Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Words from Theodore
Roosevelt, sort of

On the September 28 page of my New Yorker cartoon calendar, words attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Every day, man, every day. But the words aren’t Roosevelt’s, though something close to them appears in his 1913 autobiography:

[“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”]

I like the informality of the contraction even better. This advice makes me think of Harvey Pekar’s “Keep on pushin’,” also good advice.

Here’s a page with the results of an effort to track down Squire Bill Widener.

comments: 3

Elaine said...

I think this was semi-cribbed from John Wesley:
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

I've known this as long as I can remember--congenital Methodist

Michael Leddy said...

I guess the squire’s version (“where you are”) is more modest. It reminds me of the hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” which was composed in 1913. Maybe Wesley inspired that too?

Elaine said...

Well, John Wesley spoke and wrote in the cadences of the 1700's..... Perhaps my preferences were shaped long ago when the poetry of the King James Bible seeped into my psyche;whether I understood it or not (the latter, I'm sure,) it had an impact.

It's okay for the squire to paraphrase it, but I prefer at least a nod to the origin.