Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
Credulity thinks  to  Drumming is not
Credulity thinks others short-sighted.  2400
Crime may be secret, yet not secure.  2401
Cringing is a gainful accomplishment.  2402
Critics are like brushers of other men’s clothes.  2403
Crocker, Cruwys, and Coplestone,
when the Conqueror came, were all at home. Devonshire.
  He is a right Brittaine, and true native of this Land, and not a Gascoigne come in with the Conqueror, which is the reason they desire to match into his stocke; whereas the Gascoignes of curtisie onely made free denizons, are nothing so regarded for antiquity.—A Strange Metamorphosis of Man transformed into a Wildernesse. Deciphered in Characters (Character of the Crab), 1634, sign. G 9.
Crooked carlin, quo’ the cripple to his wife.  2405
Crooked without and crabbed within.
  The Passionate Morrice, 1593, repr. 86.
Cross a stile and a gate hard by,
you’ll be a widow before you die. Cornw.
Cross and pile.
  The old name of Heads and Tails from pile, the technical term for the design on the obverse of a coin and the cross which used to occur on the reverse. In an arrangement between the French King and the Count of Saint-Pol in 1337 the latter engaged that his Coinage should differ from the regal types cross and pile.
Crosses are ladders to heaven.  2409
Crowland as courteous as courteous may be,
Thorney the bane of many a good tree,
Ramsey the rich and Peterborough the proud,
Santrey by the way that poor Abbaye—
Gave more alms than all they.
Crows are never the whiter for washing themselves.  2411
Crumb not your bread before you taste your porridge.
  Fletcher’s Monsieur Thomas (Dyce’s B. and F. vii. 384). But though the phrase is marked as a quotation, and is quoted in common with one or two other known proverbs, I scarcely know whether it ought to find a place here.
Cry you mercy, killed my cat. CL.
  This is spoken to them who do one a shrewd turn, and then make satisfaction with asking pardon or crying mercy.—R.
Cuckolds are Christians all the world over.
  The story is well known of the old woman, who, hearing a young fellow call his dog a cuckold, said to him, Are you not ashamed to call a dog by a Christian’s name?—R.
Cuckolds themselves are the very last that know it.  2415
Cucullus non facit monachum. Twelfth Night.
  “It is an old and not unknown Proverbe, Cucullus non facit monachum. The Hood maketh not the Clarke.”—Romoouall of certaine Imputations laid upon the Ministers of Deuone: and Cornwall, 1606, p. 28. The ancient Flemish poet, Jacop van Maerlant (1235–1300) is said to have expressed the view, that the virtue of a priest does not lie in his tonsure. Delepierre, Sketch of Flemish Literature, 1860, p. 38.
Cui bono?  2417
Cum grano salis.  2418
Cunning craft is but the ape of wisdom.  2419
Cunning is no burden. C.
  It is part of Bias’s goods; it will not hinder a man’s flight when the enemies are at hand.—R.
Cupar and Jedburgh Justice.
  Comp. First Hang and Draw.
Custom is a second nature. WALKER (1672).
  Mudar costumbre a par de muerte. Span.—R.
Custom is the guide of the ignorant.  2423
Custom makes all things easy.  2424
Custom without reason is but an ancient error.  2425
Cut off a dog’s tail, and he will be a dog still. B. OF M. R.
  The mediæval Latin and old French have this proverb differently:
  “Ablue, pecte canem, canis est, quia permanet idem;” “Lavez peignez chen, toute vois n’est chien qu’ chen.”
Cut off the head and tail, and throw the rest away.  2427
Cut, or give me the bill.  2428
Cut them [the nails] on Monday, you cut them for health:
cut them on Tuesday, you cut them for wealth;
cut them on Wednesday, you cut them for news;
cut them on Thursday, a new pair of shoes;
cut them on Friday, you cut them for sorrow;
cut them on Saturday, you see your true love to-morrow;
cut them on Sunday, the devil will be with you all the week.
Cut your coat after your cloth. C.  2430
Cutting out well is better than sewing up well.  2431
Dab! quoth Dawkins, when he hit his wife on the …
  Comp. Strike, Dawkins, &c., infra.
