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

To throw pearls to Usurers

To throw pearls before swine. HE.

  • “For swine so gromes
  • In stye, and chaw dung moulded on the ground,
  • And driuel on pearles, with head styll in the manger.”
  • Tottels Miscellany, 1557, repr. 118–19.
  • “But you to cast precious stones before hogs,
  • Cast my good before a sort of cur dogs.”—Heywood.
  • “This is the olde prouerbe, to cast perles to an hogge.”
  • New Custome, 1573, act 1.
  • “Il ne faut pas jetter les marguerites devant les pourceaux. Fr.”—R. Margaritas aute porcos. This is curiously illustrated by an engraving in Lacroix (Moeurs du Moyen Age, 1872, p. 127); but there it seems to be daisies which the man is scattering. Either would be applicable as regards its inutility, though not as regards its worth.

    To throw snot about.
    i.e., To weep.—R.

    To throw the hatchet.
    To exaggerate or invent. There is a humorous book, with illustrations by Griset, called The Hatchet-Throwers.

    To throw the helve after the hatchet.
    To be in despair. Ad perditam securim manubrium adjicere.—R. “Je … jecte, comme l’ou dit, le manche apres la coignee.”—Montaigne, Essais, Book iii. ch. 9.

    To throw the house out of the windows.

    To throw the rope after the bucket.
    No arrogemos la sogo tras el caldero.—Span.

    To throw the silver whetstone.
    See Collier’s Bibl. Cat., i. 18, and ii. 512. There are the expressions, you shall have the Whetstone, and He deserves the Whetstone. In or about 1590 W. T. published a volume entitled: “Fovre Great Lyers Striuing who shall win the Silver Whetstone.” In Riley’s Memorials, 1868, are numerous entries of punishment for the offence of lying by having a whetstone hung round the neck in the pillory, &c.

    To throw the stone and hide the hand.

    To throw up the sponge.
    This is the signal given by the friend of the beaten party for the cessation of a prize-fight.

    To thrust his feet under another man’s table.
    Alienâ vivere quadrâ. Juv.—R.

    To touch the quick, or to the quick.

    To travel safely through the world, a man must have a falcon’s eye, an ass’s ears, an ape’s face, a merchant’s words, a camel’s back, a hog’s mouth, and a hart’s legs.
    Compare Régime pour tous Serviteurs, p. 21, line 41 (apud Furnivall’s Babees Book, &c., 1868):—

  • “Et aussi te fais á sçavoir
  • Que de trois choses dois avoir
  • Proprement la condicion,
  • Dont la significacion
  • Maintenant je te veul retraire.
  • Dos d’asne si est la première,
  • Les autres sont, que bien le sache,
  • Grouing de pore, oreilles de vache.”
  • To tread upon eggs.
    i.e., To proceed very cautiously and tenderly. In the Life of Lord Keeper Guilford, i. 250, as cited by Southey, it is said that as a judge he was “never more puzzled than when a popular cry was at the heels of a business, for then he had his jury to deal with, and if he did not tread upon eggs, they would conclude sinistrously.”

    To tremble like an aspen-leaf.
    “Wife, Marry, and let him go, sweetheart. By the faith o’ my body, ’t has put me into such a fright, that I tremble (as they say) as ’twere an aspen leaf.”—The Knight of the Burning Pestle, 1613.

    To turn over a new leaf.
    i.e., To reform, improve, or (simply) alter one’s behaviour or conduct. Health to the Gentl. Prof. of Servingmen, 1598 (Inedited Tracts, Roxb. Lib., p. 144).

    To turn the canes into lances.
    Is there here an allusion to the Juego de Cañas? See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 350.

    To turn the cat in the pan. HE.
    Letter touching the Quarrel (in 1575–6) between Hall and Mallerie, repr. 1816, p. 94; A Strange Wonder, or a Wonder in a Woman, by J. H., 1642, p. 4; Damon and Pithias, 1571, Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iv. 41, and see note. Cat appears to be a corruption of cate = cake.

    To turn the copy.
    i.e., To change one’s tune, to take another tack.—Health to the Gentl. Prof. of Seruingmen (Inedited Tracts, Roxb. Lib., p. 144).

