Home  »  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases  »  He warms to Help yourself

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

He warms to Help yourself

He warms too near that burns. H.

He was born at Little Witham.
Little Witham is a village in this county [Essex]. It is applied to such as are not overstocked with acuteness, being a nominal allusion; of the like whereto we have many current among the vulgar.—R. This is usually placed among Lincolnshire proverbs; but, as a matter of fact, it is merely a play upon words.

He was born in a mill.
i.e., he’s deaf.—R.

He was born in August.

He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

He was born within the sound of Bow bell. F.
This is the periphrasis of a Londoner at large. This is called Bowbell, because hanging in the steeple of Bow Church; and Bow Church, because built on bows or arches, saith my author. But I have been told, that it was called from the cross stone arches, or bows, on the top of the steeple. We learn from Stowe, that a mercer, named John Dun, gave, in 1472, two tenements to maintain the ringing of this bell every night, at nine o’clock, as a signal for the city apprentices and servants to leave off work.—R. Bow Church is in the centre of the City, of which the ancient boundaries were sufficiently limited to make it difficult for any one born within the then metropolitan area not to be born within the sound of this bell. But we may rest satisfied that when Richard Whittington had reached Highgate, there was no possibility of him hearing it.

He was christened with pump water.
It is spoken of one that hath a red face.—R.

He was lapped in his mother’s smock.
Or, wrapped. “Fortune’s darling.”—Walker’s Parœm., 1672, p. 26. In the Comedy of Fidele and Fortunio, 1585, Attilia says:

  • “I thank them that they flout me to my face, when no other they mock.
  • This was my fathers craft, for he ever made my mother to wrap me in her smock.”
  • The phrase also occurs in Wine, Beer, Ale and Tobacco, contending for Superiority, 1630, where Wine says to Sugar:
  • “Why, sure thou were wrapt in thy mother’s smocke.”
  • And in Rowley’s Match at Midnight, 1633, Randall the Welshman says: “Sure Randalls was wrapt in ’s mother’s smocke.”—(Dodsley, O. P., vii. 355).

    He was meant for a gentleman, but was spoilt in the making. E. Anglia.

    He was saying his war prayers. S. Devon.
    i.e., swearing.

    He was scarce of news who told that his father was hanged.

    He was slain that had warning, not he that took it.

    He washes his sheep with scalding water.

    He weareth a whole lordship on his back. CL.

    He wears short hose.

    He wears the bull’s feather.

    He wears the horns.

  • He who bathes in May, / will soon be laid in clay:
  • he who bathes in June, / will sing a merry tune:
  • he who bathes in July, / will dance like a fly. D.
  • He who beggeth for others is contriving for himself.

    He who buys and sells does not miss what he spends.

    He who comes uncalled, unserved should sit.
    Montgomery’s Cherrie and the Slae, 1597 (Poems, 1821, p. 42.) This poem was written long before any known edition of it was printed.

    He who depends on another, dines ill and sups worse.

    He who fasteth and doeth no good, saveth his bread, but loseth his soul.

    He who findeth fault meaneth to buy.

    He who gets doth much, but he who keeps doth more.

    He who gives fair words feeds you with an empty spoon.

    He who greases his wheels helps his oxen.

    He who has been in the oven himself knows where to find the pasty.
    Compare The good wife would not, &c.

  • No man will an other in the ouen seeke,
  • Except that him selfe haue beene there before.
  • Heywood’s Epigrams on Proverbs, 1562.
  • He who hath a trade hath a share everywhere.

    He who hath an ill cause let him sell it cheap.

    He who hath bitter in his breast spits not sweet.

    He who hath done ill once will do it again.

    He who hath good health is young; and he is rich who owes nothing.

    He who hath much pease may put the more in the pot.

    He who hath no ill-fortune, is cloyed with good.

    He who is a good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse.

    He who is about to marry should consider how it is with his neighbours.

    He who is ashamed of his calling, ever liveth shamefully in it.

    He who is born a fool is never cured.

