If I were not made a man of at once.

I don't know what it's meaning is. 'a man of at once' means a man who can act boldly and quickly?

Please help me.

  • 1
    This really could use some context to better explain it.
    – David M
    Mar 10 '14 at 0:46
  • 1
    It's a passive construction of to make a man (out) of someone, which just means to turn someone into a (grown, responsible, brave—whatever fits the context) man. If could have been phrased “If they hadn't made a man of me at once” with no really significant change in meaning, but a clearer sentence structure. Mar 10 '14 at 1:03
  • Yes – use of the passive here is quirky, arguably un- or extra-grammatical. As the rest of the most famous occurrence is ('it should not be the fault of himself'; 'Thingum Bob, Esq.', 'Goosetherumfoodle' ... – see Sven's answer). 'Make a man of someone' is an idiom, and idioms undergo normal transformations reluctantly (?!* The bucket was kicked by Socrates ). Mar 10 '14 at 6:31

Perhaps the most famous instance of the expression "If I were not made a man of at once" appears in Edgar Allan Poe's short story, "The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq., Late Editor of the Goosetherumfoodle, by Himself" (1850):

I had been accustomed to regard the editor of the Gad-Fly as something superhuman; but Mr. Crab soon disabused me of that idea. He set the literary as well as the personal character of the Fly (so Mr. C. satirically designated the rival editor), in its true light. He, the Fly, was very little better than he should be. He had written infamous things. He was a penny-a-liner, and a buffoon. He was a villain. He had composed a tragedy which set the whole country in a guffaw, and a farce which deluged the universe in tears. Besides all this, he had the impudence to pen what he meant for a lampoon upon himself (Mr. Crab), and the temerity to style him "an ass." Should I at any time wish to express my opinion of Mr. Fly, the pages of the Lollipop, Mr. Crab assured me, were at my unlimited disposal. In the meantime, as it was very certain that I would be attacked in the Fly for my attempt at composing a rival poem on the "Oil-of-Bob," he (Mr. Crab) would take it upon himself to attend, pointedly, to my private and personal interests. If I were not made a man of at once, it should not be the fault of himself (Mr. Crab).

In that story, the idea underlying the phrase is that exposure to the venomous relations between the editors of the Gad-Fly and the Lollipop, under the special tutoring of Mr. Crab, will serve as a quick and valuable education for the author (Thingum Bob, esquire), at the end of which, if Thingum Bob has not gained a mature and sober awareness of what it is to be a man of the press (that is, a journalist), it will not be Mr. Crab's fault.

More generally, to "be made a man of" means, as Janus Bahs Jacquet observes in a comment attached to the OP's question, to be transformed in one or more crucial ways from a boy into a man.


When someone is made into a man it can mean his first love/sexual intercourse...maybe the rest of the context provides a clue. So my first guess is "if I do not get some 'action' at once" Secondly, it could mean to grow up and be mature quickly due to a force outside one's control, hence the reflexive form "made of". Such as, Getting drafted to go to Vietnam made a man of me at once.

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