knock yourself a little bit up

Tenos

Senior Member
Arabic
In a letter by Charles Darwin to his friend Charles Lyell, he expresses his sorrow that they wouldn't be able to see him for so long. He says:

How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here again for so long; I wish you may knock yourself a little bit up before you start and require a day's fresh air, before the ocean breezes blow on you.

I wonder what did the expression "knock yourself up" mean at this time and in this particular context.
 
  • Tenos

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    could it be that Darwin is asking his friend to have a vacation and may be visit him to have "a day's fresh air"?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't see much difficulty here. The idiom "knock yourself up" may not be clear, but the rest of the sentence shows Darwin (politely because indirectly) telling his friend that, since they won't see each other for a long time, he'd be very welcome to come and visit him if he should feel the need for a day spent in the fresh (country) air with him.


    How sorry I am to think that we shall not see you here again for so long; I wish you may knock yourself a little bit up before you start and require a day's fresh air, before the ocean breezes blow on you.

    In modern language, I think he's saying something like this: "It's a shame we won't see each other for such a long time. Still, if you happen to feel a bit knackered one day up in polluted old London, why don't you come down to the country, get a bit of fresh air in your lungs - it will prepare you for your long sea voyage, where you're going to get plenty of sea breezes for sure".
     
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