Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
They love  to  ’Tis fortune
They love dancing well that dance among thorns.
  This saying possibly arose out of the tragi-comical incident narrated in the old tale of the Friar and the Boy (Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iii. 54, et seqq.)
They love like chick. Somerset.  8800
They love me for little, and hate me for nought.  8801
They love most who are least valued.  8802
They love too much that die for love.  8803
They may cast their caps at him.
  When two or more run together, and one gets ground, he that is last, and despairs to overtake, commonly casts his cap after the foremost, and gives over the race. So that to Cast their caps at one, is to despair of catching or overtaking him.—R. This may be so; but it is more commonly understood of a woman who makes advances to a man.
They may sit in the chair that have malt to sell.  8805
They must hunger in frost that will not work in heat. HE. and C.  8806
They need much whom nothing will content. CL.  8807
They say so, is half a lie.
  A mere On dit.
They seldom live well who think they shall live long.  8809
They shall have no more of our prayers than we of their pies, quoth the Vicar of Layton.  8810
They take a long day / that never pay.  8811
They talk of Christmas so long that it comes.  8812
They that are booted are not always ready. H.  8813
They that are bound obey. HE.  8814
They that be in hell ween there is none other heaven. HE. and C.  8815
They that burn you for a witch, will lose all their coals.  8816
They that buy an office must sell something.  8817
They that cobble and clout,
shall have work when others go without.
  Quien tiene arte, vá por toda párte. Span.—R.
They that command the most, enjoy themselves the least.  8819
They that desire but few things can be crossed but in few.  8820
They that do nothing learn to do ill.  8821
They that go to their corn in May / may come weeping away:
they that go in June / may come back with a merry tune. CL.
They that have good store of butter may lay it thick on their bread.
  Or, put some in their shoes. Cui multum est piperis etiam oleribus immiscet. Lat.—R.
They that have no other meat,
bread and butter are glad to eat. CL.
They that hide can find.  8825
They that know one another, salute afar off.  8826
They that lie down for love should rise for hunger. H.  8827
They that live longest must die at last.  8828
They that make laws must not break them.
  Patere legem quam ipse tulisti.
        “In commune jubes siquid censesve tenendum,
Primus jussa subi, tunc observantior æqui
Fit populus, nec ferre vetat cùm viderit ipsum
Autorem parere sibi.” Claudian.—R.
They that see you by day will not break in upon you at night.  8830
They that sell kids, and have no goats, how came they by them?  8831
They that think no ill are soonest beguiled. HE.  8832
They that walk much in the sun will be tanned at last.  8833
They that wash on Monday / have all the week to dry;
they that wash on Tuesday / are not so much awry;
they that wash on Wednesday / are not so much to blame;
they that wash on Thursday / wash for shame;
they that wash on Friday / wash in need;
and they that wash on Saturday, / O, they’re sluts indeed.
They that wear black / must hang a brush at their back. CL.  8835
They that will not be counselled cannot be helped.  8836
They were both equally bad, so the devil put them together.  8837
They who are born with silver spoons in their mouths don’t know how to use them.  8838
They who cannot as they will, must will as they may.
  Or, must do as they can. “Chi non puo fare come voglia, faccia come puo. Ital. And, Chi non puo quel che vuol, quel che puo voglia.”—R.
                “Quoniam non potest fieri, quod velis,
Id velis, quod possit.”—Terent. in Andria, ii. 1, l. 5–6.
They who do what they should not,
should hear that they would not.
  Harington’s Briefe Apologie of Poetrie, 1591, repr. p. 135.
They who live and do abide,
shall see Bledlow church fall into the Lyde.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 116. Bledlow, in the parish of Aylesbury. “Bledlow church,” says Lysons (Buckinghamshire, p. 516), “stands near the edge of a rock, under which, in a deep glen overgrown with trees, and exhibiting some picturesque scenery, little to be expected from the character of the neighbouring country, issue some transparent springs, which form there a pond called the Lyde. They are said to wear away the rock, which has occasioned the following local proverb….”
They who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  8842
They who live longest will see most.  8843
They who make the best use of their time have none to spare.  8844
They who play with edge-tools must expect to be cut.  8845
They who seek only for faults see nothing else.  8846
They who worship God merely for fear,
would worship the devil, should he appear.
