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

If there be to In hugger-mugger

If there be no remedy, then welcome Pillvall.

If there is ice that will bear a duck before Martlemas [Martinmas], there will be none that will bear a goose all the winter. Midland.

If there were no knaves and fools, all the world would be alike.

  • If they blow in April, / you’ll have your fill;
  • but if in May / they’ll go away.
  • Spoken of cherries. Skeat’s ed. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 96. Pegge notes that in 1742, however, although the season was late, cherries were plentiful in his garden.

    If they come, they come not; and if they come not, they come.
    The cattle of people living hereabout [Northumberland] turned into the common pasture, did by custom use to return to their home at night, unless intercepted by the freebooters and borderers. If, therefore, those borderers came, their cattle came not: if they came not, their cattle surely returned.—R.

  • If they would drink nettles in March, and eat mugwort in May,
  • so many fine maidens wouldn’t go to the clay. D.
  • If things were to be done twice, / all would be wise. H.

    If thou be hungry, I am angry; let us go fight.

    If thou canst not see the bottom, wade not.

    If thou dealest with a fox, think of his tricks.

    If thou desirest a wife, choose her on a Saturday rather than on a Sunday.

    If thou hadst the rent of Dee mills, thou wouldst spend it. Cheshire.
    Dee is the name of the river on which the city of Chester stands: the mills thereon yield a great annual rent, greater than any of the houses about that city.—R. 1670.

    If thou hast increased thy water, thou must also increase thy meal.

    If thou hast not a capon, feed on an onion.
    New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134. Probably of French origin.

    If thou play the fool, stay for a fellow.

    If thou wilt come with me, bring with thee. B. OF M. R.

    If thou wouldst have a good crop, sow with thy hand, but pour not out of the sack.

    If thou wouldst keep money, save money.

    If thou wouldst reap money, sow money.

    If thy cast be bad, mend it with good play.

    If thy hand be in a lion’s mouth, get it out as fast as thou canst.

    If to-day will not, to-morrow may.

    If virtue keep court within, honour will attend without.

    If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him.

    If we be enemies to ourselves, whither shall we fly?

    If we did not flatter ourselves, nobody else could.

    If well and them cannot, then ill and them can.

    If wise men play the fool. they do it with a vengeance.

    If wishes were butter cakes, beggars might bite.

    If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
    “Si souhaits furent vrais pastoreaux seroient rois. Fr. If wishes might prevail, shepherds would be kings.”—R. Another and probably older version is:

  • “If wishes would bide,
  • Beggars would ride.”
  • Halliwell (Nursery Rhymes of England) has a still more modern one:
  • “If wishes were horses,
  • Beggars would ride;
  • If turnips were watches,
  • I would wear one by my side.”
  • A large silver watch is called a turnip in popular phraseology.

    If wishes were thrushes, beggars would eat birds. C.

  • If woolly fleeces spread the heavenly way,
  • no rain, be sure, disturbs the summer’s day. D.
  • If ye swear, we’st catch no fish. CL.

    If ye would know a knave, give him a staff. H.

    If you are too fortunate you will not know yourself; if you are too unfortunate nobody will know you.

    If you be a jester keep your wit till you have use for it.

    If you be angry you may turn the buckle of your girdle behind you.
    Se l’ à per male, scingasi. Ital. The Spaniards say, Si tienes de mi enojo descalçate un zapato, y echalo en remojo. If you are angry with me, pull off one of your shoes, and lay it in soak.—R.

    If you be false to both beasts and birds, you must, like the bat, fly only by night.

    If you be not pleased, put your hand in your pocket and please yourself.

    If you beat spice, it will smell the sweeter.

  • If you bleed your nag on St. Stephen’s Day,
  • he’ll work your work for ever and aye. D.
  • If you buy the cow, take the tail into the bargain.

    If you can be well without health, you may be happy without virtue.

    If you can kiss the mistress, never kiss the maid.

    If you cannot bite, never show your teeth.
    New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.

