Origins of Expression

Published: 04/03/2023 By Allan Fuller

We often say, there  was ‘no rhyme or reason’ but where did that expression come from?  

This is one theory. Thomas Fuller, (no relation-as far as I know!) in Worthies of England, included a story where the Queen told her treasurer, William Cecil, to pay Edmond Spenser one hundred pounds for his poetry. The treasurer, however, objected that the sum was too much. She said, "Then give him what is reason". Without receiving his payment in due time, Spenser gave the Queen this 4 line stanza on one of her progresses:

I was promis'd on a time,
 To have a reason for my rhyme:
 From that time unto this season,
 I receiv'd nor rhyme nor reason.

She immediately ordered the treasurer to pay Spenser the original £100.