Dab! said Daniel, when he … in a well. Berkshire.  2433
Dainty maketh dearth. SPENSER.  2434
Dally not with money or women. H.  2435
Danger and delight grow on one stock.  2436
Danger is next neighbour to security.  2437
Dangers are overcome by dangers.  2438
Darby’s bands.
        “If all be too little, both goods and lands,
I know not what will please you, except Darby’s bands.”
Marriage of Wit and Science (1570), p. 25.    
  Compare Father Derby’s bands, infra.
Daughters and dead fish are no keeping wares.  2440
David and Chad:
sow peas good or bad.
Davy Jones’s locker.
  The sea. “This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, shipwrecks and other disasters, to which a seafaring life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.”—Peregrine Pickle, chap. 13.
Daw’s Cross.
  Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, circa 1570, p. 28. “It may please your Worships and Masterships, these infidell premisses considered, and that they have so fully performed all their acts in absurditie, impudence and foolerie, to grant them their absolute graces, to commence at Dawes Crosse.”—Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, repr. 1869, p. 11.
        “I inly greeude to heare him plaine his harmes,
When he infolded Dawes-Crosse in his armes.”
Tyros Roring Megge, 1598, sign. A 4.    
Daws love one another’s prattle.
De bonis male partis vix gaudebit tertius hæres.
  Gascoigne’s Posies, 1575. Harington in his View of the State of the Church (Nugæ Antiquæ, ii. 231, ed. 1804) puts it differently: “De male quæsitis vix gaudet tertius hæres;” he terms this “a perilous vearse.”
De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
  “Mortuis non conviciandum, et de mortuis nil nisi bonum. Namque mortui non mordent, iniquum est ut mordeantur.”—R. This is almost as familiar as an English proverb. It is the same in effect as the “livor post fata quiescat” of the poet.
Dead as Chelsea.
  To get Chelsea; to obtain the benefit of that hospital. “Dead as Chelsea, by G—d!” an exclamation uttered by a grenadier at Fontenoy, on having his leg carried away by a cannon-ball.—Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1788, quoted by Brady (Var. of Lit., 1826.)
Dead as mutton.
  A common expression among the lower order of people to denote the certainty of decease, took its rise, most probably, from the circumstance of mutton being only so called after the death of the animal, before called a sheep, has taken place.—Brady’s Varieties of Literature, 1826, p. 5.
Dead men tell no tales.
  But it appears from an Italian tradition reprinted in Hazlitt’s Venetian Republic, 1900, ii. 763, under the date 1406, that an older form was Dead men make no wars (Uomo morto, guerra finia).
Dead mice feel no cold.  2450
Deaf men are quick-eyed.  2451
Deaf men go away with the injury.  2452
Deal, Dover, and Harwich,
the devil gave his daughter in marriage;
and by a codicil of his will,
he added Helveot and the Brill.
  This satirical squib is equally applicable to many other seaports.—R.
Dear-bought and far-fetched are dainties for ladies.
  See Far-fetched, &c., infra.
Dear bought is the honey that is licked from the thorn, quoth Hendyng.
  Rel. Antiq. i. 114. “Nis nan blisse sothes inan thing thet is utewith, thet ne beo to bitter aboht, thet et hunie ther in beoth liked of thornes.”—Old English Homilies, 13th century, ed. Morris, 1st S., part 2, p. 185.
Dear child, it behoveth to learn.
  “Leuf child lore byhoveth, quoth Hendyng.”—P. of H. (Rel. Ant., i 109).
Dearths foreseen come not. H.  2457
Death devours lambs as well as sheep.  2458
Death keeps no calendar.  2459
Death, when it comes, will have no denial.
  Walker’s Parœm., 1672, p. 35.
Death’s day is doom’s day.  2461
Death’s door.
  A person is said to be brought to death’s door when he nearly loses his life. Lady Fanshawe, in her Memoirs, says, under 1652 or thereabout, “that the scurvy brought him [Sir Richard Fanshawe] almost to death’s door.”
Debt is an evil conscience.  2463
Debt is the worst poverty.  2464
Debtors are liars. H.  2465
Deceit is in haste, but honesty can wait a fair leisure.  2466
Deceit, weeping, spinning, God hath give
to women kindly, while they may live.
  This is a paraphrase of the old leonine verse—
        Fallere, fiere, nere, dedit Deus in muliere.
Deceiving of a deceiver is no knavery.  2468
Decency and decorum are not pride.  2469
Deck a hedgehog, and he will seem a lord. W.
