Don’t resort to merely asking “Hot enough for you?” Not when there are much more vivid things to say, thanks to another session of browsing through Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. Here are a couple of gems that I’ve found, plus some advice.
Heat has made me take some drastic measures, but few quite as strong as what Sydney Smith (1771-1845) wrote in “Lady Holland’s Memoir” — which Bartlett records as appearing in 1855, but that’s a matter for another post. Here’s Smith on the heat:
” ‘Heat, ma’am!’ I said; ‘it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.”
That would have been too much for the very proper Jane Austen (1775-1817). However, she did have a very vivid complaint in a letter to her sister Cassandra on Sept. 18, 1796:
“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”
So, if you want to remove a bit of inelegance from your conversations, I hope you’ll enjoy (and perhaps employ) either of those sayings. Just remember to credit not only Bartlett, but Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), in “The Lacon” —
“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.”
(No, I didn’t know the original quotation was “formless,” either.)
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Filed under: Browsing through Bartlett's