Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Subscribe

  • Meta

Posts Tagged ‘1750’

Agree To Disagree

Posted by Admin on March 1, 2013

We’ve heard more than a few people resort to that expression in the midst of spirited discussions or heated debates, and it’s straight forward. It means neither side is willing to relinquish their side of the argument, which leaves only one option: To agree to disagree.

In the Editorial section of the Worcester (MA) Telegram and Gazette published on October 22, 2009, the author spoke to the matter of the elections in Afghanistan. The Editorial Footnote included this commentary:

Mr. Karzai reportedly still disagrees with the methodology used to disqualify more than 1 million ballots allegedly cast in his name. Mr. Kerry deserves credit for helping the Afghan leader realize that it was time to agree to disagree, and move ahead with the only politically viable course available, a second vote under the watchful eyes of international observers.

This expression is oftentimes used successfully in matters of politics such as during the Cuban crisis in the early 60s. In fact, in a Special To The Times that ran in the New York Times on January 7, 1963, the headline was “They Will Agree To Disagree.” The article showed within the first two sentences that while there was considerable tension from both sides in the crisis, that cooler heads prevailed.

The Cuban crisis will come to a formal end this week when Soviet and American negotiators at the United Nations agree to disagree. The negotiators will submit to Security Council members separate statements saying that they cannot agree on how to close one of the tensest chapters of the cold war.

When Rudolph Valentino and his wife divorced, the difficulties prior to, and following,  the divorce were fodder for more than one columnist’s pen. The Youngstown Vindicator of November 15, 1925 contained another well-known expression and began with this paragraph:

“Never again” is Mrs. Winifred Hudnut Valentino’s attitude towards further matrimonial ventures. All artists should be unmarried, she said and added “children and domesticity are incompatible with a career, that’s all.”

Mrs. Valentino complained that it had taken Rudolph, who departed today for Paris, three years to develop his lack of appreciation for her ambition to become a motion picture star in her own right.

The article, which was carried by the Associated Press, was aptly entitled, “Valentino And Wife Agree To Disagree.”

When the Charleston Mercury of Mary 1, 1860 hit the streets, it carried news of the National Convention. It reported on the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, and a portion of Delaware, being denied in the platform, the recognition of Southern rights in the Territories and the protection of slave property by the General Government, seceded from the Charleston Convention. There was what the newspaper reporter called a “radical difference on a great principle.”

The U.S. Civil War raged from 1861 through to 1865 and began when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Fort Sumter, of course, was a key fort held by Union troops in South Carolina.

The article was lengthy and detailed, providing a historical background to readers and midway, the following comments made by Mr. Butler of Massachusetts were recorded:

Do you desire to send us home to be subjected to the sneers of the Black Republicans, telling us that we have gone and laid down our honor at the feet of the South, and point at us as they pass us in the streets? Is that to be done, for no good, to accomplish no advantage for you? Do you claim that of us? If you claim the relinquishment of personal honor, I tell you frankly you cannot have it. If you claim simply a compromise, we will see how far we can compromise; and if we cannot agree with you, gentlemen who have been with me will tell you that I know how to disagree with those with whom I cannot agree.

Anglican cleric and Christian theologian, John Wesley (1703-1791) who, along with his brother Charles Wesley founded the Methodist movement, held notable doctrinal and philosophical differences from those of his close friend, Anglican preacher George Whitefield (December 27, 1714 – September 30, 1770). In a letter to his brother dated August 19, 1785 he wrote:

I will tell you my thoughts with all simplicity, and wait for better information. If you agree with me, well: if not, we can, as Mr. Whitefield used to say, agree to disagree.

John Wesley spoke at the funeral services for George Whitefield in 1770 and among many things he said, was this:

And, first, let us keep close to the grand scriptural doctrines which he everywhere delivered. There are many doctrines of a less essential nature, with regard to which even the sincere children of God (such is the present weakness of human understanding) are and have been divided for many ages. In these we may think and let think; we may “agree to disagree.” But, meantime, let us hold fast the essentials of “the faith which was once delivered to the saints;” and which this champion of God so strongly insisted on, at all times, and in all places!

And so, while many attribute John Wesley for this expression, John Wesley gives credit to his late friend, George Whitefield.  But surely, George Whitefield wasn’t the first to come up with the expression. As an Anglican preacher, isn’t it more likely than not that he found it in the Bible and began using it in conversationally?  The fact of the matter is that the expression agree to disagree is never found in the Christian Bible. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:10, the passage reads:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

In other words, there’s no place for agreeing to disagree if you are a Christian as the Bible is the final word on what is and is not expected of Christians.

So somewhere between the death of Jesus and the life of George Whitefield, someone brought forth the concept of agreeing to disagree, but it was George Whitefield who appears to be the inspiration for John Wesley’s use of the expression.