  “So said of a base Boure that will ranke himselfe out of his ranke.”—W. MS. Rawlinson, c. 86, fol. 31, quoted by Mr. Furnivall (Babees Book, &c., 1868).
Deeds are fruits, words are leaves.  2471
Deeds are males, words females are.
  Davies, Sc. of Folly (1611), p. 147. “I fatti sono maschi, le parole femine.” Ital.
Deem not my deeds, though thine be, nought;
say what thou wilt, knowest not my thought?
  Reliq. Antiq., i. 205 (from a MS. 15th cent.).
Deem the best of every doubt,
till the truth be tried out.
Deepest waters stillest go.
  Field’s Amends for Ladies, 1618. We now say, “Still waters run deep”—a weaker phrase.
Defaming or slandering others is the greatest of all sins.  2476
Defend me and spend me (saith the Irish churl). R.  2477
Delay (or tarrying) hath oft wrought scathe.
  Anc. Eng. Rom. of Havelok the Dane, ed. Skeat, line 1352.
Deliberating is not delaying.  2479
Deliver your words not by number but by weight.  2480
Denials make little faults great.  2481
Dependence is a poor trade.  2482
Derbyshire born, and Derbyshire bred,
strong i’ the arm, and weak i’ the yed.
  They say of the Hertfordshire people that if a man falls he’ll come to no harm so long as he falls on his head. But the same remark was made about Mr. Commissioner Goodburn of the Court of Bankruptcy.
Desire of glory is the last garment that even wise men put off.
  “The last infirmity of noble minds.”
Desires are nourished by delays.  2485
Despair hath ruined some, but presumption multitudes.  2486
Desperate cuts must have desperate cures.  2487
Destiny leads the willing, but drags the unwilling.  2488
Destroy the lion while he is but a whelp.  2489
Detraction is a weed that grows only on dunghills.  2490
Deus ex machinâ.
  Fully explained in N. and Q., 1st S., ix. 77.
Dexterity comes by experience.  2492
Diamond cut diamond.  2493
Dick a’ Tuesday.
  A name for the ignis fatuus or Jack O’Lanthorn. See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, Will o’ the Wisp.
Dick’s as dapper as a cock-wren.  2495
Did you ever before hear an ass play upon a lute?  2496
Diet cures more than the lancet.  2497
Different men have different opinions:
Some like apples, and some like onions.
  The Cornish people reconcile this conflict of taste by combining the two. A very favourite pasty in that county is composed of apples and onions.
Different sores must have different salves.  2499
Difficulties give way to diligence.  2500
Difficulty makes desire.  2501
Diffidence is the right eye of prudence.  2502
Ding doun Tantallon:
big a brig to the Ball.
  Said of two impossible achievements. Ferrier’s North Berwick, 1881, p. 35.
Dinners cannot be long where dainties want. C.  2504
Dirt is dirtiest upon the fairest spots.  2505
Dirty Dublin.
  A by-name due to the maladorous condition of the Anna Liffey, on which the the city stands.
Dirty hands make clean money.
  The converse is equally true.
Dirty troughs will serve dirty sows.  2508
Discreet women have neither eyes nor ears. H.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134. “La femme de bien n’a ny yeux ny oreilles.—Fr.
Discretion is the better part of valour.
  Manuche’s Just General, 1652, dedic.
Diseases are a tax on ill pleasures.  2511
Diseases of the eye are to be cured with the elbow. H.  2512
Disgraces are like cherries: one draws another. H.  2513
Dishing up spurs.
  My American correspondent writes:—“I think it is in allusion to the story of certain Freebooters’ women-folk serving them their spurs in a pasty, as a hint that the larder was low, and they should ‘boot, saddle, and over the Border’ to replenish the supply.” On this point see my Cookery Books, 1886, p. 11.
Disputations leave truth in the middle, and party at both ends.  2515
Diversity of humours / breedeth tumours.  2516
Do all you can to be good, and you’ll be so.  2517
Do and undo, the day is long enough. R. 1670.  2518
Do as I say, and not as I do. WALKER (1672).
  See N. and Q., 3rd S., xi. 32.
Do as little as you can to repent of.  2520
Do as most men do, and men will speak well of thee.  2521
Do as the friar saith, not as he doeth.  2522
Do as the maids do, say no, and take it.  2523
Do as you would be done by.
