1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hobson's Choice

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HOBSON'S CHOICE, i.e. “this or nothing,” an expression that arose from the fact that the Cambridge-London carrier, Thomas Hobson (1544-1630), refused, when letting his horses on hire, to allow any animal to leave the stable out of its turn. Among other bequests made by Hobson, and commemorated by Milton, was a conduit for the Cambridge market-place, for which he provided the perpetual maintenance. See Spectator, No. 509 (14th of October 1712).