the longest way round is the shortest way home

The idea is found earlier: 1580 LYLY Euphues & his England II. 96 Thou goest about (but yet the neerest way) to hang me vp for holy-dayes. (Go about is used here punningly to mean both ‘endeavour’ and ‘go around or roundabout’. The context is of a person metaphorically described as a hat which can be taken up and put down at will.)

1635 F. QUARLES Emblems IV. ii. The road to resolution lies by doubt: The next way home’s the farthest way about.

1776 G. COLMAN Spleen II. 24 The longest way about is the shortest way home.

1846 J. K. PAULDING Letter 9 May (1962) vii. The Potatoes arrived..via New York..in pursuance of the Old Proverb, that ‘the longest way round is the shortest way home.’

1942 K. ABBEY And let Coffin Pass xviii. ‘The longest way round is the shortest way home.’.. ‘We’ll make the best time by skirting the pines.’

1990 F. LYALL Croaking of Raven vi. 2. 64 ‘..when I was training my old boss used to say: “If in doubt take the long road round. It’ll prove to be the shortest in the end.”’


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