    To turn with the wind or tide.
    To say and unsay; to eat his words; to sing another tune, &c.—W. A writer in N. and Q., 3rd S., iv. 17, thinks this phrase is equivalent to our turn-coat.

    To twist a rope of sand.

    To walk by owl-light.
    ? the same as our modern saying, to walk by moonlight; said of a man whose circumstances have broken down.

    To wander like a Northern shepherd’s tongue.
    Life of a Satyrical Pvppy called Nim, by T. M., 1657, p. 19.

    To wash a blackamoor white.
    Æthiopem lavare, or dealbare, [Greek]. Labour in vain. Parallel whereto are many other Latin proverbs; as Laterem lavare, arenas arare. Jurado ha el baño de no hazer lo prìeto blanco. Span.—R.

    To wash one’s face in an ale-clout. HE.

    To waste a candle and find a flea. W.

    To water a stake.

    To wear the breeches.
    Verses of the 16th century in Reliquiæ Antiquæ, i. 249.

    To wear the yellow.

  • “—— In, or I’ll send you in.
  • Ha, sirrah, you’ll be master, you’ll wear the yellow,
  • You’ll be an overseer? Marry, shall ye.”
  • Look about You, 1600 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, vii. 474).
  • To weep Irish.
    See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 341–3. Barnaby Rich, in his New Irish Prognostication, 1624 (a re-issue of his New Description of Ireland, 1610), quotes on this subject Stanyhurst’s remarks, as he had already done in his Irish Hubbub, 1616.

    To weep millstones.
    Used ironically. It occurs in Cæsar and Pompey, 1607, and Massinger’s City Madam, 1658.

    To wet the other eye.
    To take a second glass. A story is told of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, when a farmer at Bignor, in Sussex, about 1811, drank to her health, that she said to him “You’ll wet the other eye, farmer, will you not?” But the phrase occurs in the life of B. M. Carew, 1745, p. 89.

    To whip the cat.
    i.e., To be drunk.—Heywood’s Philoconothista, 1635, p. 60.

    To whirl the eyes too much shows a kite’s brain. H.

    To whisper proclamations is ridiculous.

    To woo is a pleasure in young men, a fault in old.

    To work for a dead horse.
    Or goose. To work out an old debt, or without hope of future reward. Argent reçu le bras rompu. Fr. Chi paga inanzi è servito indietro. Chi paga inanzi tratto trova il lavor mal fatto. Ital.—R. There is aboard ships a ceremony called Burning the Dead Horse in connection with the same idea. See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, i. 83.

    To work like wax in a sow’s ear.
    Lyly’s Mother Bombie, 1592 (Works, 1858, ii, 120).

    To wrong one’s breeches.
    Rowlands’ Payre of Spy-Knaues (1619), sign. D 3.

  • “Thence to th’ Purse at Barnet known-a
  • Where the Beares were come to Town-a;
  • Two rude Hunks, ’tis troth I tell ye,
  • Drawing neare them, they did smell me,
  • And like two mis-shapen wretches
  • Made me, ay me, wrong my bretches.”
  • Barnabæ Itinerarium (1638), sign. L 2.
  • Toasted cheese hath no master.

    Tobacco hic, If a man be well it will make him sick.

    Tobacco hic, Will make a man well if he be sick.

    Tom All-thumbs.
    This is applied satirically to any one who is clumsy in using his fingers. It is found in A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, by J. M., 1598 (Roxb. Lib., repr. p. 107), where the entertaining author speaks of “the Clowne, the Slouen, and Tom Althummes.”

    Tom Drum.
    Compare Dyce’s Glossary to his 2nd edit. of Shakespeare, 1868, art. Drum’s Entertainment. The Historie of Tom Drum is introduced into Deloney’s Gentle Craft, 1598.

    Tom Long the Carrier.
    From the chapbook called the Merry Conceits of Tom Long, it is to be inferred that this was a sort of proverbial expression, where people sent away goods, and they did not arrive at their destination. A ballad of Tom Long the Carrier was licensed in 1561–2.

    Tom of all trades.
    Part of the title of a book by T. Powell, 1631. We now say Jack of all trades, and master of none.

    Tom Scul’s argument.
    See A woman’s reason, supra.

    Tom Tell-Truth.

    Tom Turner’s dole.

  • “Why, this is lyke to Tom Turners doole:
  • Hang one man, and saue all the rest.”
  • Appius and Virginia, 1575 (written about 1563), Dodsley, xii. 376.

    Tom Tyler.
    “Every Tom Tyler” is used in a contemptuous sense by Stanyhurst in his odd version of the Æneid, 8vo, 1582. Tom Tyler and his Wife is the title of an early play.

  • Tongue breaketh bone,
  • and herself hath none,
  • quoth Hendyng.
  • Proverbs of Hendyng (Rel. Antiq., i. 112). Also in Heywood (Woorkes, 1562, part ii., cap. 5). Though herself have none, is perhaps the preferable reading of an early MS. cited in the Retrosp. Rev., 3rd S., ii. 309.

    Too free to be fat.
    Pasquil’s Jests, edit. 1629, in the story of the Fool’s trick to fatten the Pope’s horse.

    Too good to be true.
    Part of the title of a work by Thomas Lupton, 4to, 1580.

    Too hasty burned his lips. W.

    Too hasty to make a parish clerk. CL.

    Too hot to hold.

    Too late repents the rat / when caught by the cat. W.

    Too late to grieve when the chance is past.

    Too light winning makes the prize light.

    Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    Maclean’s Life of Sir Peter Carew, 1857, 33. The Cooks’ Livery Company is the only one which by its charter has two masters. Compare The more cooks, &c.

    Too much consulting confounds.

    Too much cordial will destroy.

    Too much courtesy, too much craft.

    Too much cunning undoes.

    Too much familiarity breeds contempt. CL.
    Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647. “Nimia familiaritas contemptum parit. E tribus optimis rebus tres pessimæ oriuntur; è veritate odium, è familiaritate contemptus, è felicitate invidia.”—Plutarch.—R.

    Too much for one and not enough for two, like the Walsall man’s goose.
    The presumed foundation of this saying is, that an inhabitant of Walsall, Staffordshire, when asked if he and his wife were going to have a goose for their Christmas dinner, replied in the negative, adding that the goose was a very foolish bird; it was “too much for one and not enough for two.”—Cuthbert Bede in Notes and Queries.

    Too much hope deceiveth. B. OF M. R.

    Too much is stark nought.

    Too much liberty spoils all. WALKER.

    Too much of a good thing.

    Too much of one thing is not good. HE.
    Assez y a si trop n’y a. Fr. Ne quid nimis [Terent.] [Greek]. This is an apothegm of one of the seven wise men; some attribute it to Thales, some to Solon. Est modus in rebus, sunt, &c. Hor. L’abondanza delle cose ingenera fastidio. Ital. Cada dia olla, amarga el caldo, cada dia gallina, amarga la cocina. Span.—R.

    Too much of ought is good for nought.

    Too much praise is a burthen.

    Too much spoileth, too little is nothing.

    Too-too will in two. Cheshire.
    Strain a thing too much, and it will not hold.—R.

    Toom bags rattle.

    Tooth and nail.
    Manibus pedibusque. Remis velisque.—R. Gascoigne’s Works, by Hazlitt, ii. 221.

    Top of the basket.
    Used in a similar sense to Cock of the Walk.

    Topsy-turvy. WALKER (1672).
    But the original form, as it stands in various old books, and two or three times in Kyd’s Cornelia, 1594, is topside-turvy. In a note to Englishmen for my Money, 1616, Hazlitt’s Dodsley, x. 491, the phrase is explained, topside t’other way.

    Tot homines, quot sententiæ: so many men, so many minds.
    Gascoigne (Certayne Notes of Instruction, 1572, ad princip.) has Quot homines, tot sententiæ; which is perhaps the commoner form. Heywood has, So many heads, so many wits. In the English Courtier and the Cuntrey Gentleman, 1586, we find, in the Epistle to the Reader: “Tot capita, quot sensus, the Prouerb sayth.”

  • “Diversos diversa juvant; non omnibus annis
  • Omnia conveniunt.”—Pseudo-Gallus, i. 104.
  • Autant de tétes autant d’opinions. Fr. Tante teste tante cervelli. Ital.

    Tottenham is turned French. HE.
    Bedwell’s Descr. of Tottenham, 1631. “It seems about the beginning of the reign of King Henry VIII., French mechanics swarmed in England, to the great prejudice of English artisans, which caused the insurrection in London on Ill May-day, A.D. 1517. Nor was the city only, but the country villages for four miles about, filled with French fashions and infections. The proverb is applied to such, who, contemning the customs of their own country, make themselves more ridiculous by affecting foreign humours and habits.”—R. But Heywood’s employment of the phrase does not seem to countenance Ray’s explanation:

  • “A man might espie the chaunge in the cheekes
  • Both of this poore wretch, and his wife this poore wenche,
  • Their faces told toies, that Totman was tournd Frenche.
  • “But Totnam is turned French, these Men and Horse are metamorphosed into Golden Garmentes, which makes Servingmen, yea, and Men, so litle set by, and so smally regarded.”—Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (repr. Roxb. Lib., 1868, p. 156.)
    Puttenham, in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, sign. Y, written in Heywood’s time, says: “Totnesse is turned French,” and speaks of it as, a proverb implying “a great alteration.” Certainly both places would suit well, but I suspect Heywood to be right; for Tottenham, in the classical vicinity of Chaucer’s Stratford-atte-Bowe, was more likely to become the subject of such a proverb than an obscure and remote country town.

    Totterden [Tenterden] steeple’s the cause of Goodwin Sands. CL.

  • “Of many people it hath been said,
  • That Tenterden Steeple Sandwich haven hath decayed.”
  • Lottery of 1567 (Kempe’s Loseley Papers, 1836, p. 211).
  • The story is very well told by Sir T. More in his Supplication of Souls, 1530, and by Bishop Latimer in his Sermons (ed. 1635, p. 106). “This proverb is used when an absurd and ridiculous reason is given of any thing in question; an account of the original whereof I find in one of Bishop Latimer’s sermons in these words: Mr. Moore was once sent with commission into Kent, to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin’s Sands, and the shelf which stopped up Sandwich haven. Thither cometh Mr. Moore, and calleth all the country before him, such as were thought to be men of experience, and men that could of likelihood best satisfy him of the matter concerning the stopping of Sandwich haven. Among the rest came in before him an old man with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than an hundred years old. When Mr. Moore saw this aged man, he thought it expedient to hear him say his mind in this matter; for being so old a man, it was likely that he knew most in that presence or company. So Mr. Moore called this old aged man unto him, and said, Father, tell me, if you can, what is the cause of the great arising of the sands and shelves here about this haven, which stop it up, so that no ships can arrive here. You are the oldest man I can espy in all the company, so that if any man can tell the cause of it, you of all likelihood can say most to it, or at leastwise more than any man here assembled. Yea, forsooth, good Mr. Moore, quoth this old man, for I am well nigh an hundred years old, and no man here in this company anything near my age. Well then (quoth Mr. Moore) how say you to this matter? What think you to be the cause of these shelves and sands which stop up Sandwich haven? Forsooth, Sir, (quoth he), I am an old man; I think that Tenterden steeple is the cause of Goodwin’s Sands. For I am an old man, Sir (quoth he); I may remember the building of Tenterden steeple, and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there. And before that Tenterden steeple was in building, there was no manner of talking of any flats or sands that stopped up the haven; and therefore, I think that Tenterden steeple is the cause of the decay and destroying of Sandwich haven.—Thus far the Bishop. Fuller, however, remarks, ‘That one story is good ’till another is told: and though this be all whereupon this proverb is generally grounded, I met since,’ says he, ‘with a supplement thereunto; it is this: Time out of mind, money was constantly collected out of this country to fence the east banks thereof against the irruption of the sea, and such sums were deposited in the hands of the Bishop of Rochester; but because the sea had been quiet for many years without any encroaching, the Bishop commuted this money to the building of a steeple, and endowing a church at Tenterden. By this diversion of the collection for the maintenance of the banks, the sea afterwards brake in upon Goodwin’s Sands. And now the old man had told a rational tale, had he found but the due favour to finish it: and thus, sometimes, that is causelessly accounted ignorance of the speaker, which is nothing but impatience in the auditors, unwilling to attend to the end of the discourse.’”—R. The same explanation occurs in England’s Gazetteer, 1751, under Goodwin’s Sands. An early example of the ridicule thrown on the attribution of things to wholly improbable cases, occurs in Tarlton’s Jests, 1638 (Old English Jest-Books, ii. 210). “A cheesemonger asked Tarleton why cheese and butter were so dear, and Tarleton told him it was because wood and coals were so scarce, as people could eat butter and cheese without a fire.”
    The ascription of the neglect of Sandwich and Goodwin or Godwin Sands to the use of the funds for keeping them in order elsewhere is less reasonable than that of a probably prehistoric occurrence, as far as the Sands are concerned, to the same cause. The Sands were doubtless much as we see them in Earl Godwin’s time.

    Touch a galled horse on the back, and he’ll kick.

    Train up a child in the way he should go.

    Tramp on a snail and she’ll shoot out her horns.

    Trash and trumpery is the way to beggary.

    Trash and trumpery is the way to Duke Humphrey.

    Travel makes a wise man better, but a fool worse.

    Tread a worm on the tail, and it must turn again. HE.
    Habet et musca splenem.

    Treason is ne’er successful, what’s the reason?

    When it succeeds, it is no longer treason.
    Prosperum scelus virtus vocatur. Seneca.

    Treasure he hath that the poor feedeth.
    How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.

    Trick for trick, and a stone in thy foot besides, quoth one, pulling a stone out of his mare’s foot when she bit him on the back, and he hit her on the crupper.

    Trim as a trencher.
    Bale’s Kyng Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 98.

  • Tring, Wing, and Ivanhoe / for striking of a blow,
  • Hampden did forego, / and glad he could escape so.
  • Notes and Queries, 3rd S., v. 176. “The name of Ivanhoe was suggested, as the story goes, by an old rhyme recording three names of the manors forfeited by the ancestor of the celebrated Hampden for striking the Black Prince a blow with his racket when they quarrelled at tennis.—Note, ibid. See Halliwell’s Pop. Rhymes, 1849, p. 194.
    A correspondent of the Daily Graphic (Aug. 9, 1898) writes: “The story runs that Edward III. and his son, the Black Prince, once honoured the ancestor of the great Hampden with a visit, and that while the Prince and his host were playing tennis a quarrel arose, in the course of which Hampden struck the Prince a blow on the face with his racket. The King and the Prince thereupon left the place in great wrath and afterwards seized upon three valuable manors belonging to Hampden as punishment for his rashness. Sir Walter Scott, in his preface to ‘Ivanoe,’ refers to the lines as a ‘rhyme,’ and it is not probable that they formed part of a ballad. It was from this rhyme that Sir Walter Scott obtained the title for his romance of ‘Ivanhoe.’ It is also said that during this visit of Edward III. to Hampden the King rested under the shade of an ancient beech tree, which bore thereafter the name of the ‘King’s Beech.’ The stump of this tree, which was burned down as recently as last year, still stands in a lane adjoining the estate of the Earl of Buckinghamshire, the descendant of Hampden.”
    In the number for August 12 Boedfordiensis has this farther remark:—My home was in the country which contains Tring, Wing, and Ivinghoe; and another version of the rhyme which you quote was current there in my boyhood:
  • Tring, Wing, and Ivinghoe
  • Never want a knave or so.
  • Do you ask the reason why?
  • Leighton Buzzard is so nigh.
  • Sir Walter Scott became acquainted with the name Ivinghoe, which he altered into Ivanhoe, when staying with the then owner of Stocks, near Tring, now the home of Mrs. Humphry Ward, and the scene of “Marcella.”

    Tripe broth is better than no porridge.

    Troy was not taken in a day.

    True as the coat to your back.
    Gascoigne’s Glasse of Governement, 1575 (Works, by Hazlitt, ii. 62).

    True as the skin between your brows.
    Porter’s Two Angrie Women of Abington, 1599, edit. Dyce, 48.

    True blue will never stain.
    Walker’s Parœm., 1672, p. 30. “Folly-w.A French ruffe, a thinne beard, and a strong perfume will doo’t. I can hire blew coates for you all by Westminster clocke, and that colour will bee soonest beleeved.”—A Mad World my Masters, by T. Middleton, 1608, ed. 1640, sign. B 2.

    True jest is no jest. HE.
    “South bourd is no bourd.”—Heywood. “As the old saying is, sooth boord is no boord.”—Harington’s Briefe Apologie of Poetry, 1591. On the other hand, an account of the celebrated highwayman Captain Hind was published in 1674 with the title, No Jest Like a True Jest.

    True praise roots and spreads. H.

    True sincerity sends for no witness.

    Trust him no further than you can see (or fling) him.

    Trust is the mother of deceit. C.

    Trust me, but look to thyself.

  • Trust nor contend,
  • nor lay wagers, nor lend,
  • and you’ll have peace to your end.
  • Trust not a horse’s heel nor a dog’s tooth.
    Ab equinis pedibus procul recede.—R.

    Trust not a new friend nor an old enemy.

    Trust not one night’s ice. H.

    Trust not to a broken staff.

    Trusting often makes fidelity.

    Truth always comes by the lame messenger.
    Digby’s Elvira, 1667 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xv. 53). “Stay till the lame messenger come, if you will know the truth of the thing.”—Herbert.

    Truth and oil are ever above. H.

    Truth fears no colours.
    La verdad es hija de Dios. Truth is God’s daughter. Span.—R.

    Truth finds foes where it makes none.
    Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit. Terent.—R.

    Truth hath a good face, but bad clothes.

    Truth hath always a fast bottom.

    Truth is green.

    Truth is truth to the end of the reckoning.

    Truth may be blamed, / but shall never be shamed.
    Le verdad adelgaza, per no quiebra. Span.—R.

    Truth may sometimes come out of the devil’s mouth.

    Truth needs not many words, but a false tale a large preamble.

    Truth never grows old.

    Truth seeks no corners.

    Truth shameth the devil. C.

    Truth should not always be revealed.

    Truth will sometimes break out unlooked for.

    Truths and roses have thorns about them.

    Truth’s best ornament is nakedness.

    Truths too fine spun are subtle fooleries.

    Try before you trust.

    Try the ice before you venture upon it.
    Paradyce of Daynty Devyses, 1578, repr. p. 38; Ancient Ballads, &c., 1867, p. 221.

    Try to tame a mad horse, but knock him not at head.

    Try your friend ere you trust him.
    Paradyce of Daynty Devyses, 1578, repr. p. 120.

    Try your skill in gilt first, and then in gold.
    Carem in periculo subire fac. Cares olim notati sunt, quód primi vitam mercede locabant. They were the first mercenary soldiers. Practice new and doubtful experiments in cheap commodities, or upon things of small value.—R.

  • Turkies, carps, hops, pickerel, and beer,
  • came into England all in one year.
  • See a note in the Northumberland Household Book, ed. 1827, p. 414. There are one or two other versions, slightly varying.
    In Walton’s Angler, 1653, ch. ix., Baker’s Chronicle is quoted for the following one:
  • “Hops and Turkies, Carps and Beer,
  • Came into England all in a year.”
  • Carp are mentioned in the Book of St. Albans, 1496, but are described as then scarce.

    Turn your money when you hear the cuckoo, and you’ll have money in your purse till the cuckoo come again.
    Some entertain the same belief respecting the first glimpse of the new moon; but the orb must not be seen through glass.

    Turnspits are dry.

    ’Twas fear that first put on arms.

    ’Twas surely the devil that taught women to dance and asses to bray.
    A Turk is said to have said to a French diplomatist, whom he saw dancing, “You are rich. Have you not servants, who could do this for you?”

    ’Twere better my enemy envy me, than I him.

    Twice bitten, shy.

    ’Twill not be why for thy.

    Twittle-twattle, drink up your posset-drink.
    “This proverb had its origin in Cambridge, and is scarce known elsewhere.”—R. It seems to be equivalent to our vulgarism, Shut up.

    Two anons and a by-and-by are an hour and a half. C.

    Two daughters and a back-door are three arrant thieves.

    Two dogs strive for a bone, and a third runs away with it.

    Two dry sticks will kindle a green one.

    Two executors and an overseer make three thieves.
    MS. 15th cent., in Rel. Ant., i. 314.

    Two eyes can see more than one. C.

    Two false knaves need no broker. HE.
    Another form: “A crafty knave needs no broker,” was current in James I.’s time, and forms part of the title of a tract by Anthony Nixon, printed in 1615. See my Handbook, 1867, p. 421.

    Two fools in a house are too many by a couple.

    Two good things are better than one.

    Two hands in a dish, and one in a purse. R. (1670) and C.

    Two heads are better than one. HE.
    A dull anecdote in Fragmenta Aulica, 1662, p. 51–2, turns upon this trite saying. In New Custome, 1573, we have: “Moe wittes, as you knowe, are better then one.”

    Two heads are better than one, quoth the woman, when she had her dog with her to the market.

    Two heads are better than one, quoth Weymark.

    Two hungry meals make the third a glutton. HE. and FULLER (1662).

    Two in distress / make sorrow less.

    Two is company, but three is none.
    I have also heard two’s company, three’s trumpery.

    Two knaves well met. CL.

    Two of a trade seldom agree.
    Le potier au potier porte envie. Fr.—R.

    Two Sir Positives can scarce meet without a skirmish.

    Two slips for a tester.

    Two sparrows upon one ear of wheat cannot agree.

    Two things a man should never be angry at; what he can help, and what he cannot.

  • Two things doth prolong thy life,
  • a quiet heart and a loving wife. CL.
  • Deloney’s Strange Histories, 1602.

    Two to one in all things against the angry man.

    Two to one is odds enough. CL.
    Some add, at football. Noli pugnare duobus.—Catull. And, Ne Hercules quidem contra duos. It is no uncomely thing to give place to a multitude. Hard to resist the strength, or the wit, or the importunity, of two or more combined against one. Hercules was too little for the Hydra and Cancer together.—R.

  • Two women in one house, / two cats and one mouse,
  • two dogs and one bone, / never will accord in one.
  • MS. Lansd., 762, temp. Hen. V. in Rel. Ant., i. 233. See Herbert’s Ames, p. 129. It also occurs with a slight variation in the Book of St. Albans, 1486, repr. 1881, sign. F.

    Twopence three halfpence.
    A ludicrous expression applied in some of the Midland districts to the jog-trot of a farmer’s horse. It is known also elsewhere as “the farmer’s cadge.”

    ’Twould make even a fly laugh.

    Ubi amor, ibi oculus. EVELYN.
    Commencement of a letter to Lord Cornbury, 20 Jan., 1665–6.

    Ubi animus, ibi oculus.
    Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570), Sh. Soc. ed., 27.

    Un milord d’Angleterre.
    This is quoted by John Chamberlain (Letters, p. 20, Sept. 17, 1598) as an expression denoting great haughtiness of carriage. He gives Rabelais as his authority or precedent.

    Uncle pays.
    A common expression, as much as to say, It does not matter what so-and-so costs, as one’s employers or the Government pay.

    Under board.
    i.e., Stealthily, unfairly. In contradistinction to above-board, q. v. “Therefore vnder colour of an absolute conflict betweene sorrow and delight, to shake off the yoake of seuerer discipline which Zeale bringeth in to gouerne life, is to iuggle vnder boarde.”—Gosson’s Plaies Confuted in Five Actions [1581] (Dramatic Documents and Treatises, Roxb. Library, p. 205).

    Under the blanket the black one is as good as the white.

