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Archive for November, 2010

Alive And Kicking

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 30, 2010

The phrase “alive and kicking” has had some interesting limelight time over the decades.  It’s been used as a film title for the Richard Harris movie in 1959 and as a Broadway title in 1950 for a musical revue and a pop song by Simple Minds in 1985 and an album title by Scottish rock band Nazareth in 2003 and more. 

In 1877, Benham & Harrison & J.B.  Harvey in collaboration with E. Durrant and Co published “The Tendring Hundred in the Olden Time: A Series of Sketches by J. Yelloly Watson, F.G.S.”  In the book, the following is written:

The result of this transaction was that the King’s favourite obtained a grant of the reversing of Lord Darcy’s estates, sold one-half to Lord Darcy’s son-in-law, kept half for another bargain, and put, meanwhile, £24,000 in his pocket.  But Lord Darcy was alive and kicking, and he afterwards himself found favour at Court, and was made Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, and on the 5th July, 1621, created Viscount Colchester, with remainder to the aforesaid Sir Thomas Savage, Baronet, of Rochsavage (who had married his eldest daughter) and their issue with a grant of £8 per annum out of the fee-farm rent of the town of Colchester.

In the 1850 book “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions” by Charles Mackay, he wrote:

After such prophets as they, the almanac-makers hardly deserve to be mentioned: no, not even the renowned Partridge, whose wonderful prognostications set all England agog in 1708, and whose death, at a time when he was still alive and kicking, was so pleasantly and satisfactorily proved by Isaac Bickerstaff.  The anti-climax would be too palpable, and they and their doings must be left uncommemorated.

That being said, the earliest published use of the phrase “alive and kicking” appeared in court documents in England that date back to 1801 wherein a crab-boy was reported to have said in a court of law:

I left them [the crabs] all alive and kicking, your honour, when I came to church.

While I couldn’t find an earlier reference to the phrase “alive and kicking” that the one in 1801, the fact that it was part of the vernacular wherein even crab-boys felt the court would understand what was meant by the phrase indicates that the phrase has been around much longer than just 200 or so years.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

God Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 29, 2010

After Hurricane Katrina, Spike Lee filmed a documentary entitled “If God Is Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.”  The filmmaker told the media that he named the film after a saying his grandmother used when he was a child.  But what, exactly, does the phrase mean?

The phrase “God willing and the creek don’t rise” means the speaker will arrive or complete a task if all goes well, hence the reference to God and the creek.  That being said, though, the creek in question isn’t a small brook or stream.   It’s a reference to the Creek Indians.

American farmer, statesman, and Indian Agent, Colonel Benjamin Hawkins (1754 – 1816), hailed from North Carolina. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a United States Senator as well as the General Superintendent of Indian Affairs.  His position as Superintendent of Indian Affairs put him in contact with all tribes south of the Ohio River. As principal agent to the Creek tribe, Hawkins moved to present-day Crawford County in Georgia to deal directly with the Creek Indians. 

As the representative for the Congress in the 1785 negotiations with the Creek Indians, he convinced the Creek to work with the American government rather than against it even though no formal treaty to that effect was ever signed.  The Treaty of New York was signed after Hawkins convinced George Washington to become involved.

One of the major problems the American government faced in acquiring lands settled by the Creek was that the government ignored the fact that the Creek and other North American Indians in the southern states had been farmers for centuries already.   Many began ranching when the deerskin trade took a major downturn.

The American government believed that their plan would assimilate North American Indians as American citizens, and that North American Indians would willingly dissolve their national sovereignty and cede their territories to the U.S. government.

By 1812, aroused by the Shawnee warrior, Tecumseh, some members of the Upper Creek were in open revolt.  In other words, the Creeks were rising.

When Hawkins was asked to return to the nation’s capital, his response was always, “If God is willing and the Creek don’t rise.”  If the Creek rose, it was his job as the Superintendent of Indian Affairs to deal with the uprising and put an end to the rebellion.

