E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Marines (2 syl.).
Empty bottles. The marines were at one time looked down upon by the regular seamen, who considered them useless, like empty bottles. A marine officer was once dinning at a mess-table, when the Duke of York said to the man in waiting, Here, take away these marines. The officer demanded an explanation, when the duke replied, They have done their duty, and are prepared to do it again.
Tell that to the marines. Tell that to greenhorns, and not to men who know better. Marines are supposed by sailors to be so green that they will swallow the most extravagant story.
Tell that to the marines, the sailors wont believe it.Sir W. Scott: Redgauntlet, chap. xiii.