Many A Little Makes A Mickle

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Phokhổng lồ of George Washington’s Eye by amateur6 on FlickrMy mother told me that many a mickle macks a muckle. She explained that lots of little things can add up together khổng lồ make big lot of something.

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It’s the sort of thing she would say when we went out picking brambles.

I was too little for school in 1980, & so while my big brother learned to read và write, I was out with mum in the park, learning how khổng lồ avoid the nettles, and the lower berries (that we don’t piông xã because that’s where dogs go) và the basic principles of berry picking.

‘Many a mickel macks a muckel’

She’d explain such principles as we went picking in the hedgerows along the old railway line that used khổng lồ link our village to the mining town nearby. The railway line had been closed for years, & a ‘linear park’ for took its place, a pathway surrounded by nettles, brambles and wildflowers.


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Brambles

In August or September we’d go out there together, my mum and me, with empty ice-cream tubs to lớn fill with berries from the brambles.

Nettle stings were a price worth paying for these tasty wild blackberries, they were sweet và sharp, with dark red juices that stained your hands.

Looking baông xã, I guess that my mum was picking berries khổng lồ take trang chủ, while I was picking berries to eat immediately. But if I did manage khổng lồ put one inkhổng lồ the pot instead of my mouth, she’d say ‘many a mickel macks a muckle’ và have sầu a little chuckle.

Later on, when I asked her to lớn explain, she’d pichồng up a well thumbed copy of ‘Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable’ và explain that many a mickel makes a muckle was an old Scottish proverb that her nana passed down to her.

It means that collecting lots of little things is worthwhile, because they can add up to something big. And it means that you should take some of the berries trang chủ instead of eating them all at the hedgerow.

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Today, I looked up the phrase & learned that ‘mickle’ and ‘muckle’ are actually synonyms, derived from the same old Scots word meaning ‘large quantity.’

Apparently, George Washington made an error when he popularised the phrase. Originally, the saying was was ‘many a little makes a muckle.’

This makes a bit more sense, and is what my mum meant. And by the way he used the phrase, it seems to be the meaning Washington had in mind, even if his ancient Scots lexicography was a wee bit wrong.

The proverb is about the value of saving and accumulation, & the benefit of deferred gratification.

Eating all the berries now means we can’t have sầu them later.

But if we collect a few, and a few more, và then a few more we can put them together và have sầu a big bowl of berries for our pie.

As a 42 year old, I’m as much of a mickle / muckle sceptic than I was at the age of five sầu. I believe sầu in the value of saving, but I’m more likely to lớn consume than conserve sầu.

In 1793 Washington wrote:

People are often ruined before they are aware of the danger, by buying every thing they think they want; conceiving them to lớn be trifles — without adverting to a scotch addage — than which nothing in nature is more true — “that many mickles make a muckle.”

Source & more info: http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2016/06/washingtons-mickles-in-pickle.html

It’s all very well in theory, but in practice we’re not a mickle macking society.

We tkết thúc to lớn have more stuff than savings.

Its coming up to Christmas, and zillions of dollars will be spent on readily consumed crap, that may immediately gratify but is unlikely lớn last.

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It’s lượt thích we’re all eating the berries on the hedgerow instead of collecting them for pies và pickles.