"going it like cripples"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 4 11:25:05 UTC 2011

HDAS was supposed to have "Go it, you cripples!" from the same era, but it
seems to have
fallen through the cracks. (ISTR that I couldn't decide whether it should go
under "go" or "cripple."  It was set aside in the confusion.


1834 _New Sporting Magazine_ (London) (Jan.) VI 204:  The Chase...go it you

1838 _Morning Herald_ (NYC) (Aug. 6) [19th C. US Newsp.]: Jim goes to jump,
Frank goes to fiddle, and George to learn to dance. - "Go it ye cripples!"

1839 _Ohio Statesman_ (Columbus, O.) (Aug. 21) [ibid.]: We again repeat, "go
it, cripples."

1840 _Ohio Statesman_ (Columbus, O.) (July 1) [ibid.]: Too much corruption
to hang on one stem, eh. Go it cripples, and old nick take the cast offs.

1852 John Morgan _The Life and Adventures of William Buckley_ (Hobart, Tas.:
MacDougall) 166 [ref. to ca1832]: Captain Preston...was somewhat remarkable
amongst us for odd expressions,—made applicable by him, to all things, all
times, and all circumstances. The one most general with him was, "Go it ye
cripples." If the wine bottle was to be pushed about, the pass-word was, "Go
it ye cripples; "—if at a rubber of whist, and the next player was a slow
coach, it was "Go it ye cripples; "—if anything was to be said or done, the
cry was the same, "Go it ye cripples."

1860 [
Go it, ye cripples, wooden legs are cheap.

1863 "C.D." _From Matter to Spirit_ (London: Longman) xxxviii: Manners
before everything - a slang line which I suppose is part of a modern song: -
Go it, ye cripples! crutches are cheap!

1891 _Milwaukee Sentinel_ (Jan. 4) 7 [ibid.]: A race! A race! Go it,
cripples! Ten thousand to nothing on the winner!

Quaint, and GB has hundreds of ex.  The expression was in use on three
continents. It is said that it originated in William Moncrieff's play of
Pierce Egan's "Tom and Jerry" (1821), but I haven't been able to verify

Since this is not HDAS, I save the best and currently earliest ex. for last.

1833 William H. Breton _Excursions in New South Wales_ (London: Bentley) 27:
At a spot where they had no expectation of meeting with any person, they
heard a cry of  "Go it, ye cripples, crutches are cheap!"  On looking about
them, they observed some of the natives emerge from the forest, one of whom
must have heard an officer use the expression when exploring the country,
and not improbably fancied it was our mode of salutation.


On Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 9:48 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      "going it like cripples"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A wagon was broken in Chatham square yesterday -- the axletree giving way.
>  The wagon was fully freighted with some half dozen jolly young gallants
> who
> were "going it like cripples" at the time.
> New York Herald, January 11, 1847, p. 2, col. 3
> Full text.  No doubt the gallants were drunk; probably speeding, too (i.
> e.,
> driving more than 8 mph).  Still. . . .
> --
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ.
> Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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