Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
Pigs fly  to  Reason teaches
Pigs fly in the air with their tails forward.  7002
Pigs love that lie together.
  A familiar conversation breeds friendship among them who are of the most base and sordid natures.—R.
Pigs’ marrow will make you mad: pigs’ milk will give you the scurvy. Midl. Counties.
  Notes and Queries, 2nd S., v. 391, 465, 522.
Pigs play on the organs.
  A man [perhaps the organist] so called at Hog’s Norton in Leicestershire, or Hock’s Norton.—R. See Hazlitt’s Collections under Pigge and Pygge. The following facetious explanation of this saying occurs in Witts Recreations, 1640, sign. C 6 verso:
        “Vpon pigs devouring a bed of penny-royall, commonly called Organs.
  A good wife once a bed of Organs set,
  The pigs came in and eate up every whit,
  The good-man said: wife, you your garden may
  Hogs Norton call, here pigs on Organs play.”
        “Benausus.  But the great work in which I mean to glory,
  Is in the raising a cathedral church:
  It shall be at Hogs-Norton, with a pair
  Of stately Organs; more than pity ’twere
  The pigs should lose their skill for want of practice.”
—Randolph’s Muses Looking-glass, 1638, act iii. sc. 1.    
Rivett, in his reply to Smirke, 1676, p. 43, says: “His intolerable ridiculous story of contriving a pair of Organs of Cats, which he had done well to have made the Pigs at Hogs Norton play on, puts me in mind of another story.”—Rivett appears to have been unaware of any personal allusion.
Pin not your faith on another’s sleeve.  7006
Piping hot.
  This expression is taken from the custom of a baker’s blowing his pipe, or horn, in villages, to let the people know his bread is just drawn, and consequently “hot” and light.—Lemon’s Dictionary, 1783, quoted by Brady (Var. of Lit., 1826).
Piping Pebworth, dancing Marston,
haunted Hilbro, hungry Grafton;
dodging Exhall, Popish Wicksford;
beggarly Broom, and drunken Bidford.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 100. Pebworth is in Gloucestershire, near Campden; there are so many places of the name of Marston that it is difficult to identify dancing Marston, unless it be Marston-Long, in Gloucestershire. Hilborough is in Norfolk; Exhall may be the town so called near Coventry; Wicksford is probably Wickford in Essex. There are many Brooms; Bidford, in Staffordshire, is perhaps the place here intended. See Dyce’s Shakespeare, edit. 1868, i. 110, where a tradition is noticed, that these foolish lines were composed extempore by the great poet. Perhaps the only value of this story is to shew, which it may, that the quatrain was in some form or other in circulation at that time.
Pirates may make cheap pennyworths of their pillage.  7009
Piss not against the wind. R. 1670.  7010
Pity cureth envy.  7011
  This word is used by Harington in his Apologie of Poetrie, 1591, to signify something done to propitiate.
Plain dealing is a jewel.
          “La.  They were a’ plane folks, and did not know the lawes.
  Adam.  They were plaine indeede; and thereof grew the prouerbe ‘Plaine dealing is a Iewell.’
  La.  But he that vseth it shall die a beggar.
  Adam.  That addition was made by some Lawyer or Poet.”
—Day’s Law Trickes, 1608, ed. Bullen, 23. Clarke, in his Parœmiologia, 1639, gives the saying with the addition. In his North-West Fox, 1635, p. 172, Luke Fox calls this “our Yorkshire Proverbe.”
Plain dealing is dead, and died without issue.  7014
Plain dealing is more praised than practised.  7015
Plain of poverty and die a beggar.  7016
Plant pears for your heirs.
  A proverb which no longer holds true, since pears are now made to yield well after a few years; but formerly the tree was, it appears, of particularly slow growth, though, according to the French Gardener, 8vo, 1658, “the varieties at that time in cultivation were extremely numerous.