They’ll come again, as Goodyer’s pigs did [i.e., never].  8848
They’re walking and talking, like hens in harvest. Irish.  8849
Thieves and rogues have the best luck, if they do but escape hanging.  8850
Thieves falling out, true men come to their goods. HE.
  Title of a tract by Robert Greene, first published, under a different title in 1592, and reissued under the above in 1615.
        “Whan theeues fall out, true men come to their goode,
Whiche is not alwaie true, For in all that bretche
I can no ferthing of my good the more fetche.”—Heywood.
  The mediæval Latin line seems to be equivalent to this: Fures in lite / pandunt abscondita vitæ. There are several later versions. Les larrons s’entrebatent, et les larcins so descouvrent. Cotgr.—It is also in Spanish.
Thing that is sharp is short. HE.  8852
Thing that may betide is to be dreaded.
  How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s P. Poetry, i.
Things hardly attained are the longer retained.  8854
Things present are judged by things past. B. OF M. R.  8855
Think, and thank God.
  Lottery of 1567 (Kempe’s Loseley MSS., 207).
Think of a cuckold.
  See Hazlitt’s Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 159.
Think of ease, but work on. H.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.
Think on the end ere you begin,
and you will never be thrall to sin.
  Reliquiæ Antiquæ, i. 92 (from a MS. of the 15th cent.)
Think to-day and speak to-morrow.  8860
Thinking is very far from knowing.  8861
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November:
February eight-and-twenty all alone,
and all the rest have thirty-one,
unless that leap-year doth combine,
and give to February twenty-nine. D.
This and better may do, but this and worse will never do.  8863
This bolt came ne’er out o’ your bag.  8864
This buying of bread undoes us.  8865
This day there is no trust; come to-morrow.  8866
This grew by night.
  Spoken of a crooked stick or tree; it could not see to grow.—R.
This hundred winter.
  An expression for a length of time. Sir Eger, Sir Gryme, and Sir Grey-Steel, in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry of Scotland, ii. 200–1. Some countryman, speaking to the Editor’s father of a monument of great antiquity, and being asked how old he thought it might be, replied on reflection, “Hundred year.”
This is he that killed the blue spider in Blanch-powder-land.
  Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (written before 1551), Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iii. 81. This probably refers to some popular saying founded on an incident of the time, of which we have no other record, or it is a purely fantastic invention. An American correspondent writes: “Blanche-powder”—sometimes “powder blaunch”—was a composition often described in old books of the kitchen. It was—if I remember aright—made of pounded sugar and spices, for use in the preparation of conserves. The receptacle in which it was kept was naturally an object of interest to children. Perhaps a spider in the cupboard was the “blue spider in Blanche-powder land.” But it is pleasanter to fancy the ill-amused children of old times naming their Fairyland “Blanch-powder-land,” an Elysium of “sugar and spice and everything nice” (after the analogy of the land of “milk and honey”), then supplying the tragic element by the wicked spider of which nursery tales are so full, and always will be while Colophonian Idmon’s daughter continues hideous and wiley; and finally introducing the Jack-the-giant-killer style of hero, who killed the blue “spider in Blanche-powderland”! Are your English aranea phalangiodes blue? English naturalists visiting the tropics always talk of them as nearly the size of a tarantula. I never saw a spider here.
This is silver Saturday: / the morn’s the resting day:
on Monday up and to’t again, / and Tuesday push away. D.
This is that must needs be, quoth the goodman, when he made his wife pin the basket.
  Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570), Sh. Soc. ed., 27. The writer had in his memory a ballad then recently published, and reprinted in Anc. Ballads, &c., 1867, p. 154.
This is the way to Beggar’s Bush. Huntingdonshire.
  It is spoken of such who use dissolute and improvident courses, which tend to poverty. This particular Beggars-bush being a tree notoriously known, on the left hand of the London road from Huntingdon to Caxton.—R.
This is the world, and the other is the country,
  Rabelais, lib. v. c. 27.
This maid was born odd.
  Spoken of a maid who lives to be old, and cannot get a husband.—R.
This must be if we brew.
  That is, if we undertake mean and sordid or lucrative employments, we must be content with some trouble, inconvenience, affronts, disturbance, &c.—R.
This rule in gardening we must not forget,
to sow when it’s dry and to plant when it’s wet.
This seven year.
  A proverbial expression, signifying any considerable lapse of time. In the interlude of the Four Elements (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 47), Ignorance says:
        “I can thee thank, Sensual Appetite!
