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W.C. Hazlitt, comp. English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. 1907.

A dumb man to A guilty conscience

A dumb man never gets land.
This is the English rendering of the leonine verse: Raro terra datur homini, cui sermo negatur. Robert Crowley, in his extract out of the laws of Howell Dha about the marriage of priests, &c., 1550, calls it “the olde saide sawe,” Compare Dumb Folks, &c.

A dunghill gentleman.
Walker’s Parœmiologia, 1672, p. 12.

A Dunkirk cloak.
An expression of similar meaning to a Plymouth Cloak, q.v.

A Dutch auction.
That is, bidding downwards, which is the invariable practice throughout Holland, and was adopted in some large private and most of Government sales. This usage is as follows: an article is set up at any price the auctioneer pleases: if nobody bids, he lowers the price, and thus continues lowering until some person cries “mine,” and that person who so claims it is then entitled to it—a practice congenial to Dutch taciturnity.—Legal Recreations, quoted by Brady, Var. of Lit. 1826.

A Dutch fortnight.
I heard this expression used at Lowestoft in the sense of a very short time, a crack.

A Dutchman’s breeches.

A Dutch uncle.
“I will talk to you like a Dutch uncle,” is a well-known phrase.

A dwarf on a giant’s shoulder sees farther of the two. H.

A dwarf threatens Hercules.

A fair booty makes many a thief.

A fair face is half a portion.

A fair face may be a foul bargain.

A fair face may hide a foul heart.

A fair field and no favour.

A fair fire makes a room flet.

A fair gamester among rooks must be beat.

A fair pawn never shamed his master.

A fair shop and little gain. B. OF M. R.

A fair wife and a frontier castle breeds quarrels. H.

  • A fair wife, a wide house, and a back door,
  • will quickly make a rich man poor.
  • The Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.—“The Italians say, La porta di dietro e quella che guasta la casa.”—RAY.

    A fair wife without a fortune is a fine house without furniture.

    A fair woman and a slashed gown find always some nail in the way.

    A fair woman with foul conditions is, like a sumptuous sepulchre, full of corruption.

    A fair woman without virtue is like palled wine.

    A false abstract cometh from a false concrete.
    Skelton’s Bowge of Courte. He seems to quote it as if it had been a current proverbial expression, perhaps at the Universities.

    A false report rides post.

    A famine in England begins at the horse-manger.
    In opposition to the rack: for in dry years, when hay is dear, commonly corn is cheap: but when oats (or indeed any one grain) is dear the rest are seldom cheap.—RAY.

    A father is a treasure, a brother a comfort, but a friend is both.

    A fat housekeeper makes lean executors. H.

  • A fault confessed
  • is half redressed.
  • A favour ill placed
  • is great waste.
  • A feast is not made of mushrooms only.

    A fencer hath one trick in his budget more than ever he taught his scholar. CL.

    A field requireth three things: fair weather, good feed, and a good husbandman.

    A fine diamond may be ill set.

    A fine morning to catch herrings on Newmarket heath. CL.

    A fine new nothing.

    A fire of straw yields nought but smoke. B. OF M. R.

    A fisherman’s walk: three steps and overboard.

    A Flanders reckoning.
    Heywood’s Second Part of Q. Elizabeths Troubles, 1608, repr. 89.

    A flatterer’s throat is an open sepulchre. H.

    A flea, a fly and a flitch of bacon.
    Facetiously said to be the Yorkshireman’s arms, because a flea will suck any one’s blood, like a Yorkshireman; a fly will drink out of any one’s cup, like a Yorkshireman; and a flitch of bacon is not good till it is hung, and no more is a Yorkshireman!

    A flea in one’s ear.
    In some Notes by Dr. Simon Forman (1611) on some plays he had then seen, printed at the end of the Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (p. 112), the phrase occurs of “a flie in the eare;” but I suspect the meaning to be the same. Flea in the ear, occurs in Lenton’s Young Gallant’s Whirligigg, 1629.

