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

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

1) A man who never makes a mistake will never ever make anything.2) The human being who never made a mistake never tried anything new.3) A other who never makes a mistake should get worn down of doing nothing.

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Many famed names have been attached to sayings that this kind including Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein. Would certainly you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: This is a large and facility topic. Below is a an overview that presents a list of expressions the fit right into this family in addition to dates and also attributions:

1832: that who never ever makes one effort, never risks a failure. (Anonymous)

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

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

1889: A guy who never ever makes a failure will never make anything. (Attributed: Mr. Phelps)

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

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

1901: present me a guy who has never make a mistake, and also I will show you one who has actually never do the efforts anything. (Anonymous)

1903: The guy who does things makes many mistakes, but he never ever makes the greatest mistake the all—doing nothing. (Poor Richard Junior’s Philosophy)

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

1927: Every man makes mistakes; they speak a male who never makes mistakes never makes noþeles else. (G. K. Chesterton)

1936: The male who does points makes plenty of mistakes, but he never ever makes the biggest mistake that all—doing nothing. (Flawed Attribution: Benjamin Franklin)

1969: The male who never ever makes a mistake must gain plenty worn down of law nothing. (Anonymous)

1993: The male who never ever makes a mistake have to get worn down of act nothing. (Weak Attribution: will certainly Rogers)

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

Here space selected citations in chronological order.

In 1832 “The brand-new Sporting Magazine” the London released a remark in ~ the ambit the this theme. The phrasing indicated that the writer was no claiming coinage. Boldface has actually been included to excerpts: 1

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

In 1850 the saying around effort and failure appeared in one of the famous comical story featuring the personality Soapey Sponge by Robert blacksmith Surtees which to be serialized in “The new Monthly Magazine and also Humorist”: 2

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

Samuel Smiles to be an influential figure in the field of personal development literature. In 1859 he published “Self-Help: with Illustrations the Character and Conduct” and also included the following: 3

We discover wisdom native failure more than indigenous success: we often find what will do, through finding out what will not do; and he who never made a mistake, never made a discovery.

In the nineteenth century the reputation of humorist mockery Billings was similar to the of the luminary note Twain. Billings provided dialectical assignment such together “enny” because that “any” and also “seldum” for “seldom”. The 1874 volume “Everybody’s Friend: Or mock Billing’s Encyclopedia and also Proverbial approach of Wit and also Humor” consisted of this adage: 4

The man who never ever makes enny blunders seldum renders enny an excellent hits.

In February 1889 the well-known London feeling magazine “Punch” described a farewell banquet for an American minister called Mr. Phelps during which the adage to be spoken. QI does not know the an initial name the 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; for this is an epigram and no mistake!

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

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

In 1891 a writer in “Punch” magazine stated the adage ascribed to Phelps and also was reminded of a thematically connected saying that appeared in the searching novel by Surtees special Soapey Sponge: 7

“The man who never makes a mistake, never makes anything,” claimed Mr. Phelps, the American Minister, in the course of a taking leave after-dinner speech. Happening to it is in re-reading Mr. Surtees’ inimitable Soapy Sponge, we discover that Mr. Bragg, when applying for the case of Huntsman to Mr. Puffington, remarked, “He, Sir, who never ever makes an effort, Sir, never dangers a failure,” i beg your pardon is just the premiss to Mr. Phelps’s commemorated conclusion.

In 1896 the influential literary figure Joseph Conrad published “An Outcast that the Islands” which consisted of an instance: 8

“Well! well! It’s only those who execute nothing the make no mistakes, ns suppose. But it’s hard. Hard.”

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

A male who never makes mistakes never ever makes anything else. This is a thought which has actually afforded great consolation come the writer, who renders several hundred mistakes a day. Probably there room others in the stimulate to whom the following poem, clipped from a Chicago daily, may appeal:


There was a man who never ever madeA blunder in his life;He love a girl, however was afraidIf she became his wifeThat he or she can rue the dayThat brought them bliss; and soHe put the joy awayThat wedded lover know.

In 1900 “The American Monthly testimonial of Reviews” published a profile of Theodore Roosevelt that was elevated from the Vice-Presidency come the Presidency the the U.S. During the following year. The post was written by a long-time girlfriend of Roosevelt’s called Jacob A. Riis who reported the the an effective politician to work the adage. QI trust this attribution is solid, but the expression was currently in circulation and Roosevelt was no the coiner: 10

Roosevelt is no an ext infallible 보다 the remainder of us. Over and also over again I have actually seen the pause once he had chose upon his heat of action, and review the to check out where there was a possibility for mistake. Detect none, that would concern his order with the sober comment: “There, we have done the best we could. If over there is any kind of mistake we will certainly make the right. The are afraid of it shall no deter us from doing our duty. The only guy who never ever makes a failure is the guy who never ever does anything.”

In July 1901 a version of the adage using words “tried” showed up in lot of newspapers. In “The Dallas Morning News” that was printed as component of a group under the title “The Maxims the Judy”. In “The Philadelphia Inquirer” the title was “Maxims of Success: values of good Conduct Which carry Their own Reward”: 11 12

Show me a guy who has actually never do a mistake, and I will present you one who has never do the efforts anything.

A remark comparable to the one above has been attributed come Albert Einstein, but the earliest known linkage emerged in 1995, i.e., lengthy after the death of Einstein. The thorough citation is detailed further below.

