Idioms: To The Bitter End

What is the origin of the idiom “To The Bitter End?”

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  1. The end of a nautical cable attached to a restraint is called the bit.  The cable cannot pass through the bit.
  2. The “Bitters” were slums at the far East End of London.
  3. Laudanum is an extremely bitter tincture of opium.  Victorian women were frequently given laudanum for menstrual cramps and a variety of other vague ailments.  Nurses spoon fed laudanum to fussy infants.  Unfortunately, like all opioids, laudanum often resulted in addictions., referred to as the “bitter end.”  Mary Todd Lincoln was one such addict.
  4. Joseph Bitter was a famously long-winded and bombastic speaker in the English Parliament in the mid 1800s.