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

Better master to Call not

Better master one than engage with ten.

Better my hog dirty home than no hog at all.

Better no ring than a ring of a rush.
Allusively to the rush rings, which were sometimes given by men to their sweethearts. See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 575.

Better one house filled than two spilled.
This we use when we hear of a bad Jack who hath married as bad a Jill. For as it is said of Bonum, quò communius eò melius; so by the rule of contraries, what is ill, the further it spreads, the worse. And as in a city it is better there should be one lazaretto, and that filled with the infected, than make every house in a town a pest-house, they dwelling dispersedly or singly, so is it in a neighbourhood, &c.—R.

Better one word in time than two afterwards.

Better one’s house be too little one day than too big all the year after.

Better penny in silver than any brother.

Better pleaseth a full womb than a new coat.
MS. 15th cent. ap. Retr. Rev., 3rd S., ii. 309.

Better ride an ass that carries us than a horse that throws us.
Mas quiero asno que me lleve, que caballo que me dermeque. Span.

Better sell than live poorly.

Better sit still than rise and fall. HE.

Better some of a pudding than none of a pie.
E meglio ciga ciga che miga miga. Ital.—R.

Better spare at brim than at bottom. HE.
“Better be frugal in youth, than be reduced to the necessity of being saving in age.”—R. “Sera in fundo parsimonia. Seneca, Epist. 1. [Greek]. Hesiod.”—R. Comp. It is too late, &c.

Better spare to have of thine own than ask others.

Better spared than ill spent.

Better spent than spared.

Better strive with an ill ass than carry the wood one’s self.

Better the feet slip than the tongue. H.

Better the harm I know than that I know not.

Better the last smile than the first laughter.

Better to be beaten than be in bad company.

Better to be blind than see ill. H.

Better to be idle than not well occupied.
Præstat otiosum esse quàm nihil agere. Plin. Epist. Il vaut mieux être oisif que de ne rien faire. Fr. This saying is quoted by Carew in his Survey of Cornwall, 4to, 1602, but written some time before. The passage may be found extracted in Southey’s Commonplace Book, 1st Series, p. 186.

Better to be happy than wise. C.

Better to bow than break. HE.
Il vaut mieux plier que rompre. Fr. E meglio piegar che scavezzar. Ital. Melhor he dobrar que quebrar. Port. In opposition to this the Latin proverb says, Melius frangi quam flecti.

Better to creep under an old hedge than under a new furze-bush. CL.

Better to die a beggar than live a beggar. R. 1670.
This is apropos of the anecdote of the second Duke of Buckingham of the Villiers family.

Better to have than wish. HE.

Better to live well than long.

Better to rule than be ruled by the rout. C.

Better to say here it is than here it was.

Better to suffer wrong than do wrong.

Better two losses than one sorrow.

Better unborn than untaught. HE.
Non con quien naces, sino con quien paces. Span.—R.

  • Old men yn prouerbe sayde by old tyme:
  • “A chyld were beter to be vnbore
  • Than to be vntaught, and so be lore.”
  • —Symon’s Lessons of Wysedome for all Maner Chyldryn (Babees Book, 1868).
  • Compare A child is better, &c.

    Better untaught than ill taught.

    Better walk leisurely than lie abroad all night.

    Better wear out shoes than sheets.

    Better wed over the mixen than over the moor. Cheshire.
    That is, hard by or at home (the mixon being that heap of compost which lies in the yards of good husbandmen), than far off, or from London. The road from Chester leading to London over some part of the moorlands in Staffordshire, the meaning is, the gentry in Cheshire find it more profitable to match within their own county, than to bring a bride out of other shires. 1. Because better acquainted with her birth and breeding. 2. Because though her portion may chance to be less to maintain her, such inter-marriages in this county have been observed both a prolonger of worshipful families, and the preserver of amity between them.—R.

  • Between Boston’s Bay,
  • and the Pile of Fouldray,
  • shall be seen the black navy of Norway.
  • Higson’s MSS. Coll. 133.

    Between Cowhithe and merry Cassingland, the devil shit Benacre, look where it stands. Suffolk.
    It seems this place is infamous for its bad situation.—R.

