What is the (likely) origin of the popular usage of the phase "What could go wrong?" or "What could possibly go wrong?" as a theatrical plot device or ironic commentary? Does this usage pre-date or post-date Murphy's Law?
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The earliest use I have found of the phrase in this premonitory sense is the following dialogue, which occurs on pages 88-9 of Matilda Mary Pollard’s Cora: Three Years of a Girl’s Life (n.d., but the Bodleian Library stamp reads December 1882):
It will hardly surprise you to learn that three years later, on page 186, it is revealed that Mr. Burges has died of the shock of
But the idea of course is much older. It is to be found, with the same cast but reversed roles, in Shakespeare:
I trust we all know what came of that.