If you don’t like the weather in New England … hold on a second.
Who really said (or wrote) the famous declaration about weather in New England changing in the course of a minute?
How, exactly, did they phrase it? And in what setting?
Most people would tell you that Mark Twain was the first to say: “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute.”
The usually trustworthy Snopes.com tells us Twain said that. But it doesn’t give a strong citation, or any kind of context for the remark. And then it goes on to provide a long list of familiar sayings that are incorrectly attributed to the great humorist. So, on the grand scale, it’s not one of Snopes’ more convincing presentations.
Someone on another website put a fair amount of research into the question. They reported finding 20 sites that attributed the quote to Twain — none of which credited it to any book, speech or other specific setting.
(Twain did make a well-known and much-reported humorous speech about New England weather in 1876. But the famous comment is not known to have been part of it.)
To muddy the waters further, that site renders the quote as “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”
That kinda suggests to me that Twain never said it — or at least never wrote it, because if he’d put it on paper, there would be one single definitive version of the statement.
Still other sites I’ve seen suggest that the joke originated as a common New England witticism that was falsely attributed to Twain.
So who knows? Maybe the true credit belongs to some unknown 18th-century farmer or lobsterman … some poor grunt trying to eke out a daily living in Castine or Rutland or one of the Walpoles.
By now, the saying has been bastardized to fit just about every state or province in North America. In the year 2013, it’s not really all that funny any more, nor is it any more regionally distinctive than a commercial road lined with Applebee’s and Best Buys.
My grandfather belonged to a more credulous and less cynical age. I imagine he took it on face value that Mark Twain actually said the famous quote about weather in New England.
And I bet it crossed his mind in March 1962, when the weather abruptly turned from placid to torrential.