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

’Tis God to To gain

’Tis God’s blessing that makes the pot boil.

’Tis good beating proud folks, for they’ll not complain.

’Tis good buying wit with [an]other man’s money. WALKER.

’Tis good christening a man’s own child first.

’Tis good fish if it were but caught.
It is spoken of any considerable good that one hath not, but talks more of, sues for, or endeavours after. A future good, which is to be catched, if a man can, is but little worth.—R.

’Tis good grafting on a good stock.

’Tis good having a hatch before the door.
Three Ladies of London, 1584, edit. 1851, p. 219; A Knack to Know a Knave, 1594, edit. 1851, p. 378.

’Tis good riding in a safe harbour.

’Tis good sometimes to hold a candle to the devil.

’Tis good to go on foot, when a man hath a horse in his hand.
A l’aise marche à pied qui mene son cheval par la bride. Fr.—R.

’Tis good to have friends both in heaven and hell. R. (1670.)

’Tis good to hold an ass by the bridle, and a scoffing fool by his wit’s-end.
Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.

’Tis good to walk till the blood appears on the cheek, but not the sweat on the brow.

’Tis hard to be wretched, but worse to be known so. H.

’Tis hard to sail over the sea in an eggshell. CL.

’Tis hard to sup and blow both with a wind. WALKER.

’Tis ill playing with short daggers. HE.*

’Tis ill shaving against the wool.

’Tis late ere an old man comes to know he is old.

’Tis liberty that every one loves.

’Tis no festival unless there be some fighting.
Of this proverbial dictum, our own fairs and other popular recreations might supply innumerable illustrations taken from life. Speaking of May games about the period of the Restoration, Hall says in his Funebria Floræ, 1660: “Fightings and bloodsheds are usual at such meetings, insomuch that ’tis a common saying, that ’Tis no festival, unless there bee some fighting.”

’Tis not a basket of hay, but a basket of flesh, which will make a lion roar.

’Tis not all gold that glitters.
Det er ikke alt Guld, der glimmer.—Dan.

’Tis not clean linen only that makes the feast.

’Tis not for every one to catch a salmon.

’Tis not good to be happy too young.

’Tis not the beard that makes the philosopher.

’Tis not the matter, but the mind.

’Tis pity fair weather should do any harm.

’Tis rare to find a fish that will not bite some time or other.

’Tis the farmer’s care / that makes the field bear.

  • ’Tis time to cock your hay and corn,
  • when the old donkey blows his horn.
  • The Farmer’s Magazine for 1836, quoted in Notes and Queries, 2nd S., xii. 304.

    ’Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss.

    ’Tis useless to kick against the pricks.

    ’Tis very hard to shave an egg.
    Where nothing is, nothing can be had.—R.

    ’Tis wisdom sometimes to seem a fool.

    ’Tis yeared.
    This used to be said of a debt a year old, and to imply that there was little chance of its discharge.

    Tit for tat. HE.
    Compare To give one tint for tant.

    Tithe and yet be rich.

    Tittle-tattle, give the goose more hay.

    To a boiling pot flies come not. H.

    To a child all weather is cold. H.

    To a crafty man, a crafty and a half. H.

    To a crazy ship all winds are contrary. H.

    To a fine day open the window; but make you ready as to a foul. H.

    To a good spender God is a treasurer.

    To a grateful man give money when he asks. H.

    To a great night a great lanthorn. H.

  • To a red man reed thy reed;
  • with a brown man break thy bread;
  • at a pale man draw thy knife;
  • from a black man keep thy wife.
  • Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647. Varchi’s Blazon of Jealousie, 1615, p. 21, Tofte’s transl. Tofte remarks in the note where he gives the foregoing: “The Persians were wont to be so iealous of their Wiues, as they neuer suffered them to goe abroad, but in Waggons close shut; but at this day the Italian is counted the man that is most subiect to this vice, the sallow-complectioned fellow, with a blacke beard, being hee that is most prone, as well to suspect, as to be suspected about Womens matters, according to the old saying.
  • “Ile neuer trust a red-hair’d man againe,
  • If I should liue a hundred yeares, that’s flat;
  • His turne cannot be serued with one or twain,
  • And how can any woman suffer that?”
  • —Rowlands’ Tis merry when Gossips Meete, 1602, repr. of edit. 1609, p. 20.