    A Flemish account.
    A gentleman in England lent some books printed by Caxton to a correspondent in the Low Countries and could never hear anything of them again, except that they had perished by some accident. “I am very much afraid,” says Herbert, in his Typograph. Antiquities, p. 1772, “my kind friend received but a Flemish account of his Caxtons.”

    A flow of words is no proof of wisdom.

    A flow will have an ebb.

  • A fly and eke a frere
  • will fall in every dish and matter.
  • Chaucer, Wife of Bath’s Prol.

    A fly hath a spleen. C.

    A fool always comes short of his reckoning.

    A fool and his money are soon parted. CL.
    Epistolæ Hoelianæ, ed. 1754, p. 230; Letter to End. Porter, 5 Jan. 1630–1.

    A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
    A fool at forty will never be wise, appears to be the Irish form.

    A fool can dance without a fiddle.

    A fool demands much, but he’s a greater that gives it.

    A fool is fulsome. R. 1670.

    A fool knows more in his own house than a wise man in another’s. H.

    A fool loseth his estate before he finds his folly.

    A fool may ask more questions in an hour than a wise man can answer in seven years.

    A fool may chance to put something into a wise man’s head.

    A fool may give a wise man counsel.

    A fool may make money, but it requires a wise man to spend it.

    A fool may throw a stone into a well which a hundred wise men cannot pull out. H.

    A fool on a bridge soundeth like a drum. W.
    True, for hee hath a foolish Echo, which is compared to a Drumme, to wit his foolish and imperfect Worke. W.

    A fool’s bolt is soon shot.
    Sottes bolt is sone shote, quoth Hendyng.—P. of H. (Reliq. Antiq. i. 111). There is a leonine verse—
    Ut dicunt multi, cito transit lancea stulti,
    which Archbishop Trench holds to be a later formation from the old English adage (On the Lessons in Proverbs, 1853, p. 29) It next occurs, to my knowledge, in Diues and Pauper, by Henry Parker, 1493: “Dives. Thou arte the more fole. But it is a comon proverbe A foles bolte is soone shotte. Abyde and answere, and I wyll ley an hundred pounde that I shall preve thee by good argument that he is but a fole whiche wyll not besye hym to be riche.” A poem with this title was published by Rowlands in 1614. The saying is in Oliver Oatmeal’s Quest of Inquiry, &c., 1595. sign. A 2; in Webster and Decker’s play of Northward Hoe, 1607, and in Pasquils Jests, ed. 1629. In the time of crossbows, a negligent archer was apt to discharge his piece without due preparation. “De fol juge breve sentence. Fr. A foolish judge passes quick sentence.”—RAY.

    A fool’s bolt may sometimes hit the mark.

    A fool’s heart dances on his lips.

    A fool’s paradise.
    More’s Boke of Lady Fortune (circa 1540), apud Hazlitt’s Fugitive Tracts, 1875, 1st Series; Guazzo’s Civile Conversation, 1581. “But neither they, nor the weather beatenst cosmographical starre-catcher of em all, can take his oath that it lyes iust vnder such an horizon; whereby manie are brought into a Fooles Paradice.”—Dekker’s Knight’s Coniuring, 1607.

    A fool’s speech is a bubble of air.

    A fool’s tongue is long enough to cut his own throat.

    A fool wants his cloak in a rainy day.

    A fool when he hath spoke hath done all.

    A fool will laugh when he is drowning.

    A fool will not be foiled.

    A fop of fashion is the mercer’s friend, the tailor’s fool and his own foe.

    A forced kindness deserves no thanks.

    A forgetful head makes a weary pair of heels.

    A fortunate boor needs but be born.

    A fortunate man may be anywhere.

    A foul morn may turn to a fair day.

    A fox and a false knave have all one luck—the better for banning.
    Three Lords and Three Ladies of London, 1590, edit. 1851, p. 277.

    A fox should not be of the jury at a goose’s trial.

    A French family.
    i.q., a pigeon’s pair infra.

