Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Early To Bed, Early To Rise

Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 26, 2011

The proverb “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is commonly misattributed To Benjamin Franklin, who quoted it in his Poor Richard’s Almanack back in 1732.

Back in 1639, John Clarke wrote and published “Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina” or ‘Proverbs English, and Latin’ and it contained the proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Just a shade over a century before that, in 1532, author Anthony Fitzherbert wrote and published “The Book of Husbandry” which states the following:

One thinge I wyl aduise the to remembre, and specially in wynter-tyme, whan thou sytteste by the fyre, and hast supped, to consyder in thy mynde, whether the warkes, that thou, thy wyfe, & thy seruauntes shall do, be more auauntage to the tan the fyre, and candell-lyghte, meate and drynke that they shall spende, and if it be more auantage, than syt styll: and if it be not, than go to thy bedde and slepe, and be vppe betyme, and breake thy faste before day, that thou mayste be all the shorte wynters day about thy busynes. At grammer-scole I lerned a verse, that is this, Sanat, sanctificat, et ditat surgere mane. That is to say, Erly rysyng maketh a man hole in body, holer in soule, and rycher in goodes. And this me semeth shuld be sufficient instruction for the husbande to kepe measure.  

A similar expression dating back to 1496, provides an earlier version of the saying and appeared in “A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle” that provides this:

Also who soo woll vse the game of anglynge: he must ryse erly. Whiche thyng is prouffrable to man in this wyse / That is to wyte: moost to the heele of his soule. For it shall cause hym to be hole. Also to the encrease of his goodys. For it shall make hym ryche. As the olde englysshe prouverbe sayth in this wyse. Who soo woll ryse erly shall be holy, helthy and zely.

For those who don’t know, zely means to be happy and fortunate.  There’s no mention of going to bed early however the sense of the proverb is similar in tone to the later version.  The author introduces the text by stating “as the olde englysshe prouverbe sayth in this wyse” and this is to be noted because it establishes the fact that the proverb is considerably older than 1496.

Also in 1496, in the “Book of Hawking” mention that the proverb is an old saying is referenced thusly:

As the olde englysshe proverbe sayeth in this wise: who soo woll ryse erly shall be holy, helthy, and zely.

So it is reasonable to believe that the proverb goes back considerably farther than 1496. We have the Latin version:  “Sanat, sanctificat, et ditat surgere mane”  which translates to “That he may be healthy, happy, and wise, let him rise early.”

And we also have Aristotle writing, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

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One Response to “Early To Bed, Early To Rise”

  1. Faustus Eberle…

    […]Early To Bed, Early To Rise « Historically Speaking[…]…

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