    Between hawk and buzzard.
    Braithwaite’s Barnabæ Itinerarium (1638), sign. M 2.

    Between promising and performing a man may marry his daughter.

    Between the hand and the lip the morsel may slip.

    Between two brothers, two witnesses and a notary.

    Between two stools the tail goeth to ground. HE.
    Tener il cul se due scanni. Ital. Il a le cul entre deux selles; or, Assis entre deux selles le cul à terre. Fr. Tout est fait negligement là ou l’un l’autre s’attend. While one trusts another, the work is left undone.—R.

    Betwixt the devil and the Dead Sea. CL.
    On the horns of a dilemma. In Cornwall, they say deep sea, which may be right.

    Beware beginnings. CL.

    Beware of a silent dog and still water.

    Beware of after-claps.
    More’s Boke of Lady Fortune (about 1540), apud Hazlitt’s Fugitive Tracts, 1875, 1st Series.

    Beware of [ill] breed.

    Beware of Had I wist. HE.
    i.e., beware of after-regrets. This is the headline of a tract printed in 1555, and the title of a poem by Gascoigne in the Paradyce of Daynty Deuyses, 1578, (Works by Hazlitt, 1869–70, ii. 325). Sir Simonds D’Ewes (Diary, &c., ii. 366) quotes it.

  • “Telle neuere the more thou[char.] thou myche heere,
  • And euere be waare of had-y-wist.”
  • The Manner to Bring Honour and Wealth (Furnivall’s Babees Book, &c., 34). See also (ibid.) Rhodes’ Boke of Nurture, 1577, line 324.

    Beware of him whom God hath marked.

    Beware of little expense.

    Beware of no man more than thyself.

    Beware of the forepart of a woman, the hind part of a mule, and all sides of a priest.
    Compare Douce’s Illustrations of Shakespeare, 1807, ii. 163.

    Beware of the stone thou stumbledst at before.

    Beware the bear.
    See Scott’s Waverley, edit. 1836, i. 82. This is the title of a tract which appeared in 1650, and which not improbably had reference to some proverbial expression of the time. See Handb. of Early English Lit. in v.

    Beware the cat.
    Probably this saying, of which the import is not particularly obvious, gained currency after the publication of Baldwin’s Book in 1561 (according to Ritson) or 1570 (according to existing information). See Handb. of Early Eng. Lit. art. BALDWIN.

    Beware the geese when the fox preaches. C.

    Beyond Lawrence of Lancashire.
    Field’s A Woman is a Weathercock, 1612, repr. 74: and see Editor’s Note.

    Beyond the Leap, beyond the law. Irish.
    It may give some idea of the physical state of the country if I give some facts about the district I know best—i.e., the large district extending seventy or eighty miles to the west of Cork. Seventy years ago the post went into it once a fortnight, but then only as far as Bandon—twenty miles. There was no post any farther, and the district fifty or sixty miles on did without. The roads, little better than rocky paths, went up and down hills as steep as it was possible for a horse to travel. A gentleman living thirty-five miles from Cork told me it used to take him in summer from early in the morning till dark to get home, with four horses. If he did not start till breakfast time, it was a good journey to be home by midnight. He usually walked himself, beating his carriage by hours. His next neighbour, twelve miles farther, had to make two days of it. When he got near home there was a part of the road that it was impossible for horses to drag a carriage up—a sort of stairs of rock—so word was sent before that the master was coming, and tenants and labourers turned out to meet him, and dragged the carriage up this rock by main force, while the horses had enough to do to get up themselves.
    This place was called The Leap. The king’s writ was considered useless beyond that place, and to this day a saying remains in the country, Beyond the Leap, beyond the law. Great tracts were inaccessible to wheels, and the horse-work was done by panniers on the horses’ backs. Illicit stills flourished everywhere, because kegs of whisky were carried so much easier than corn in bulk.—Extract from a Letter in the Times Newspaper, May, 1868.

    Bid me, and do it yourself. CL.

