E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Stewing in their own Gravy.
Especially applied to a besieged city. The besiegers may leave the hostile city to suffer from want of food, loss of commerce, confinement, and so on. The
phrase is very old, borrowed perhaps from the Bible, Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mothers milk. Chaucer says
In his own gress I made him frie,
For anger and for verry jalousie.
Prologue to the Wife of Bathes Tale.
We are told that the Russian ambassador, when Louis Philippe fortified Paris, remarked, if ever again Paris is in insurrection, it can be made to stew in its own gravy (jus); and Bismarck, at the siege of Paris, in 1871, said, the Germans intend to leave the city to seethe in its own milk.See Snell: Chronicles of Twyford, p. 295.
He relieved us out of our purgatory after we had been stewing in our own gravy.The London Spy, 1716.