W. H. Murray

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William Hutchinson Murray (18 March 191319 March 1996) was a mountain climber and Scottish author.


  • But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money — booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!"
  • The Scottish Himalaya Expedition (1951) The "Goethe couplet" referred to here is from an extremely loose translation of Faust 214-30 done by John Anster in 1835. Reference:
  • This quote, or one similar to it, is often attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, however it was written by Mr. Murray near the beginning of the The Scottish Himalaya Expedition.
The quote commonly attributed to Goethe is:
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth — that the moment one definitely commits oneself then divine providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred and which no man could have dreamed would have come their way.

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