Hawkins tendered his resignation in early 1815, but before he could resign, Andrew Jackson forced the Creek Confederacy into signing the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which stole two-thirds of Creek country from the Creek.  Hawkins reported later that he was “struck forcibly” by the unfairness of the treaty, as were the Creek.

Posted in Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Shutterbug

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 26, 2010

Shutterbug refers strictly to the world of photography but in recent years, it has come to include video taping and animation. Photographers taking shots via cell phones, however, are not considered shutterbugs as those photos are for social networking purposes and not for the art or beauty of the photograph.

Over the years, the term “shutterbug” has been used in print and broadcast media and in conversations, however, the origins of the term “shutterbug” is far more difficult to trace.

The Pittsburgh Press ran a news story on December 30, 1945 about a book entitled, “Mr. Digby” written by Douglass Welch and published by Putnam Books.  The hero of the book, Mr. Robert H. “Happy” Digby, was a photographer for the Central City Informer.  The book review headline in the newspaper read:

Story About A Shutterbug: News Photographer Hero of Book

Elsa Maxwell’s Party Line was a column that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  On August 11, 1943 Elsa’s column was dedicated to Miriam Hopkins whom she referred to as a “winsome wisp of vitality.”  In her column she wrote:

For, if not an expert, she is, at least, a most competent shutterbug.  She photographed her way around Europe in 1936, and probably has the last pictures of the Vienna of yesterday.

The Los Angeles Times ran a column called Camera Corner and back in February 1939, Harold Menselsohn responded to a question sent to him by Raymonde Geemar.  His response read in part:

Shutterbug Raymonde Geemar wants to know how to focus a ground glass-type camera in making pictures at night when conditions are none too good. Use the same method press photographers employ.

Before 1939, I was unable to locate published references for the word shutterbug however it was most certainly being used frequently in every day conversations for it to be used so easily in newspaper articles of the day.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

In Glorious Technicolor

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 25, 2010

Herbert Kalmus had hoped to be a concert pianist, a career choice cut short by a sports injury.  He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied physics and chemistry.  In 1912 the firm of Kalmus, Comstock, and Wescott was formed by Herbert Kalmus and Daniel Comstock, graduates from M.I.T. and W. Burton Wescott, a self-educated mechanical genius according to all news accounts. 

In 1916 and 1917, Kalmus, Comstock and Wecott worked long and hard to overcome a number of technical problems involved with a very promising film process they invested.  The end result of the work was a set of technologies Kalmus called Technicolor.  The new word was a hybrid of the Greek word techne which meaning “art” and the the English word color.

The original Technicolor colour process (1917 – 1922) was a 2-colour additive system using a conventional black and white record that ran through a special projector with 2 apertures as well as lenses with colour filters to tint the film. This technology was hailed by everyone within the movie industry and in the general public as one of the greatest technological advances.

The Technicolor colour cement print (1922 – 1927) was a subtractive process that allowed cameras to film at a rate of 32 frames per second with 15 pairs of red and blue-green records.  It did away with the need for filters, which was a major problem with the original Technicolor process and allowed for colours to be reproduced with greater accuracy.  The first feature film made in Technicolor System 2 was “Toll of the Sea” produced by Joseph Schenk.  The film premiered in New York City in November 1922 and its success was Technicolor‘s first profitable venture since the company was founded in 1915.

But the love affair between the general public and Technicolor wasn’t always universal.  Back on December 28, 1924 Mordaunt Hall reviewed the movie “So This Is Marriage” for the New York Times and gave a negative critique of the color technology:

Although the Technicolor section of “So This Is Marriage” is beautiful, it is questionable whether it adds much to the picture.  Often such ideas detract from the actual interest in the story, whether the narrative supposed to be told by one of the characters is in color or not.

The Technicolor two-color dye transfer print (1927 – 1933) was the next step in Technicolor’s evolution.  Instead of a duplicate negative that would be dyed and cemented to the black and white negative, everything was generated from the camera negative.  This process also accommodated the addition of sound to film as the shift went from movies to “talkies.” 