That is the best dance without a pipe
That I saw this seven year.”
This was a hill in King Harry’s days.
  Many of the oaks in our old parks and forests (as Cowdray in Sussex) may well date back a good deal farther than the time of Henry VIII., and this is an interesting consideration.
This wind comes from Witcherly Hole.
  See Allies’ Antiquities of Worcestershire, 1856, p. 462.
This world is unstable, so saith sage;
therefore gather in time, ere thou fall into age.
  Proverbs attached to Caxton’s ed. of Lydgate’s Stans Puer ad Mensam.
Thither as I would go, I can go late;
thither as I would not go, I know not the gate.
Thorns make the greatest crackling.  8882
Those that eat best and drink best often do worst.  8883
Those that eat cherries with great persons shall have their eyes squirted out with the stones.
  Non fa buon mangiar cireggie con signori. Ital.—Torriano’s Dictionary, 1666.
Thou art a bitter bird, said the raven to the starling.  8885
Thou art as like to obtain thy wish as the wolf is to eat the moon.  8886
Thou art thy father’s own son.
  Walker’s Parœm., 1672, 30. Father’s own boy, we say.
Thou hast death in thy house, and dost bewail another’s.  8888
Thou hast dived deep into the water, and hast brought up a potsherd.  8889
Thou hast stricken the ball under the line. HE.
  i.e., Thou hast failed. See Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes, ed. Hone, 93.
Thou must learn of Æsop’s dog to do as he did.
  Harvey’s Trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman, 1597, sign. E 2 verso.
Thou singest like a bird called a swine.  8892
Thou’lt lie all manner of colours but blue, and that is gone to the litting [dying].  8893
Thou’lt strip it, as Stack stripped the cat when he pulled her out of the churn.  8894
Though a coat be ever so fine that a fool wears, yet ’tis but a fool’s coat.  8895
Though a lie be well drest, it is ever overcome. H.  8896
Though drunkenness be forbidden, men must not go without drink.
  The Testament of Love (Chaucer’s Works, 1602, fol. 298).
Though he says nothing, he pays it with thinking, like the Welshman’s jackdaw.
  This points to a very old jest. See Taylor’s Wit and Mirth, 1629, No. 8.
Though I am bitten, I am not all eaten.  8899
Though I say it, that should not say it.
  Cartwright’s Ordinary (1634), Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xii. 289.
Though last, not least.
  Compare Last not least.
Though love is blind, yet ’tis not for want of eyes.  8902
Though most women be long-lived, yet they all die with an ill-will.
  Rowley’s Woman Never Next, 1632 (Dilke’s O. E. P., 1816, v. 247).
Though old and wise, / yet still advise. H.  8904
Though one grain fills not the sack, it helps.  8905
Though the cat winks a while, yet sure she is not blind.  8906
Though the fox run, the chicken hath wings. H.  8907
Though the heavens be glorious, yet they are not all stars.  8908
Though the mastiff be gentle, yet bite him not by the lip. H.  8909
Though the sauce be good, yet you need not forsake the meat for it.  8910
Though the sore be healed, yet a scar may remain.  8911
Though you are bound to love your enemy, you are not bound to put your sword in his hand.  8912
Though you stroke the nettle ever so kindly, yet it will sting you.
  The only way to prevent a nettle from stinging is to pinch it firmly between the fingers. There is a variety of the stinging nettle which, when in bloom, loses its sting.
Thought is free. HE.  8914
Thoughts are free from toll. C.  8915
Threatened folks live long. HE.*
  Letters of Royal and Illustrious Ladies of Great Britain, ii. 91. This proverb is as old as the 12th century. See Wright’s Essays, i. 145.
Three are too many to keep a secret, and too few to be merry.  8917
Three couple and a fiddler.
  In some parts of the country, it is a common and well-understood saying, if a man or woman is expected to have a large family, “You’ll have three couple and a fiddler,” i.e., seven, six to dance and one to play to them; or, it is sometimes said, “six couple,” &c., i.e., thirteen, in the same way.
Three days (hoar) frost and rain.
  This is a weather-omen credited in some parts of the country, holding good, of course, only in particular states of the temperature.
Three dear years will raise a baker’s daughter to a portion.  8920
  A term applied to a very thin person by Shakespeare from the small flimsy silver coin of that value struck in the reign of Elizabeth.
