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April 1964

Tough on Clough

Arch Intern Med. 1964;113(4):612. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.00280100120018

Of the lines:

Thou shalt not kill; but need not strive

Officiously to keep alive

Dr. Eugene B. Laforet writes "temptation to quote this Shavian couplet is wellnigh insuperable": He says it seems to state the crux of the problem but that like other felicitous expressions it risks oversimplification. He really means it seems to state the solution of the problem, not its crux, and that it risks oversimplifying the problem not being oversimplified. To risk annihilation does not mean to be in danger of annihilating someone. Let that pass. I write only because I believe I can help him resist the temptation to quote these lines which he has hitherto been unable to resist. I do so by pointing out these facts:

  1. The couplet he meant to quote means the exact opposite of what he believes.

  2. He has misquoted it.

  3. It is not Shavian.

Sir Colenso Ridgeon quoted the lines

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