    Bill after helve.

    i.e., coarse language, such as the fisherwomen habitually use. Melton, in his Astrologaster, 1620, p. 38, speaks of one having a tongue “as loude as a Fish-Wife.”
    “Billinsgate Railleries” are mentioned in an answer, 8o, 1698, to John Butler’s Concubinage and Polygamy Disproved.
    “Billingsgate Dialogue” is part of the title of a tract by Martin Parker, 12o, 1682. But Breton, in his Fantasticks, 1626, or (which is the same thing), M. Stevenson, in his Twelve Moneths, 1661, under October, says:—“Muffing and cuffing are now in request, and he that will goe to Billingsgate for’t may have a cuff on the ear.”

    Bind so as you may unbind. CL.

    Binsey: where else? / God help me!
    Compare Chipperfield, &c. Binsey, between Oxford and Godstow, is at certain seasons of the year visited by severe floods, which lay it almost entirely under water.

    Birchen Lane. Ascham (1563).
    In this Birchen Lane in the later time of King Henry VIII. a certain great man of the Court had his House; who practised a Disorder: and his example was so prevalent, that no Proclamations or Laws could redress it. Insomuch that a Writer of those days [Ascham] could not but take notice of it in these words: “Not fully twenty-four years ago [that is, about 1540], when all the Acts of Parliament, many good Proclamations, divers strait Commandments, sore Punishments openly, special words privately, could not do so much to take away one Misorder as the Example of one big one of this Court did still to keep up the same [perhaps it was the excess of apparel—Strype], the Memory whereof doth yet remain in a common Proverb of Birchin Lane.—Stow’s Survey, ed. 1720. 1. book ii. p. 149. But Nares’ Glossary, 1859, in v., says that “to send one to Birchin Lane” was an expression equivalent to sending him to be whipped.

    Birchen twigs break no ribs.

    Birds are entangled by their feet, and men by their tongues.

    Birds of a feather will flock together. C. AND B. OF M. R.
    Pares cum paribus congregantur. Paynel, in his translation of Erasmus, De Contemptu Mundi, 1533, fol. 40 verso, has, Birds of one colour flye togyder. “Like will to like. The Greeks and Latins have many proverbs to this purpose, as [Greek]. Semper graculus assidet graculo. [Greek].—Theocrit. Cicada cicadæ chara, formicæ formica. [Greek].—Homer, Odyss. 5. Semper similem ducit Deus ad similem. [Greek]. Simile gaudet simili. [Greek]. Simile appetit simile. Unde et [Greek]. Likeness is the mother of love. Æqualis æqualem delectat. Young men delight in the company of the young, old of old, learned men of learned, wicked of wicked, good fellows of drunkards, &c. Tully in Cat. Maj.”—R.

    Birds pay equal honours to all men.

    Birth is much, but breeding more.
    New Help to Discourse, ed. 1721, p. 134.

    Bis dat qui cito dat.
    Ellis’s Or. Letters, 1st Ser., iii. 169. Tost donne, deux fois donne. Old Fr.

    Bis vincit qui se vincit.

    Bishop and his Clerks.
    The name given to some islands near the Scilly isles, off which Sir Cloudesley Shovell was cast away in 1706.

    Bitter pills may have sweet effects.

    Black and blue.
    Sir Eger, Sir Grime, and Sir Gray Steel, in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry of Scotl., ii. 175:—

  • “Bodies they made both black and bla.”
  • The saying is in the M. W. of Windsor.

    Black is your dye or eye (or your nail).
    Carr’s Dialect of Craven, 1828, ii. 2. “Thou cannot say black’s my nail”; that is, Thou canst not impute blame to me. Cui tu nihil dicas vitii.—Ter. See Vade Mecum for Malt-Worms, 1720, p. 11—“While none can say that black’s his eyebrow to him.” In Love’s Cure, by Beaumont and Fletcher, however, one of the characters says, “I can say, black’s your eye, though it be grey.”—Works, by Dyce, ix. 143.

    Black Monday.
    This expression is traced back to April 14, 1294, when the English were before Paris, and, it being a dark and cold day, was known as “The Black Monday.” We are referred to the Annals of Dunstable.
    Merchant of Venice, 1600, ii. 5. We usually apply the term now a days to the return to school after the holidays. But the day became the habitual one for resuming work.