    A Friday face.
    Clarke’s Dux Grammaticus, 1633, English sect, part 2, p. 7. Another version is: “A Friday look and a Lenten face.”

    A Friday’s feast.
    A fast. Gascoigne’s Poems (Roxb. Lib. edit. i. 445–6). Thus Davenport:—

  • [Frier] Io[hn]. Doe you straine courtesies? Had I it in fingering,
  • I’de make you both make but a Fridayes feast;
  • Oh how the steame perfumes my Nostrils.
  • New Trick to Cheat the Divel, 1639, sign. E 2.
  • A friend, as far as conscience allows.

    A friend in a corner.

    A friend in court is worth a penny in purse. C.
    Bon fait avoir ami en cour, car le procès en est plus court. Fr. A friend in court makes the process short.—RAY. But the saying occurs in Hycke-scorner, an interlude, about 1520 in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i.

    A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    The Spaniards say, Mas vale buen amigo que pariente primo.—RAY.

    A friend in the market is better than money in the chest.

    A friend is never known till a man have need. HE. AND C.

  • Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur.—Cic. ex Ennio.
  • Scilicet ut fulvum spectatur in ignibus aurum.
  • Tempore sic duro est inspicienda fides.—OVID.
  • [Greek]. Friends stand afar off when a man is in adversity.—RAY.

    A-friend is not so soon gotten as lost. C.

    A friend’s dinner is soon dight.

    A friend’s frown is better than a fool’s smile.

    A friend that you buy with presents will be bought from you.

    A friend will help at a dead lift.

  • A frosty winter and a dusty March,
  • and a rain about April:
  • and another about Lammas-time,
  • when the corn begins to fill:
  • is worth a plough of gold,
  • and all her pins theretill. D.
  • A full belly neither fights nor flies well. H.

    A full cup must be carried steadily.

    A full purse makes the mouth run over.

    A full purse never lacks friends.

    A gallant man needs no drums to rouse him.

    A gallant man rather despises death than hates life.

    A galled horse will not endure the comb.
    Il tignosa non ama il pettine. Ital. Jamais tigneux n’aime le pigne. Fr. And, Cheval roigneux n’a cure qu’on l’estrille. Fr.—RAY.

    A gardener has a big thumb-nail.
    He is apt to appropriate his employer’s choicest roots or flowers.

    A generous confession disarms slander.

    A gentle heart is tied with an easy thread. H.

    A gentle housewife mars the household. H.

  • A Gentleman of Wales,
  • with a Knight of Cales,
  • and a Lord of the North Countrie,
  • a Yeoman of Kent
  • upon a rack’s Rent
  • will buy them out all three.
  • Osborn’s Traditional Memoires of Q. Elizabeth, circa 1650 (Works, ed. 1682, p. 367). Ray’s version varies from this, and is as follows:—
  • “A Knight of Cales, a Gentleman of Wales, and a Laird of the North countree,
  • A Yeoman of Kent, with his yearly rent, will buy them out all three.”
  • Cales [Cadiz] knights were made in that voyage by Robert, Earl of Essex, to the number of sixty; whereof (though many of great birth) some were of low fortunes: and therefore Queen Elizabeth was half offended with the Earl for making knighthood so common.
    Of the numerousness of Welch gentlemen nothing need be said, the Welch generally pretending to gentility. Northern lairds are such who, in Scotland, holds lands in chief of the king, whereof some have no great revenue. So that a Kentish yeoman (by the help of a hyperbole) may countervail, &c. Yeomen contracted for gemen-mien, from gemein, signifying common in old Dutch: so that a yeoman is a commoner, one undignified with any title of gentility: a condition of people almost peculiar to England; and which is, in effect, the basis of all the nation.—R.
    Incomes were often smaller in former days in proportion to the value of money. Montaigne the Essayist, who died in 1593, is said to have had no more than £240 a year, although he was a gentleman of eminent position and liable to perpetual calls on his resources.

    A gentleman ought to travel abroad but dwell at home.

