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February 20, 1920

American poet Vachel Lindsay read his poems.

“Vachel Lindsay was so exalted by the success of his reading of ‘The Congo’ and other poems that he serenaded the seniors afterwards, as they hung perilously from the corridor windows of Main. He made up his own cheer for Vassar, borrowing an apothegm from Josh Billings, whom he was delighted to find as local hero. He chanted:

Better not to know so many things.

Than to know so much that ain’t so!

Vassar! Vassar! Vassar!

It took hours to get him to bed, for he was intoxicated with a far more heady wine than mere alcohol.”

Henry Noble MacCracken, The Hickory Limb

Lindsay was quoting from the Affurisms: Slips of the Pen (1865) by American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw, who lived for many years in Poughkeepsie, working as a journalist and auctioneer. His humorous pieces under the pen name “Josh Billings” brought him considerable fame in the later years of the 19th century.

The Years