Clothes horse

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Tue Feb 1 00:10:56 UTC 2000


   Evan Morris has something on "clothes horse" (not "clothes whore") this week.
   A check of Literature Online shows that the first hit is John O'Keeffe's play A BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK (1798), "...at Corny then at the clothes horse)(Stage direction)."
   John Hamilton Reynolds' poem ODE TO RICHARD MARTIN, ESQUIRE, M.P. FOR GALWAY (1826) has, "He'll wear that ancient hackney to the bone, Like a mere clothes-horse airing royal things!"
   The Making of America database has the SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, April 1843, "Something About Loafers," pg. 198, col. 2:  "He is a denizen of the sunshine when it feels pleasant, and a haunter of the shade when it grows comfortable--a valuable invention for the consuming of half-smoked cigars--an old-clothes horse,--solemn as a mist--inoffensive as a watering-pot."
   Perhaps Thomas Carlyle first used it in our modern sense?  MOA also has the S.L.M., June 1850, "Thomas Carlyle and his 'Latter-Day Pamphlets,'" pg. 330, col. 2:  "Here he says to the world is a _man_, not 'a patent digester,' a 'walking clothes-horse,' but a true-hearted, _earnest_ man, and hence to be respected and upheld."
  I don't have time to copy OED, but these cites are earlier.
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