Three great evils come out of the North:
a cold wind, a cunning knave, and a shrinking cloth.
Three hungry meals make the fourth a glutton. C.  8923
Three may keep counsel if two be away. HE.
  The French say, Secret de deux secret de Dieu, secret de trois secret de tous. The Italians, in the same words, Tre taceranno, se due vi non sono.—R.
  A saying ascribed by Cavendish in his Life of Wolsey to Henry VIII. in a personal interview with the King after Wolsey’s death.
Three on one horse to Morva Fair. Cornw.
  See Hunt’s Popular Romances of the West of England, 1865, 1st Series, p. 119.
Three P.’s of Italy: Poison, Pride, Pox.
  Gascoigne’s Works, by Hazlitt, i. 375–6. The last, it is said, may also stand for Piles.
Three P.’s of York: Pretty, Poor, Proud.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., 208.
Three removes are as bad as a fire.
  Poor Richard Improved, 1758. In reference to the wear and tear of furniture and the necessity for refurnishing. It was a favourite saying of the editor’s mother.
Three straws on a staff / would make a baby cry and laugh.
  Probably meaning that such a thing would at first frighten, and then amuse, an infant. In Colyn Blobols Testament (Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i. 104–5), Colyn says, in allusion to sots:
        “And in suche caas often tymes they be,
That one may make them play with strawes thre.”
Three things are insatiable: priests, monks, and the sea.
  Compare Stephens’ World of Wonders, 1608, pp. 47–8, and Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iv. p. 142.
Three things cost dear: the caresses of a dog, the love of a mistress, and the invasion of a host.  8931
Three trees on a hill.
  The gallows, from being erected on high ground. See Three Ladies of London, 1584, edit. 1851, p. 204.
Three women make a market, four a fair.
  See Witts Recreations (ed. 1817, ii. 171).
Thrift and he are at a fray.  8934
Thrift is good revenue.  8935
Thrift is the philosopher’s stone.  8936
Through the pass of Halton poverty might pass without peril of robbing.
  Piers Ploughman (1362), ed. 1856, ii. 291. Apparently Halton in Hampshire, which, as a correspondent of Notes and Queries (3rd S., xii. 373), points out, “lies on the direct route from London to the great Weyhill Fair, near Winchester.” Halton, in Cheshire, has been supposed to be the locality by some, but the same writer mentions that “the rock upon which Halton Castle is built stands in the midst of a long marshy district, affording no shelter for robbers, and never a place of much resort.”
Through the wood and through the wood, and pick up a crooked stick at last.  8938
Through thick and thin.
        “Hermes the winged horse bestrid,
And thorow thick and thin he rid,
And floundred throw the Fountaine.”
Drayton’s Muses Elizium, 1630, p. 23.    
Throw no gift again at the giver’s head:
better is half a loaf than no bread. HE.
Throw not stones at thine own window.  8941
Throw the rope in after the bucket.  8942
Throwing your cap at a bird is not the way to catch it.  8943
Thrust not thy sickle into another man’s harvest. HE.*  8944
Thursday come, and the week’s gone. H.  8945
Thus rideth the rock, if the rock ride. HE.  8946
Thy child that is no child, leave upon the waters, and let him swim.  8947
Thy hand is never the worse for doing thy own work.  8948
Thy secret is thy prisoner.
  If thou let it go, thou art a prisoner to it.
Thy sword, thy horse, and eke thy wife,
lend not at all lest it breed strife.
  Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.
Thy thrift is thy friends’ mirth.
  How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.
Thy thumb is under my belt.  8952
Tib’s Eve.
  i.e., Ad Græcas Calendas, or, at Latter Lammas.
Tick-hill, God help me!
  This saying is supposed to have had its rise in the proverbial squalor and indigence of the town. See N. and Q., 1st S., 247.
Tickle my throat with a feather, and make a fool of my stomach.  8955
Tide what may betide, / Haig shall be laird of Bemerside.
  Pegge’s Curialia, 1818, p. 266.
Tidings make either glad or sad.  8957
Tie it well and let it go. H.  8958
Till April’s dead / change not a thread.  8959
Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane.
  Macbeth, v. 3. Both these places are in Perthshire.
Till Davie Debet in thy parlour stand.