Plant the crab tree where you will, it will never bear pippins.  7018
Play off your dust.  7019
Play, women, and wine undo men laughing.  7020
Pleasant hours fly fast.  7021
Please God and Lord Mount-Edgcumbe.
  This saying, which must be admitted to be rather a silly one, is current in the neighbourhood of Mount-Edgecumbe, near Devonport, where the Earl is the principal resident, and of course a personage of weight.
Please the pigs.
  It has been said that this is a corruption of Please the pix, the sacred vessel so called; but I scarcely think it likely.
Pleasing ware is half sold. H.
  Chose qui plait est à demi vendue. Fr. Mercantia che piace è mezza venduta. Ital.—R.
Pleasure that comes too thick grows fulsome.  7025
Pleasures, while they flatter, sting.  7026
Plenty brings pride, pride plee, plee pain, pain peace, peace plenty.
  Gascoigne’s Posies, 1575; MS. of the 15th cent. in Rel. Ant., i. 315 (a different version).
Plenty is no dainty. HE.  7028
Plenty of ladybirds, plenty of hops.
  The coccinella feeds upon the aphis, that proves so destructive to the hop-plant.—Cuthbert Bede.
Plough deep whilst sluggards sleep,
and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.
  Poor Richard Improved, 1758.
Pluck not a courtesy in the bud.  7031
Poets are born; but orators are made.  7032
Point not at others’ spots with a foul finger.  7033
Policy goes beyond strength.  7034
Pompey is on your back.
  A relic of nursery mythology. The black dog Pompey is said to be on a child’s back when he is fractious. This is a common saying in some parts of the country, and my wife, a native of Denbighshire, when little, entertained a stout belief in the existence of this mythic Pompey, and always fancied he was on her back, though not palpable. In South Devonshire, they say in a similar sense, “Your tail’s on your shoulder.”
Pons Asinorum. Assfordy Bridge.
  The fifth problem of the first book of Euclid is so called, from the difficulty which slow scholars have to pass over it.
Poor and proud? Fy, fy. C.  7037
Poor folk fare best. CL.  7038
Poor folks are glad of pottage.  7039
Poor folks must say Thank ye for a little.  7040
Poor men have no souls.  7041
Poor men seek meat for their stomach; rich men stomach for their meat.  7042
Poor men’s tables are soon spread.  7043
Portman, Horner, Popham, and Thynne,
when the monks went out, they came in.
  Thynne’s Animadversions on Chaucer, ed. 1875, p. ix.
Possession is eleven points in the law, and they say there are but twelve.  7045
Possession is nine points of the law.
  This is a sort of proverbial aphorism based on the Law of the Twelve Tables in litibus vindiciarum or actions for claims.
Pot and kettle.
  La padella dice al paiuolo, fatte in là, che tu non mi tinga. Ital. Il laveggio si fa beffe della pignatta. Ital. We also say, The chimney-sweeper bids the collier wash his face.—R.
Pot luck.
  An expression referrable perhaps to the primitive habit of dining from a common pot au feu. The Venetians ask you to come and partake of four grains of rice.
Poulterers’ measure.
  “And the cmonest sort of verse which we vse now adayes (viz., the long verse of twelue and fourtene sillables), I know not certainly howe to name it, vnlesse I should say that it doth consist of Poulters measure, which giueth xij. for one doz and xiiij. for another.—Gascoigne’s Certayne Notes of Instruction (1572), Works, by Hazlitt, i. 507.
Pour gold on him, and he’ll never thrive. CL.  7050
Poverty breeds strife. Somerset.  7051
Poverty is not a shame, but the being ashamed of it is.  7052
Poverty is the mother of all arts.  7053
Poverty is the mother of health.  7054
Poverty on an old man’s back is a heavy burthen.  7055
Poverty parteth fellowship. HE.  7056
Power weakeneth the wicked.  7057
Powis is the Paradise of Wales.  7058
Practice makes perfect.  7059
Practise what you preach.  7060
Praise a fair day at night.  7061
Praise at parting, and behold well the end.
