over and also over again I have actually seen the pause when he had made decision upon his line of action, and review the to watch where there was a opportunity for mistake. Recognize none, the would concern his order with the sober comment: “There, we have done the ideal we could. If there is any type of mistake we will make that right. The fear of the shall no deter united state from doing our duty. The only man who never ever makes a failure is the guy who never ever does anything.”

In July 1901 a version of the adage using the word “tried” appeared in lot of newspapers. In “The Dallas Morning News” it was printed as component of a team under the title “The Maxims the Judy”. In “The Philadelphia Inquirer” the title to be “Maxims that Success: principles of an excellent Conduct Which carry Their very own Reward”: 11 12

Show me a man who has never do a mistake, and also I will present you one who has actually never tried anything.

A remark comparable to the one over has been attributed come Albert Einstein, yet the earliest recognized linkage emerged in 1995, i.e., lengthy after the fatality of Einstein. The in-depth citation is listed further below.

Also in 1901 “The Outlook” serialized one autobiography that Jacob A. Riis, and also the author again mentioned Theodore Roosevelt’s use of the maxim. The phrasing that this instance was slightly different: 13

Good land! what are we that we should think ourselves always right, or, lest we perform wrong, sit idle every our lives waiting because that light? The light comes as we occupational toward it. Roosevelt was right as soon as he claimed that the only one who never makes mistakes is the one who never ever does anything.

In 1902 “The Cosmopolitan” serialized the story of chairman Roosevelt by Riis, and the saying was when again connected to the politician: 14

I suppose Roosevelt has actually made mistake in his day. I was for this reason much more interested in points he did that were of actual account the it never arisen to me come look because that his mistakes. The is no more infallible than the rest of us. No doubt that made mistakes, but he learned native them. “The just man,” he used to say, “who provides no mistake is the male who never does anything.”

In February 1902, a month ~ the article over was published, the periodic “Printers’ Ink” contained the complying with filler item: 15

“THE only man who provides no failure is the man who never ever does anything.”—President Roosevelt.

In 1903 “The medicine Era” published an instance of the maxim in addition to a remark attributed to the famed Russian writer Leo Tolstoy: 16

Tolstoi says, ‘He who never ever does anything wrong, seldom, if ever, go anything right,’ and a guy whom I understand you an especially admire expresses the very same thing as soon as he says, ‘A guy who never ever makes mistakes, never ever makes anything.’ all the wise men of all ages have called attention to the one properties in i beg your pardon all humanity is alike, namely the legal responsibility to do mistakes.

In 1903 “The Saturday evening Post” published a arsenal of sayings under the location “Poor Richard Junior’s Philosophy”. This rubric later on caused substantial confusion. The variation of the adage given below should be attributed to the magazine editors and not to Benjamin Franklin: 17

The male who does things makes many mistakes, however he never makes the best mistake of all—doing nothing.

“Poor Richard’s Almanack” was published by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s, and also Franklin included many proverbs and also maxims in the popular series of references. Thus, the label “Poor Richard” has been closely connected with Franklin. However, words “Junior” suggested that the maxims in “The Saturday night Post” were no from Franklin’s original texts. The editors to be attempting to construct a brand-new collection for modern-day readers.

In 1903 “The national Leaflet” periodical published an instance similar to the one above as a filler item without attribution: 18

Whoever embarked on to perform anything in this civilization probably do mistakes, but no failure so an excellent as that of law nothing.

In 1906 an instance with words “tried” was attributed to a character named “Barber Joe” in the periodic “The Summary”: 19

“A man, sir, who has actually never do a wrong is a guy who has actually never tried to perform anything, and goes with life solve to it is in alive,” said Barber Joe. “He never advances humanity or business, and lives a sing-song presence that makes him a sort of barnacle top top the face of the earth.

In 1911 a variant was printed in a Topeka, Kansas newspaper with credit given to an unnamed dentist: 20

For I have noticed this: the fellow who never makes any kind of failures, never makes any kind of successes either.

