Stephen Grellet

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again ~ this is generally credited to Grellet, but without proven attribution

Stephen Grellet (2 November 177316 November 1855) was a prominent Quaker missionary. Born Etienne de Grellet du Mabillier, son to a counsellor of King Louis XVI, at 17 he entered the Kings body-guard; during the French Revolution of 1792 he was sentenced to be executed, but escaped and eventually fled Europe to the United States in 1795, where in 1796, he joined the Religious Society of Friends.

QuotesEdit

  • I was suddenly arrested by what seemed to be an awful voice proclaiming the words, "Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!" It reached my very soul — my whole man shook — it brought me like Saul to the ground. The great depravity and sinfulness of my heart were set before me, and the gulf of everlasting destruction to which I was verging. I was made to bitterly cry out, "If there is no God — doubtless there is a hell." I found myself in the midst of it.
    • On his inspiration, when he was still learning English and walking alone in the fields of Long Island, to take up the reading of No Cross, No Crown by William Penn, after having first set it aside upon realizing it was a religious book. In Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labors of Stephen Grellet (1860), p. 20


DisputedEdit

  • I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.
    • This, and variants of it, have been been widely circulated as a Quaker saying since at least 1869, and attributed Grellet since at least 1893. W. Gurney Benham in Benham's Book of Quotations, Proverbs, and Household Words (1907) states that though sometimes attributed to others, "there seems to be some authority in favor of Stephen Grellet being the author, but the passage does not appear in any of his printed works." It appears to have been published as an anonymous proverb at least as early as 1859, when it appeared in Household Words : A Weekly Journal.
      It has also often become attributed to the more famous Quaker William Penn, as well as others including Mahatma Gandhi and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Some anecdotes related to this are at in "Truth : I Expect To Pass Through This World But Once" by M D Magee at Ask Why (14 October 2009)
    • Variants:
    • I expect to pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I will not pass this way again.
      • Writing of an unnamed Quaker, as quoted in Scott's Monthly Magazine Vol. VII, No. 6 (June 1869, p. 475, edited by William J. Scott
    • I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
      • As quoted anonymously in Hour by Hour; or, The Christian's Daily Life (1885), compiled by E.A.L., p. 37, and as "the old Quaker's words" in The Unitarian Vol. VI (July 1891); this version was given the title "Do It Now" in Heart Throbs: In Prose and Verse (1905) by Joe Mitchell Chapple.
    • I shall pass through this world but once! Any good thing, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now, in his name, and for his sake! Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
      • Anonymous quotation on a card, as quoted in The Friend, Vol. 61 (1888) by The Society of Friends, p. 364
    • I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
      • Anonymous quotation on a card, as quoted in A Memorial of a True Life : A Biography of Hugh McAllister Beaver (1898) by Robert Elliott Speer, p. 169
    • I expect to pass through this world but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do, to any fellow being let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
      • As quoted anonymously in The Lamp Vol. XXVI (February-July 1903)


MisattributedEdit

  • If I can anyway contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.
    • Statement in The Spectator (1711), as quoted in The Reign of Queen Anne (1902) by Justin McCarthy

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 17 January 2014, at 21:39