    Black on white.
    To have a thing in black on white or in writing.

    Black will take no other hue. C.
    New Help to Discourse, ed. 1721, p. 135. “This dyers find true by experience. It may signify that vicious persons are seldom or never reclaimed. Lanarum nigræ nullum colorem bibunt. Plin., Lib. 8, h. n.”—R.

    Bless the king and all his men. Leeds.
    A common exclamation when surprised and startled, as a mother when, having stepped out of the house for a few minutes, upon her return finds it full of children whom her own have invited in.—Dial. of L., 1862, 251.

  • Blessed be St. Stephen,
  • there is no fast upon his even.
  • Blessed is he whose father has gone to the devil.
    “It hath beene an olde prouerbe, that happy is that sonne whose father goes to the devill; meaning by thys allegoricall kind of speech, that such fathers as seeke to inrich theyr sonnes by covetousness, by briberie, purloyning, or by any other sinister meanes, suffer not onely affliction of mind, as greeved with insatietie of getting, but wyth danger of soule, as a iust reward for such wretchedness.”—Greene’s Royal Exchange, 1590. The same proverb is also given in Greenes Newes both from Heauen and Hell, 1593, sig. H 3.—Shakespear’s Library, by Hazlitt, vi. 39. See also an extract from Latimer in Southey’s Commonplace Book, 2nd Series, p. 300. Sir John Harington, in his Brief View of the State of the Church (Nugæ Antiquæ, ed. 1804, ii. 179), in the Life of Bishop Scory, says: “And if the worst be, the English proverb may comfort them, which, least it want reason, I will cyte in ryme—

  • ‘It is a saying common, more than civill,
  • The sonne is blest, whose syre is with the devill.’”
  • Blessed is the eye
  • is that between Severn and Wye. Herefordshire.
  • Eye, i.e., the root which occurs in is-land, and ey-ot, corruptly ait. Germ. ei.

    Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.
    This seems to be quoted proverbially in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

    Blessings are not valued till they are gone.

    Blind man’s holiday [twilight].

    Blind men must not run.

    Blind men should judge no colours. HE.
    Breton in his Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Lib. repr. p. 1), quotes it differently: “Blinde men can iudge no coulours.” Il cieco non giudica de colori. Ital. [Greek]. Quid cœco cum speculo? El ciégo mal juzgara de colores. Span.—R.

    Blind men’s wives need no paint.

    Blood is thicker than water.

    Blood without groats is nothing. North.
    The original sense is that a black-pudding must have both; but the secondary one, that to be of a good family is not sufficient without money.

    Bloomsbury birds.
    Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 67.

    Blots are no blots till hit.

    Blow first and sip afterwards.
    Simul sorbere et flare difficile est, instances Ray, but the quotation does not appear perfectly apposite, as the meaning of the English saying is rather, I apprehend, Blow before you have scalded your mouth.

    Blow not against the hurricane.

    Blow out the marrow and throw the bone to the dogs.
    A taunt to such as are troublesome by blowing their nose.—R.

    Blow, smith, and you’ll get money.

  • Blow the wind ever so fast,
  • it will lower at last.
  • Blow the wind high or blow it low,
  • it bloweth fair to Hawley’s Hoe. Devonshire.
  • John Hawley was a prosperous merchant at Dartmouth in the time of Henry IV.

    Blow thine own pottage, and not mine.

    Blue cap.
    A phrase in Scotland formerly for a sort of strong ale.

    Blurt, master constable.
    i.e., a fig for the constable. See Dyce’s Middleton, i. 225.

    Blushing is a virtuous colour.
    New Help to Discourse, 1721.

    A nick-name given by Chaucer to Herebaldown or Harbledown, near Canterbury.

    Boil not the pap before the child is born.

    Boil stones in butter, and you may sip the broth.

    Bold resolution is the favourite of Providence.

    Boldness in business is the first, second, and third thing.

    Borrow not too much upon time to come.

    Borrowed garments never sit well.

    Borrowed thing will home.
    How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.

  • Boston! Boston!
  • What have you to boast on?
  • A very tall steeple:
  • A very foolish people:
  • And a coast that the ships get lost on.
  • Boston in New England is locally pronounced Boaston.