    If you cannot tell, you are naught to keep sheep.
    Wilkins’ Miseries of Enforced Marriage, 1607, Dodsley’s O. P., v. 12. The play is on the word tell; and the proverb is a sort of taunt to persons who return the idle answer “that they cannot tell.”

    If you could run as you drink, you could catch a hare. H.

    If you cut down the woods you’ll catch the wolf.

    If you desire to see my light, you must minister oil to my lamp.

    If you despise King Log you shall fear King Crane.

    If you drink in your pottage you’ll cough in your grave.

    If you eat a pudding at home, the dog shall have the skin. C.

  • If you go to Nun Keling, you shall find your belly filling
  • of Whig or of Whay:
  • but go to Swine, and come betime,
  • or else you go empty away:
  • but the Abbot of Meaus doth keep a good house
  • by night and by day. E. R. of Yorkshire.
  • Whig, a preparation of milk. Hunter’s Hallamsh. Gloss., 1829, art. Whigged.

    If you grease a cause well, it will stretch.

    If you had as little money as manners, you’d be the poorest of all your kin.

    If you had done no ill the six days, you may play the seventh.

    If you had had fewer friends and more enemies, you had been a better man.

    If you had no enemies, it is a sign Fortune has forgot you.

    If you hate a man, eat his bread; and if you love him, do the same.

    If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.

    If you know not me, you know nobody.
    Title of a play by T. Heywood, 4to, 1605; and compare Hobson’s Jests, 1607, and Hazlitt’s Dodsley, vii. 213, where the phrase occurs in a play of 1598.

    If you leap into a well, Providence is not bound to fetch you out.

    If you lie upon roses when young, you’ll lie upon thorns when old.

    If you love not the noise of the bells, why pull the ropes?

    If you love the boll [pod], you cannot hate the branches. CL.

    If you make Bacchus your god, Apollo will not keep you company.

    If you make not much of threepence, you’ll ne’er be worth a groat.

    If you make your wife an ass, she will make you an ox.

    If you mock the lame, you will go so yourself in time.

    If you oblige those who can never pay you, you make Providence your debtor.

    If you pay not a servant his wages, he will pay himself.

    If you pity rogues, you are no great friend to honest men.

    If you play with a fool at home, he’ll play with you in the market.

    If you play with boys, you must take boys’ play.

    If you put nothing into your purse, you can take nothing out.

    If you run after two hares, you will catch neither.

    If you save a rogue from the gallows, he will rob you that same night.

  • If you see a pin, and let it lie,
  • you’ll need a pin before you die.
  • If you sell the cow, you sell her milk too.

    If you sing before breakfast you’ll cry before night. CL.

    If you slander a dead man, you stab him in the grave.

  • If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger:
  • sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger:
  • sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter:
  • sneeze on a Thursday, something better.
  • sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow:
  • sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart to-morrow.
  • Halliwell’s Nurs. Rh. of Engl., 6th ed., p. 71. Horman, in his Vulgaria, 4to, 1530, says: “Two or .iij. neses be holsom: one is a shrowed tok.”

    If you squeeze a cork, you will get but little juice.

    If you steal for others, you shall be hanged yourself.

    If you swallow vice, ’twill rise badly in your stomach.

  • If you sweep the house with broom in May,
  • you will sweep the head of that house away.
  • Sussex Arch. Coll., xxxiii. 245.

    If you take away the salt, you may throw the flesh to the dogs.

    If you tell every step, you will make a long journey of it.

    If you toil so for trash, what would you do for treasure? CL.

    If you touch pot you must touch penny. Somerset.

    If you trust before you try, / you may repent before you die.
    [Greek].—Theogn. Therefore it was an ancient precept, [Greek]. Non vien ingannato se non chi si fida. Ital. There is none deceived but he that trusts.—R.

    If you want a pretence to whip a dog, it is enough to say he ate up the frying-pan. F.