In 1927 the popular English writer G. K. Chesterton consisted of an instance in his novel “The Return the Don Quixote”, yet he disclaimed coinage: 21

Every male makes mistakes; they speak a male who never ever makes mistakes never makes something else. yet do girlfriend think a man could make a mistake and also not do anything else? perform you think he might die having actually missed the opportunity to live?

By 1936 the variation of the saying printed in the “The Saturday evening Post” in 1903 had been wrongly reassigned to Benjamin Franklin in a syndicated newspaper column: 22

Benjamin Franklin when said: “The male who does points makes plenty of mistakes, yet he never makes the biggest mistake the all—doing nothing.”

In 1954 the attribution to Franklin ongoing to circulate in a Greensboro, north Carolina newspaper: 23

“The guy who go things,” created Benjamin Franklin, “makes plenty of mistakes however he never makes the biggest mistake the all—doing nothing.”

In 1969 a variation with the word “tired” showed up in multiple newspapers as a filler item without attribution. For example, “The Mexia everyday News” the Texas published it in November. Interestingly, through 1993 the “tired” version had actually been assigned to the renowned humorist will Rogers who died in 1935: 24

The male who never makes a wrong must obtain plenty exhausted of law nothing.

In 1970 a Sikeston, Missouri newspaper connected the “tired” adage to someone named Vernon Martin: 25

Vernon young name says: “The guy who never makes a mistake must get pretty worn down of law nothing.”

In 1993 a syndicated columnist named L.M. Boyd ascribed the saying with “tired” to funnyman will Rogers: 26

“The guy who never makes a mistake have to get exhausted of act nothing.” That’s another of will Rogers’ lines.

In 1995 the “Syracuse Herald-Journal” published a file of a recent graduate of Syracuse university in new York. Her chosen motto was attributed to Albert Einstein, and also this to be the an initial linkage to Einstein seen by QI. This version used the native “tried”, and also it remained in circulation by 1901 without attribution: 27

Do you have actually a motto? “A person who never made a mistake never ever tried noþeles new.” (Albert Einstein.)

In 1998 a south Dakota newspaper printed a various phrasing that the saying and attributed the words to Einstein: 28

‘Anyone who has actually never make a mistake has never make the efforts anything new.’Albert Einstein

In conclusion, this family members of maxims has actually been evolving for more than one-hundred and also fifty years. Instances have been employed by several influential individuals. Samuel Smiles placed a version in his significant 1859 self-help book. Mock Billings had his distinctive variation in a compilation published in 1874.

Someone called Mr. Phelps spoke a version that was recorded in “Punch” newspaper in 1889. Joseph Conrad consisted of a version in an 1896 novel, however it was not a version that the coined.

Theodore Roosevelt to work the speak by 1900 as provided by his biographer Jacob A. Riis, but it was not a version that the crafted. Roosevelt popularized a saying that was already in circulation.

G. K. Chesterton to work an circumstances in a 1929 novel, but he did not coin it. In 1936 a version was mistakenly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. This error was probably induced directly or indirect by a misinterpretation the the brand “Poor Richard Junior”.

In 1993 an instance was attributed to will Rogers. QI has uncovered no substantive evidence for this link to a saying that appeared without attribution in 1969.

In 1995 an circumstances was ascribed to Albert Einstein. QI has uncovered no substantive support for this linkage, and a similar remark was released in 1901 there is no attribution.

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Image Notes: Portrait that Samuel Smiles by teacher George Reid given to the nationwide Portrait gallery in London. Portrait of mockery Billings (pseudonym the Henry Wheeler Shaw) in the Harvard Theatre Collection. Portrait the Theodore Roosevelt by man Singer Sargent. Images accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Images have been cropped and also resized.

(Great many thanks to Marian T. Wirth that inquired around the saying regularly attributed to Albert Einstein. Also an excellent thanks to Clay Harris who inquired around the saying ascribed come Theodore Roosevelt. Their messages led QI to build this question and perform this exploration.)