    A gentleman’s greyhound and a salt-box, seek them at the fire. H.

    A gentleman should have more in his pocket than on his back.

    A gentleman without an estate is a pudding without suet.

    A gift with a kind countenance is a double present.

  • A gift on the thumb is sure to come:
  • a gift on the finger is sure to linger.
  • Popular Antiquities of Polperro and its Neighbourhood, by T. Q. Couch (Transact. of the Penzance Nat. Hist. and Antiq. Soc., 1853–5). A gift here signifies one of those white specks on the nails, which are superstitiously held to be ominous of good or evil, according to circumstances.

  • A given bite
  • is soon put out of sight. Yorksh.
  • A geen bite in the local vernacular.

    A glutton is never generous.

    A Godmanchester black pig.
    i.e., a donkey. Pepys’ Diary, ed. 1858, iii. 134. Vide infra.

    A golden dart kills where it pleases.

    A golden shield is of great defence.

    A gold ring does not cure a felon.

    A good archer is not known by his arrows, but his aim.

    A good bargain is a pick-purse. H.
    Bon marché tire l’argent hors de la bourse. Fr. Mercadoria barata, rouba das bolsas. Port. Quod non opus est, asse carum.

    A good bark year makes a good wheat year. New Forest.

    A good candle-holder proves a good gamester.
    Another version is: A good candle-snuffer may come to be a good player.

    A good cause and a good tongue, yet money must carry it.

    A good cause makes a stout heart and a strong arm.

    A good conscience is a continual feast.
    Walker’s Parœm. 1672, 35.

    A good conscience is the best divinity.

    A good conscience needs never sneak.

    A good dog deserves a good bone.

    A good edge is good for nothing, if it has nothing to cut.

    A good example is the best sermon.

    A good face needs no band, and a bad one deserves none.
    Some make a rhyme of this by adding, And a pretty wench no land.—RAY.

    A good face needs no paint.

    A good faculty in lying is a fair step to preferment.

    A good fame is better than a good face.

    A good fellow lights his candle at both ends.

    A good friend is my nearest relation.

    A good friend never offends.

    A good garden may have some weeds.

    A good honest man is but a civil word for a fool. R.
    So Napoleon, in a private note to Josephine, speaks half contemptuously of “les bons Belges.”

    A good hope is better than a bad possession.

    A good horse cannot be of a bad colour.

    A good horse should be seldom spurred.

    A good Jack makes a good Jill. C.
    Bonus dux bonum reddit comitem. Inferiors imitate the manners of superiors; subjects of their princes, servants of their masters, children of their parents, wives of their husbands. Præcepta ducunt, exempla trahunt.—RAY.

    A good lawyer, an evil neighbour.

    A good life makes a good death.
    B. of M. R. 1629, No. 27.

    A good man can no more harm than a sheep. C.

    A good man will requite a gift; an ill man will ask more.

    A good marksman may miss.

    A good maxim is never out of season.

    A good name for-winneth.
    How the Goode Wif thaught hir Doughter, in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.

    A good name keeps its lustre in the dark.

    A good neighbour, a good morrow. C.
    Qui a bon voisin a bon matin. Fr. Chi ha cattivo vicino ha il mal mattino. Ital. Aliquid mali propter vicinum malum.—PLAUT. in Merc. [Greek].—Hesiod. “Themistocles, having a farm to sell, caused the crier who proclaimed it to add, that it had a good neighbour: rightly judging that such an advantage would make it more vendible.”—R.

    A good new year, and a merry Handsel year. D.

    A good nut year, a good corn year. D.
    Wilsford, in his Natures Secrets [1658], p. 144, informs us that, “in autumn (some say),… great store of nuts and almonds presage a plentiful year of corn, especially filberds.”

    A good occasion for courtship is, when the widow returns from the funeral.
    This saying may have originated in the story related in A. C. Mery Talys (1525), No. 9, Of the woman that sayd her woer came to late.

    A good painter can draw a devil as well as an angel. CL.

    A good paymaster may build St. Paul’s.

