Hobson's choice

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 5 19:57:13 UTC 2013

OED has a citation from Hobson's choice in 1660 and that seems to be
the earliest currently known. Back on 2009 Fred sent a message to the
ADS list about the term when he was searching Early English Books
Online. The 1660 cite was the earliest cite in EEBO in 2009. Has
anyone searched EEBO or other appropriate databases recently?

I was asked to explore this term and have a question for list members.
The book below contained several epitaphs for "Hobson the Carrier".
Further below is one epitaph. Do you think this epitaph might refer to
the choice of a single horse (or carrier) that was offered by Hobson?
Does the phrase "Six Carriers" refer to the group carrying a coffin
(i.e., pallbearers, though the term was no yet in use, apparently)?
Alternatively, could it refer to a team of horses?

Year: 1640
Title: Witts recreations: Selected from the finest Fancies of Moderne
Muses: With A Thousand out Landish Proverbs
Author: George Herbert; William Marshall
Publisher: London : Printed by R[ichard] H[odgkinson and Thomas Paine]
for Humphry Blunden at the Castle in Corn-hill
(The above bibliographic data is from WorldCat)


[Begin excerpt]
He that such carriage store, was wont to have,
Is carried now himselfe unto his grave:
O strange! he that in life ne're made but one,
Six Carriers makes, now he is dead and gone.
[End excerpt]


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

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