    If you want a thing done, do it yourself.
    This is the gist of the Apologue of Æsop on the larks. See Aulus Gellius, c. 29.

  • If you will have good cheese, and have old,
  • you must turn him seven times before he is cold.
  • This intends, of course, to express that while a cheese is being made, it must be turned so many times before the warmth has quite left the curd. But in the Cheshire cheese-dairies it is always usual to continue turning the cheeses while they are maturing, so that one side may not remain too long down; and the same practice may prevail perhaps in the Gloucestershire and other farms.

    If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.

    If you wish a thing done, go; if not, send.

    If you wish good advice, consult an old man.

  • If you wish to go into Hertfordshire,
  • hitch a little nearer the fire.
  • See Hunter’s Hallamshire Glossary, p. 50. The point seems to be in the play on the word Hertfordshire (quasi Hearthfordshire).

    If you would be a pope, you must think of nothing else.

    If you would compare two men, you must know them both.

    If you would enjoy the fruit, pluck not the flower.

    If you would fruit have, / you must carry the leaf to the grave.
    That is, you must transplant your trees just about the fall of the leaf, neither sooner nor much later: not sooner, because of the motion of the sap; not later, that they may have time to take root before the deep frosts.—R.

  • If you would go to a church miswent,
  • you must go to Cuckstone in Kent.
  • So said because the church is “very unusual in proportion.”—Halliwell.

    If you would have a good servant, take neither a kinsman nor a friend.

    If you would have a hen lay, you must bear with her cackling.

    If you would know secrets, look them in grief or pleasure. H.

    If you would know the value of a ducat, try to borrow one.

  • If you would live for ever,
  • you must wash the milk off your liver. F.
  • Vin sur laict c’est souhait, laict sur vin c’est venin. Fr. This is an idle old saw, for which I can see no reason, but rather for the contrary.—R.

    If you would make an enemy, lend a man money, and ask it of him again.

    If you would not live to be old, you must be hanged when you are young.

    If you would wish the dog to follow you, feed him.

    If you wrestle with a collier, you will get a blotch.

  • If you’ll live a little while, / go to Rapchild:
  • If you’ll live long, / go to Tenham or Tong.
  • Pegge’s Kenticisms, by Skeat, 84.

    If your luck goes on at this rate, you may very well hope to be hanged.

  • If your meet mate and you meet together,
  • then shall we see two men bear a feather. HE.
  • If your plough be jogging you may have meat for your horses.

    If your shoe pinch you, give it your man.

  • If youth knew what age would crave,
  • it would both get and save.
  • S’ il giovane sapesse e s’ il vecchio potesse, non v’ è cosa che non si’ facesse. Ital.—R.

    Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune.

    Ignorance is the mother of impudence.

    I’ll be holy, ay, marry will I. CL.

    I’ll chance it, as Parson (or Old) Horne did his neck.
    A writer, in Notes and Queries says, that this was once a common saying in the midland counties, and may be now. I have heard of its being used in Scotland. Horne was a clergyman in Nottinghamshire. Horne committed a murder. He escaped to the Continent. After many years’ residence abroad he determined to return. In answer to an attempt to dissuade him, and being told he would be hanged if he did, he said, “I’ll chance it.” He did return, was tried, condemned, and executed. The account of his “life, trial, character, and behaviour” may be found in the Newgate Calendar.

    I’ll die where Bradley died, in the middle of the bed. Irel.

    I’ll either grind or find.

    I’ll first see thy neck as long as my arm.

    I’ll foreheet [predetermine] nothing but building churches and louping over them. Northern.

    I’ll give him a kick for a cuff. E. Anglia.
    “A Rowland for an Oliver.”—Forby.

    I’ll go twenty miles on your errand first.

    I’ll make a shaft or a bolt on’t. M. W. of Windsor, 1602.

    I’ll make him buckle to.

    I’ll make him fly up with Jackson’s hens.
    i.e., undo him. So when a man is broke or undone, we say he is blown up.—R.

