Sunday November 18, 2012
Book 13: Random Access Memorabilia — Part III: Execute

Note: In the Aeneid, Virgil wrote Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius alium, which tranlates as "Rumour, than whom no other evil thing is faster." Fifteen centuries later, William Shakespeare expounded upon this at great length in Rumor's prologue to Henry IV, part 2. Two centuries later, Jonathan Swift wrote "Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it." A century later C.H. Spurgeon said "Falsehood will fly from Maine to Georgia while truth is pulling her boots on," but it would appear that he was quoting Fisher Ames, who said the same thing thirty years earlier. 

Perhaps unhappy with having lifted the quote directly, in 1859 Spurgeon wrote "A lie will go 'round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on."  Eighty years or so after that, Winston Churchill slowed falsehood a bit, and then vastly improved the quote with a different article of clothing when he said "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

Within four hundred years, however, truth could not find the airlock. In a stroke of irony, the previous pedigree was lost, which means that not only did all copies of The Yale Book of Quotations go missing, but now falsehood spread throughout the galaxy while truth never left the house. Also, somebody deleted this footnote.