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
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--"...one 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
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.