A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 15, 2012
“To err is human; to forgive is against company policy”

"To err is human; to forgive, divine” was written by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) in “An Essay on Criticism” (1711). The line is famous and has many parodies. “To err is human; to blame it on the other party is politics” was credited to the cowboy poet S, Omar Barker (1894-1985) in 1958. “To err is human. To blame it on someone else is even more human” was cited by columnist Bert Bacharach in 1968.

“To err is human; to forgive is against company policy” has been cited in print since at least 1974. Several citations are from California {specifically Los Angeles and the movie industry), but the exact origin of the saying is unknown.

Similar anti-proverbs include “To err is human; to blame it on someone else shows management potential” and “To err is human; to hedge divine.”


Wiktionary: to err is human
Etymology
From Latin errāre hūmānum est.
Proverb
to err is human

1. Everyone makes mistakes.
Usage notes
The phrase is often used as a part of a longer phrase in English, “to err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope, “Essay on Criticism").

Wikiquote: An Essay on Criticism
An Essay on Criticism was the first major poem written by the English writer Alexander Pope (1688-1744). However, despite the title, the poem is not as much an original analysis as it is a compilation of Pope’s various literary opinions. A reading of the poem makes it clear that he is addressing not so much the ingenuous reader as the intending writer. It is written in a type of rhyming verse called heroic couplets.

The poem first appeared in 1711, but was written in 1709.
(...)
Ah ne’er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast,
Nor in the Critick let the Man be lost!
Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join;
To err is human, to forgive divine.
. Lines 322-325. Compare: “To step aside is human “, Robert Burns, Address to the Unco Guid.

12 November 1958, Garden City (KS) Telegram, “The Distaff Side,” pg. 6, col. 1:
Also this one: “To err is human; to blame it on the other party is politics.”

13 November 1958, Casa Grande (AZ) Dispatch, pg. 16, col. 6:
“To err is human; to blame it on the other party is politics.”—S. Omar Barker.

4 August 1968, Coshocton (OH) Tribune, “Now See Here!” by Bert Bacharach, pg. 17, col. 7:
Sudden Thought: To err is human. To blame it on someone else is even more human.

6 September 1974, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 17, col. 2:
Brite Cite by V.A.: To err is human, to forgive is against company policy.

19 December 1974, Star-News (Pasadena, CA), “More or Less Personal” by Ray McConnell, pg. D4:
To err is human, to forgive is against company policy.

Google Books
1,001 Logical Laws, Accurate Axioms, Profound Principles, Trusty Truisms, Homey Homilies, Colorful Corollaries, Quotable Quotes, and Rambunctious Ruminations for All Walks of Life
By John Peers, Gordon Bennett and George Booth
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1979
Pg. 119:
To err is human; to forgive is against company policy.

Google News Archive
11 August 1983, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “A New Batch Of Bent Bromides” by Dan Chabot, Green Sheet, pg. 2, col. 3:
And while he’s at it, Russ re members one more Altered Axiom: To err is human, to forgive is against company policy.

Google Books
The Heart of Virtue:
Lessons from Life and Literature Illustrating the Beauty and Value of Moral Character

By Donald DeMarco
San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press
1996
Pg. 155:
“To err is human, to forgive is against departmental policy”, reads a sign in a Los Angeles police station.

Google Books
The Last Mogul:
Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood

By Dennis Mcdougal
New York, NY: Crown Publishers
1998
Pg. 336:
One junior executive who never dared detour from the black suit, white shirt, black tie uniform, kept a motto posted on his wall that read, “To err is human, to forgive is against company policy.”

Google Books
The Law of the Office:
A Guide to the Culture of Working Nine to Five

By Karen Farrington
London: Robson Books
2006
Pg. 56:
To err is human; to forgive is against company policy.

Google Books
Police Operations:
Theory and Practice

By Kären M. Hess, Christine H. Orthmann and Henry Lim Cho
Clifton Park, NY: Delmar
2011
Pg. 510:
For some the writing is on the wall: ‘To err is human. To forgive is against department policy’” (Scoville, 2008, p.63).

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Saturday, September 15, 2012 • Permalink