  Gesta Romanorum, ed. 1838, p. 34. Stephen Gosson wrote a Moral, now lost, called Praise at Parting.
Praise at the parting.
  Tail of Rauf Coilyear, 1572 (Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry of Scotland, i. 218).
Praise day at night, and life at the end. H.
  Or else you may repent; for many times clear mornings turn to cloudy evenings. Della vita il fine e ’l di loda la sera. Ital.—R. “Praise not the sun, till the day is out: praise counsel, when you have followed it, and ale when you have drunk it.”—Swedish.
Praise not the day before night.  7065
Praise the hill, but keep below. H.  7066
Praise the Lord, and keep your powder dry.  7067
Praise the sea, but keep on land. H.
  Loda il mare, e tienti à terra. Ital.—R.
Praise without profit puts little in the pot.  7069
Prate is but prate; ’tis money buys land.  7070
Prate is prate; but it’s the duck that lays the egg.  7071
Pray for yourself; I am not sick. HE.*  7072
Precepts may lead; but examples draw.  7073
Presbyter is priest writ large, and priest is presbyter writ small.  7074
Press a stick, and it seems a youth. H.  7075
Preston for panmugs, / Huyton for pride;
Childwall for toiling, / and playing beside.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll. for Droylsden, No. 35.
Presumption first blinds a man, and then sets him a running.  7077
Prettiness dies first. H.  7078
Prettiness makes no pottage.  7079
Prevention is better than cure.  7080
Pride and grace / dwell never in one place. F.  7081
Pride and poverty are ill met, yet often together.  7082
Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy.
  Poor Richard Improved, 1758. Compare Note to He that in East Cheap, &c.
Pride feels no cold [or pain].  7084
Pride goeth before, and shame cometh after. HE.
  Three Lords and Three Ladies of London, 1590, Hazlitt’s Dodsley, vi.
Pride had rather go out of the way than go behind.  7086
Pride is as loud a beggar as want, and a great deal more saucy.  7087
Pride is the sworn enemy to content.  7088
Pride, joined with many virtues, chokes them all.  7089
Pride may lurk under a threadbare cloak.  7090
Pride often borrows the cloak of humility.  7091
Pride scorns a director, and choler a counsellor.  7092
Pride scorns the vulgar, yet lies at its mercy.  7093
Pride will have a fall. HE.
  There is an epigram on this proverb in Witts Recreations (ed. 1817, ii. 116). It is not worth quoting.
Princes’ intimates are like casting-counters.
  It is an old adage that princes privados and favourites of kings are like casting counters, which are used in the Exchequer as in play to count by. That sometimes they stand for one, sometimes for ten, sometimes for a hundred.—Fragmenta Aulica, 1662, p. 108.
Priests love pretty wenches.
  One of the posies in the Lottery of 1567 (Kempe’s Loseley MSS., 212).
Procrastination is the thief of time.
  The Spaniards say: By the road of By and bye one arrives at the town of Never.
Proffered service stinketh. HE.
  Merx ultronea putet.—Hieronym. Erasmus saith, Quin vulgo etiam in ore est, ultro delatum obsequium plerumque ingratum esse. So that it seems this proverb is in use among the Dutch too.
Profit forgetteth former pains.
  Gainsford’s Rich Cabinet furnished with Variety of Descriptions, &c., 1616, fol. 121, whence come the four following.
Profit in a base trade may befoul the fist.  7100
Profit is a kind of witchcraft.  7101
Profit maketh a churl thankful.  7102
Profit maketh light balances and false measures.  7103
Promise is debt.
  Summoning of Every Man (circa 1530), in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 137; Gascoigne’s Certayne Notes of Instruction (1572) ad princip.; Paradyce of Dainty Devyses, 1578, repr. 23; Harvey’s Foure Letters, &c., 1592, repr. 18.