    I’ll make him know churning days.

    I’ll make him water his horse at Highgate.
    i.e., I’ll sue him, and make him take a journey to London.—R.

    I’ll make one, quoth Kirkham, when he danced in his clogs.

    I’ll make you know your driver.

    I’ll neither meddle nor make [mate] with them.
    Troilus and Cressida, 1609.

    I’ll not go before my mare to the market.
    I’ll do nothing preposterously: I’ll drive my mare before me.—R.

    I’ll not hang my bells on one horse.
    That is, give all to one son.—R.

    I’ll not play with you for shoe buckles.

    I’ll not wear the wooden dagger.

    I’ll see thee hanged first.
    Shakespeare, Henry IV., Part 1, ii. 1.

    I’ll send you to Bodmin.
    i.e., to gaol.

  • I’ll tent thee, quoth Wood;
  • if I can’t rule my daughter, I’ll rule my good.
  • I’ll thank you for the next, for this I am sure of.

    I’ll throw you into Harborough Field. Leicestershire.
    A threat for children, Harborough having no field.—R.

    I’ll trust him no farther than I can fling him.
    Or, than I can throw a millstone. Compare No further than I can, &c.

    I’ll vease thee. Somerset.

    I’ll warrant you for an egg at Easter.

    Ill comes upon war’s back.

    Ill doers are ill thinkers.

    Ill doth the devil preserve his servants.

    Ill egging makes ill begging.
    Evil persons, by enticing and flattery, draw on others to be as bad as themselves—R.

    Ill fare that bird that picks out the dam’s eye! CL.

    Ill goes the boat without oars. B. OF M. R. and DS.

    Ill-gotten goods thrive not to the third heir.
    The idea is in Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 303, and in Flautur. Male parta male delabuntur—Erasm. “Della robba di mal acquista non se ne vede allegrezza. Ital. And, Vien presto consumato l’ingiustamente acquistato. De mal è venu l’agneau et à mal retourne le peau. Fr. To naught it goes that came from naught. [Greek]. Mala lucra æqualia damnis.”—R. Compare De bonis, &c., the Latin equivalent, which is almost better understood. “What successe they haue had, some of them haue reported, finding the prouerbe true, that ill gotten goodes are il spent.” Second and Third Blast of Retrait from Plaies and Theaters, 1580, in Hazlitt’s English Drama and Stage, 1869, p. 152.

    Ill-gotten, ill-spent. C.

    Ill kings make many good laws.

    Ill luck is good for something. C.
    A quelque chose malheur est bon. Fr. Misfortune is good for something.

    Ill luck is worse than found money.

    Ill natures never want a tutor.

    Ill natures, the more you ask them, the more they stick. H.

    Ill news comes apace.
    W. Browne, in his Elegy on Prince Henry, 1613, has:—

  • “Is that the cause fair Maids? then stay and know
  • Bad newes are swift of wing, the Good are slow.”—
  • Sign. E. This Elegy was incorporated with Britannia’s Pastorals; but the lines quoted were cancelled.

    Ill news comes too soon. C.

    Ill sowers make ill harvest.

    Ill tongues ought to be heard only by persons of discretion.

    Ill vessels seldom miscarry. H.

    Ill ware is never cheap. H.

    Ill weather is seen soon enough when it comes.

    Ill weeds grow fast. C.
    Mauvaise herbe croît toujours. Fr. Pazzi crescono senza inaffiargli. Ital. Fools grow without watering. A mauvais chien la queüe luy vient. Fr. Herba mala presto cresce. Ital.—R.

  • “Mother.Good Lord,
  • How you are grown?—Is he not, Alexander?
  • Alex.Yes, truly, he’s shot up finely, God be thanked!
  • Mercury.An ill weed, mother, will do so.
  • Alex.You say true, sir; an ill weed grows apace.”
  • The Coxcomb (1612), Dyce’s Beaumont and Fletcher, iii. 186.
  • Ill will never said well.

    Ill words are bellows to a slackening fire.

