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At 02:08 AM 1/8/98 +0000, you wrote:
>I'm hoping you might be able to help me. I found a quotation on a web-
>that I was interested in using in an essay. I can't confirm that it actually
>is a Thomas Jefferson quotation or not. Here it is:
>"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
>Do you know where I might go to validate this quote?
I am afraid I cannot be of much help on the above quote. I have seen
that quote before, and have searched for a source in Jefferson's
writings, but with no luck. (;-) Off hand, it doesn't really sound like
Jefferson to me. It is a bit too casual, a bit more informal, than the usual
Jefferson writing. Jefferson did use the term luck in at least one
instance I know of.
"If the game runs sometimes against us at home, we must have patience
till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the
principles we have lost. For this is a game where principles are the
stake." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798. ME 10:47
But even there, you can see that he uses the concept of luck differently
than in the quotation you ask about. Luck in the genuine quote is more
akin to "fate" or destiny. In the first quote, it is a kind of possession or
personal characteristic, which is foreign to Jefferson to my ears. That
use of "luck" has overtones of superstition, which is quite unlike
Jefferson was not at all above using humor, but his humor was always
dry, subtle and intellectual. He was, after all, an extremely brilliant man,
and he almost never wrote anything that did not express a high level of
intelligence. I don't see that high level of intelligence in the quote in
question; it is, in a sense, almost simple-minded. It would be a little bit
more Jeffersonian if it were something written to, for example, a young
man just starting out, and read, "You will find that the harder you work,
the more luck you will seem to have." That would be an instructive
admonition, and much more typical of Jefferson. But for him to say it
about himself makes it sound like a kind of idle reflection that he was
*never* guilty of.
Nevertheless, I could be totally wrong. I have been going through a 20
vol. set of Jefferson's writings, and I already decided to keep an eye out
for the quote, if I should happen to run across it. But so far, "no luck."