View Full Version : Wheels of Justice Grinding Slowly
10-24-2000, 05:35 AM
Dear Straight Dope,
Who said "The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine" (or something like that)?
We cannot find the source of this quote on the internet though there are hundreds of people paraphrasing it, including Cecil.
Monart & Bob
I believe it's the mills of the gods which grind slowly, but exceedingly fine/small. Churchill used it in one of his speeches, but I don't know the origin, I'm afraid.
I'm sure it's singular: 'The mill of God grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly small'.
So perhaps it's the Bible...
Looks like you might be right, glee, and Churchill at fault. I've found the Churchill quote in his speech in February 1941 calling on the USA (again) to join the war. He said:
Here, then, we see the beginnings of a process of reparation and of the chastisement of wrong-doing which reminds us that though the mills of the gods grind slowly they grind exceedingly small.
But the trusty OED contains only one reference to the phrase:
1870 LONGFELLOW tr. Von Logau, Retribution, Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.
Which I hope answers the OP.
10-24-2000, 11:30 AM
Gottesmühlen mahlen langsam, mahlen aber trefflich klein;
Ob aus Langmut Er sich säumet, bringt mit Schärf' Er alles ein.
- by Friedrich von Logau (1604-1655), in Sinngedichte, (1653), III.ii.24.
Translated by H.W. Longfellow:
"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all."
(Cite: Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 3rd ed.)
10-24-2000, 02:33 PM
All I know is, when Congressman Wilbur Mills was caught performing some "constituent services" for stripper Fanne Fox, "The Argentine Bombshell", the saying was that "The goddess of Mr. Mills grinds exceedingly fine."
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