    Both folly and wisdom come upon us with years.

    Bought wit is best. C.
    “But it hath bene an olde sayde sawe, and not of lesse truth then antiquitie, that wit is the better if it be the deerer bought.”—Lyly’s Evphves, 1579, repr. Arber, p. 34. “Duro flagello mens docetur rectiùs. [Greek].—Nasianz. [Greek]. Nocumenta documenta; galeatum serò duelli pœnitet.”—R.

    Bought wit is dear.
    Gascoigne’s Posies, 1575.

  • Bounce, buckram, velvet’s dear;
  • Christmas comes but once a year;
  • and when it comes, it brings good cheer;
  • but when it’s gone, it’s never the near.
  • See my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, i. 116–25, and Brockett’s N. C. Gloss. 66. This forms the conclusion of one of the old Christmas mumming plays, and the sense is that the performers used buckram as a makeshift for velvet. Compare Christmas Comes, &c. This nursery jingle (for I suspect it to be nothing more) seems to be made up of two proverbs; the first portion is in Clarke’s Parœm., 1639, p. 71.

    Bound he is that gift taketh.
    How the Goode Wif, &c. in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.

    Bounty being free itself, thinks all others so.

  • Bow-wow, dandy fly,
  • brew no beer in July. D.
  • Boys will be men.

    Brabbling curs never want sore ears. H.

  • Brackley breed,
  • better to hang than feed. Northamptonshire.
  • “Brackley is a decayed market-town and borough in Northamptonshire not far from Banbury, which abounding with poor, and troubling the country about with beggars, came into disgrace with its neighbours. I hear that now this place is grown industrious and thriving, and endeavours to wipe off the scandal.”—R. Ray was surprised that Fuller, a native of Northamptonshire, should have missed this proverb.

    Bradford Hogs.
    An uncomplimentry term yet applied to the people of this town, who frequent Harrogate in the season, and are no more remarkable for their polish than their Leeds neighbours.

    Brag is a good dog.
    Porter’s Two Angrie Women of Abingdon, 1599, edit. Dyce, p. 105.

    Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.
    Dyke’s English Proverbs, 1709, p. 123. “Now, for some of you, a man may take you many times in the nature of blind-men, that you can scarcely see a penny in your purse, and your lands grown so light, that you beare them all on your backes, and your houses so empty that in the cold of winter all the smoake goeth out at one chimney, when, if Brag were not a good dogge, I know not how hee would hold vp his taile.”—Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (repr. Roxb. Lib. 184). “Bragge is a good Dog still.”—Barnevelte’s Apologie, 1618, sign. E 4 verso. In Henry V., act ii. sc. 3, Pistol says to Mrs. Quickly: “And holdfast is the only dog, my duck.”

  • “Well yet I dare a wager lay
  • That Brag my litle dog shall play,
  • As dainty tricks when I shall bid
  • As Lalus Lambe, or Cleons kid.”
  • The Mvses Elizium, by Michael Drayton, Esq., 1630, p. 14.

    Brag’s a good dog, but he hath lost his tail.

    Brag’s a good dog if he be well set on; but he dare not bite.

  • Braintree boys, brave boys;
  • Bocking boys, rats;
  • Church Street, puppy dogs,
  • High Garret, cats. Essex.
  • Braintree for the pure, and Bocking for the poor;
  • Cogshall for the jeering town, and Kelvedon for the whore. Essex.
  • Brave actions never want a trumpet.

  • Bread, butter, and green cheese,
  • is very good English, and very good Friese.
  • Bell’s Shakespear’s Puck, i. 7. The identity between the two languages exemplified in this distich is confined to the sound of the spoken words: the orthography and mode of writing both differ. The phrase is also used of Halifax and Friese.

    Bread for Borough men.

    Bread of a day, ale of a month, and wine of a year.

  • Bread with eyes, cheese without eyes,
  • and wine that leaps up to the eyes.
  • Break coals, cut candle, set brand on end,
  • neither good housewife; nor good housewife’s friend.
  • Break my head and bring me a plaister.
    “So far the Spanish: Pan con ojos, y queso sin ojos. Taglia m’il naso e sappi me poi nelle orecchie. Ital.”—R.