    To a rude ass a rude keeper. W.

    To add fuel to the fire.

    To angle all day and catch a gudgeon at night.
    Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (repr. Roxb. Lib., p. 190).

    To angle with a silver hook.
    Pescar col hamo d’argento. Aureo hamo piscari.

    To as much purpose as the geese slur upon the ice. Cheshire.

    To bake in a woman’s oven.
    Book of Maid Emlyn (Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iv. 86).

    To bang one’s ears.
    Demitto auriculas, ut iniquæ mentis asellus. Horat.—R.

    To bark against the moon. W.

    To be a fool or knave in print doth but bring the truth to light.

    To be as well known for a fool as my Lord Welles.
    Nash’s Strange Newes, 1592, repr. Collier, 41. The last individual who bore the title of Lord Welles appears to have died in 1503. See Nicolas’s Historic Peerage, by Courthope, 1857, under Welles. Among the Paston Letters (edit. Gairdner, ii. 5) is one dated 1461, mentioning the fall of Lord Wells, probably the preceding peer, at the battle of Towton. But there were two peerages in the family, and at the same time there was no Lord Wells after 1503, so that it is remarkable that this saying should have so long survived.

    To be born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
    Etre né coiffé, is the French equivalent. Gil Blas, livre i. c. 4. This form more particularly alludes to the birth of a child with a caul.

    To be bought and sold in a company.

    To be bout [without] as Barrow was. Cheshire.

    To be buried under the gallows. Leeds.
    i.e., To die from overwork.

    To be caught red-handed.

    To be got into Cherry’s boose.
    Boose = a cowstall. Cherry is “a favourite name for a red cow, which colour is, among the country people, the most esteemed for milking, any person who is got into a comfortable situation is said ‘to be got into Cherry’s boose.’”—Wilbraham’s Cheshire Glossary, 1820, p. 17.

    To be held at the long saw. ROGER NORTH, 1740.

    To be hide-bound.

    To be high in the instep. HE.

    To be in a peck of troubles.

    To be in one’s beard.
    To affront or, as we now say, to beard a man. 14th or 15th cent. Hazlitt’s National Tales and Legends, 1892, p. 297.

    To be in the wrong box. HE.*
    “Thys Gentleman taking his opinions conceived, always to be infallible, would breake them with his man, not so much to conferre for his advise, as to set out the ripenesse of his owne capacitye, who perceiving his Maister was in a manner alwayes in a wrong Boxe, and building castels in the ayre, or catching Hares with Tabers, could not soothe such unlikely toyes.”—Letter touching the Quarrel between Arthur Hall and Melchisedech Mallerie (1575–6), repr. 1816. Compare N. and Q., 2nd S., viii. 413.

    To be lapt in the skirts of one’s father’s shirt.
    To inherit a quality or good fortune. See Private Correspondence of Jane Lady Cornwallis, 1842, p. 253:—“Now, I pray, give me leave to ask you a question, and that is, How you lyke my lyttle girle that is with my wyfe? I must tell you that she hath bin hapt in the skirts of her fathers shirt, for she is beloved where she comes, and I love her very well, and soe doth she me.”—Sir T. Meautis to Jane Lady Bacon, December 2, 1632. This, and To be wrapped in one’s mother’s smock, are cognate expressions.

    To be loose in the hilts.

    To be married at Finglesham Church.
    Finglesham, in the parish of Norbourne, Kent, has no church; but a chalk pit there had a notorious character as a lovers’ rendezvous. See Skeat’s edit. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 89.

    To be nursed in cotton.

    To be on the high ropes.

    To be on the horns of a dilemma.

    To be sent to Coventry.
    Said of any one who is shunned or snubbed by his acquaintances. See Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 155.

    To be stung like a tench.
    Shakespeare’s First Part of Henry IV., ii. 1.

    To be tied to the sour apple-tree.

    To be too busy gets contempt. H.

    To be up at Harwich [hariage].
    i.e., To be in trouble or confusion. Fr. harier. See Mr. Skeat’s communication to N. and Q., 3rd S., ix. 325.

