As so often happens in the world of quotes, once a saying is misattributed it can spread like wildfire, especially in the day of the internet.
The quote should actually be attributed to Stephen Grellet (2 November 1773 – 16 November 1855) born Etienne de Grellet du Mabillier, who was a prominent Quaker evangelist and traveler. In various places it is attributed to William Penn or Mahatma Gandhi. According to various Quaker websites as well as Wikiquote, Grellet is the author. As long as people the world over are inspired by the sentiment, I doubt he would mind. No less than the Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations, however, cites Grellet as the author.
British religious leader William Penn (1644-1718) was a champion for peace, love, and liberty. Born in London, he was the wealthy son of naval hero Admiral Sir William Penn. Young William studied at Oxford, became an advocate for Quaker practices, and was imprisoned for his "radical" writings. I love this quote by Penn:
"No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown," he once proclaimedin "No Cross, No Crown."
Some additional Grellet quotes are:
"If I can anyway contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain."
"I was suddenly arrested by what seemed to be an awful voice proclaiming the words, "Eternity! Eternity! Eternity!" It reached my very soul— my whole man shook— it brought me like Saul to the ground. The great depravity and sinfulness of my heart were set before me, and the gulf of everlasting destruction to which I was verging. I was made to bitterly cry out, "If there is no God— doubtless there is a hell." I found myself in the midst of it."
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