What's the origin of the phrase "to be young and in love"? I speculate that it's a quote from something influential, but I can't find a source. Anyone know?

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    I strongly doubt you'll get an answer to this question. It's from the beginning of time that people have said something similar to: "Oh, to be young again and be in love". It's not an idiom, or a fixed standardized phrase. There are many subtle variations of the theme e.g. I wish I were still young and could fall in love. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '14 at 5:51
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    Unless you can provide a more precise quote or line, it's going to be pretty difficult to identify the poet, author, playwright, historical figure etc. who (perhaps) rendered this phrase popular. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '14 at 5:57
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    Ngram shows that the expression has been increasingly used from the the first part of the 19th century..(the Romantic period): books.google.com/ngrams/… – user66974 Nov 18 '14 at 7:06
  • @Josh61 probably because people tended to die young in the 18th and 19th century! But good suggestion re. Romantic period. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '14 at 8:04
  • I totally get that there are lots of variations on the theme, but I feel like I've heard the exact phrase "to be young and in love" said as if there were some canonical wording enough times for me to treat it as an actual phrase. – akroy Nov 19 '14 at 6:16

I ran a quick search of the Google Books archive to see if I could find a plausible candidate. There were some hits for the phrases:

To be young and in love


To be young and to be in love

in the nineteenth century, but none seemed particularly likely to be influential. There was a review of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow novel, and a novel call "In Kedar's Tents," and a Rider Haggard novel "Dawn," all of which used such a phrase, but nothing seemed to explicitly refer to an earlier use. Neither phrase appeared before the 1880s.

I broadened the search to:

young and in love

and found an early reference, in a play of 1759 called "The Guardian":

Ay, ay, they are such fops, so taken up with themselves! Zounds, when I was young, and in love--

Again, nothing seemed to explicitly reference this somewhat obscure play.

Based on the scanty evidence, I would suggest that the phrase is an old saying, cliche, or aphorism, originating in the nineteenth century or before, rather than a specific literary reference.

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