“Nonsense, Grace, get in at once, and don't make all this fuss; a pretty thing it would be if a man of business had to examine every cab-horse before he hired it--the man knows his own business of course; there, get in and hold your tongue!”

The above is from "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell. (1877)

I think 'a pretty thing' in the above paragraph is a kind of twisted expression and that's all, but I am not very sure of it. which means just an absurd thing or something.

Am I correct ?


Some words can be used ironically, examples are "fine" "grand" and "pretty".

That's another fine mess you've got me into.
The train's been cancelled. Well that's grand.

"Pretty" is used here in the same way, to mean, ironically, "awkward" or "inconvenient". It is a rather dated use of English, but Black Beauty is an old book.

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