    He who is the offender is never the forgiver.
    Odisse quem læseris. Lat.

    He who is wanting but to one friend, loseth a great many by it.

    He who marries a widow will often have a dead man’s head thrown in his dish.

    He who marrieth does well, but he who marrieth not, better.

  • He who more than he is worth doth spend,
  • e’en makes a rope his life to end.
  • He who never was sick, dies the first fit.

    He who once hits will be ever shooting.

    He who oweth is all in the wrong.

    He who peeps through a hole may see what will vex him.

    He who plants a walnut-tree expects not to eat of the fruit.

    He who repeats the ill he hears of another is the true slanderer.

  • He who repents him not of his marriage sleeping or wakin’, in a year and a day,
  • may lawfully go to Dunmow, and fetch a gammon of bacon.
  • See Antiquarian Repertory, ed. 1807, iii. 342, where an account of the Dunmow Flitch is given from a MS. in the College of Arms. In the MS. this is quoted as a common proverb or saying, and I suppose that it is intended for a sort of rude rhyme. I give all that I could find on this subject in my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, where I point out that the usage is not peculiar to Essex. It is said to have been instituted there by Lord Fitswalter in the time of Henry II.
  • “I set him so on werke, by my fay,
  • That many a night they songen welaway:
  • The bacoun was nought fet for hem, I trowe,
  • That som men fecche in Essex at Donmowe.”
  • Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 215.
  • He who shareth honey with the bear, hath the least part of it.

    He who sows thorns will never reap grapes.

  • He who spends more than he should,
  • shall not have to spend when he would.
  • He who swells in prosperity will shrink in adversity.

    He who threateneth hunteth after a revenge.

    He who trusteth not is not deceived.

    He who trusts all things to chance, makes a lottery of his life.

    He who wants content can’t find an easy-chair.

  • He who will have a full flock,
  • must have an old stag and a young cock. Lanc.
  • Stag = gander.

    He who will have no judge but himself condemns himself.

    He who will stop every man’s mouth must have a great deal of meal.

  • He who would see old Hoghton right,
  • must view it by the pale moonlight.
  • Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 102. Hoghton is near Blackburn, Lancashire; those who are familiar with the locality will have no difficulty in comprehending the allusion.

    He who would wish to thrive, / must let spiders run alive.
    See N. and Q., 3rd S., xi. 32.

    He whose belly is full believes not him that is fasting. B. OF M. R.

    He whose father is judge goes safe to his trial.

    He will be hanged for leaving his liquor, like the saddler of Bawtry.
    “He was a saddler at Bawtry on the borders of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, and occasioned this saying, often applied among the lower people to a man who quits his friends too early, and will not stay to finish his bottle. The case was this; There was formerly, and indeed it has not long been suppressed, an ale-house, to this day called The Gallows House, situate between the city of York and their Tyburne, at which house the cart used always to stop, and there the convict and the other parties were refreshed with liquors; but the rash and precipitate Saddler, under Sentence, and on his road to the fatal Tree, refused this little regale, and hasten’d on to the place of Execution, where, very soon after he was turn’d off a Reprieve arrived, insomuch that, had he stopped, as was usual, at the Gallows House, the time consumed there would have been the means of saving his life.”—Pegge’s Curialia, 1818, 340–1.
    A writer in Notes and Queries (21 Oct., 1882) says: A native of Bawtry, who was born in 1732, and resided there until 1754, wrote out, after he had reached the age of seventy, the story of his life, “having,” as he says, “from his early years continually kept a kind of journal of what befell him.” The following is an extract from the MS. now in the possession of a descendant of his:—
    “Bawtry is also the town whence originated the story of the saddler of Bawtry being hanged for leaving his liquor behind him; but … I beg leave to inform my readers that it is there told as follows:—
    “A traveller, who had a good deal of cash in his saddlebags, was robbed soon after his leaving Bawtry on his way to Doncaster, viz. near the King’s Wood in Bawtry Lane, a place at that time noted for robberies, and even murders. He had had the saddler at Bawdry to stuff his saddle, which hurt his horse’s back…. Returning to Bawtry with his pitiable tale, he asked for the saddler, but, lo! no saddler was to be found. The traveller had given him part of a tankard of ale, which was found untouched, standing in a manger of the stable. Now, the saddler being a well-known thirsty blade, it was thought surprising that he forsook the friendly draught, and the sagacity of the multitude immediately suspected him to be the guilty person: on this circumstance, the poor saddler was immediately taken into custody, detained, and sent … to York Castle, where he lay till the following assizes; when he was tried, and acquitted.”

