devil take the hindmost
- An imprecation that everyone should look after their own interests, leaving those who cannot cope to whatever fate befalls them.
- 1620, in Philaster by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
- 1742, Colonial Record of Georgia
- 1787, in Robert Burns, "To a Haggis" (Deil tak the hindmost)
- 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 3, ch. VI, Two Centuries
- And [we] coldly see the all-conquering valiant Sons of Toil sit enchanted, by the million, in their Poor-Law Bastille, as if this were Nature’s Law; — mumbling to ourselves some vague janglement of Laissez-faire, Supply-and-demand, Cash-payment the one nexus of man to man: Free-trade, Competition, and Devil take the hindmost, our latest Gospel yet preached!
- 1915, W.S. Maugham, "Of Human Bondage", chapter CVIII:
- "Oh, don't talk to me about your socialists, I've got no patience with them," she cried. "It only means that another lot of lazy loafers will make a good thing out of the working classes. My motto is, leave me alone; I don't want anyone interfering with me; I'll make the best of a bad job, and the devil take the hindmost."