Facts are stranger than fiction.
It’s raining cats and dogs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
This country is going to the dogs.
The early bird gets the worm.
It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
…a miss is as good as a mile
…mad as a hatter
…quick as a wink
…six of one, half a dozen of the other
…barking up the wrong tree
…won’t take no for an answer
What do these phrases have in common? Give up? …Would you believe they were all coined by a Nova Scotian? …No way! Right? How did we not know this??
All of my English teachers and university professors need to hang their heads in shame that I had to learn this from a grave keeper named Jerome (I’ll explain later). It’s true…this is a list of famous sayings popularized by Sam Slick, a character created by Nova Scotian judge and writer Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865).
Haliburton’s Sam Slick character was a fast talking Yankee type who put forward his views on “human nature” in a regular column in the Novascotian, beginning in 1835 (according to Wikipedia). Later some of these columns were published in a collection titled The Clockmaker, or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slicksville.
I did some research but there isn’t much information to either confirm or refute the claim that Haliburton was the first to coin these phrases. (Talk about a needle in a haystack…) Information on the term Mad as a Hatter says that it did predate Louis Carrol and Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, so that seems to work with the Haliburton Said It First theory. And, just as an aside, the reason hatters had a propensity towards crazy was because it was impossible for them to avoid inhaling the mercury fumes given off during the hat making process…Oh! The things I didn’t know yesterday! For several other phrases I could only confirm that they were indeed first penned in the early 1800s.
I guess one way to confirm these famous sayings appeared in Haliburton’s writings would be to read the book…It’s been a long time since I came across any topic I couldn’t find enough information about on the Internet…off to the library.
Of course I could always claim I got this information from the horse’s mouth (No, wait! That’s not one of them, is it?) But I did get to meet Sam during a Ghost Walk last weekend..Here are a few snaps of him and Jerome…Interesting guys…