  Letter of Lettice, Countess of Leicester (about 1600), to Sir Michael Stanhope.
Do good, and then do it again.  2525
Do in the hole as thou wouldst do in the hall.  2526
Do it well, that thou mayst not do it twice.  2527
Do, man, for thyself,
  while thou art alive;
for he that does after thy death,
  God let him never thrive,
        Quoth Tucket.
  MS. of the 15th cent. in Rel. Ant., i. 314. Da tua, dum tua sunt. Post mortem, non tua sunt.—Mediæval Latin.
Do not all you can; spend not all you have; believe not all you hear; and tell not all you know.  2529
Do not dwell in a city, where a horse does not neigh nor a dog bark.
  Somewhat similarly, Cassander, in Lyly’s Euphues and his England, 1580, says in his last will to his son: “Liue in the Countrey, not in the Court: where neither Grasse will growe, nor Mosse cleaue to thy heeles.”
Do not dwell in a city whose governor is a physician.  2531
Do not look upon the vessel, but upon that which it contains.  2532
Do not make fish of one and flesh of another.  2533
Do not make me kiss, and you will not make me sin.  2534
Do not put out your foot farther than you can draw it back again.
  This saying I had from the late Sir Robert Hamilton.
Do not speak of secret matters in a field that is full of little hills.  2536
Do not spur a free horse.
  Non opus admisso subdere calear equo. Ovid. Caballo que buela, no quiere espuela. Span.—R.
Do nothing hastily but catching of fleas.  2538
Do the likeliest and hope the best.  2539
Do well and have well. HE.  2540
Do ye after him that beareth the purse. HE.  2541
Doctor Dodypoll.
  A proverbial name for a foolish minister or doctor. Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, repr. 1869, p. 13. A drama called The Wisdome of Doctor Dodypoll was printed in 1600. “Doctor Dodypoll is more honoured then a good divine.”—Clarke’s Paœem., 1639, p. 137. See a note in my Manual of Old English Plays, 1892, p. 254. This does not seem to be a surname. See Richardson in v. “Dodipole or dotipole,” “perhaps from dote and pole.” Out of four instances given of its use here is one: “But some will say our curate is naught, an ass-head, a dodipoll, a lack-latine, and can do nothing” (Latimer, Third Sermon before K. Edward). Sterne uses the word in Tristram Shandy.—Notes and Queries, March 2, 1878.
  A C. Mery talys, undated ed. No. 71, “Of the preste that wolde say two gospels for a grote.”
Dogs are hard drove when they eat dogs.
  And so of other animals, even wolves. But in Wales relatives will eat or will rob each other for the sake of getting more.
Dogs bark as they are bred.  2545
Dogs barking aloof bite not at hand. C.  2546
Dogs begin in jest and end in earnest.  2547
Dogs gnaw bones because they cannot swallow them.  2548
Dogs i’ Owdam, pigs i’ Ash’on.
  “Teddy Bradley was sent by his master from Oldham with a note and a present of greyhound pups, enclosed in a poke, to a clergyman at Ashton-under-Lyne. He called, of course, at the half-way house to rest his limbs and wet his throttle, some wags the while exchanging the pups for sucking pigs. The clergyman read the note, saw the pigs, took it for an insult, and bundled the messenger out of doors. Teddy again called at the hostelry, to tell his tale and drink his ale, and the wags took the opportunity of exchanging the grunters for whelps. On arriving home, Teddy at once proceeded to tell his master of the strange metamorphosis, and in proof emptied his poke, when out tumbled the pups; whereupon the bewildered messenger swore, ‘Dogs i’ Owdam, Pigs i’ Ash’on.’” I give this rather improbable story as I find it in Mr. Higson’s MSS. Coll. 202.
Dogs never go into mourning when a horse dies.  2550
Dogs ought to bark before they bite.  2551
Dogs run away with whole shoulders.
  Not of mutton, but their own; spoken in derision of a miser’s house.—R.
Dogs that bark at a distance never bite.  2553
Dogs that hunt foulest scent the most faults.  2554
Dogs that put up many hares kill none.  2555
Dogs wag their tails not so much to you as your bread.  2556
Dogs will rend swine.  2557
Don Pedro the pedlar.