    Ill wounds may be cured, but not ill names.

    Imitation is the sincerest flattery.

    Impatience never gets preferment.

    Impedit omne forum / carentia denariorum.
    Plumpton Correspondence, 1839, p. 13, in a letter of 1464. It is introduced as an expression likely to be easily understood. There is an English equivalent.

    In a calm sea, every man is a pilot.
    New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.

    In a false quarrel there is no true valour.

    In a fiddler’s house all are dancers.

    In a fiddler’s house all fiddle.

    In a good house all is quickly ready. H.

  • In a great river great fish are found,
  • but take heed lest you be drowned. H.
  • In a leopard the spots are not observed. H.
    Perhaps because they are familiar. But in the black leopard they are apt to be overlooked, unless he is seen in strong sunlight.

    In a long journey straw weighs. H.

    In a night’s time springs up a mushroom.

    In a retreat the lame are foremost. H.

    In a shoulder of veal there are twenty and two good bits.
    This is a piece of country wit. They mean by it there are twenty (others say forty) bits in a shoulder of veal, and but two good ones.—R.

    In a thousand pounds of law there’s not an ounce of love.

    In all games it is good to leave off a winner.

    In an enemy spots are soon seen.

    In an ermine spots are soon discovered.

    In and out, / like Bellesdon I wot.

    In April Dove’s flood / is worth a king’s good. C.
    Leigh’s England Described, 1659, p. 179. “The river Dove has a white clayish channel, without any shelves of mud, which is so greatly enriched by running on a limestone soil, as Camden relates, that the meadows on both sides have a fresh and green aspect, even in the depth of winter; and if it overflows there in April, it renders them so fruitful, that the neighbouring inhabitants joyfully, on this occasion, apply the following rhyme:

  • In April, Dove’s flood
  • Is worth a King’s good.
  • But Dr. Plot ascribes this fertility to the sheep’s dung washed down from the hills by the rain, and thrown on the banks by the floods.”—Universal Magazine, p. 49, 1758, quoted by Brady, Var. of Lit., 1826.

  • In April / the cuckoo shows his bill;
  • in May, / he sings all day;
  • in June, / he alters his tune;
  • in July, / away he’ll fly:
  • in August, / away he must.
  • Halliwell’s Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, 1849, p. 160.

    In at one ear and out of the other. CL.
    Dentro da un crecchio e fuora dall’ altra. Ital.—R.

  • In choice of a wife let virtue be thy guide,
  • for beauty’s a blossom that fadeth like pride:
  • and wealth without wisdom will waste fast away;
  • if chaste thoughts be lacking, all soon will decay.
  • Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.

    In choosing a wife and buying a sword, we ought not to trust another. H.

    In conversation, dwell not too long on a weak side.

    In courtesy, rather pay a penny too much than too little.

    In every country dogs bite. H.

    In every country the sun riseth in the morning. H.

    In every fault there is folly.

    In fair weather prepare for foul.

    In for a penny, in for a pound.
    Preso por uno, preso por ciento. Span.—R.

    In Golgotha are skulls of all sizes.

    In good bearing beginneth worship.
    How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, i.

    In good years corn is hay: in ill years straw is corn. H.

    In haste, like a snail. HE.

    In his mother’s plum-tree.
    In the womb. Comp. Ancient Ballads and Broadsides, 1867.

    In hugger-mugger.
    “Tom Strowd…. I do but stay here to talk 3 or 4 cold words in hugger-mugger with the Blind-beggars Daughter….”—Day’s Blind Beggar of Bednal Green, 1659, ed. Bullen, 89.

  • In July / some reap rye,
  • in August, / if one won’t, t’ other must.
  • “En May rosée, en Mars gresil,
  • Pluye abondante au mois d’Avril,
  • Le laboureur content plus
  • Que ne feroient cinq cens escus.”
  • Old Fr. in Hart. MS., 4043, 16th cent., in Rel. Antiq. ii. 10.