Rooster makes mo' racket dan de hin w'at lay de aig (Joel Chandler Harris 1881)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 6 23:25:09 UTC 2011

Joel Chandler Harris and his Uncle Remus character have been discussed
on the list in conjunction with the term tar baby. Recently, I came
across one of his 1881 proverbs while tracing a quotation. I think
that a saying Harris recorded about roosters and hens has been
transformed over time to yield a modern political barb.

The cock may crow but it's the hen who lays the egg.

These words are typically attributed to the UK politician Margaret
Thatcher. In one anecdote she was supposed to deliver a speech to a
largely male political audience and her talk was delayed. Other male
orators spoke before her and when she finally reached the platform she
made the remark given above.

Tracing backward I found the following instances of variants of the saying:

'It's the rooster that does the crowing', she said, 'but it's the hen
that lays the egg.' (1977 GB unverified)

The rooster makes more clatter than the hen that lays the egg. (1958
GB unverified)

Please note this little fact, I beg: It is the hen that lays the egg;
the rooster does the yelling; he flaps his silly wings and crows, and
points with pride a while, and throws some fits around your dwelling.

Rooster makes mo' racket dan de hin w'at lay de aig. (1881)

The last statement is listed under "Plantation Proverbs" in "Uncle
Remus: His Songs and His Sayings" (1881) by Joel Chandler Harris.
Of course, earlier cites may exist.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list