  Stevenson’s Twelve Moneths, 1661, p. 33.
Doncaster cuts.
  i.e., horses. They were held in small estimation.
        “In fayth, I set not by the worlde two Dauncester cuttys.”
Skelton’s Magnyficence (circa 1520).    
Don’t cry till you are out of the wood.  2560
Don’t have thy cloak to make when it begins to rain. D.  2561
Don’t hurry, Hopkins.
  This seems to be an Americanism. See N. and Q., 3rd S., iii. 211, and compare As hasty as Hopkins, &c.
Don’t let the plough stand to kill a mouse. D.  2563
Don’t measure other people’s corn by your own bushel.  2564
Don’t sca’d your tongue in other folk’s broth. Irish.  2565
Don’t stand in your own light, like the Mayor of Market-Jew. Cornw.  2566
Dorsetshire dorsers.
  “Dorsers are peds, or panniers, carried on the backs of horses, on which higlers use to ride, and carry their commodities. It seems this homely, but most useful instrument, was either first found out, or is the most generally used in this county, where fish jobbers bring up their fish in such contrivances, above a hundred miles from Lyme to London.”—R. See Miss Baker’s Northampt. Gloss. art. PED.
Doth your nose swell at that?  2568
Double charging will break even a cannon.  2569
Dover-court, all speakers and no hearers.
  Allusive to the uproar which takes place annually at Dover Court, near Harwich, where a court is still held. Ray supposed that Dover in Kent was meant, and his editors have not corrected him. But comp. Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 200.
Dover sharks and Deal savages.
  In allusion to the rapacity of the boatmen of these two places.
Down came Tit, and away tumbled she arsy versy.  2572
Down-hill push me not:
up-hill whip me not:
on the level spare me not:
in the stable forget me not.
  A saying referable to a horse. I had it in Suffolk of a coachman, who when a boy had it from the stud-groom of Lord Stradbroke.
Down the hill goes merrily. CL.  2574
Down with his dust. FULLER 1662.
  i.e., with his money. It is told by Fuller in his anecdote of Henry VIII. and the Abbot of Reading. It was used also by Swift according to a received anecdote.
Downton good now!
  Compare, Crawley, God help us!
Draff is good enough for hogs.
  Taylor’s Whipping or Snipping of Abuses, 1614.
Draff is your errand, but drink ye would. HE.  2578
Draw not your bow till your arrow is fixed.  2579
Drawn wells are seldom dry.  2580
Drawn wells have sweetest water.
  Puteus si hauriatur melior evadit. [Greek]. Basil, in Epist. ad Eustachium medicum. All things, especially men’s parts, are improved and advanced by use and exercise. Standing waters are apt to corrupt and putrefy: weapons laid up and disused do contract rust: nay, the very air, if not agitated and broken with the wind, is thought to be unhealthful and pestilential, especially in this our native country, of which it is said, Anglia ventosa, si non ventosa venenosa.—R.
Drift is as bad as unthrift.  2582
Drink and drought come not always together.  2583
Drink in the morning staring,
then all the day be sparing.
Drink less and go home by daylight, quoth Hendyng.
  Rel. Ant., i. 116.
Drink off your drink and steal no lambs.  2586
Drink washes off the daub, and discovers the man.  2587
Drink wine, and have the gout; drink none, and have it too.  2588
Drink wine in winter for cold and in summer for heat.  2589
Drinking kindness is drunken friendship.  2590
Drinking water neither makes a man sick, nor in debt, nor his wife a widow.  2591
Drive not a second nail till the first be clinched.  2592
Drive not too many ploughs at once; some will make foul work.  2593
Drive the nail that will go.  2594
Drive thy business; let not that drive thee.
  Poor Richard Improved, 1758, apud Arber’s Garner, iv. 579.
Drop by drop the lake is drained.  2596
Dropping house, and eke smoke, and chiding wives make men fly out of their own house.
  Chaucer, Wif of Bathes Prologe.
Drought never brought dearth. H.
  Referring more particularly to the wheat in heavy soils, which is said scarcely to require any rain from first to last.
Drown not thyself to save a drowning man.  2599
Drowning men will catch at a rush.  2600
Drumming is not the way to catch a hare.
  This is a different reading of the satirical phrase, To catch a hare with a tabor. Comp. You may catch, &c.


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