    He will be (or you are) in a quandary. WALKER (1672).

    He will be two men.
    Spoken of a man who is no longer himself when he loses his temper. See Skeat’s edition of Pegge’s Kenticisms, p. 12.

    He will burn his house to warm his hands. H.

    He will go to law / for your wagging of a straw. CL.

    He will have a finger in every pie.

    He will ill catch a bird flying that cannot keep his own in a cage.

    He will kill a man for a mess of mustard. HE.

    He will make a tight old man.
    “This is said of a lazy fellow who does not hurt himself with work.”—Forby.

    He will never get to heaven that desires to go thither alone.

    He will never set the temse on fire.
    The sieve employed in sifting the flour at a mill is so called in Yorkshire, it appears (N. and Q., 3rd S., vii. 239); and in Lincolnshire, the same class of utensil is in use among brewers to separate the hops from the beer (ibid., 306). The word has been, oddly enough, corrupted into Thames, which has no particular meaning. In the case of the temse, however, combustion has occasionally happened through the hard and constant friction of the iron rim of the temse against the flour-barrel’s rim. See Lucas, Studies in Nidderdale, 15.

    He will not climb up May Hill. New Forest.
    i.e., he will not survive May.

    He will play at small game, before he will sit out. C.

    He will see daylight through a little hole.

    He will shoot higher that shoots at the moon than he that shoots at a dunghill.

    He winketh with the one eye and looketh with the other. HE.

    He would be quartermaster at home if his wife would let him.

    He would fain fly, but he wanteth feathers. HE.
    Sine pennis volare haud facile est.—Plautus, in Pœnul. Non si puo volar senza ale. Ital. “No flying without wings,” says Ray.

    He would flay a flint.
    Or, flay a groat. Spoken of a covetous person.—R. We usually call such an one a skin-flint. Compare He goes where the devil, &c., and A skin-flint.

    He would get money in a desert.
    The Italians say, Vivere e far robba in su l’acqua. He would thrive where another would starve.

    He would have made a good butcher but for the by-blow. CL.

    He would live as long as old Rosse of Pottern, who lived till all the world was weary of him.
    Pottern is near Devizes. Howell calls him Russe.

    He would live even in a gravel pit.
    Said of a wary, sparing, niggardly person.—R.

    He wounded a dead man to the heart.

    He wrongs not an old man that steals his supper from him. H.

    He’d drive a louse a mile for the skin an tallow of ’en. S. Devon.

    He’d rather lose his friend than his jest. CL.

    He’d skin a louse and send the hide to market.
    Egli scortarebbe un pedocchio per haverne la pelle. Ital. He would flay a louse to get the skin.—R.

    He’d starve the rats, and make the mice go upon scritches [crutches]. S. Devon.

    He’ll as soon eat sand as do a good turn.

    He’ll bear it away, if it be not too hot or too heavy.
    Spoken of a pilferer.—R.

    He’ll bring buckle and thong together.

    He’ll dance to nothing but his own pipe.

    He’ll dress an egg and give the offal to the poor.

    He’ll eat till he sweats, and work till he freezes.

    He’ll find money for mischief, when he can find none for corn.

    He’ll find some hole to creep out at.

    He’ll go where the devil can’t, between the oak and the rind. Cornw.

    He’ll have enough one day, when his mouth is full of mould. CL.

    He’ll have the last word though he talk bilk for it.
    Bilk, i.e., nothing. A man is said to be bilked at cribbets when he gets nothing, when he can never make a game.—R.

