When Hindle Wakes, a play written by Stanley Houghton opened in 1912 ,it immediately caused an outcry with its depiction of non marital sex. It was banned in many theatres but its notoriety ensured that it was one of the most popular plays of the time.
Apart from a TV adaptation in 1972 it seems to have sunk without trace. One of the lines that caused all that fuss over a hundred years ago contained the phrase we know today. In one scene her worried parents discover that their daughter Fanny, though unmarried, has spent the weekend with a man
CHRISTOPHER: This is what happens to many a lass, but
I never thought to have it happen to a lass of mine!
MRS HAWTHORN: Why didn’t you get wed if you were
so curious? There’s plenty would have had you.
FANNY: Chance is a fine thing. Happen I wouldn’t have had them!
MRS HAWTHORN: Happen you ‘II be sorry for it before
long. There’s not so many will have you now, if this gets about.
Fanny’s remark caught on, gradually morphing from the present indicative to the conditional: ‘Chance would be a fine thing’.