1800s expression for dating
Not a boy playing in the sand but one peddling it, often from panniers slung from a donkey, to the owners of shops and taverns where a fresh layer was spread on the floor every day to absorb the mud from customers' boots.
Why a sandboy should be proverbially jolly is not clear.
This was originally 'hand over hand', a nautical expression applied to the speedy hauling in or descent of a rope by using alternate hands, rather than by the slower method of using both hands together.
This is an old expression, dating from at least the 15th century, which uses an image, going back to biblical times, of the scales which can be turned by the least weight being added to either pan.
It would have been a familiar visual image in the Middle Ages from the many paintings of the souls of the dead being weighed in judgement against the weight of a feather.
Anyone who has ever used such an old-fashioned pair of scales will know that two almost equal weights can oscillate for some time before they come down on one side or the other.
In its sense of 'call from a distance to attract attention', hail was originally nautical and remained chiefly so until the mid-18th century.It was natural for sailing ships passing at sea to hail each other, and a ship that announced it was from a certain port was said in nautical jargon to 'hail from' it.The term gradually came to be transferred to people and their hometowns.Probably they were just happy because what they sold for money cost them very little or nothing.It has been estimated that they could make over 5 a morning, and if they were also given the job of clearing out the old sand before laying the new their happiness might well have been enhanced by the possibility of finding dropped valuables in it.In Old English a hackney was an ordinary horse (i.e.not a thoroughbred) suitable for general use, especially for riding by ladies; the name may have come from Hackney in London, where horses used to be raised.Shortened to hack, the word is still in use for a horse of this kind.By the 16th century, a hackney had also become a horse available for hire: this enabled the word to become a metaphor for a person hired to do low-grade work.It was Wordsworth who first noted, in a letter of 1793, the story of a company of strolling players who advertised a performance of Hamlet and announced, at the beginning of the performance, that they hoped the audience would forgive the omission of the character of the prince.Normally used of making money or overhauling someone.