Thursday, July 2, 2009


'Flyfishing' - Etching by Winslow Homer 1889

Dame Juliana Berners wrote in her 'Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle' (published in 1496 by Wynkyn de Worde) - "As the olde englysshe proverbe sayth in this wyse -

'Who so woll ryse erly shall be holy helthy and zely'.

Thus haue I prouyd in myn entent that the dysporte and game of anglynge is the very meane and cause that enducith a man in to a mery spyryte." Zely = Fortunate.

Good gracious, how old is that saying?! I went looking and found that it was possibly early 15th century. Also, Anthony Fitzherbert wrote in 'The Book of Husbandry', 1523, in a paragraph entitled 'A short lesson for the husbande' - 'At grammer-scole I lerned a verse, that is this, Sanat, sanctificat, et ditat surgere mane. That is to say, Erly rysyng maketh a man hole in body, holer in soule, and rycher in goodes. And this me semeth shuld be sufficient instruction for the husbande to kepe measure.'

We all know about the early bird and worms!

Benjamin Franklin also lived by the proverb and I found this at De Proverbio -

Mere proverb allusions run the risk of not being understood, even if they refer to very common proverbs. Nevertheless, such lack of communication is rather rare among native speakers and there certainly was no confusion possible in the case of a short gossipy column by Stanton Delaplane (1907-1988) in the San Francisco Chronicle of March 12, 1980, that mentions only part of the proverb in the title and more of it plus Benjamin Franklin in the text itself.

'And Early to Rise'
"Plough deep while sluggards sleep," said Benjamin Franklin. "Early to bed and early to rise."

Ran into some of Ben's personal history the other night. He was in France doing a little work for the US government. He was quite a dude with the Paris girls. "Early to bed and as often as possible," was Ben's motto. How he managed to get up early - with the routine he had going - is beyond me. He certainly gave the mademoiselles a vote of confidence. Didn't find out how well he did for the USA.

"Early to bed and early to rise" doesn't give you much leisure time. But some smart fellow has discovered that the "leisure class" no longer exists. The more money you have, the harder you have to work.

I never figured to get out of work and into the leisure class. Now it seems I did the right thing. If I had made it, there's no leisure left. Unquote


Susan said...

Well I, for one, am glad you didn't make it into the leisure class, because you wouldn't have time to entertain me with your informative and insightful writings and your lovely photos.

We were always taught in school that the "early to bed, early to rise" saying originated with good old Ben F. Seems he was too busy in France to come up with that one! lol

Susan said...

Oh, I forgot to say thanks for the drawing by Winslow Homer. He is one of my favorite artists.

Alaine said...

Seems as though Ben F. was a real lad! I'm glad you like Winslow, I do too. Another post is complete and is in line for publishing.

Derrick said...

Hello Alaine,

So if there's no point in seeking to become part of the leisure class, what is left?!! :0) Certainly, in Ken Follett's book, World Without End, the poor folks are always rising with the dawn, if not before, but I'm not sure how many were healthy, wealthy and wise!

Alaine said...

Derrick, I just caught you, I'm about to retire - early!

I'm looking forward to World Without End but it sounds sad. Perhaps I'll read that before 'Pillars' again.

willow said...

This reminds me of that Yorkshire saying on my mug! Peppered with lots of "y"s and "e"s.