[Ads-l] "to hell in a hand-barrow" interdating, 1831; was Re: New York Sunday Mercury

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Nov 17 20:55:28 UTC 2020

Below are a bunch of early citations, 1636–1805 for variants of "to hell in a [conveyance]." 

There are many more descriptions of going to hell in various ways, in a crowd, in a dream, etc. But I've only included those that list a vehicle of some sort or that connote ease and luxury. The bulk come, understandably enough, in sermons. 

Hausted, Peter. “The Third Sermon Preached Upon Saint Peters Day.” Ten Sermons Preached Upon Severall Sundayes and Saints Dayes. London: John Clark, 1636, 55. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
O yee will hug us of the Clergy, so long as wee let yee alone; so long as wee doe not bring backe your sinnes to your memory, wee are quiet and honest men, so long as wee will suffer ye to goe to Hell in a Horse litter, a fine easie pace, without any rubs or molestations in your way, we shall be accounted good and worthy men amongst yee.

Burges, Cornelius. Another Sermon Preached to the Honorable House of Commons Now Assembled in Parliament, November the Fifth, 1641. London: R.B. for P. Stephens and C. Meredith, 1641, 24. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
For, as Hoffeus the Jesuite was wont to bragg, they hold it a good peece of Pietie, instantly to commend him to the fire, ut anima ejus in curru igneo ad inferos trahatur, that so his soule might be forthwith carried to hell in a fiery Chariot..

Abbot, Robert. Milk for Babes, or, A Mothers Catechism for Her Children. London: John Legate for Philemon Stephens, 1646, 263. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Hence is it that they swim in the Kingdome of pleasure, and, with their eyes to heaven, are going as fast as they can to hell in a feather-bed.

Tub-Preachers Overturnd. London: George Lindsey, 1647, 4. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Nor could he, having once the knowledg of the truth, be deceived by your errors by all your glozing specious pretences of New-Light, Christ upon his Throne, Godly Party, Free-grace, Saints, Comfort of beleevers, Divine Light, Pilgrim of the Saints, and Honey-comb, and a thousand sweet lyes in them to have a man go slumbring to hell in a feather-bed.

Godolphin, John. The Holy Limbeck. London: John Field for Edmund Paxton, 1650, 144–45. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Have you never observed a man at a Sermon to sleep very attentively, that heard, all, understood, little, and practised nothing: It seems there may be deaf hearers as well as dumb Preachers. Thus there are more ways of sleeping at a Sermon then one, and for him that cannot refrain, it would be less Hypocrisie to go to Hell in a feather-bed at home.

Sheffeild, John. A Good Conscience the Strongest Hold. London: J.B. for Samuel Gellibrand, 1650, 302. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Bernard speaks of some that were much wiser, and more skilfull then others, yet all the use they made of their wisdom was to go to Hell in a more neat and handsom manner.

“Chipps of the Old Block.” Ratts Rhimed to Death. Or, the Rump-Parliament Hang’d Up in the Shambles. London: 1659, 49. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
That Mine of fraud Sir Artur,
His Soul for Lands will barter;
And if you ride to Hell in a Wayn, he's fit to make
your Carter.

Gray, Andrew. Great and Precious Promises; or, Some Sermons Concerning the Promises. Edinburgh: Society of Stationers, 1663, 47. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
Satan hath three different wayes of guiding souls unto everlasting torment; there are some that Satan carryeth to hell in a chariot of delusions, making them believe that they are still going to heaven; and such are the hypocrites in Sion: and I shall say; I think that chariot was never so filled as it is in those dayes. O fear that anxious disappointment that many of you (it is like) will meet with? An hypocrite he hath strong hopes, he hath strong idols, and he hath strong delusions, these are his three attendants. And there are some that Satan carryeth to hell in a chariot of profanity and ignorance of God, whose judgement goeth before hand, and they are known that they are going there. And there are some that Satan carryeth to hell in a chariot of civility.

