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Posted by ESC on February 19, 2006

In Reply to: Coaches and Sixes posted by Al Grundstad on February 18, 2006

: Coaches and Sixes

: Reading in Joseph J Ellis's American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson... On Jefferson's arrival for his presidential inauguration,

: "Most commentators emphasized the relative lack of pomp and pagentry and contrasted Jefferson's modest entourage with the coaches and sixes used by Washington and Adams at their respective inaugurations."

: Is there more to learn of the derivation of "coaches and sixes" that the obvious coaches drawn by six horses? The meager efficiency of the phrase over its not too wordy meaning lead me to believe it entered the slang of the day for a possibly more intersting reason.

Here is a bit more information from Brewer's online:

E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Coach-and-four (or Coach-and-six).
It is said one may drive a coach-and-four through an Act of Parliament, i.e. lawyers can always find for their clients some loophole of escape. 1 "It is easy to drive a coach-and-four through wills, and settlements, and legal things."-H. R. Haggard. "[Rice] was often heard to say . that he would drive a coach and six horses through the Act of Settlement."-Welwood.