Sunday, December 2, 2007
Saluting the kernel
It's a cliche, obviously, but where did it start? After looking at Google Books, Making of America and other places, I reached a few conclusions.
"Kernel of historical truth" appears in an essay by Johann Wilhelm Loebell which appeared in a book about Barthold George Niebuhr in 1852. The same essay seems to appear in Sharpe's London Magazine, and Google Books says the publication date is 1845, but I can't tell if that is the beginning of the magazine or the true date for the essay. (Google Books could use a little clean up there.) Of course, Loebell was probably writing in German, so perhaps this phrase is the translator's baby.
"Kernal of HISTORIC Truth" appeared in 1855, in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, in an article by Elihu RIch. It is part of a phrase in quotations, but he doesn't say who (if anyone) he is quoting.
"Kernel of Truth" (no history) dates back at least to 1791. John Fletcher used it in a book called American Patriotism
So, does anyone know of earlier uses of these terms? Pass 'em on and I'll print them here.