early American proverbs

Mon May 17 20:23:55 UTC 1999

        In a private communication recently I mentioned to one of our
comrades on this list that I had some references in my notes which
offered antedatings to B. J. Whitings collections of American
proverbs and similar commonplace expressions.  He indicated an
interest in seeing them, so I am posting the ones from the letters A
and B to the whole group.  I note that of the four, three are not in
his books at all.

EAPPP = Early American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases; Tayor &
Whiting = the book on American proverbs, 1820 to 1880, by Archer
Taylor and B. J. Whiting.  The "x" replaces a symbol I can't transfer
to email, and signifies "not found".

1821:   . . . how delighted would the Bard of Avon have been to see his
Richard performed by a fellow black as the ace of spades.
        National Advocate, September 21, 1821, p. 2, col. 4  [Refers to the
production of Richard III presented by New York's African Theatre, an
all-black company of actors that is the subject of my recent book.]

Whiting, EAPPPx; Taylor & Whiting: 1840

1836:   [there is] strong suspicion of his having found a bridle
with a horse hung to it.
        The Herald, December 28, 1836, p. 2, col. 5  [= having stolen a
horse.  The words from "found a bridle" to the end were italicized
in the original.]

RHHDASx; Whiting, EAPPPx; Taylor & Whitingx; OEDx

1854:   The common expression is "the last button on Gabe's coat was
gone."  But it was worse than that -- I don't know when I have had a
button worth cutting off.
        New-York Daily Tribune, December 6, 1854, p. 7, col. 3  [The buttons
have all been cut off and pawned.]

Whiting, EAPPPx; Taylor & Whitingx

1825:   On coming before the Judge again, she exulted at having
"outwitted him," as she termed it, . . . and said that if any one
bought her for a fool, they would want back part of their
        New-York National Advocate, May 28, 1825, p. 2, col. 3  [As I
recall the full story, the woman wanted to be sent to the
penitentiary, but the judge refused to oblige, and released her; she
immediately proceeded to commit a crime in front of witnesses and
thus outwitted the judge.]

RHHDASx; DAEx (under buy & fool); DAREx; Whiting, EAPPPx; Taylor &
Whitingx; OEDx

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