    A good paymaster never wants workmen.

    A good paymaster starts not at assurances. H.
    Al buen pagador no le duelen prendas. Span.—R. The Spaniards also say, Del mal pagador si quiera en paja.—Ibid.

    A good pinch and a rap with a stick is a clown’s compliment.

    A good presence is a letter of recommendation.

    A good present need not knock long for admittance.

  • A good recorder
  • sets all in order.
  • A good reputation is a fair estate.

    A good salad may be a prologue to a bad supper.

    A good saver is a good server. Somerset.

    A good servant should have good wages.

    A good shape is in the shear’s mouth.

    A good shift may serve long, but it cannot serve for ever.

    A good stomach is the best sauce.

    A good surgeon must have [an eagle’s eye], a lady’s hand, and a lion’s heart. CL.

  • A good take heed
  • will surely speed.
  • A good tale ill told in the telling is marred. HE.

    A good tale is none the worse for being twice told.

    A good tongue is a good weapon.

    A good tree is a good shelter.

    A good trencherman.
    A good eater, from the former custom of using trenchers.

  • A good wife and a good name
  • hath no mate in goods nor fame. W.
  • A good wife and health
  • are a man’s best wealth.
  • A good wife maketh a good husband.

    A good winter brings a good summer. HE.

  • A good woman is worth (if she were sold)
  • the fairest crown that’s made of pure gold. W.
  • A good word is as soon said as a bad one.

    A good workman is known by his chips.

    A goose cannot graze after him. CL.

    A goose-quill gentleman. CL.

    A goose-quill is more dangerous than a lion’s claw.

    A goss-hawk beats not at a bunting.
    Aquila non capit muscas.—RAY.

    A gossip speaks ill of all, and all of her.

    A grain of prudence is worth a pound of craft.

    A grand eloquence, little conscience.

    A great ceremony for a small saint.

    A great city, a great solitude.

    A great dowry is a bed full of brambles.

    A great fortune, in the hands of a fool, is a great misfortune.

    A great fortune is a great slavery.

    A great head and a little wit.
    This is only for the clinch-sake become a proverb; for certainly the greater, the more brains; and the more brains, the more wit, if rightly conformed. The Spaniards say, Cabello longo y corto el seso. Long hair and little brains—RAY.

    A great load of gold is more burthensome than a light load of gravel.

    A great lord is a bad neighbour.
    Une grande rivière est un mauvais voisin. Fr.—RAY.

    A great mark is soonest hit.

    A great reputation is a great charge.

    A great ship asks deep waters. H.

    A great tree hath a great fall.

    A great wind is laid with a little rain.
    Ancren Riwle, p. 247, ed. Morton.

    A green winter makes a fat churchyard.
    This proverb was sufficiently confuted in the year 1667, when the winter was very mild; and yet no mortality or epidemical disease ensued the summer or autumn following. We have entertained an opinion, that frosty weather is the most healthful, and the hardest winters the best; but I can see no reason for it; for in the hottest countries of the world, as Brazil, &c., men are longest lived where they know not what frost or snow means, the ordinary age of man being an hundred and ten years: and here in England we found by experience that the last great plague succeeded one of the sharpest frosty winters that hath lately happened.—RAY.

    A green wound is soon healed.

    A groaning horse and a groaning wife never fail their master. HE.
    Heywood’s Golden Age, 1611. Camden says, A grunting horse, &c.

    A growing youth hath a wolf in his belly.
    i.e., He is a great eater. Mozo creciente lobo en el vientre. Span.—R.

    A guilty conscience needs no accuser.

  • A guinea it would sink,
  • and a pound it would float:
  • yet I’d rather have a guinea,
  • than your one-pound note.
  • Mr. Halliwell says, “Proverbial many years ago, when the guinea in gold was of a higher value than its nominal representative in silver.” But surely the one-pound note was at no time the representative of the guinea? The pound note is still in circulation in North Britain, but is not esteemed. From the constant change of hands it acquired the byename of filthy lucre.