Promises are like pie-crust, made to be broken.  7105
Promising is the vigil of giving. B. OF M. R.  7106
Prospect is often better than possession.  7107
Prosperity gets followers, but adversity distinguishes them.  7108
Prosperity lets go the bridle. H.  7109
Prosperous men seldom mend their faults.  7110
Proud as a peacock; all strut and show.  7111
Proud Ashton, poor people, / ten bells, and an old crackt steeple.
  Higson’s MSS. Col. Suppl. In the local vernacular the verses run:
        “Proud Ash’on, poor people, / ten bells, un’ un owd crackt steeple.”
Mr. Higson remarks to me: “This must have originated many years ago, as the church was damaged by a thunderstorm in January 1791, and the tower rebuilt in 1820–1. No one but an Ashtonian born and bred can pronounce the name of their town as they do—it is between Ash’on and Esh’n.” Harland and Wilkinson (Lancashire Legends, 1873, p. 184) record a similar saying of Preston.
Proud looks lose hearts, but courteous words win them.  7113
Proud tailor.
  The Warwickshire name for a goldfinch. See Nares, Gl. in v.
Prove thy friend, ere thou have need. HE.  7115
Provender pricks him.  7116
Provide for the worst; the best will save itself. HE.  7117
Providence is better than rent.  7118
Prudent pauses forward business.  7119
Public reproof hardens shame.  7120
Pudding is no meat with you. CL.  7121
Puddings an’ paramours should be hastily handled.  7122
Puddings an’ wort are hasty dirt.  7123
Puff not against the wind. C.  7124
Puling like a beggar at Hallowmass.
  In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare makes Speed use this expression. Compare The Hye Way to the Spyttel Hous (1532) in Rem. of the E. P. Poetr. of Engl., iv. 27. Also my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 299.
Pull devil, pull baker.
  See Notes and Queries, 2nd S., iii. 258.
Pull down your hat on the wind side. H.  7127
Pull hair and hair, / and you’ll make the carle bald. CL.  7128
Pull off the skin in the streets, and receive thy wages.  7129
Punctuality is the soul of business.  7130
Punishment is lame; but it comes. H.  7131
Put a coward to his mettle, and he’ll fight the devil.  7132
Put a miller, a weaver, and a tailor in a bag, and shake them: the first that comes out will be a thief. R.  7133
Put a spoke in his wheel.  7134
Put a stool in the sun:
when one knave rises, another will come.
Put another man’s child into your bosom, and he’ll creep out at your elbow.
  This is, cherish or love him, he’ll never be naturally affected towards you.—R.
Put in with the dough, and come out with the cakes. South Devon.
  Equivalent apparently to the more general saying, What is bred in the bone will out in the flesh.
Put no faith in tale-bearers.  7138
Put not a naked sword in a mad man’s hand.  7139
Put not an embroidered crupper on an ass.  7140
Put not thy hand between the bark and the tree.
  i.e., Meddle not in family affairs.—R.
Put not your foot in it.  7142
Put off your armour, and then shew your courage.  7143
Put on your spurs, and be at your speed.  7144
Put up your pipes, and go to Lockington wake.  7145
Put your finger in the fire, and say ’twas your ill fortune.  7146
Put your hand no farther than your sleeve will reach.  7147
Pyecorner law.
  A rule by which an article became one’s property by placing a mark of some kind on it. See Witts Recreations, edit. 1817, ii. 127, where occurs an epigram on the subject, more apposite than quotable.
  I presume an allusion to the same phrase in another sally (W. R., 1817, ii. 143):
In Coam.
[Alpha] nor [Omega] will Coa espy
Till she ascend up to the corner’d [Gamma].
Pylades and Orestes died long ago, and left no successors.  7149
Quarrelling dogs come halting home.  7150
Queen Anne is dead.
  i.e., You tell me stale news. The older and perhaps original form was: “Queen Elizabeth is dead,” as Swift has it in his Polite Conversations (N. and Q., 4th S., vi. 329). But compare My Lord Baldwin, &c.