In 1930, Technicolor had contracts for 36 features — 15 of which were with Warner Brothers.  Of those 15 Warner Brothers movies, 11 were full colour movies and not just black and white movies with colour sequences.  Technicolor would soon be responsible for classic films such as The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.

The Technicolor three-strip print (1932 – 1955) saw the completion of the first “glorious technicolor” camera in 1932 that would make this process possible.  As a side note, the “glorious technicolor” camera cost in excess of $30,000 USD.  In 2010 terms, it takes approximately $13 to equal the purchasing power of $1 back in 1932.

Kalmus approached Walt Disney with the offer to allow Disney to use the new 3 color process for the first time.  Disney jumped at the idea and his first Technicolor movie, Flowers and Trees, was a resounding success with the public due, in large part, to the vibrant colours coupled with the engaging story and symphonic sound track.

It didn’t take long before movies made in technicolor made the most of that fact.   When “Her Jungle Love” starring Dorothy Lamour and Ray Milland was released in theatres, ads ran in all the newspapers.  On the last night it was playing at Petone State Theatre back in 1938, the advertisement in the Wellington (New Zealand) Evening Post newspaper read:

FINALLY TONIGHT, at 8 o’clock.
DOROTHY LAMOUR, RAY MILLAND in
– “HER JUNGLE LOVE” –
All in Glorious Technicolor.  The “Jungle
Princess” in a picture of action, romance,
and thrills.

On this side of the ocean, the Tuscaloosa News was busy promoting the movie “Men With Wings” — which also starred Ray Milland along with Fred MacMurray, Louise Campbell and Andy Devine — and not only did the word “technicolor” show up the advertisement’s headline but in the accompanying description of the movie as well:

Here they come! … Roaring into Tuscaloosa!  MEN with WINGS in glorious TECHNICOLOR!  For the first time on any screen, and in the heart-throbbing reality of Technicolor … the mighty story of America’s flying fools, gentlemen unafraid!  The whole thundering parade of American aviation, told in the heart-stirring, blood-pounding, tense human story of two boys and a girl whose romance is the romance of aviation itself.

From descriptive terms such as “heart-throbbing” and “blood-pounding” describing Technicolor movies, it’s easy to see that the general public began to associate vivid colors splashed on the big screen and, in time, with any larger-than-life collection of vivid colors found in real life and the term itself.

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 20th Century, Slogans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In Vivid, Living Color

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 24, 2010

Although movies had been filmed in colour since the 1920s, there were times when a movie theatre just had to make the most of it when promoting a new movie.  And there were times when advertisers made the most of the phrase “in vivid, living colour” outside of movie making situations.

As recently August 2009, the phrase “in vivid, living colour” was used in the daily internet publication,  American Thinker.  Devoted to the “thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans” the entry entitled “ObamaCare and Bush League Democrats” the author, J. Robert Smith wrote:

At a recent town hall, a pretty little girl, whose mother was an early Obama supporter, read a question from a slip of paper.  The President, knowing that the ball would be teed-up, swung hard and level.  Bang!  To the delight of his fans, a homer.  But tee-ball doesn’t matter, not if you can’t manage the game.   The President watches TV and reads the daily rags.  Not even MSNBC or The New York Times can ignore widespread popular unrest.  In vivid living color, the President sees very un-Alinsky seniors and middle class Americans give the what-for to shrinking, mealy-mouthed Democrats — daily. 

Back in the early 1980s, as inflation was running rampant in America, stories abounded, telling the woeful tale of poor housing markets and mortgages in default among other things.  In an article in the Deseret News run in May 28, 1981, the editor ran a story entitled, “Pity Poor Folks Who Live High Above the Tide Of Inflation.”  It read in part:

He bought his second home when they weren’t so popular.  He put down as little as he could and he borrowed the rest at interest rates less than half those of today.  If pressed, he refinanced.  Now he may rent his place at big prices to those with money beyond their immediate means.  These are among the people who own those places the day-trippers envy.  Unlike so many hourly and salaried workers, they  have the ability to float rather than be swamped by the inflation tide.  Various studies have long shown the sharp dichotomy in the two styles of life, but there is nothing like a day trip to the prime resorts near every population center to bring home the point in vivid, living color.

