"Chicken or the Egg"
bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Dec 21 05:19:24 UTC 2004
On Mon, 20 Dec 2004 23:52:53 -0500, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>CHICKEN OR THE EGG
>>Los Angeles Times, Jan 11, 1895, p. 6
>>(Indianapolis Journal:) "Mr. Billings," said the landlady, >playfully,
>>"which do you think came first -- the chicken or the egg?"
>>"I never gave the subject much thought, Mrs. Hashcroft," >answered
>>Billings, "but I am willing to bet that if any chicken >preceded this egg
>>it died long ago, long ago."
>Oh, all right.
>1. Ferguson, Samuel, Sir, 1810-1886 [Author Page]
>Father Tom and the Pope; or, A Night in the Vatican. (1868) 107Kb
>...is, "whether the original egg was the parent of the chicken, or the
>egg was the original ancestor of that celebrated...
In a thread on the alt.usage.english newsgroup a few months ago, Richard
Maurer found this 1875 cite:
BUMBLE, bramble, which came first, sir,
Eggs or chickens? Who can tell?
I'll never believe that the first egg burst, sir,
Before its mother was out of her shell.
Author: Dodge, Mary Mapes, 1830-1905.
Title: Rhymes and jingles.
Publication date: 1875.
Collection: Making of America
He also discovered the apparent locus classicus for the conundrum, from
Plutarch's _Symposiacs_, Book 2:
WHICH WAS FIRST THE BIRD OR THE EGG?
Soon after he proposed that perplexed question,
that plague of the inquisitive,
Which was first, the bird or the egg?
And my friend Sylla, saying that with this little question,
as with an engine, we shook the great and weighty problem
(whether the world had a beginning),
declared his dislike of such questions.
And with a smile continued he, I speak to those
that are acquainted with the mystical and sacred discourse
of Orpheus, who not only affirms the egg to be before the bird,
but makes it the first being in the whole world.
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