  Gascoigne’s Posies, 1575 (Works, by Hazlitt, i. 66); i.e., till thou art overwhelmed by debt.
Till St. James’s Day be come and gone,
there may be hops or there may be none.
  i.e., July 25. This is prevalent in Herefordshire; but I believe it to be a notion current in other hop districts.
Time and straw make medlars ripe.
  Col tempo e la paglia si maturano nespoli. Ital. Avec le temps et la paille l’on meure les mêles. Fr. A seu tempo colhem as peras.—R.
Time and thinking tame the strongest grief.  8964
Time fleeth away / without delay.
  A translation or paraphrase of Tempus fugit. “Cito pede præterit ætas. Fugit irrevocabile tempus. Tempo et hora na se ata com soga. Port.”—R. Tiempo ni hora, no se ata con soga.—Span.
Time hath turned white sugar to white salt. HE.*  8966
Time is a file that wears and makes no noise.  8967
Time is the rider that breaks youth. H.  8968
Time is tickle. HE.  8969
Time lost cannot be won again. HE.*  8970
Time stays not the fool’s leisure.  8971
Time trieth all thing.
  Title of a ballad entered to John Allde in 1570 (Arber, i. 203).
Time trieth truth.
  Tottels Miscellany, 1557, repr. 1867, p. 221; Tusser’s Husbandry. 1580, Dedic. Veritas temporis filia.
Timely blossom, timely ripe.
  Qual el tiempo, tal el tiento. Span.—R.
Timely crooketh the tree / that will good cammock be. HE.  8975
Tip me the traveller.
  See N. and Q., 3rd S., vii. 400.
’Tis a folly to fret; grief’s no comfort.  8977
’Tis a good ill that comes alone.  8978
’Tis a good kin that none do amiss in. CL.  8979
’Tis a good knife: it will cut butter when ’tis melted.  8980
’Tis a hard winter when one wolf eats another.
  Mauvaise est la saison quand un loup mange l’autre. Fr. Quando un lobo come a otro, no hay que comer en el soto. Span.
’Tis a mad world at Hogsdon [Hoxton].
  In 1609 appeared a tract called Pymlico Runne Redcap. ’Tis a mad world at Hogsden. See Roxb. Ball., ed. Collier, p. 155.
’Tis a sweet sorrow to bury a termagant wife.  8983
’Tis a wicked world, and we make part of it.  8984
’Tis a wise child knows his own father.
  [Greek]. Homer. Odyss.—R.
’Tis all over, like the Fair of Athy. Irel.
  Spoken of anything which terminated very soon.
’Tis along with your eyes: the crows might have helped it when you were young.  8987
’Tis an ill bird, that fouls its own nest.
  It has been pointed out (1905) that ill-birds of this sort are the parsons, who criticize the Bible—the very book which was manufactured for their benefit.
’Tis an ill horse can neither winny nor wag his tail.  8989
’Tis as bad as cheating the devil in the dark, and two farthing candles for a halfpenny.  8990
’Tis as hard to please a knave as a knight. CL.  8991
’Tis bad to do evil, but worse to boast of it.
  Heywood’s 2nd Part of Q. Eliz. Troubles, 1606, repr. 91.
[’Tis] better to be happy than wise. HE.
  E meglio esser fortunato che savio. Ital. Gutta fortunæ præ dolio sapientiæ.—R.
’Tis better to cry over your goods than after them.  8994
’Tis brave scrambling at a rich man’s dole. CL.  8995
’Tis dangerous marrying a widow, because she hath cast her rider.  8996
’Tis day still while the sun shines.  8997
’Tis easy to fall into a trap, but hard to get out again.  8998
’Tis either a hare or a brake-bush.
  [Greek]. Aut navis aut galerus. Something, if you knew what.—R.
’Tis fit [or meet] that every man should be at his own bridal. HE.
  “Certes, if when I looked merily on Philautus he deemed it in ye way of mariage, or if seeing me disposed to iest, he tooke me in good earnest: then sure hee might gather some presumption of my loue, but no promise. But me thinkes, it is good reason, that I shoulde bee at mine owne brideall, and not giuen in the Church, before I knowe the Bridegroome.”—Lyly’s Euphues, 1579, repr. 1868, p. 85. This passage signifies, in fact, that it is desirable that the lady should be consulted before the intended union is published from the pulpit.
’Tis fortune chiefly that makes heroes.  9001


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