For Christmas 1966, the Gettysburg Times newspaper ran an advertisement for Ziegler Studios that read:

Have Your Family Portrait Taken For Christmas!  There’s still time … and it’s a swell idea either for a gift, or a gift to yourselves and your home.  But HURRY … the deadline for accepting appointments is near … and so is Christmas!  Don’t think about it anymore … call us today and make your appointment for a setting in your home and our studio.  Nothing will give more than your family in vivid, living color mounted in an attractive frame.

It wasn’t just e-magazines, bad economies and professional photographers that made use of the term either.  The Ludington Daily News ran an article in the June 24, 1963 edition entitled “Food Ads Criticized By Agency” in which it was reported:

“Our American system of food distribution is really one of the greatest show on earth,” Whitney said.  “It’s a giant, multi-million-dollar spectacular, staged in vivid living color, and exploding with human interest, scientific marvels, humor, fascinating, behind-the-scenes adventure stories, the snob-appeal of food as a status symbol, the romance of foods of far-away places, the emotional warmth of a mother’s instinctive desire to feed her young.”

Talk about making a leap from five years earlier when, in October 1958, the Chicago Daily Tribune ran an advertisement on page 6 in section C that promoted a movie that was reportedly a cinematic wonder on film of the “French love novel that shocked the world!” 

The movie was “A Certain Smile” and was released on September 22, 1958.  It starred Rossano Brazzi, Joan Fontaine and Johnny Mathis, who also sang the theme song, and was the first feature film for actor, Bradford Dillman (who went on to such movies as “The Plainsman” and “The Iceman Cometh”).  The movie hype was based in large part on the fact that the movie was “in vivid, living color!” 

So while the phrase may have been used in conversation, the first published use of the phrase “in vivid, living colour” appears to go back to this movie and no further.

Posted in Advertising, Idioms from the 20th Century, Slogans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Picture Perfect

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 23, 2010

When something is exactly as it should be, it is said to be picture perfect. So how did this term come about?

Back on September 6, 1977, the Montreal Gazette ran a story about NASA’s Voyager 1 lift off in Florida.  The headline announced:  “Voyager’s Start Picture-Perfect” as the first paragraph trumpeted:  “Voyager 1 blasted off towards the outer planets yesterday in a near-flawless launch, joining its twin space probe Voyager 2 on a 675-million-mile journey to Jupiter and beyond.”

A generation before that, readers of the Milwaukee Journal back on May 18, 1950 were delighted to find a recipe for Picture Perfect Strawberry Preserves printed in their local newspaper.  The description under the headline read:  “The whole fruit with  natural color and flavor make these out of this world.”  All it took to make Picture Perfect Strawberry Preserves was 4 cups of strawberries, 4 cups of beet sugar and 1/2 cup of water plus a lot of attention paid to just 3 ingredients while cooking up those preserves.

And a generation before that, the Reading Eagle newspaper published an advertisement for the Glen-Gery Shale Brick Brick Home on March 28, 1926.  The description read:

When you build your brick home make it a thoroughbred — brick footings, walls, bearing partitions, chimneys, and fireplaces.  And surround it with harmony that makes the picture perfect – brick walks, brick drive, and brick garage.  Banish painting, repairing and that “wish I had” feeling that comes when it’s too late.  Look for the “100% Brick Home” sign before you buy.  Cost?  Not so much more than for any type of construction.  You can even build with brick at no extra cost.  Come in – let’s talk it over.

In the end, however, the term “picture perfect” was coined in America at the turn of the 20th century. As early as January 1909, the Atlanta Constitution newspaper ran a story in its ‘Savannah Social News’ column that read:

Exquisite decoration made the setting for the wedding picture perfect, quantities of lovely flowers being used in the adornment of the four rooms.

Of course, all of this can be traced back to those who, when arranging a room just so during Victorian Times when family photographs were oftentimes posed in the parlour, insisted that the room and the subjects be “perfect” for the “picture” hence the term “picture perfect.”

