Quote or Proverb: My boys trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry (antedating 1832 February 28)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 25 01:33:09 UTC 2011

With apologies to Garson and his incremental approach, it pains me to
punch a hole in the theory of the quotes coalescing around an 1830s
literary work.

Old South Leaflets. No. 134
Fourth of July Oration. 1802. p. 16 [GB volume is a compilation, dated
1788, p. 200]
> The first of Mr. Emerson's published discourses, given at Harvard,
> Mass., July 4, 1794, is interesting in comparison with the Boston 4th
> of July oration in 1802. It was given at the request of the military
> officers of the town of Harvard, who, with the militia under their
> command, assembled to hear it. It dwelt largely upon the importance of
> morals and religion in the nation. Referring to dangers then
> confronting, or likely to confront, the nation, the preacher said, "If
> ever called to the field, we trust ye will remember fromwhom ye
> descend." *The motto for the whole might very well have been that
> often attributed to Cromwell's Puritans: "Trust in God, and keep your
> powder dry."*

There is an apparent 1805 hit--vol. 1 of The Eclectic Review--but it
only comes in snippets in GB so I was unable to either verify it or get
the full context (the preview does include the whole quote, but there is
no guarantee that it's from the right volume, as the snippet shows
nothing). The following is what's in the preview, complete with odd

> ...Fear not, but put toue Trust in God, and keep your Powder dry." '
> Ho ! Marston, 'neath the moonlight thy thousands owned his power. Ho !
> Naseby ! blood-bespangled in freedom's glorious hour. Ho ! Preston !
> Dunbar ! Worcester !...

But I suspect this to be an error. The clipping is from a Ramsey
Churchyard 1848 poem The Farmer o St. Ives. (http://goo.gl/a0oSJ ) The
fact that the snippet does not correspond to the preview suggests the
possibility that they are taken from different texts. Still an
interesting piece, but far too late to be of any use.

I haven't checked EAN.



On 1/24/2011 5:32 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> Thanks for your response DanG. The evidence that Cromwell said the
> phrase is very weak because the date of the first known appearance is
> so late as you note. In 1832 the words were attributed to Archdal
> (also spelled Archdale) by the Earl of Radnor in the Hansard
> transcripts. Archdale was based in Ireland I think, and he attributed
> the words to Cromwell.
> It seems possible that a fictional treatment of Cromwell influenced
> the attribution. A citation supporting that hypothesis would be
> fascinating.
> The footnote in the Dublin University magazine in 1834 said: "There is
> a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell" saying a version of the
> phrase. But no evidence accompanied this claim. If there is evidence
> it may not have been digitized yet, or it may be difficult to access.
> Reporting incremental progress was the intention for my post: pushing
> the earliest date back a couple years, and identifying Archdale as a
> locus of popularization.

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