Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Desiderius of Langres’

Make Your Bed And Lie In It

Posted by Elyse Bruce on January 11, 2018

If you make your bed and lie in it, you are accepting the consequences of your actions. This generally refers to consequences that are unpleasant at best, and refers to actions taken that can either be lawful or unlawful.

As a play on the phrase, Joanna Tovia used the term in an article she wrote in 2014 for houzz.com.au. The article dealt with the many different names for bed items from coverlets to scarves and on to ruffles and valances, and as the title promised, a lot of confusing terms suddenly made sense. The headline was “Make Your Bed And Lie In It: Baffling Bed Terms Demystified.”

The August 8, 1974 edition of “The New York Review of Books” Margot Hentoff reviewed two books. The first was “Beyond Monogamy” from Johns Hopkins and the other was “Divorced in America” by writer Joseph Epstein. In the second paragraph of her review, the expression slipped in very nicely with a bit of literary license while discussing sexual behaviors spoken of in both books.

We make our beds and lie in them tossing, sometimes exchanging them for others — leaving behind, in most cases, a great pile of linen.

In 1903, English novelist Mrs. Edward Kennard (1850 – 1936) published her book, “A Professional Rider.” She was already a well-known authoress, having written and published such books as “Automobile Adventures of Mrs. Fenks” and “The Golf Lunatic” among others.

Chapter II was titled, “As You Make Your Bed, So Must You Lie” and on page 29, the expression was used by Colonel Hope of Hopetown Manor who had just been informed by Miss Walker that his daughter had left seminary for young ladies that was situation in the High Street of market town Foxington, and eloped with a young man in an inferior position of life to her own. The concern aside from the one of marrying below her station in life was that the Colonel’s daughter would come into a sizeable fortune upon her father’s death and as such, her inheritance was in danger because the romantic entanglement.

“Why!” he exclaimed. “From what you tell me, it must be Dick Garrard, the horse dealer. If so, he is one of the biggest scoundrels unhung. Oh! Lord!” And with a groan, he brought his hand down heavily on the table. “I will never forgive either of them,” he added presently, in a husky voice. “Never — never, so long as there is life in my body. As she has made her bed, so must she lie. As for you, Madam,” he went on, withering Miss Walker with a glance full of wrath. “Words fail to describe my contempt for the laxity of your conduct. I entrusted my child to your care, believing yours to be a staid and respectable establishment. You have failed signally — failed miserably and wickedly in your trust. I hold yo responsible for all that has occurred. Good day.” He took up his hat and rushed out of the room like a whirlwind, leaving Miss Walker and Miss Jemima crushed to the ground by the severity of his criticisms.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 1: Mrs. Edward Kennard was the former Mary Eliza Faber, daughter of Charles Wilson Faber who was the director of the Great Northern Railway and the Metropolitan Railway, and Mary Beckett who was the daughter of Sir Edmund Beckett.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 2: In 1870, she married former journalist Edward Kennard who bought the Barn Estate on the borders of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, thereby becoming a landed gentleman and moving up the social ladder.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 3: She was personally acquainted with such authors as Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Jumping back another century to 1806, Volume 9 of “Cobbett’s Political Register” edited by English pamphleteer, farmer, journalist and member of British parliament William Cobbett (9 March 1763 – 18 June 1835), had an entry about the debate on the state of England’s affairs. Lord Castlereagh (18 June 1769 – 12 August 1822) had taken exception to Mr. Windham’s plan which was to call for an inquiring into the conduct of Lord Wellesley (20 June 1760 – 26 September 1842), but once the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs came to office, all the blustering stopped, and the state’s finances were suddenly in excellent shape. There were those, however, who had their doubts.

Let us, therefore, hear no more complaints about the Bed of Roses. Let those who are upon it make the best of it. The old women say to their daughters, “as you make your bed so you must lie in it” and the same may we say to the ministers. They took to the Pitt inheritance without any complaint; and the people have a right to demand of them a complete responsibility for all the mischief that shall happen.

When James Kelly included it in his book “A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs” published in 1721, it held nearly 3,000 proverbs and was arranged with notes and illustrations. While the expression wasn’t one of the Scottish proverbs, as you make your bed so you must lie on it was the definition for the Scottish proverb: Bode a robe and wear it, bode a pock and bear it.

The book “Outlandish Proverbs” by Welsh-born poet, orator and Anglican priest George Herbert (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633) was published in 1640 and a variation of the expression was found therein: He that makes his bed ill, lies there.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 4:  In 1640, the word outlandish  meant foreign.  It did not have the same meaning as it does in the 21st century which is to look or sound bizarre or unfamiliar

And in 1590, “Marginalia” by English writer and scholar Gabriel Harvey (1552 – 1631) shared the proverb as lett them take there owne swynge : and go to there bedd, as themselves shall make it.

There was a 15th century French proverb that stated: Comme on faict son lict, on le treuve, which, translated to English, is: As one makes one’s bed, so one finds it.

The French proverb is attributed to Monseigneur Sainct Didier by Guillaume Flamant in his book “La Vie et Passion de Monseigneur Sainct Didier, Martir et Evesque de Lengres” which was published in 1482, and based on work done by Guillaume de Dufort in 1315 and 7th century biographer Warnacher I of Lorraine, Count of Franks in Burgundy.  Warnacher I of Lorraine died in the fourth year of the reign of Merovingian King Theudebert II of Austrasia which, at the time, included the cities of Poitiers, Tours, Vellay, Bordeaux, and Châteaudun, as well as the Champagne, the Auvergne, and Transjurane Alemannia.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE 5: Monseigner Sainct Didier is also known as Desiderius of Langres who was the bishop of Langres in France. He was decapitated by invading Vandals in 411 when the city was captured and sacked, five years after the Seubians, Quadi, Burgundians and Vandals crossed the Rhine.

This puts the proverb to the beginning of the 5th century at the very least, and here is where the trail goes cold. However, the saying bears an uncanny similarity to what is written in Galations 6:7 which reads: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Idiomation therefore pegs this particular idiom to the 5th century with a nod to Galatians 6:7 in the Christian Bible.

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