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

Good land! what are we that we need to think ourselves always right, or, lest we do wrong, sit idle every our resides waiting for light? The light comes together we occupational toward it. Roosevelt to be right when he said that the only one who never ever makes mistakes is the one who never does anything.

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

I intend Roosevelt has made mistake in his day. Ns was for this reason much an ext interested in things he did the were of actual account the it never occurred to me to look because that his mistakes. That is no much more infallible than the rest of us. No doubt he made mistakes, however he learned from them. “The just man,” he supplied to say, “who renders no mistakes is the guy who never ever does anything.”

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

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

In 1903 “The pharmaceutical Era” released an instance of the maxim in addition to a remark attributed come the renowned Russian writer Leo Tolstoy: 16

Tolstoi says, ‘He who never ever does anything wrong, seldom, if ever, walk anything right,’ and also a guy whom I know you an especially admire expresses the exact same thing as soon as he says, ‘A guy who never ever makes mistakes, never makes anything.’ all the wise males of all eras have referred to as attention come the one characteristics in which all humanity is alike, namely the liability 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 version of the adage given below should be attributed to the newspaper editors and also not to Benjamin Franklin: 17

The man who does points makes many mistakes, yet he never ever makes the greatest mistake of all—doing nothing.

“Poor Richard’s Almanack” was released by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s, and Franklin contained many proverbs and also maxims in the popular collection of references. Thus, the brand “Poor Richard” has been closely associated with Franklin. However, the word “Junior” indicated that the maxims in “The Saturday night Post” were no from Franklin’s initial texts. The editors were attempting to build a brand-new collection for modern-day readers.

In 1903 “The national Leaflet” periodical printed an instance comparable to the one over as a filler item without attribution: 18

Whoever took on to execute anything in this world probably make mistakes, yet no wrong so good as the of law nothing.

In 1906 an instance with the word “tried” was credited to a character called “Barber Joe” in the magazine “The Summary”: 19

“A man, sir, who has actually never made a failure is a guy who has never make the efforts to do anything, and goes through life solve to be alive,” stated Barber Joe. “He never advancements humanity or business, and also lives a sing-song existence that makes him a kind of barnacle ~ above the face of the earth.

In 1911 a different was printed in a Topeka, Kansas newspaper v credit offered to one unnamed dentist: 20

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

In 1927 the well-known English writer G. K. Chesterton consisted of an circumstances in his novel “The Return of Don Quixote”, but he disclaimed coinage: 21

Every man makes mistakes; they say a guy who never makes mistakes never makes noþeles else. but do friend think a man could make a mistake and also not do anything else? carry out you think he can die having actually missed the chance to live?

By 1936 the version of the saying published in the “The Saturday night Post” in 1903 had actually been incorrectly reassigned to Benjamin Franklin in a syndicated newspaper column: 22

Benjamin Franklin as soon as said: “The male who does points makes plenty of mistakes, but he never ever makes the best mistake of all—doing nothing.”

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

“The guy who does things,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, “makes numerous mistakes but he never ever makes the best mistake that all—doing nothing.”

In 1969 a version with the word “tired” showed up in multiple papers as a filler item without attribution. For example, “The Mexia day-to-day News” the Texas published it in November. Interestingly, by 1993 the “tired” version had been assigned come the well-known humorist will Rogers who died in 1935: 24

The man who never makes a wrong must get plenty exhausted of law nothing.

In 1970 a Sikeston, Missouri newspaper attached the “tired” adage come someone called Vernon Martin: 25

Vernon boy name says: “The man who never ever makes a failure must obtain pretty worn down of act nothing.”

In 1993 a syndicated columnist called L.M. Boyd ascribed the saying v “tired” come funnyman will Rogers: 26

“The man who never makes a mistake should get worn down of act nothing.” That’s another of will Rogers’ lines.

In 1995 the “Syracuse Herald-Journal” printed a file of a recent graduate that Syracuse university in brand-new York. Her favored motto was attributed to Albert Einstein, and this to be the an initial linkage come Einstein checked out by QI. This version used the word “tried”, and it remained in circulation by 1901 without attribution: 27

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

In 1998 a south Dakota newspaper printed a different phrasing of the saying and also attributed the words come Einstein: 28

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

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

Someone called Mr. Phelps spoke a variation that was tape-recorded in “Punch” magazine in 1889. Joseph Conrad contained a version in one 1896 novel, however it was not a version that the coined.

Theodore Roosevelt work the saying by 1900 as listed by his biographer Jacob A. Riis, however it was not a variation that the crafted. Roosevelt popularized a saying that was currently in circulation.

G. K. Chesterton employed an instance in a 1929 novel, however he did not coin it. In 1936 a version was wrongly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. This error was most likely induced directly or indirect by a misinterpretation that the label “Poor Richard Junior”.

In 1993 an circumstances was attributed to will certainly Rogers. QI has discovered no substantive evidence for this affiliation to a saying that appeared without attribution in 1969.

In 1995 an circumstances was ascribed to Albert Einstein. QI has found no substantive assistance for this linkage, and also a similar remark was published in 1901 without attribution.

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Image Notes: Portrait of Samuel Smiles by sir George Reid provided to the national Portrait collection in London. Portrait of josh Billings (pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw) in the Harvard Theatre Collection. Portrait the Theodore Roosevelt by john Singer Sargent. Photos accessed via Wikimedia Commons. Images have actually been cropped and also resized.

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