Valleys of whatever, mountains of whatever
October 1, 2010 by Lew Powell
The St. Petersburg Times quotes Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink as recalling North Carolina as “the valley of humility between two valleys of conceit.” Did the reporter misquote or the candidate misspeak?
Regardless, that mangling is no match for what N.C. Rep. Cary Allred of Alamance County concocted during a 1999 debate on clean air legislation: “a valley of despair between two mountains of deceit.”
And then there’s this: According to the New York Times, “Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have described [New Jersey] as a valley of humility between two peaks of conceit, New York City and Philadelphia.” I see the hand of a skeptical copy editor in that “is supposed to have,” but if the attribution is correct, then Franklin beat Mary Oates Van Landingham of Charlotte by a century or so.
In 1900, lamenting her state’s puny literary output, Van Landingham asked the Mecklenburg Historical Society, “Could it be that being located between Virginia and South Carolina, our people for so long have been furnished such conspicuous illustrations of self-appreciation that they have, by contrast, learned modesty and silence? Where there are mountains of conceit, there are apt to be valleys of humility.”