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Snap Shot

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 22, 2010

The term “snap shot” has had a colour albeit short life in comparison to other terms.  It can mean a brief overview of a situation or a quick biography or a photograph or to hunting or even to hockey!  The history of the term “snap shot” is certainly varied and interesting.

Being nearly hockey season, I think providing that meaning at this point is helpful to all non-sports fans alike.  So when “snap shot” is used while discussing hockey, it refers to a quick shot where the blade of the stick is drawn back a short distance and then rapidly driven forward, with the wrists snapping inward after the puck leaves the stick.  In other words, a “snap shot“has the accuracy of a wrist shot blended with the power of a slapshot.

If we’re talking photographs and photography, then a “snap shot” is something else altogether.  Way back in the day, on March 8, 1896 — and much to the delight of readers of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper — the following headline was published:

Ghatty’s Snap Shot Photographers A Tramp!

The sub-headling below read:

And It Brought Her Great Good Fortune, Where She Expected The Reverse.

Eight years earlier, in the Journal of the Bombay Natural  History Society, Volume 3 in the segment entitled “Notes on Sambhur and Sambhur Stalking” written by Mr. Reginald Gilbert and read at the Society’s meeting on August 6, 1888, the following account was shared:

The horn is here, and has been given by me to this Society. On the 27th December , 1886, when stalking with Mr. Barton near the Taptee River, a few miles from Asirghur, in the Central Provinces, I put up a monster stag sambhur out of a thick nullah. It ran down the nullah. I was standing on the top. I only saw him for a second or two, and had only time to take a snap-shot at him before he passed round a bend in the nullah. The shell hit his horn from behind and knocked it off, splitting it up as you see. I picked the horn up and here it is.  I never saw that sambhur again; but to the last day of my life I shall never forget him or cease to regret I missed him.

From reading these last two uses for the term “snap shot” one might think that while hunting version of the term continued into the 20th century, that the camera version was something that came about sometime after 1890.  Not so.

On March 14, 1839, John Herschel — whose father was renowned astronomer William Hershel, the discoverer of Uranus — presented his paper entitled “Note on the Art of Photography or The Application of the Chemical Rays of Light to the Purpose of Pictorial Representation”  to the Royal Society.  The subject of the paper related to the first glass-plate photograph which was taken by Herschel and it is this photograph to which he referred to as being a “snap shot.”  He also coined the terms “negative” and “positive” within the context of photography.  For those who are curious, the photograph was that of his father’s 40-foot telescope, already a half-century old at the time the shot was snapped.

The hunting term “snap shot” was coined in 1808 by English sportsman Sir Henry Hawker.  His use of the term was a gun shot at a fast-moving target that was both quick and without aim.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Talk Is Cheap

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 19, 2010

The phrase “talk is cheap” is actually a shortened version of at least two other commonly used American idioms —  “talk is cheap but it takes money to buy whisky”  and “talk is cheap but  it takes money to buy a farm.” 

The phrase means that it’s easier for someone to say that he or she will do something than to actually do it.  In its earlier incarnations an example was provided to assist with internalizing that message.

An article headling in the Portsmouth Times published on August 21, 1958 carried the headline:  “United Nations: Talk Is Cheap.”  The story was about another skirmish in the Middle East and reported in part:

Those who have criticized the United Nations for doing nothing but talk can be thankful there has been a place to talk, which is cheap and much to the preferred over armed conflict, which is costly.

Years earlier, on October 2, 1926 in the Gridley Herald and the Lyon County Reporter — just two of several newspapers who carried the same Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company Bell System advertisement, the focus was on talk being cheap. It was a quirky yet effective advertisement with a quaint story that stated:

Talk is cheap — but it takes money to buy a farm!” Many a school yard argument of boyhood days has been ended with this homely bit of philosophy.  For the American telephone user, talk is truly cheap — cheaper than anywhere else in the world.  But it takes money to keep his telephone service cheap and to make it ever and ever cheaper.

