Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 20:10:48 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: quote source

At 04:12 PM 1/22/98 +0000, you (M_Lynne_Murphy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] wrote:

"However eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents

were poor but honest."

if you know where s/he said it, that'd be nice to know too. and if my

quotation is inaccurate, please let me know.

Don't know if this helps but "poor but honest" has its own subentry in OED2,

at poor a., meaning 1e, where citations are given back as early as

Smollett's _Roderick Random_ (1748). One cite is from Twain, _Innocents

Abroad_, 1869 ed., Chap. 21, p. 211:

`He was the son of--' `Poor but honest parents--that is all right--never

mind the particulars--go on with the legend.'

No dog involved.

BUT there are two cites, not under "poor," of the following sentence from

the anonymous _Life and Adventures of a Cat_ (1760), Chap. 4:

"Tom the Cat is born of poor but honest parents."

(See OED2 ca, and tom-cat; OED2 implies that this passage may be a tributary

to or source of the eventual collocation "tom[-]cat".)

I wonder if Twain, or wherever else the "dog/poor-&-honest parents" quote

comes from, thought the idea up because of its status as a later-18C and 19C

cliche that had already been applied to a cat????

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]