    To be up the Queen’s apple-tree. R. 1670.

    To bear the bell. HE.
    This seems to be equivalent in import to “To win the race.” It appears that a silver bell was sometimes the prize at horse-races. See Manningham’s Diary, edit. 1868, p. 49, and my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 506.

    To bear the cup even.
    Paston Letters, iii. 104 (1473).

    To bear two faces in one hood. HE.

    To beat about the bush.
    “After some talke about ye bushe (as we saye).”—Letter, dated 1627, in Kempe’s Loseley MSS., 483.

    To bite upon the bridle.
    Compare Bayard bites, &c.

    To blow hot and cold with the same breath.

    To blow the buck’s horn.

  • “Sche loveth so this heende Nicholas,
  • That Absolon may blowe the bukkes horn.”
  • The Miller’s Tale, line 200.
  • To borrow on usury brings sudden beggary.
    Citiùs usura currit quam Heraclitus.

    To box Harry.
    A phrase formerly used by commercial travellers, who had to content themselves at inns with a makeshift meal. See Borrow’s Wild Wales, 1865, p. 108. Its origin does not seem to be known.

    To break the ice.
    Romper il ghiaccio. Ital. Seindere glaciem. To begin any hazardous [delicate] or difficult thing.—R. Also to open an acquaintance or reconcile a coolness.

    To brew in a bottle and bake in a bag.

    To bring a shilling to ninepence [and ninepence to nothing]. HE.
    “To bring a noble to ninepence.”—Fulwell’s Like Will to Likes, 1568. We speak it of an unthrift. Ha fatto d’una lancia una spina, e d’una calza una borsetta. Ital. He hath made of a lance a thorn, and of a pair of breeches a purse; parallel to ours, He hath thwitten a mill-post to a pudding-prick. Or, His windmill is dwindled into a nut-cracker. Di badessa tornar conversa. From an abbess to become a lay-sister.—R. Devenir d’eveque meûnier. A correspondent of N. and Q., (3rd S., vii. 346) cites another and more recent version, To make his pack into fardel, and his fardel into nout. We are reminded of the story of Lucky Hans in Grimm.

    To bring an abbey to a grange. CL.

  • “If he holde on a while as he begins,
  • We shall see him proue a marchaunt of eele skins.”—Heywood.
  • Ab equis ad asinos. Mandrabuli in morem. Mandrabulus, finding gold mines in Samos, at first offered and gave to Juno a golden ram, afterwards a silver one, then a small one of brass, and at last nothing at all.

    To bring an old house on one’s head.

    To bring meat in its mouth.

    To bring to the basket.
    To reduce to poverty. Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 41.

    To build castles in the air.
    See Spanish Castles.

    To bumble [buzz] like a bee in a tar tub.

    To burn daylight. WALKER (1672).
    Appius and Virginia, 1575, Dodsley, xii. 351. Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, ap. Hawkins, ii. 81. M. W. of Windsor, ii. 1.

    To burst at the broadside.

    To bury one’s wife.
    i.e., To complete one’s legal apprenticeship: this sepulture used to be performed with much solemnity.

    To bury the hatchet.
    To forget an injury, or forgive a wrong. A phrase borrowed from primitive life.

    To buy a pig in a poke.
    i.e., To make a blind bargain. “Non comprar gatta in sacco. Ital. The French say, Chat en poche.” Montaigne, Essais, livre iii. c. 5. “Acheter chat en sac.”

  • A good cooknay coke,
  • Though ye loue not to bye the pyg in the poke,
  • Yet snatche ye at the poke, that the pyg is in,
  • Not for the poke, but the pyg good chepe to wyn.”
  • Heywood’s Dialoge (1546), ed. 1562, part 2, cap. 9.
  • “Than on the grounde to gether rounde
  • With many a sadde stroke
  • They roule and romble, they turne and tumble,
  • As pygges do in a poke.”
  • —Sir Thomas More’s Jest of a Sergeaunt that wolde lerne to be a Frere (circa 1510), in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iii. 128.

    To call a spade a spade.
    Collier’s Old Ballads from Early Printed Copies, 1840, p. 57.

    To call one sir, and something else [sirrah].

    To carry coals.
    To do a thing at any one’s bidding, to perform a menial service. Such a meaning the phrase appears to bear in Sir J. Bramston’s Autobiography, p. 42: “The Commons … soe in all things iustifie themselues, their members, and their proceedings, shewinge plainly they would carrie no coals.”

    To carry coals to Newcastle.
    Graunt’s Observations on the Bills of Mortality, 1665, Dedic. There is a curious passage in Dekker’s Knights Coniuring, 1607, about the coal-pits of Newcastle: “I will,” says the author, “ingenuously and boldely giue you the map of a country that lyes lower than the 17. valleys of Belgia, yea lower than the coal-pits of Newe castle.”—Repr. 1842, p. 21. “Crocum in Ciliciam, ubi sc. maximè abundat. Porter des fueilles au bois. Fr. Alcinoo poma dare. Llevar hierro a Biscaya. Span.”—R.

    To cast a sheep’s eye.

  • “Be mery, Wydow, then quod he,
  • And cast a Sheps eye once on me.”
  • XII. Mery Jests of the Widow Edyth, 1525 (Old Eng. J. B., iii. 73). See also Merie Tales of the Mad-men of Gottam, 1630 (ibid. 18). According to Cotgrave, a sheep’s eye is synonymous with “an affectionate winke.”

    To cast an old shoe after one.

    To cast up old scores.

    To cast water into the sea.

    To cast water into the Thames.
    This is, to give to them who had plenty before; which, notwithstanding, is the dole general of the world. Lumen soli mutuari, &c.—R.

  • “It is, to geue him, as muche almes or meede
  • As cast water in tems.”—Heywood.
  • To catch a hare with a tabor.
    There is a satirical or humorous illustration in one of Wright’s books of a hare playing on a tabor, to which this saying may have some relevence.

    To catch a Tartar.

  • To change the name, and not the letter,
  • is to change for the worse, and not for the better. East Angl.
  • That is, it is unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname begins with the same letter as her own.

    To chew the cud upon a thing.
    i.e., To consider of a thing, to revolve it in one’s mind: to ruminate, which is the name of this action, is used in the same sense both in Latin and English.—R.

    To claw worse than a Middlesex bailiff.
    Franck’s Northern Memoirs, 1694, p. 79.

    To clip one’s wings.
    Pennas incidere alicui.—R.

    To comb one’s head with a joint stool.

    To come a day after the fair.
    [Greek]. Post festum venisti. Plat. in Gorg.—R.

    To come from little good to stark nought.

    To come home by Shillsbury.
    To fail. Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 613.

    To come home like the parson’s cow, with a calf at her foot. Cheshire.

    To come or go to the pot.
    “To the pot he is sure to goe.”—Conflict of Conscience, 1581, repr. 1851, p. 29. Sir Thomas More (circa 1590), a play, ed. Dyce, 44. We at present say, To go to pot.

    To come out of the little end of the horn.
    A well-understood Americanism for realizing an unhappy issue.
    I am indebted to Mr. Eliot Hodgkin for the following note:—
    This expression does not seem to occur in the dictionaries of English proverbs in ordinary use. I first heard it used many years ago by a Warwickshire man; he used it so often, and it appeared to me so graphically to convey the idea of getting the worst of a bargain, or of being reduced in circumstances by some unexpected “squeeze,” that it took root in my proverb garden, and is now so familiar that I am not sure if I have heard it from others since. An unexpected illustration of the primitive meaning of the adage has just come in my way. In a small country curiosity shop I found the other day a painting on panel of the sixteenth century. It measures 18 in. by 22 in. long, and is in a fair and untouched state. Upon a tree, whose branches extend to each side of the picture, hangs by a red belt with gold tassel an enormous curved horn, the ends upwards. At the extreme left stands a man with black velvet flat cap and surcoat trimmed with fur, ruff and gold chains on the breast. He is superintending the action of a man dressed in a purple doublet, profusely slashed, who wears a large felt hat and a cloak, with a dagger in his girdle, and is engaged in thrusting into the large end of the horn an unfortunate wretch, whose trunk and legs (the latter loosely bound together with a rope, the end of which is held by the gold-chained gentleman) are inverted, and are the only portions of the body visible at that part of the picture. But at the little end of the horn, about 6 ft. away as the crow flies (or across the radius of this instrument of torture), but 9 ft. along the curved surface, appears the unhappy head and one arm of the victim. At the right stands a man clad only in a shirt and ragged coat, wringing his hands, with as much of a woe-begone expression as can be given with one eye, its fellow having been peeled from the panel by some unlucky abrasion. On a black ground at the bottom of the picture is the inscription, “This horn embleme here doth showe of svertishipp what harme doth growe.” On either side of the tree are the words, in semi-Gothic character, “The Sea of / Trubble.” Above the head of the personage in the velvet cap is the citation, “Psalme 37, 26, but he is ever merciful and lendeth and his sede enjoyeth the blessing.” Another reference to the Psalms is unfortunately illegible. The wearer of the gold chain is probably the sheriff, possibly the creditor, who has brought the poor fellow who was so foolish as to undertake suretyship bound to the tormentor. He is putting him through the horn, which elongates and compresses him in a most distressing fashion. Whether the beggarly man who is wringing his hands is the debtor himself after his passage through the horn, as I suppose, or one of his impoverished family, there are no means of determining. In any case, we have here a graphic and unmistakable illustration of the proverb, and I shall be much obliged to any of your readers who may be willing to furnish me with references to its use or to pictures similar to mine.

    To come out of the shires. Kent.
    Said of any one who comes from a distance. Skeat’s ed. of Pegge, 100.

    To come sailing in a sow’s ear.

    To come to buckle and bare thong. HE.

    To come to fetch fire.

    To command many will cost much.

    To correct [or mend] Magnificat. CL. and WALKER.
    i.e., To correct that which is without any fault or error. Magnificat is the Virgin Mary’s hymn, Luke 1.

    To count your chickens before they be hatched. WALKER.

    To creep into one’s bosom.
    To worm oneself into a person’s confidence. Damon and Pithias, 1571, Dodsley, 1825, i. 204. See also Conflict of Conscience, 1581, edit. 1851, p. 29.

    To cry bo to a goose.
    “May not a Foole cry (bo) to a Goose, or the contrarie?”—Armin’s Italian Taylor and his Boy, 1609, A 4 verso. An item in the Johnsoniana turns on this saying.

    To cry coke.
    To cry peccavi. See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 157.

    To cry with one eye and laugh with the other.

    To cry wolf.
    The Rich Cabinet, &c., by T. G., 1616, fol. 145.

    To curse with bell, book, and candle.

    To cut down an oak and plant a thistle.

    To cut down an oak and set up a strawberry.
    Cavar un chiodo e piantar una cavicchia. Ital.—R.

    To cut large shives of another man’s loaf.

    To cut one’s coat after one’s cloth. HE. and WALKER.
    Health to the Gentl. Prof. of Servingmen, 1598, repr. 153. “Put thy hand no further then thy sleue will reache. Cut thy cloth after the mesure. Kepe thy house after the spendynge.”—Latimer’s Second Sermon, 1549, edit. Arber, p. 51.
    This is what Skelton (Works, 1843, i. 125) seems to refer to when he says:

  • “Ye kyt your clothe to large.”
  • Noi facciamo le spese secondo l’ entrata. Ital. We must spend according to our income. Fare il passo secondo la gamba. Id. Selon le pain il faut le couteau. Fr. According to the bread must be the knife: and Fol est qui plus despend que sa rente ne vaut. Fr. Sumptus censum nè superet.—Plaut. Pæn. Mesee tenus propriâ vive. Pers.—R.

    To cut one’s comb.
    As is usually done to cocks when gelded; to cool one’s courage.—R.

    To cut purses at the Brotherhood.
    Moss, speaking of the method by which the Brotherhood or Guestling of the Cinque Ports provided for necessary charges by the establishment of a common fund, says that there was a system of contributing Purses, “and so” quoting Jecke’s copious account, “according to the sum to be raised, are more or less Purses granted, and sometimes half a Purse, whence came the proverb of cutting of purses at the Brotherhood, from the sum of a Purse cut or parted in two.”—History and Antiquities of Hastings, 1824, p. 28.

    To cut the hair.
    To divide so exactly as that neither part have advantage.—R. But to split hairs is to draw trivial objections, or to make nice distinctions.

    To cut the painter.
    The rope so-called. Equivalent to the severance of a connection with a person or party. The saying is, of course, purely a piece of nautical phraseology in connection with a ship’s boat.

    To dance after Guido’s pipe.
    Gascoigne’s Works, by Hazlitt, i. 376.

    To dance after the school of Oxford.
    Apparently used by Chaucer in the Miller’s Tale to signify an ignorance of the accomplishment.

    To dance atendance on one. HE.

    To dance Barnaby. Midl. C.

  • “‘Bounce,’ cries the porthole; out they fly,
  • And make the world dance Barnaby.”
  • —Cotton’s Virgil Travestie, quoted by N. and Q., 3rd S., i. 473.

    To dance Moll Dixon’s round.
    See my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, v. April Fool.

    To dance to every man’s pipe or whistle.
    A saying originating perhaps in the old story of the Friar and the Boy. See, for illustrations of its use by the dramatists, Chappell’s Pop. Music, i. 84.

    To-day a man, to-morrow a mouse.

  • Hoggi in figura,
  • Deman in sepoltura.
  • Bonne response a Tovs Propos, 1555, sign. D.
  • Aujourd’hui roi, demain rien. Fr. “To-day a man, to morowe he lyeth in the duste.”—Skelton’s Magnificence (Works, edit. 1843, i. 310). In Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister, written about 1550, we have: “Thus you see to day a man, to morowe John” (edit. 1847, p. 88); query, for Sir John, i.e., the priest, to say the funeral service over one. “To-day a man, to-morrow none,” is the title of a tract relating to Raleigh, 4to, 1644.

    To-day at cheer, to-morrow in bier. W.

    To-day gold, to-morrow dust.

    To-day is yesterday’s pupil.

    To-day me, to-morrow thee.

    To deal fool’s dole.
    To deal all to others, and leave nothing to himself.

    To Devonshire or Denshire land.
    That is, to pare off the surface or top turf thereof, and to lay it up in heaps and burn it; which ashes are a marvellous improvement to battle barren land, by reason of the fixed salt which they contain. This course they take with their barren, spungy heathy land in many counties of England, and call it Denshiring. Land so used will bear two or three good crops of corn, and then must be thrown down again. Fuller (1662).

    To die like a chrysom child.
    Shakespeare (Henry V., ii. 3) makes Mrs. Quickly speak of Falstaff as going away “an it had been any Chrystom child.”
    Alexander Cooke’s Country Errours (circa 1620), quoted by Hunter (New Illustr. of Shakespeare, 1845, ii. 60–1). “The ninth error is: He who dieth quietly, without ravings or cursings, much like a chrysom child, as the saying is.”

    To differ as darkness from light.
    New Custom, 1573, sc. ii.

    To dine with Duke Humphrey.
    That is, to fast, to go without one’s dinner. This Duke Humphrey was Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, uncle to Henry VI., and Protector during his minority. Those were said to dine with Duke Humphrey, who walked at dinner-time in the body of St. Paul’s Church; because it was believed the Duke was buried there. But (saith Dr. Fuller) that saying is as far from truth as they from dinner, even twenty miles off; seeing that the Duke was buried in the church of St. Albans, to which he was a great benefactor. Dar da rodere i cieci. Ital.—R. It is right to state that in the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1794 (quoted by Brady) are two accounts sufficiently plausible, but not to be credited by any one who knows that the phrase is much older than the foundation of the Bodleian Library, much more the establishment of the White Hart at St. Albans.

    To do Yorkshire.
    To share expenses in travelling.

    To draw the worm out of the root.

    To dream of a dry summer.

    To drink like a funnel.

    To drink to one’s oysters.
    Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, iii. 141. “And I had not delt ryght corteysly up on Holy Rood Day I had drownk to myn oysters.”—Letter of 1472.

    To drink upon the whip.
    Gascoigne’s Steel Glas, 1576 (Works, by Hazlitt, ii. 200).

