Never” have we seen a person fail?
Is it true that there was a version of the Big Book which had Chapter 5 begin: Never have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path? I've heard it said that Bill W. wanted it to read that way or there was an early version like that.
There has never been a pre-publication or published version of the Big Book that uses "Never" in place of "Rarely" at the start of How It Works
Bill wrote about the subject in his reply to a 1961 letter from Minnesota saying in part:
Concerning your comment about the use of the word "rarely" in Chapter 5 of the Big Book: My recollection is that we did give this considerable thought at the time of writing. I think the main reason for the use of the word "rarely" was to avoid anything that would look like a claim of a 100% result. Assuming, of course, that an alcoholic is willing enough and sane enough, there can be a perfect score on [a person of this sort]. But since willingness and sanity are such elusive and fluctuating values, we simply didn't want to be too positive. The medical profession could jump right down our throats.
Shortly before his death, Bill answered an "Ask-It-Basket" question on the topic at the 1970 General Service Conference. In reply to the question "If there was any change you would make in the Big Book, would it be to change the word 'rarely' to 'never' at the start of Chapter 5?"
Bill answered, "No."
In interesting contrast to this is a portion of the First Edition story entitled "Smile With Me, At Me." Toward the end of the this fellow's story is this statement:
"Why should this fellowship of hard working fellows be jeopardized by me? It worked for them. As a matter of fact, not one who has kept faithfully to it has ever slipped."