Posted in Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dutchman’s Draught

Posted by Admin on September 23, 2011

When someone talks about a Dutchman’s draught, it’s just one of the many allusions to the reputed fondness for heavy drinking among the Dutch.  Idiomation is unaware of any studies to support the stereotype that the Dutch drink more than any other cultural group however the history between the English and the Dutch is well-documented and so stereotypes are bound to endure.

In fact, back in 1665 there was a British pamphlet entitled “The Dutch Boare Dissected” that was filled with what would be considered hate speech in today’s society.  Most of the English idioms negatively referring to the Dutch first appear around this era.  The sentiment continued in a number of literary works including John Arbuthnot’s 1712 story, “The History of John Bull.”  It took until the 18th century for the French to replace the Dutch as the bull’s-eye of English insults, once the French had established themselves as a major naval adversary of the British.

On May 9, 1880 the New York Times published a news story entitled, “The Dutch And Their Land: Holland Through A Telescope.”  The date line reads Utrecht, April 23 and the reporter dedicates the entire story to extolling the virtues of Holland and the people who call the country home.  The reporter writes in part:

The area of their possessions amounts to 660,000 square miles, and the population to 23,500,000 souls.  The towers of Amsterdam, which we see through the sacristan’s telescope, common views of Zuyder Zee, which furnishes the ballad-monger with the similie as to a Hollander’s capacity for drinking:

“Singing, O, that a Dutchman’s draught might be
 As deep as the rolling Zuider Zee.”

In the January 29, 1870 edition of Punch’s Almanack, in the column “More Happy Thoughts” the following is found:

German, English and French is being spoken freely; English, I think, predominating. There are three languages that puzzle me; I subsequently find they are Russian, Dutch and Greek.  The Dutch I always though was a rolling sort of tongue, so to speak; but, on reflection, I fancy this idea was mainly founded upon the remembrance of having heard, “Oh, that a Dutchman’s draught should be,” by a bass singer, late at night, years ago.

The Examiner was promoted as “A Sunday Paper on Politics, Domestic Economy and Theatricals.”  In the edition published on January 1, 1826 the paper referenced the expression on page 357 in the theatrical column, where readers can find this passage:

The music being chiefly selection, requires little notice; it wanted what Wzaza has recently taught us to look for in operas, — we mean sounds in ideal association with the story.  Miss Stephens was once encored; and the old glee of the “Dutchman’s Draught” with new words, was well sung by Yarnold, Nicol and G. Smith, and also loudly encored.

The song “Dutchman’s Draught” appeared in a play in three acts entitled, “The Law Of Java” which was first performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden on May 11, 1822.  Act I begins with Dutch soldiers singing:

Mynheer Vandunck, though he was never drunk
Sipp’d Brandy and Water, gaily;
And he quench’d his thirst
With two arts of the first
To a pint of the latter daily;
Singing, “Oh, that a Dutchman’s Draught could be
As deep as the rolling Zuyder-Zee!”

Water well mingled with spirit, good store
No Hollander dreams of scorning;
But, of water alone, he drinks no more
Than a rose supplies when a dew-drop lies
On its bloom, in a summer morning;
For a Dutchman’s Draught should potent be,
Though deep as the rolling Zuyder-Zee.

Now English playwright, George Colman the Younger (1762 — 1836) was educated at Westminster School, Oxford and Aberdeen and he is the composer of “Mynheer Van Dunck” which starts off the play “The Law of Java.” It was a popular singing song that is found in numerous song books over the years including John McClure‘s “The Stag’s Hornbook” published in 1925 that listed the song as one of the 40 classics.

That the expression Dutchman’s draught was used easily in a song in a play back in 1822 indicates that the audience was familiar with the expression which dates it to somewhere in the mid 1700s.  And because it’s a fact that most negative idioms about the Dutch sprung up after 1665, the expression dates to somewhere between 1665 and 1750.

Idiomation was unable to establish an exact date for the expression Dutchman’s draught.  At the very least, however, it’s an expression of the 18th century and quite possible of the 17th century.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century, Idioms from the 18th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Admin on August 9, 2010

Dr. Thomas Lushington (1590-1661) was an English chaplain and Rector of Burnham-Westgate and it has been well documented that he was quite fond of drinking.  Oddly enough, his descendants allegedly became brewers of fine ales.

Almost 100 years after Lushington‘s death, the Harp Tavern became host to a club of hard drinkers known as The City of Lushington, that was  founded in 1750 and ran until 1895.  Lushington had a chairman, the ‘Lord Mayor,’ and four ‘aldermen,’ who presided over the wards of Poverty, Lunacy, Suicide, and Jupiter (the supreme Roman god who presided over all human affairs).   The members of the club were referred to as lushes.

By 1810, the phrase  ‘Alderman Lushington is concerned‘ meant that an individual was inebriated. By the 1920s, all that remained of the phrase was the word “lush” which mean someone who was habitually drunk.

Posted in Idioms from the 16th Century, Idioms from the 17th Century, Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »