[Ads-l] =?Windows-1252?Q?=93filled_a_sheet_nine_yards_long=2C=94_?=1654 or 1655

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Oct 5 10:51:43 UTC 2020

Richard Collings produced The Weekly Intelligencer of the Commonwealth, supporting Oliver Cromwell.
“…Colling’s style, if now more subdued, still showed a superior range and flexibility, as well as an occasional sparkle of humor. With a straight face he referred to an indictment of a lawyer that filled a sheet nine yards long, and in his next-to-last number he commented on himself and his colleagues: “It is with your Writers of Intelligence as with a pack of Beagles hunting in the field, if one puppy doth make but a faint discovery, the whole Pack will be ready to clap in, and in a ful cry run themselves out of breath….’” [endnote 15]
Note 15: “Weekly Intelligencer, 206, Feb. 21-28, 1654, p. 178; Sept. 11-18, 1655, p. 34.”
Pages 239 and 355 in Joseph Frank, The Beginnings of the English Newspaper: 1620-1660 (Harvard UP, 1961).
(The above mentioned before, but here with extended quotation.)
Whole nine may be related to whole six and all/full/entire x-number (of) yards. Since yards is often the putative measure of (often excess) communication, that’s why I suggest it may not refer to fabric for clothing. And the measurement may not be literal. If a kid says she has tons of homework, it’s a safe bet such declaration involved no real mensuration.
Stephen Goranson
PS Thanks Garson, I now have access to my interlibrary loan copy of the Graphic Science 1969 text. These days it can be harder to assemble paper resources.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list