P's and Q's, 1756...

Alison Murie sagehen7470 at ATT.NET
Sat Apr 18 19:42:13 UTC 2009

On Apr 18, 2009, at 10:56 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: P's and Q's, 1756...
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Often when I see a dating in the 18th century, I wonder what Early
> American Newspapers may have.  The best it does for "P's and Q's"
> seems to be 1813 -- but an 1836 article asserts an etymology!
> The OED (draft rev. Mar. 2009) says "The suggestion that sense 1b
> ["to mind (also watch) one's P's and Q's"] referred originally to a
> landlord confusing pints and quarts (of beer) on a customer's account
> can be neither substantiated nor dismissed (compare PINT n., QUART n.
> 1)."
> Perhaps the following is a substantiation.  ;-)
> From the Barre [VT] Gazette; Date: 05-06-1836; Volume: II; Issue:
> 51; Page: [3]:
> The origin of the phrase, "Mind your own P's and Q's," is not
> generally known. In ale houses, where chalk scores were formerly
> marked upon the wall, or behind the door of the tap room, it was
> customary to put these initial letters at the head of every man's
> account, to show the number of pints and quarts for which he was in
> arrears; and we may presume many a friendly rustic to have tapped his
> neighbor on the shoulder when he was indulging too freely in his
> potations, and to have exclaimed, as he pointed to the score, "Giles!
> Giles! Mind your P's and Q's.
> (Copied by the New Orleans Times Picayune a year later.)
> The 1813 is from the Evening Post [NY, NY],  Date: 04-21-1813; Issue:
> 3345; Page: [2]:
> But his excellency knows well how to manage his p's and q's.
> Joel
> At 4/18/2009 10:21 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:
>> OED 2nd ed. has 1779.
>> The life and memoirs of Mr. Ephraim Tristram Bates, commonly called
>> Corporal
>> Bates, a broken-hearted soldier: who, from a private centinel in
>> the guards,
>> was, from his merits, advanced, regularly, to be corporal serjeant,
>> and
>> pay-master serjeant, and had he lived a few days longer, might have
>> died a
>> commission-officer, to the great loss of his lamentable lady, whose
>> marriage he
>> had intended to declare as soon as his commission was signed, and
>> who, to make
>> up for the loss of so dear an husband, and her pension, which then
>> no Duke on
>> earth could have hindered, in order to put bread in the mouths of
>> seven small
>> children, the youngest now at her breast, the sweet creatures being
>> two twins,
>> publishes these memoirs from the original papers, sealed up with
>> the seal of
>> dear Mr. Bates, and found, exactly as he mentioned in his last will
>> and
>> testament, in an oven, never used, where, in his life time, he
>> secreted many
>> state papers, &c. &c. &c.
>> London, 1756. 237 pp. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. (1759
>> ed. on
>> google.)
>> Page 83:
>> "Mind your P's and your Q's and always travel in the Autumn."
>> Account of a debate in Coachmaker's Hall. By Harum Skarum, Esq.
>> Skarum, Harum.
>> London, 1780. 28 pp. p.19
>> Now, Mr. President, had I been consulted, I would have squared
>> their Ps and Qs
>> after another fashion. The moment the rebellion broke out...
>> The Candidate: A Farce in Two Acts, as it is Performed ...
>> By John Dent (The Second Edition; London, 1782) (Google Books full
>> text,
>> including title page and running heads) page 5, Act I, Scene II:
>> ....
>> Negus. Well, mind your hits, and all our turns may be served. These
>> contested
>> elections are the very spirit of the Constitution, and make every
>> thing
>> full of life and vigour. Now, be sure, d'ye hear? that you are, all
>> of
>> you, very
>> civil and attentive, and don't stand upon throwing in three or four
>> dozens of
>> bows extraordinary; Sir Gregory is a very rich and worthy man, tho'
>> a little
>> proud, or so, but no matter for that, take care of your Ps and Qs,
>> and this
>> affair may put something handsome in your pockets.
>> History of the royal malady [of George III]
>> with variety of entertaining anecdotes, to which are added
>> strictures on the
>> declaration of Horne Tooke, Esq. respecting "Her Royal Highness the
>> Princess of
>> Wales," commonly called (The Hon.) Mrs. Fitzherbert. With
>> interesting remarks on
>> a Regency.
>> Philip Withers;  Page of the presence.;  John Horne Tooke
>> 1789 [not 1783]
>> English Book Book 88 p. ; 24 cm.
>> London, The Author, [UMich hathi trust]
>> Tracts
>> Great Britain - 1783
>> Page 19
>> The Difficulty is to secure a part. the other Physicians are as full
>> of intrigue
>> as the Devil. Egad, every man is for himself in this world.
>> I muft mind my Ps and Qs with the Queen and the Chancellor. Aye,
>> aye, my boy,
>> that's the mark; they will certainly be the guardians of his person.
>> http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015024467865;q1=ps%20and%20qs;start=1;size=25;page=search;seq=65;view=image;num=19
>> The Foresters, an American tale - Page 72-73
>> by Jeremy Belknap - History - 1792 - 216 pages
>> About this time old Lewis had grown sick and peevish, and had
>> severely
>> cudgelled
>> some [p.73] of his apprentices, because they did not make their P's
>> and Q's
>> exactly to his mind.* The poor fellows, to prevent ...
>> *Revocation of the edict of Nantes, by Lewis XIV. 1685.
>> Stephen Goranson
>> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
Is it only old printers who think the phrase comes from the printshop?
If you've ever distributed type into its case, you can easily believe

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