    He’ll laugh at the wagging of a straw.

    He’ll make nineteen bits of a bilberry.
    Spoken of a covetous person.—R.

    He’ll neither do right nor suffer wrong.

    He’ll never dow [i.e., be good] egg nor bird. North.

    He’ll not let anybody lie by him.

    He’ll not lose his jest for his guest, if he be a Jew. CL.

    He’ll not lose the paring of his nails.
    Aquam plorat, qu’um lavat, profundere.—Plaut.

    He’ll not put off his doublet before he goes to bed.
    i.e., part with his estate before he die.—R.

    He’ll play small game rather than stand out.
    Aulædus sit qui citharædus esse non potest.—R.

    He’ll rather die with thirst than take the pains to draw water.

    He’ll split a hair.

    He’ll swear through an inch board.

    He’ll swear a daggar out of sheath.

    He’ll swear the devil out of hell.

    He’ll swear ’till he’s black in the face.

    He’ll turn / rather than burn.

    He’ll wag as the bush wags.

    He’s a fond [foolish] chapman that comes the day after the fair. CL.

    He’s a fool that is wiser abroad than at home.

    He’s a friend at a sneeze; the most you can get of him is a God bless you.

    He’s a friend to none that is a friend to all.

    He’s a good man whom fortune makes better.

    He’s a hawk of the right nest.

    He’s a little fellow, but every bit of that little is bad.

    He’s a man of able mind, / that of a foe can make a friend.

    He’s a thief, for he has taken a cup too much.

    He’s a velvet true heart. Cheshire.

    He’s a wise man that can wear poverty decently.

    He’s a wise man that leads passion by the bridle.

    He’s always behindhand, like the miller’s filler. Northampt.

    He’s an early angler, that angles by moonshine.
    Franck’s Northern Memoires, 1694, p. 79, written in 1658.

    He’s an ill boy that goes like a top, only when he’s whipt.

    He’s as brisk as bottled ale.

    He’s born in a good hour who gets a good name.

    He’s brought to Beggar’s Bush. CL.

    He’s drinking at the Harrow when he should be driving his plough.

    He’s dwindled down from a pot to a pipkin.

    He’s good in carding.

    He’s got t’ oil bottle in his pocket. Craven.
    Hone’s Table-Book, p. 722.

    He’s in a St. Giles’s sweat. Lancashire.
    Or, in the provincial vernacular. “He’s in O sent Gheighl’s swat,” i.e., he lies in bed, while his clothes are being mended. St. Giles is adopted by beggars as their patron saint.

    He’s in clover.

    He’s in Cob’s Pound. CL.
    Butler, in his Hudibras, 1663, wrote “Lob’s pound,” and Dr. Grey, his editor in 1744, supposed the dissenter, Dr. Lob, to be referred to. He also furnishes an explanatory anecdote. Others have queried Lob, a looby, a clown, and have conjectured that Lob’s Pound was Bridewell. Clarke, writing in 1631, two and thirty years before the publication of Hudibras (for the Parœmiologia lay by for eight years before it was printed in 1639), gives COB’S pound as the true form of the phrase. In the Batchellors Banquet, 1603, attributed to T. Decker, the other form, “Lob’s Pound,” is employed.
    Lob’s Pound is also mentioned in Ovidius Exulans, or Ovid Travestie, 1673, in the mock-epistle of Leander to Hero:

  • “If that I chanced to be drown’d,
  • Or ere to be catch’d in Lobs Pound,
  • Well fare then cry your little Pander,
  • My pretty smock-fac’d Rogue Leander.”
  • and by Addison in the Drummer, where it is proposed to entrap the Ghost in Lob’s Pound.

    He’s in great want of a bird that will give a groat for an owl.

    He’s in his better blue clothes.
    He thinks himself wondrous fine.—R.

    He’s like a bagpipe; you never hear him till his belly is full.

    He’s like a buck of the first head.

    He’s like a cat; fling him which way you will, he’ll light on his legs.

