Cora L. V. Hatch? thomas Sheridan? George Whyte-Melville? A. B. Kendig? Ella Wheeler Wilcox? Bertha Calloway? Jimmy Dean? Dolly Parton? cutting board S. Monson?

Dear Quote Investigator: We room buffeted by occasions that are beyond our control, but we deserve to still reaction constructively. A popular adage highlights this flexibility:

We cannot direct the wind, but we can readjust the sails.

You are watching: I can t change the direction of the wind

This saying has actually been credited to Dolly Parton, cutting board S, Monson, Bertha Calloway, Jimmy Dean, and several others. What execute you think?

Quote Investigator: In 1859 the famous spiritualist Cora L. V. Hatch ceded a lecture at the Cooper institute while in a trance as reported in “The Cleveland level Dealer”. Flower employed a variation of the expression: 1

You could not prevent a thunderstorm, yet you can use the electricity; you can not direct the wind, yet you can trim your sail so regarding propel her vessel together you pleased, no matter which means the wind blew.

This to be the more quickly close match known to QI. Other oft-mentioned candidates because that crafters the this adage were born after ~ it remained in circulation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1832 “The publication of Days: A Miscellany of popular Antiquities” published an anecdote about Reverend cutting board Sheridan collection in 1738. The Reverend to be the grandfather of the prominent Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The tale videotaped the dice statement of cutting board which to be thematically close to the adage under examination: 2

On the 10th that September 1738, Dr Sheridan to be sitting, after ~ dinner, in the residence of a friend. The conversation keep going to revolve on the force and also direction of the wind, Sheridan said: ‘Let the wind punch east, west, north, or south, the immortal heart will take its flight to the destined point;’ and also leaning earlier in his chair, instantly expired.

In 1852 a passage in “The Sailors’ Prayer Book: A manual of Devotion for sailors at Sea” made a various point. Sometimes the winds and currents room too extreme, and trouble is unavoidable. In the situation, the book suggests looking come God because that help: 3

Surely a God Almighty, and also ever present, is alone right to it is in a sailor’s refuge. We might by care and skill be able to trim our ship, to steer our course, or to save our reckoning; yet we cannot manage the winds, or subdue cheat currents, or stop disasters.

In 1859 the well-known medium Cora L. V. Hatch gotten in a trance and also pronounced the adage as pointed out previously.

The 1862 novel “The Queen’s Maries: A romance of Holyrood” by George Whyte-Melville included a version of the saying: 4

John Knox paused and also turned a scrutinizing look on his companion’s face. The last plucked a morsel the grass from the rampart and also flung the on the breeze.

‘Let united state see just how the wind blows,’ he replied with a scornful laugh; “fair or foul, ye can trim her sails come it, every one of ye, and I deserve to ride through a storm v the best!”

In 1876 “The Boston Globe” reported on a sermon through Reverend A. B. Kendig which had an instance: 5

You cannot manage the winds; the every sailor knows. But when the donate wind comes it is your very own fault if you do not set your sails to fulfill it.

In 1882 a satirical periodical based in Toronto, Canada referred to as “Grip” printed an instance while acknowledging a Philadelphia newspaper. 6 The very same item showed up in “The Los Angeles Times”: 7

“Though us cannot control the wind, we can change our sails so as to profit by it,” claims a philosopher. A an excellent many so-called Independent records are run on the exact same principle.—Phila. News.

In 1887 one more version of the saying appeared in the “Magazine of American History”: 8

You can not make lot of a wind, however you can select a wind, and also you deserve to trim her sails to it, and by the push and also inspiration can attain the haven which friend select.

In 1910 a tower by poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox had a subject verse title “The Winds the Fate”: 9

One ship drives east and also another drives westWith the self-same winds the blow.‘Tis the set of the sails and not the gales i beg your pardon tells us the method to go.Like the winds the the sea space the winds of fate,As we trip along with life,‘Tis the set of a soul the decides that is goalAnd no the calm or the strife.

The same column included an elaboration by Wilcox top top the crux that the poem:

When friend have discovered that a details gale sends you ~ above a not correct course, change your sails and put out for the port of Right, and blame nobody however yourself because that your hold-up in the voyage.

In 1987 country music singer Jimmy Dean got credit: 10

FROM THE magazine RACK: “I can’t adjust the direction that the wind, yet I can adjust my sails to always reach mine destination.”— Jimmy Dean in readers Digest.

In 1998 chronicler Bertha Calloway obtained credit in “A Shining object of Hope: The background of Black females in America”: 11

We cannot straight the wind, yet we can change the sails.BERTHA CALLOWAY

In 2006 one astrology obelisk credited country star Dolly Parton: 12

Parton once said, “We cannot direct the wind, yet we can readjust the sails.” usage this advice to use perception to obtain to an interpretation you seek.

A post dated January 2012 from thomas S. Monson, the president of The Church the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, ~ above the website the the church included the saying: 13

We can’t straight the wind, but we can change the sails. for maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we select a positive attitude.

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In conclusion, the earliest recognized close match was spoken by Cora L. V. Flower in 1859. Yet the phrasing is highly variable which makes tracing difficult. Future researchers may discover earlier instances.

(Great thanks to Jay, mark Henstock, and also Rosalind Atkinson whose inquiries led QI to build this question and also perform this exploration. Special many thanks to Barry Popik because that his research on this topic; he located the 1859 citation and others.)