The world is wide
In time and tide,
And God is guide,
Then—do not hurry.—Deems
In the June, 1941, issue of an old magazine called Revelation, I read, with pleasure and profit, this:
"Not many people who use the word 'posthaste' realize that the phrase goes back to the time of Henry VIII. In the reign of 'bluff King Hal,' postmasters and relays of horses were established at die principal towns in England for carrying messages. The postmasters were bound to endorse the letters with the time at which the missives were delivered to them. The messengers were sometimes rather irresponsible people who delayed on the road to play games with acquaintances in inns or to waste time in some other ways.
"On this account a very drastic law was put into effect that every dispatch carrier should 'ride for his life,' and this had a literal meaning, for the penalty was that any carrier caught delaying en route should be hanged. Letters of the sixteenth century were often ornamented with a drawing of a dispatch carrier suspended from the gallows; beneath the figure was the admonition, 'Haste, post, hastel Haste for thy life!'
"This law held good for many years and there were numbers of hangings. Gradually opinion changed, and the feeling was that a lesser penalty should be inflicted if the delay was not due to a messenger being bribed or coerced into allowing someone else to read the dispatch he carried. Still later, a less severe punishment was adopted—imprisonment for a short time—or a period of confinement in the stocks or pillory. It was not until the nineteenth century that simple dismissal was applied in such cases; but the old expression 'posthaste' still lingers with us.
"So our King has given us a message that must be delivered to all men. The King's business requires haste (I Samuel 21:8). Let us be out with it. 'Go ye into all the world . . .' He has said, and to those who go, He has added, 'And, lo! I am with you . . .' (Matthew 28:20). There is no death penalty, but there is a reward for obedient servants and for those who do not obey, even though they be saved, there is 'the terror of the Lord' (II Corinthians 5:11)."
The ferry-dock was crowded with weary home-goers when through the crowd rushed a man—hot, excited, laden to the chin with bundles of every shape and size. He sprinted down the pier, his eyes fixed on a ferryboat only two or three feet out from the pier. He paused but an instant on the string-piece, and then, cheered on by the amused crowd, he made a flying leap across the intervening stretch of water and landed safely on the deck. A fat man happened to be standing on the exact spot on which he struck, and they both went down with a resounding crash. When the arriving man had somewhat recovered his breath he apologized to the fat man. "I hope I didn't hurt you," he said. "I am sorry. But, anyway I caught the boat!"
"But you idiot," said the fat man, "the boat was coming in!"
The colored man was condemned to be hanged, and was awaiting the time set for execution in a Mississippi jail. Since all other efforts had failed him, he addressed a letter to the governor, with a plea for executive clemency. The opening paragraph left no doubt as to his urgent need:
"Dear Boss: The white folks is got me in dis jail fixin' to hang me on Friday mornin' and here it is Wednesday already."