    Break the legs of an evil custom.

    Bribes throw dust into cunning men’s eyes.

    Bribes will enter without knocking.

    Bring not a bagpipe to a man in trouble.

  • Bring something, lass, along with thee,
  • if thou intend to live with me.
  • Bring you the Devil, and I’ll bring out his dam. CL.

    Bring your line to the wall, not the wall to your line.

    Bristol milk.
    That is sherry-sack, which is the entertainment, of course, which the courteous Bristolians present to strangers when first visiting their city.—R.

    Broken sacks will hold no corn.

    Broken sleeve draweth arm back.

  • “It is a terme with John and Jacke,
  • Broken sleue draweth arme a backe.”
  • Parlament of Byrdes (circa 1550), in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iii. 175.

    Brown’s Common.
    Whether this is a phrase or not, or what it signifies, I do not know. See Warton’s Poetry, 1871, iv. 407.

  • Buckinghamshire bread and beef:
  • here, if you beat a bush, it is odds you’ll start a thief.
  • “The former as fine, the latter as fat, in this as in any other county.”—Fuller (1662).—R.
    The second line evidently forms part of the proverb, and completes the couplet, such as it is; but the two lines have been invariably separated.
    “No doubt there was just occasion for this proverb at the original thereof, which then contained a satirical truth, proportioned to the place before it was reformed; whereof thus our great antiquary: “It was altogether unpassable, in times past, by reason of trees, until Leofstane, Abbot of St. Albans, did cut them down, because they yielded a place of refuge for thieves.” But this proverb is now antiquated as to the truth thereof; Buckinghamshire affording as many maiden assizes as any county of equal populousness.”—Fuller ut supra.

    Building and marrying of children are great wasters. H.

    Building is a sweet impoverishing. H.
    It is called the Spanish plague: therefore, as Cato well saith,—Optimum est aliena insania frui.—R.
    “The proverbe is that building is a thiefe, because it makes us lay out more money than wee thought on.”—Mr. Phillip’s Sermon, March 28, 1602, quoted by Manningham (Diary, ed. 1868, p. 9). The Greeks also had this idea. See the Greek Anthology, ed. 1852, p. 23, or Hazlitt’s Studies in Jocular Literature, 1890, p. 62.

    Bullwards or Bullards.
    An expression for the people of Stamford in reference to the bull-baiting formerly prevalent there. The term occurs in a letter of Oliver Cromwell of 1642, printed by Carlyle, but of questionable authenticity.

    Bumbo fair.
    This expression occurs in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, written about 1610, and seems to have a satirical import:

  • “Ralph.And last, fair lady, there is for yourself
  • Three-pence to buy you pins at Bumbo-fair.”
  • —Dyce’s B. and F. ii. 203. Mr. Dyce does not furnish any explanation.

    Bungay-play. East Anglia.
    i.e., at whist. “A simple straightforward way of playing the game of whist by leading all winning cards in succession, without any plan to make the best of the hand.”—Forby. This is what we now call Whitechapel-play.

    Buried men bite not. CL.
    Mortui non mordent. Uomo morto guerra finia. Ital.

    Burn not your house to fright away the mice.

    Bush natural; more hairs than wit.

    Business is the salt of life.

    Business makes a man as well as tries him.

    Busy will have bands.
    Persons that are meddling and troublesome must be tied short.—R.

    Busybodies never want a bad day.

    But help me to money, and I’ll help myself to friends.

    But one egg, and that addled.

    But when? quoth Kettle to his mare. Cheshire.

    Butter and bacon.
    A metonym for extravagance, as much as to say, “Do you eat bacon, and butter with it?”

    Butter is gold in the morning, silver at noon, and lead at night.
    See John Russell’s Boke of Nurture, ed. Furnivall, line 89, and Note (Babees Book, &c., 1868).

    Butter side, except on Sunday.
    At Christ’s Hospital the boys have a saying, that a slice of buttered bread will always fall on the butter side except on Sunday, and hence “butter side” has got the meaning there of an event in the usual course of things.