    He’s like a rabbit, fat and lean in twenty-four hours.

    He’s like a singed cat, better than he’s likely.

    He’s like a swine, he’ll never do good while he lives.

    He’s like Gorby, whose soul neither God nor the devil would have. F.

    He’s metal to the back.
    A metaphor taken from knives and swords.—R.

    He’s miserable indeed that must lock up his miseries.

    He’s not the best carpenter that makes the most chips.

    He’s overshot in his own bow.

    He’s so full of himself that he is quite empty.

    He’s so great a thief that he’ll even steal the commandments.

    He’s standing on his forkle-end. S. Devon.
    i.e., He’s well and on his legs, able to get about.—Shelly.

    He’s well to live.

    He’s wise that knows when he’s well enough.

    He’s won with a feather and lost with a straw.

    He’s Yorkshire.
    Equivalent to the Italian: E Spoletino. The Yorkshiremen are supposed to be remarkable for their practical shrewdness. In the Dialect of Craven, 1828, Carr quotes a sentence illustrative of the meaning of the phrases, “He is Yorkshire,” or “Yorkshire.” “Don’t thee think to but Yorkshire o’ me, I warn’t born in a post [i.e., stupid]; but I confess that from this sentence I draw a conclusion exactly opposite to that which seems to have been drawn by the writer. The sense appears to me really to be, “You musn’t try your cunning at me; I am no fool.”

    Health and wealth create beauty.

    Health is better than wealth.

    Health is great riches.

    Health is not valued till sickness comes.

    Health to wear it, strength to tear it, and money to buy a new one.
    Said in some parts to anybody who gets a new article of dress.

    Health without wealth is half an ague. H.

    Hear news, quoth the fox, when he let—in the morning.
    Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570).

    Hear twice before you speak once.

    Hear ye, and see not.
    MS. of the 15th cent., quoted in Retrospective Review, 3rd S., ii. 309.

    Hearken to reason, or she will be heard. H.

    Hearts may agree, though heads differ.

    Heat and pilchards. Cornw.

    Heaven will make amends for all.

    Hedgehogs lodge among thorns, because they themselves are prickly.

    Hedges have eyes and walls have ears.

    Heigh ho! the devil is dead.

    Hell and chancery are always open.

    Hell, Hull, and Halifax.
    Compare From Hell, &c.

    Hell’s [or Hell] broke loose.
    Title of a tract by S. R., 1605, and of three others in 1646, 1651, and 1661.

    Hell is full of the ungrateful.

    Hell is paved with good intentions.
    Baxter was once nearly stoned by the women at Kidderminster for declaring in a sermon that hell was paved with—infants’ skulls.

    Hell is wherever heaven is not.

    Three pits, most probably disused coal-pits, at Oxehall, near Darlington, Co. Durham, used to be so called in the 18th century. They were filled with water, and popular ignorance and credulity ascribed to them this character. See Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain, 1761, iii. 153. But compare the Account of Gisborough, Co. York, in Antiq. Repertory, 1808, iii. 307.

    Hell will never have its due, / till it have its hold of you.

    Help at a pinch.
    Bale’s Kyng Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 81.

    Help, hands; / for I have no lands. CL.

    Help yourself, and your friends will bless you.
    Compare Thy Thrift, &c.

  • Hempseed I set, / hempseed I sow,
  • the young man that I love, / come after me and mow!
  • Hengston [or Hingston] Down well wrought,
  • is worth London town dear-bought.
  • In respect of the great quantity of tin to be found there underground: though the gainful plenty of metal this place formerly afforded, is now fallen to a scant-saving scarcity. As for the diamonds which Dr. Fuller fancieth may be found there, I believe they would be little worth.—R. This is one of the popular saws, of which the force was at no time perhaps very great, and of which time has at all events very sensibly decreased the significance.
    “Mines of tin, copper, lead, and silver have been worked at Calstook, but the old couplet has not yet been verified.”—Wallis’s Cornwall Register, 1847, p. 340.