  • Under the furze is hunger and cold;
  • under the broom is silver and gold.
  • Under the greenwood tree,
  • hard weather endured must be,
  • quoth Hendyng.
  • P. of H. (Reliq. Antiq., i. 113). I wonder that this has never been brought forward as an illustration of the famous song in As you Like it. The original runs: Under boske shal men weder abide.

    Under the rose.
    That is, privately or secretly. The rose was, it is said, sacred to Harpocrates, the god of silence, and therefore frequently placed on the ceilings of rooms destined for the receiving of guests; and implying, that whatever was transacted there should not be made public.—Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1788, quoted by Brady (V. of L., 1826).

    Under the weather.
    In a poor way of health or spirits. See N. and Q., 3rd S., iii. 216.

    Under water, famine: / under snow, bread. H.

    Undone, as ye would undo an oyster. WALKER (1672).

    Ungirt, unblessed. IBID.
    “In the Witch of Edmonton, 1658, Young Banks says: Ungirt, unbless’d, says the proverb. But my Girdle shall serve a riding knit; and a Fig for all the witches in Christendom.”

    Unguentum baculinum.
    The stick ointment. Ballad printed about 1570 in Anc. Ball., 1867, p. 156.
    “King.An ashen gibbet? What dost thou mean by that?
    “Tom Strowd.What do I mean by it, quoth ye? I think you be sib to one of the London Cockneys that ask’t whether Haycocks were better meat broyl’d or rosted. An ashen plant, a good Cudgell, what sho’d I ca’ it?”—Day’s Blind Beggar of Bednal Green, 1659, repr. 108.

    Unhardy is unseely.
    Chaucer’s Cant. Tales, ed. Wright, roy. 8vo, 49.

    Unkindness has no remedy at law.

    Unkissed, unkind.
    Peele’s Arraignment of Paris, 1584 (Works, by Dyce, 1861, p. 355).

    Unknown, unkist.
    Troilus and Cresseide, lib. i., edit. Bell, v. 46.

    Unminded, unmoved. HE.*

    Unreasonable silence is folly.

    Untold gold.
    We now say, we would trust such an one with untold gold. Chaucer, in Miller’s Tale, p. 502, has “in a poke nobles all untold.”

    Up and down.
    Throughout, entirely. So in the Life of Pericles, translated from Plutarch by North, in my edition of “Shakespeare’s Library,” iv. 343: “The ancientest men of the city also were much afeard of his soft voice, his eloquent tongue, and readie vtterance, because in those he was Pysistratus vp and downe.”

  • Up hill, spare me, / down hill, forbear me;
  • plain way, spare me not, / let me not drink when I am hot. F.
  • Up now, ace, and down with the trey,
  • or Wardhall’s gone for ever and aye.
  • Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 27. Another version occurs, ibid. No. 28:
  • “Up a deuce, or else a trey,
  • Or Warthole’s gone for ever and aye.”
  • The place referred to is Wardal in Cumberland, between Egremont and Ambleside, in the parish of Seabraham. Mr. Higson quotes Whellan’s Cumberland and Westmoreland, p. 290.

    Up the hill, favour me, / down the hill beware thee.
    This and a former refer, of course, to a horse.

    Up with it, if it be but a devil of two year old. CL.

    Upbraiding turns a benefit into an injury.

    U.P.K. spells May-goslings.
    An expression used by boys at play as an insult to the losing party. “U.P.K. is ‘cop pick,’ that is, up with your pin or peg, the mark of the goal.” Comp. my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 401.

    Upon St. David’s Day, / put oats and barley in the clay.
    With us it is a little too early to sow barley (which is a tender grain) in the beginning of March.—R.

    Use is a great matter. WALKER (1672).

    Use legs and have legs.

    Use maketh mastery. HE.*
    Usus promptos facit.—R.

    Use not to-day what to-morrow may want. D.

    Use pastime, so as not to lose time.

    Use soft words and hard arguments.

    Use your wit as a buckler, not as a sword.

    Usque ad nauseam.

    Usurers live by the fall of heirs, as swine by the dropping of acorns.
    Wilkins’ Miseries of Enforced Marriage, 1607 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, ix. 509).