Posted by Woodchuck on December 13, 2002
In Reply to: "To hell in a hand basket" posted by Peter on December 13, 2002
: : : back to this phrase from some time ago.
: : : My grandmother used this phrase often: she was born in 1880. Could it be that this phrase may have originally started during the French Revolution when the heads would roll at the Guillotine and were carried off in woven baskets. As the executed were all considered criminals they went to hell. Thus: to hell in a hand basket.
: : I use that phrase often too. I was born in 19--oh, never mind.
: that's a delectable theory and i'd love to know the fact of the matter. speaking of hell, mencken metions an english phrase, an exclamation I have to assume, that is somehow very evocative for me. it's "hell and scissors." isn't that nice? if anyone know, i'd love etymology of that one, too.
I don't have any answers for you, but I can provide some clues that may be of interest.
"With no bridges and no roads even, journeying by land was slow and tedious and a veritable slough of despond must have been the three mile stretch between Big and Little Ocho rivers at Vandalia, known as the "Hell and Scissors," which it took three days to cross." - PORTRAIT & BIOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF MORGAN AND SCOTT COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers, 1889
There's also an old fiddle tune entitled "Hell and Scissors".