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Q: F ( Answered 1 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: F
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: carnage_7-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 06 May 2002 16:42 PDT
Expires: 13 May 2002 16:42 PDT
Question ID: 13475
Where, when, and in what context did Gladstone make the following
quote  "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Subject: Justice delayed is justice denied
Answered By: jessamyn-ga on 06 May 2002 17:34 PDT
Rated:1 out of 5 stars
This quotation is attributed to Justice William Gladstone, but there
is some controversy surrounding its origins. "Bartlett's Familiar
Quotations" (16th ed.) attributes it to Gladstone but offers no
corroborating evidence. A thread on a law librarian listserv seems to
indicate that the phrase's origin is farther back, possibly a
paraphrase of William Penn in 1693

"Our Law says well, 'To delay justice, is injustice.'" ---William
Fruits of Solitude 69 (11th ed. 1906)(1693) 

Which is, in and of itself, a paraphrase of the spirit of Magna Carta

Magna Carta (1215) Cl.40 provides (English translation):- 
"To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or

The earliest usage that has been noted in legal texts is here:

::: "Justice delayed is justice denied" is from an American 
::: case, Gohman v. City of St. Bernard, 111 Ohio St. 726, 737 (1924)

[thread begins here: ]

Others claim that Gladstone was citing Jean de la Bruyère, a French
writer who wrote: "When it is our duty to do an act of justice, it
should be done promptly. To delay is injustice."

[ source: ]

Gladstone is cited literally hundreds of places with this quotation
and all refer back to his quote from Bartlett's or other quotations
compendiums. At best, they can say "William Gladstone, 19th Century
British Prime Minister and champion of the oppressed" The PBS special
on Mr. Gladstone fails to mention this famouns quotation in relation
to him [ ]

So, I'm sorry we didn't nail down a more exact context, but perhaps
the assessment that "no one knows" may be helpful. I hope what I've
given you is of some use to you. If you are looking for a different
kind if answer, please submit a clarifying question. Thanks.


Request for Answer Clarification by carnage_7-ga on 06 May 2002 18:31 PDT

     If the quote is attributed to Gladstone, he has to have said it
somewhere and to someone or in a book or speech.  I appreciate the
work you have done on this but no cigar in my book.


Clarification of Answer by jessamyn-ga on 07 May 2002 12:01 PDT

I have done further research on this subject to this end...

- the quotation does NOT appear in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations 10th
edition which came out in 1909. This would have been the one published
soon after Gladstone's death [he lived from 1809–1898] [source, King
County Reference librarian]

- The  MacMillian Dictionary of Political Quotations contains no entry
for this qutation, though they have other quotatons by Gladstone
[source: King County refernece librarian]

- The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations does not have this quotation

- The 16th edition of Bartlett's says "attributed" as opposed to many
of its other quotations that appear without this caveat
What attributed means in this case is just what we have been finding.
That other people have said that this person has said something, but
no direct link between the person and the quotation has necessarily
been found. You see this in cases like the speech of Chief Seattle
which many thought to be his, but was later found to be a forgery [
source: ] this has also
happened a lot with quotations of other famous people such as Mark
Twain [ source:
] or Yogi Berra [ source: ]

At this point, I will venture into the field of conjecture. When
Gladstone was in his eighties, he lobbied long and hard for Home Rule
for the Irish. He introduced bills into Parliament, only to see them
miserably delayed, further aggravating tensions with the Irish. If
there was a point during his career that this quotation was apt, this
would have been it [ source:

So, I am sorry that your question is difficult to answer and I'm sorry
that further searching with professionals more trained than myself has
not turned up a more definitive response to your question. As
jeeves-ga has said below, it is easy to prove who said something, it
is much more difficult to prove that they did not say it. Short of
trapising to the library myself to read his speeches personally, this
is the best I can do on this question. My apologies, the world of
research and facts can sometimes be disappointing.


carnage_7-ga rated this answer:1 out of 5 stars
While this answer provided some history about the quotation,  it did
not answer my specific question and should not get the $$$$.

Subject: Re: F
From: webadept-ga on 06 May 2002 20:45 PDT
I don't find that true Mr. Frank, many people are attributed to saying
things they never did. Sometimes it sounds like something they would
say, or its just more convenient to say the person said it. It was
common practice in newspapers of that time to quote someone saying
something that was complete fiction writing on the editor's part. They
report him saying it, its gets around and poof, you have a legend.

Take for instance Mandela and that long winded quotation he's
attributed too. That one about hiding your light and such. He didn't
say that, not in any speech, written or verbal. In fact I know who
said that and what book its in, but common knowledge records

What was given to you was a complete and accurate survey of the
saying, not an off handed guess, nor was it based on "common
knowledge". The researchers here try to be thorough and complete, and
sometimes "Its unknown" is the complete answer.

Now, if the opposite were true, if she had come back with "Justice
William Gladstone said it" then, then I would have been a bit upset,
but the answer was clear, concise and researched far more than the
given hour would seem to have lent. I suggest you got a $10. answer
for a bid of $4.

Now, these are just my unsolicited/un-paid for comments, and not to be
confused with the opions of Google or any of the researchers here on
this program.

Subject: Re: F
From: rosenfeld-ga on 06 May 2002 21:04 PDT
I think Jessamyn-ga gave an excellent answer that did answer the
specific question using the best information available.
Subject: Re: F
From: jeeves-ga on 07 May 2002 01:53 PDT
It seems like carnage_7 was not satisfied because the answer did not
specifically say in what context the quote was given.

The answer instead questioned even the accuracy of the quote and
whether it is attributed to Gladstone correctly.  That seems to be a
very fair thing to investigate when no link can be found other than
thousands of photocopies.  However, it is only possible to prove
someone did not say something if you know everything they said.  That
is never the case, and so one is just left with the strength of
jennifer's arguments.  She didn't come back with the holy grail, but
instead brought some stuff showing that maybe the grail doesn't exist
in the first place.  That is something you should consider.

Take that last quick paragraph as the quick, late night writing it is.
 My point is just to express how hard it is to prove something was
never said.

"I invented the internet."  -Al Gore.
Subject: Mr. Frank's poor response
From: glenn_fleishman-ga on 11 May 2002 07:58 PDT
Jessamyn's answer was superb and well-researched. Her follow-up even
more detailed. Mr. Frank asked for a $4 answer and received a $500
one. He then said that the question wasn't answered appropriately
because she disproved his original basis on which the question was
answered. This researcher doesn't deserve this kind of abuse, and I
can't believe Google isn't vetting this better to ensure good
researchers aren't being dinged!
Subject: Re: F
From: mora-ga on 14 May 2002 16:02 PDT
There is an entire book dedicated to misquotations "Nice Guys Finish
Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations"
by Ralph Keyes.

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