Care, Henry. The History of Popery or Pacquet of Advice from Rome, vol. 4, 23 June 1682, 215. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
That noise of a Popish Plot was nothing in the world but an intrigue of the Whigs to destroy the Kings best Friends, and the Devil fetch me to Hell in a Hand basket, if I might have my will, there should not be one Fanatical Dog left alive in the three Kingdoms.

Phillips, Edward. The Mysteries of Love & Eloquence, or, the Arts of Wooing and Complementing, third edition with additions. London: James Rawlins for Obadiah Blagrave, 1685, 180. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
VVell fare him that is born to be hang'd say I, for he goes to heaven in a string, when he that is drown'd goes to hell in a ferry-boat.

Curate, Jacob. The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence; or, the Foolishness of Their Teaching Discovered. London: Randal Taylor, 1692, 111. Early English Books Online (EEBO).
I will tell you a sad truth, Sirs, You have been driven to Hell in a Coach this eight and twenty years, and that old Stock, my Father (pointing to him) has been the Coachman.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, vol. 2 of 20, 5–12 December 1734, 3. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
New and Vaughan, and one Spinner, the three greatest Rogues were drowned. One of the transports who were saved confessed, on his coming to Bristol, that Vaughan beat the Hole in the Boat, in order to make the Owner run her ashore, that they might have an Opportunity to make their Escape. They swore and curs’d all the Way, and New in particular swore, That he was going to Hell in a Cradle, for so he term’d the Rolling of the Vessel...The six other Transports were all delivered at Bristol, and go by the next ship to Virginia.

Rudder, Samuel. “Window XV.” The History of Fairford Church in Gloucestershire. Cirencester: S. Rudder, 1763. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
Description of a stained glass window
Here is Dives in hell, praying for a drop of water to cool his tongue; and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosum; also a woman going to hell in a wheelbarrow, for scolding at her husband.

Flavel, John. The Whole Works of the Reverend Mr. John Flavel, vol. 6 of 8. Paisley: A. Weir and a. M’Lean, 1770, 191. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
There are but two differences betwixt me and the poorest slave the devil hath on earth; such are whipped on to hell by outward miseries, and I am coached to hell in a little more pomp and honor; these will have a less, and I a greater account in the day of reckoning.

Erskine, Ralph. “Sermon XV.” The Practical Works of the Reverend Ralph Erskine, vol. 1 of 10. Glasgow: William Smith, 1777, 456. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
Why, they had a good hope of heaven; and so, the higher their hope, the more dismal their fall and disappointment. Oh! how many ride triumphantly to hell in a chariot of foul-destroying delusion! They imagine they are right enough, and that all is well; while it is quite otherwise with them.

Goldsmith, Oliver. The Citizen of the World; or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, residing in London, to His Friends in the East, vol. 2 of 2. London: R. Whiston, et al., 1790, 166. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
Reference to the Fairford Church window
It some way resembles a picture I have seen, designed by Albert Durer, where, amidst all the solemnity of that aweful scene, a deity judging, and a trembling world awaiting the decree, he has introduced a merry mortal trundling his scolding wife to hell in a wheel-barrow.

Des Carrieres, A. J. Précis de l'Histoire de France, Depuis l'Établissement de la Monarchie, Jusqu'à Nos Jour, vol. 1. London: 1791, 33. Hathitrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
The monks have loaded this prince [i.e., Dagobert] with praise, the reason of which is plain; they thought it a duty to acknowledge his pious prodigality. One of them records, that they saw the dæmons conduct his soul to hell, in a boat; but that St. Denis, St. Mauritius, and St. Martin, came to its aid, rescued it from their hands, and carried it to Abraham’s bosom.

Meadows, Thomas. “Four and Twenty Puppet Shews.” Thespian Gleanings; a Collection of Comic Recitals, Songs, Tales, &c. Ulverston, Cumbria: George Ashburner, 1805, 170. HathiTrust Digital Archive. https://www.hathitrust.org/
Four and twenty Puppet Shows all on a row
There was Punch and his wife going to old Nick in a hand basket, and the little devil lighting them with a dark lanthorn for fear they should lose their way

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