Date: Wed, 19 Nov 1997 02:05:25 -0500

From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Today's stuff (Black Maria, Rather Be Right)

Greg Downing wants to know what I find in a session? Today's fairly


Work was from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a half-hour (unpaid) lunch. Then, I

took the subway from the Bronx to NYU. I had a snack, read NYPress, and got

to do research at a little before 8 p.m. The library starts to close at

10:45 p.m.

There were over ten books on Henry Clay, but the best is the 1991 book by

Robert V. Remini. This is from page 527:

"I trust the sentiments and opinions are correct," snapped Clay in

response. "I HAD RATHER BE RIGHT THAN BE PRESIDENT."(37) Here was the

immortal utterance, the classic rejoinder, one that quickly entered the

lexicon of American politics and was always to be associated with Clay's


(37) _Congressional Globe_, 25th Congress, 3d session, p. 167; _National

Intelligencer_, March 30, 1839; _Niles' Weekly Register_, March 23, 1839.

My citation was from March 22, 1839. That statement (as this) was

capitalized, and used "had" rather than "would."

I then went downstairs to the microfilm room, which would close in about

an hour. I searched a bit in an 1840s newspaper--then had the strange

feeling that I'd already read it!

Maybe I'd do "Black Maria." David Shulman's second note on this is in

American Speech, Summer 1997, pg. 197. The "1936" there is a misprint and

should be "1836."

Irving Lewis Allen also did an article on "Black Maria" for the October

1997 Comments on Etymology, and this got Shulman furious!

I decided to check through a periodical in the American Periodical

Series of microfilms called the American Turf Register and Sporting

Magazine. Here's what I found that interested me:

Sept. 1832, pg. 37--"A flash in the pan--the great trotting match no match at


Oct. 1832, pg. 83--"I presume the cats you alluded to, for which

Constantinople is said to be so famous, and which you denominated 'key hole


Nov. 1832, pg. 126--"DINING BY HOOK OR CROOK."

Nov. 1832, pg. 134--"We know nothing of the derivation of the word 'Snob;' it

is certainly not a classical one, but either that or Tiger is too often

applied to a total stranger who ventures to show himself in the 'swell

countries,' as they are called."

Nov. 1832, pg. 143--"FORESIGHT.--LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP."

Dec. 1832, pg. 168--"ON NAMING HORSES."

Jan. 1833, pg. 226--"Looker-on." (As opposed to "on-looker.")

Jan. 1833, pg. 234--"Let _cocktails_ then faulter, but thoroughbred we, Will

stick to the _saddle_ till ended the spree!" (For origin of "cocktail.")

Jan. 1833, pg. 238--" more drive for the 'big one.'"

Feb. 1833, pg. 293--"no go."

And then, Dec. 1832, pp. 201-205, "RACING CALENDAR. UNION COURCE (N.Y.)

RACES," had this:


Black Maria, six years old; by Eclipse.


Black Maria, in size and general appearance, is in all respects unlike

her rival, as is well known to southern,as well as northern sportsmen. Her

colour is indicated by her name; and her great size, strangth and stride,

show her a worthy daughter of a noble sire. Indeed, in her the blood of

Eclipse and Lady Lightfoot are in no way disgraced, as this race will most

fully prove.


As for Black Maria, she is literally 'too fast for the speedy, and too

strong for the stout.'


The copying machine didn't work. I had to switch copiers. And then, my

time was up.

Perhaps more on Black Maria tomorrow. I'm tired.