Quey-caufs [? sucking calves] are dear veal.  7152
Qui facit per alium, facit per se.  7153
Quick and nimble; more like a bear than a squirrel.  7154
Quick and nimble; it will be your own another day.  7155
Quick at meat, quick at work.
  Bonne bete s’eschauffe en mangeant. Fr. A good beast will get himself an heat with eating. Hardi gagneur, hardi mangeur. Fr.—R.
Quick believers need broad shoulders. H.  7157
Quick child is soon taught, quoth Hendyng.
  P. of H. (Reliq. Antiq., i. 110).
Quick, for ye’ll ne’er be cleanly.  7159
Quick landlords make careful tenants.  7160
Quickly come, quickly go.
  Fayre gainings doe make faire spendings.—B. of M. R., No. 99.
Quickly too’d and quickly go,
quickly will thy mother have mo. Yorkshire.
  Some have it, Quickly too’d, quickly with God, as if early breeding of teeth were a sign of a short life; whereas we read of some born with teeth in their heads, who yet have lived long enough to become famous men; as in the Roman history, M. Curius Dentatus and Cn. Papyrius Carbo, mentioned by Pliny, lib. vii. cap. 16; and among our English kings, Richard III.—R.
Quid nunc?  7163
Quiet sleep feels no foul weather.  7164
Quiet sow, quiet mow.
  Notes and Queries, 1st S., ii. 512. Compare Still swine, &c.
Quite young and all alive, / like an old maid of forty-five.  7166
Quod suprá nos, nihil ad nos.
  Polydore Vergil (Proverbiorum Libellus, 1498, ed. 1503, sign, a iiiii).
Quot homines, tot sententiæ.
  Comp. So many heads, &c., So many men, &c., Tot homines, &c.
Quoth the young cock, I’ll neither meddle nor make. WALKER.
  When he saw the old cock’s neck wrung off for taking part with the master, and the old hen’s for taking part with the dame.—R.
Rain before seven: / fine before eleven.  7170
Rain, rain, / go away
and come again another day:
when I brew, when I bake,
you shall have a figgy cake,
and a glass of brandy. Cornw.
Rain from the east: / wet two days at least.  7172
Rain, rain, go to Spain;
Fair weather come again!
Raining cats and dogs.  7174
Rains in the east, three days at least.  7175
Raise no more spirits than you can conjure upon.  7176
Ram Alley meditations.
  Ruffianly language or thoughts. Hazlitt’s Dodsley, ix. 117.
Ramsay the rich, / Bond the stout,
Beacher the gentleman, / and Cooper the lout.
  Pleasant Conceits of Old Hobson, by R. Johnson, 1607, repr. 1864, p. 9. This is there called one of Master Hobson’s proverbs: but it can scarcely, in strictness, be said to be entitled to a place in the collection, being rather an epigram. The Ramsay here mentioned was Sir John Ramsay, Lord Mayor of London.
Ramsey the rich of gold and of fee,
Thorney the flower of the Fen country,
Crowland so courteous of meat and of drink,
Peterborough the proud, as all men do think,
And Santrey by the way that Old Abbey—
Gave more alms in one day than all they.
  There are variants.
Rare commodities are worth more than good.  7180
Rashness is not valour.  7181
Rasp the scythe: drink some cyder. S. Devon.
  i.e., Put aside your scythe and take a draught of cyder, the common beverage of the field-labourers in the South of England.
Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.  7183
Rather sell than be poor.  7184
Rats walk at their ease / if cats them do not meese. W.  7185
Raw leather will stretch.  7186
Raw pulleyn, veal, and fish make the churchyards fat.
  Wodroephe (Spared Houres, 1623) gives this a little differently.
Read, try, judge, and speak as you find, says old Suffolk.  7188
Ready money is ready medicine.  7189
Ready money will away.  7190
Reason binds the man.  7191
Reason governs the wise man and cudgels the fool.  7192
Reason lies between the spur and the bridle. H.  7193
Reason teaches young men to live well, and prepares old men to die well.
  The Rich Cabinet, &c., 1616, fol. 124 verso.


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