Hobson's choice

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Jul 6 00:11:37 UTC 2013

EEBO has a cite of "Hobson's choise" from 1659.

Anon, "A Word to Purpose: Or, A Parthian Dart," 1659, n.p.

pp. 13-14:

"But is it not meant a Free State, that every one shall be free to do that
which is good in his own eyes, or that every one shall be free to do what he
hath power enough to do, or that every one shall be free in Hobson's choise,
to take, enjoy, or have what the Army will suffer us to take, enjoy, or
have, or nothing? or Free in paying the Souldiers, or Free to doe what the
Army would have us."

And yes, that epitaph does appear to reference his letting out only one
horse at a time, expressing irony that six horses are pulling his coffin.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
ADSGarson O'Toole
Sent: Friday, July 05, 2013 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: Hobson's choice

I meant to say: OED has a citation for the phrase Hobson's choice in
1660 and that seems to be the earliest currently known. ...

On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 3:57 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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)
> http://books.google.com/books?id=j7_bpWjze40C&q=carriage
> [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]
> Garson

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