Bell was pushing their motto of “one policy, one system, universal service.’  What’s interesting about this is that it implied that the phrase “talk is cheap but it takes money to buy a farm” went back at least one generation, to when the decision makers in the home and business worlds were merely school children.

Indeed, the L.A. Times printed an article in July 23, 1896 wherein a news story reported:

It is that talk is cheap, but that it takes votes to elect a President. The Detroit Journal calls the platform adopted at the Chicago convention “a platform of cranks, by cranks, for cranks.”

The earliest date for publication of the phrase “talk is cheap” is found in the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 21, 1891. 

Although no one can say on what date exactly Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum said “talk is cheap until you hire a lawyer” but it’s believed it was some time after 1856, when the Jerome Clock Company of East Bridgeport in Connecticut —  the company in which Barnum had invested heavily — declared bankruptcy.  P.T. Barnum lost all the money he had invested into, and loaned to, the company which was a sizeable amount by then.  For P.T. Barnum, this began four very long — and expensive — years of litigation and public humiliation.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 18, 2010

We all know that it’s better to do something rather than just talk about the problem or talk about doing something.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  Leading by example is something that society has cherished for centuries now.  So who first coined the phrase actions speak louder than words?

In Miranda Stuart’s book, “Dead Men Sing No Songs” published in 1939, the author wrote:

Deeds speak louder than words. First she tells you the most damning things she can, and then she begs you to believe he’s innocent in spite of them?

Her words paraphrased Abraham Lincoln’s comments when, in 1856, he wrote:

Actions speak louder than words’ is the maxim; and, if true, the South now distinctly says to the North, ‘Give us the measures, and you take the men.’

But in 1736, in a work entitled “Melancholy State of Province” the following is found:

Actions speak louder than Words, and are more to be regarded.

Back on American soil, in 1692 Gersham Bulkeley wrote in his book Will and Doom:

Actions are more significant than words.

Reaching back a little further, in the “Hansard Parliamentary History of England”  J. Pym is credited in 1628 with these words from a speech he made:

‘A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver,’ and actions are more precious than words.

Just a few years earlier, in the 1500s, French writer Michel de Montaigne, is quoted as stating:

Saying is one thing and doing is another.

But wait — the journey back isn’t over yet!  If one travels back two more centuries, one learns that Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone — also known as St. Francis of Assisi — made the following statement sometime between an epiphany he had in 1206 and his death in 1226:

Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.

But if you really want to get back to the roots of the phrase, credit goes to the Bible and the writings of James and John.  Yes, in James 2:15-17, one can read:

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works is dead, being alone.

And this is found in 1 John 3:17-18:

But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Yes, the spirit of the phrase “actions speak louder than words” goes back … way back!

Posted in Bible, Christian, Religious References | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

If You Want Something Done Well, Do It Yourself

Posted by Elyse Bruce on November 17, 2010

Not a week goes by that a person won’t hear the phrase “if you want something done well, do it yourself!”  After all, the phrase has been around for centuries!

Economist Mary Jane Latsis (1927 – 1997) and economic analyst Martha Henissart (1929) wrote a number of books under the pen name, Emma Lathen (a combination of the two authors’ names.  One of many books they wrote was their 1975 book “By Hook Or By Crook.”  In that book, they wrote:

Do you know how I got it done in the end? I went down to Annapolis myself. I always say, if you want a thing done well, do it yourself!

The phrase was also found in one of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s poems entitled “The Courtship of Miles Standish” which he published in 1858:

That’s what I always say; if you want a thing to be well done, You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others.

Not surprising, the phrase itself was an adage T. Draxe published in 1616:

If a man will haue his business well done, he must doe it himselfe.

But back in 1541, Henry Bullinger wrote and published “The Christian State of Matrimony.”  The book proved to be extremely popular with continental as well as English reforming Protestants.  Even after eight editions in the 100 years after its first publication, Bullinger‘s words continued to ring true:

If thou wilt prospere, then loke to euery thynge thyne owne self.

It would appear that through the centuries, people have learned at some point in their lives that “if they want something done well, do it yourself.”

Posted in Idioms from the 16th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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