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Hobson's Choice

Posted by Dr John Olsson on September 25, 2010 at 16:37

This is a very trivial point, so apologies for that, but in your entry at
http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/hobsons-choice.html
you remark upon Milton's line about Hobson "He had bin an immortall Carrier", suggesting that the line should be read as it stands. However, if one casts an eye over the previous line: "But had his doings lasted as they were..." and then adds "He had bin an immortall Carrier" it can be seen that "He had bin an imortall Carrier" is actually conditional on "his doings last[ing]". Hence the quote is not a statement about Hobson's immortality, but a conditional clause dependent on the previous line.
However, this is to take nothing away from your interesting and amusing analysis, and of course demonstrates Milton's sense of humour.
Dr John Olsson