    Butter’s once a year in the cow’s horn.
    They mean when the cow gives no milk. And butter is said to be mad twice a year: once in summer time in very hot weather, when it is too thin and fluid; and once in winter, in very cold weather, when it is too hard and difficult to spread.—R.

    Buy and sell, and live by the loss.
    Ludus Ludi Literarii, 1672, p. 67.

    Buy at a fair, and sell at home. H.
    Comprar en heria, y vender en casa. Span.

    Buy when I bid you.

    Buyers want a hundred eyes, sellers none.

    Buying a thing too dear is no bounty.

    Buying and selling are two things.

    Buying and selling is but winning and losing.
    New Help to Discourse, ed. 1721, p. 135.

    By book and by bell.
    This seems to be employed in the Awntyrs of Arthur, 15th cent., as an asseveration. It may be taken from the formula of Bell, Book and Candle.

  • By a kitchen fat and good,
  • makes the poor most neighbourhood. W.
  • By and by is easily said.

    By biting and scratching dogs and cats come together. HE.

    By doing nothing we learn to do ill. R.
    Nihil agendo male agere discimus.—R.

    By fits and girds, as an ague takes a goose.

    By fits and starts.

    By hook or by crook. Skelton.
    Spenser’s Faery Queene, Book 5, canto 2. Patient Grissil, a comedy, 1603, repr. p. 8. See a communication by my friend Mr. T. Q. Couch to Current Notes for October 1856. The phrase is also in Heywood’s Works, 1562, repr. 1867, p. 35. In the Schole-house of Women, 1541 (Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iv. 138), we have, “by huch or by cruch.”

    By ignorance we mistake, and by mistakes we learn.

    By land or water the wind is ever in my face.

    By little and little the poor whore sinks her barn.
    “Poco a poco hila la vieja el copo.” Span.—R.

    By little and little the wolf eateth up the goose. W.

    By one and one the spindles are made up. B. OF M. R.

    By others’ faults wise men correct their own.

    By requiting one friend we invite many.

    By the faith of a true Burgundian.
    This expression is put into the mouth of Eccho the parasite in Gascoigne’s Glasse of Governement, 1575. See his poems, by Hazlitt, ii. 23, 62. The phrase is evidently ironical, and equivalent to Punica fides.

    By the husk you may guess at the nut.

  • By Tre, Pol, and Pen,
  • you shall know the Cornish men.
  • “These three words are the dictionary of such surnames as are originally Cornish; and though nouns in sense, I may fitly term them prepositions: 1. Tre signifieth a town, hence Tre-fry, Tre-lawney, Tre-vanion, &c. 2. Pol signifieth a head, hence Pol-wheel. 3. Pen signifietha top, hence Pen-tire, Pen-rose, Pen-kevil, &c.”
    A correspondent of Notes and Queries, 3rd S., iv., 208, furnishes an amplified version:
  • “By Tre, Pol, and Pen,
  • Ros, Caer, and Lan,
  • You shall know all Cornish men.”
  • which is in fact little more than Camden’s as given in his Remains:
  • “By Tre, Bos, Pol, Lan, Caer, and Pen,
  • You may know the must Cornish men.”
  • This saying is referred to by Borde in his Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge, 1542 (edit. Furnivall, 1870, p. 122).

    By wisdom peace, by peace plenty. C.

    Bystanders see most of the game.

  • “He that stands by, and doth the game survey,
  • Sees more oft-timea than those that at it play.”
  • —Niccholes’ Discourse of Marriage and Wiving, 1620.
  • My grandfather Hazlitt suggested “The Bystander” as a good title for a paper.
    “There is a true saying, that the spectator ofttimes sees more than the gamester.”—Howell’s Letters, edit. 1754, p. 325 (letter dated May 1, 1635). “Those who stand by see more in the game than those whose mind is too earnestly occupied.” Letter from Sir E. Dyer to Sir C. Hatton, 1572.

    Call me cousin, but cozen me not.

    Call me not an olive till you see me gathered. H.

    Call not a surgeon before you are wounded.

  • Calm weather in June
  • sets corn in tune.