Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘1841’

Helter Skelter

Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 30, 2010

The phrase helter skelter means that something happens very quickly but in a disorganized and confused way.  The phrase has existed since long before Charles Manson or the Beatles used the phrase. 

In fact, on November 18, 1922 the Evening Post newspaper in Wellington, New Zealand ran an article about a very successful revue that read in part:

Helter-Skelter” was an apt name for the entertainment planned and presented last night at the Concert Chamber in aid of the Mayor’s City Improvement Fund by Mr. Pat Ward, who had gathered around him apt exponents of mirth and music. 

Almost a decade earlier, on September 14, 1914, the Poverty Bay Herald in New Zealand published a news story about WWI.  The headline read:

HELTER SKELTER RETREAT CONTINUES: British and French Vigorously pursuing five days incessant Fighting – Evidences of German Rout and Demoralisation

In the previous century, Bentley’s Miscellany authored by W. Harrison Ainsworth, Esq., and published in 1841, contained the following passage:

Mr. Rasp promised to comply, and moreover to set forth his friend’s military prowess to the best advantage.

“I think,” said he, “your division stormed the Press-yard, and captured the whipping-post, during the Loyal Aldersgate Street Volunteer campaigning in 1805.”

“Right, brother Ralph,” replied the comical coffin-maker, “and when the Finsbury awkward squad routed your left wing in the City Road, and you all ran helter-skelter into the boiled buttock of beef shop in the Old Bailey, we valiant sharp-shooters protected your flank, and covered your inglorious retreat!”  And he entertained the company with this appropriate recitation.

A little over a century before that, in 1731, Irish poet Jonathan Swift wrote “Helter Skelter” which is also known as “The Hue And Cry After The Attorneys Upon Their Riding The Circuit.”

Thomas Nashe made good use of the phrase helter skelter in his ‘Four Letters Confuted’ published in 1592:

Helter skelter, feare no colours, course him, trounce him.

In the end, E. Cobham Brewer wrote in his book, “The Etymological and Pronouncing Dictionary of Difficult Words”  that helter skelter is an Old English phrase that means “in tumultuous confusion.”   Old English is defined as English used up until the middle of the twelfth century or about 1160.  While the book itself was published in 1870, Brewer was a fastidious researcher therefore identifying the earliest known date for the phrase helter skelter to Old English was not done without great effort and fact-checking on Brewer’s part.

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Package Deal

Posted by Elyse Bruce on October 8, 2010

In The Times-News newspaper published in Hendersonville, North Carolina the following article was published on November 13, 1963:

PACKAGE DEAL SET FOR JACKSONVILLE – A big weekend football package involving three Southeastern Conference teams and Navy is now in the works for Jacksonville, Fla., area next fall, it was reported today.

But this wasn’t the first time the phrase “package deal” was used.  In an article entitled “Democratic Candidates Wary of Package Deal: Top Bourbon Nominees Trying to Shake Loose as Signs of Dissension Evident” published in the Los Angeles Times on August 22, 1946 the article stated:

Weevils of dissension seem to have crept into the Democratic “package deal” for candidates in the coming election.  It Was Bob Kenny who, in the late lamented primary wrapped Democratic candidates in a package deal, hailed it as a novel idea and put it out in California’s political show windows as a leader in campaign merchandising.

But as far back as 1887, the phrase “package deal” was in use.  When Nikola Tesla applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a single patent covering his entire electrical system, the U.S. Patent Office informed him in writing that he was to break his application into seven parts rather than submit the “package deal” he had submitted.  By April of 1888, Tesla had applied for five patents which were granted and by the end of that year, he had submitted another 18 patent applications.

However, Thomas Cook, the first tour operator is actually responsible for the first published “package deal.”  Thomas Cook was a strict Baptist and prominent member of the local temperance society.  In 1841, he arranged an excursion to a temperance meeting in Loughborough, taking advantage of the newly opened Midland railway line from Leicester.  He advertised a “package deal” where, for one shilling (5p), his customers got their rail ticket and lunch on the train.

The concept proved to be such a popular one, that the Association for the Protection of Immigrants in Texas began offering a package deal to Europeans in 1846 that included as part of the package deal:

1,000 francs, passage and meals from Bremen, German to Castroville; transport of 300 pounds of luggage; a small log cabin; two oxen and yokes; two milk cows; twelve chickens and a rooster; a plow; and a “Mexican” wagon.  In return, the settled agreed to live on, and work, the land for a minimum of three years.

Were there package deals before this?  There have been package deals throughout history.  However, the phrase itself only came into vogue after Thomas Cook.

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