When the Morning Post —a newspaper to which Coleridge had contributed in the early nineteenth century—began publishing ‘ heartening sayings’ in 1927 under the title ‘The Trivet of Great Thoughts’ ( taking this title from a medieval book reputed to be in the library of St.Victoire in Paris ) and paying half a guinea to readers whose contributions it published– it’s unlikely that any at the Post believed that this feature would prove as popular as it did. Yet six years later five anthologies had been published, including this second pocket edition of 1933, which we at Jot HQ found in the archives.
The Morning Post was the leading Tory newspaper of its day ( in 1937 it was gobbled up by The Daily Telegraph).and was edited by the notorious Tory troublemaker , H. A. Gwynne . Geoffrey Grigson—a socialist —called it a ‘ gentlemanly Fascist paper .and was possibly persuaded to join its staff as the putative Literary Editor when an offer came from one of its journalists, partly by the generous salary offered and partly because of Coleridge, who was then one of the ‘heroes ‘ of his pantheon. The editor of the five anthologies, who called himself ‘Peter Piper’, was possibly E.B. Osborn, who though nominally the Literary Editor, was old and lazy and apparently did little or anything in this role, leaving all the work to Grigson. Incidentally, no copy of Osborn’s autobiography, E.B.O., which according to William Matthews was published in 1937, can be found anywhere in global public collections, the only feasible explanation being that all copies of it were destroyed in a fire. If any in the Jottosphere can find a copy would they please contact Jot 101 urgently?
Someone quoted by Grigson called the Morning Post a newspaper ‘ written by footmen for butlers’. Whether or not this was a caricature of it, Grigson settled in quickly to his new job and found the paper’s ‘ devilry ‘ and total lack of pomposity a refreshing change from puritanical Daily Telegraph and some left-wing papers. We don’t know what Grigson felt about the ‘heartening sayings ‘ of the Pocket Trivet, but it’s likely that he saw in those sayings a fair reflection of the mind-set of some of the Post’s readers. The following selection gives an idea of what the Post felt worthy of publication. Many sayings are anonymous and some are by people of modest or no reputation.
‘You are as young as your sense of humour! When that dies, you must begin to look for crow’s feet.’
‘It is not necessary to grow sadder as we grow wiser’
‘When you are the loser wear a winner’s smile’
‘ A fault which humbles a man is of more use to him than a good action which puffs him up with pride’.
‘ Wait for a certainty and you will certainly wait’.
‘Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week’
Old Spanish saying
‘It is always easier to believe anything than to believe something’
Rev. L. B. Ashby
‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards’
Soren Kierkegaard ( one of the more famous sayings)
‘Every man who can be a first-rate something—who every man can be who is a man at all—has no right to be a fifth-rate something; for a fifth-rate something is no better than a first-rate nothing’
‘Many people have a good aim in life, but they don’t pull the trigger’
‘Your criticism on another is often your verdict on yourself’
‘ A Polish girl in a New York school summed up the difference between an educated and an intelligent man: “ An educated man gets his thinks from someone else, but an intelligent man works his own thinks”.
‘ Begin not with a programme, but with a deed’
‘No one deserves success who is satisfied when it is achieved’
‘The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters’
To be continued…