Landau, James James.Landau at NGC.COM
Thu Feb 2 13:55:18 UTC 2006

On the contrary.  Considering all the recent clucking about "don't count
your eggs until they hatch", that line about "the chickens coming home
to roost" made your post most relevant.  A case, I suppose, of the
chickens coming home to the rooster.

My recollection is that the phrase "the chickens coming home to roost"
was invented (or more likely popularized) in a controversial statement
by a well-known/notorious black activist circa 1970.  I suppose I'll
have to wait for Fred Shapiro's new book to check it out.  I can't
remember who the activist was, but it may have been one H. Rap Brown,
the eponymous founder of rap music.

         - James A. Landau

PS The true story of the Scarlet Pimpernel:  he was an English nobleman
who eventually was captured by the Jacobins, but he refused to talk
under torture.  So the Jacobins tried an ingenious ploy.  They put him
in the guillotine FACE UP.  The earl took one look at the blade of the
guillotine and said, "I'll confess."  But it was too late.  The blade
was already coming down.  Moral:  don't hatchet your counts until they

Not to be confused with Roland, who at the Pass of Roncesvaux made the
mistake of putting all his Basques in one exit.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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