    To drive out one nail with another.
    Gascoigne’s Adventures of Master F. I. (Poems, Roxb. Lib. edit., i. 430).

    To drive snails.
    A snail’s gallop. Testudineus gradus.—Plaut. Vicistis cochleam tarditate. Idem.—R.

    To drive turkies to market.
    Said of a person who snores.

    To drown the miller.
    This is a phrase in common use where one puts too much water in the teapot or to the grog.

    To eat one’s words.

    To eat the calf in the cow’s belly.
    Come la gallina di Monte Cuccoli. Ital. Mangiar la ricolta in erba.—R.

    To eat the cheese in the trap.

    To eat the leek.
    To eat humble pie, as we say.

    To escape Clwyd, and be drowned in Conway.

    To escape the rocks and perish in the sands.

  • To expect a wet harvest you may be fain,
  • If on the eighth of June it should rain.
  • To expect, to expect, is worth four hundred drachms.

    To fall away from a horse-load to a cart-load.

    To fall together by the ears.

    To feather one’s nest.
    So, in Lady Alimony, 1659 (written about 1636), we have:

  • “To match my youth unto a man of age,
  • Whose nest was richly feather’d.”
  • At sign. D 4 of his Lanthorne and Candlelight, 1608, Decker says, “The Eagle fathers his nest;” but the context seems to show that the word should be feathers.

    To fetch over the coals.
    To scold or call to a reckoning. In the following passage from an old play it seems to bear a somewhat different sense, however: “Momf. Daunce, what daunce? hetherto your dauncer’s legges forsooth, and Caper, and Ierke, and Firke, and dandle the bodie about them, as it were their great childe, though the speciall Ierkes bee aboue his place I hope, here lies that should fetch a perfect woman ouer the coles yfaith.”—Sir Gyles Goosecappe Knight, 1606, sign. C 4.

    To fight with one’s own shadow.
    [Greek]. To fight with shadows; to be afraid of his own imagining danger where there is none.—R.

    To fill the mouth with empty spoons.

    To find a mare’s nest.

    To find Guilty Gilbert where he had hid the brush.
    Armin’s Nest of Ninnies, 1608.

    To fine folks a little ill finely wrapt. H.

    To fish for a herring and catch a sprat.

    To fish in troubled waters.
    Howell’s Sober Inspections, 1656.

    To fling one’s handkerchief.
    Said of a man who makes love to a lady, and the counterpart of “setting one’s cap,” which belongs to the other sex. See Walpole’s Letters, iv. 246. It is the ancient Oriental usage.

    To fly at all game.

    To fly from anything like the devil from holy water.

  • “Hys companye chyldren forsoke euerychone:
  • They dyd flee fro hym, as the deuyll fro holy water.”
  • Lyfe of Robert the Deuyll, in verse, in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i. 226. The expression is peculiar to the metrical romance, and does not occur in the prose version.

    To follow one like a St. Anthony’s pig.
    St. Anthony is notoriously known to be the patron of hogs, having a pig for his page in all pictures.—R. See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 10. “He is said to have been originally a swineherd. Swift has the form: ‘like a Tantivy pig.’”—R. H. Vose.
    But Stow (Chronicle, ed. Munday, 1633, p. 190) gives a different account. Speaking of the Hospital of St. Anthony in Broadstreet Ward, a cell of St. Anthony’s, Vienna, he says: “Amongst other things observed in my youth, I remember that the Officers (charged with over sight of the market in this City) did divers time take from the market people, Pigs starved or otherwise unwholesome for man’s sustenance: these they did slit in the eare. One of the Proctors for St. Anthonies tyed a bell about the necke, and let it feed on the Dunghills, no man would hurt, or take it up; but if any gave to them bread, or other feeding, such would they know, watch and daily follow, whining till they had somewhat given them: whereupon was raised a Proverbe, &c.”

    To follow one’s nose.

    To fry in his own grease. HE.

  • “She fryeth in hir owne grease, but as for my parte,
  • If she be angry, beshrew her angry harte.”—Heywood.
  • Compare to melt, &c.

    To gain teacheth how to spend. H.
    See infra, p. 418.