Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
You catch birds  to  You would spy
You catch birds by laying salt on their tails. CL.
  i.e., If you can. I once set out, I recollect, from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, with a handful of salt on this sapient errand. My host had imposed successfully on a child’s credulity.
You come of good blood, and so does a black-pudding.  10609
You cry hem! where there is no echo.  10610
You cry out before you are hurt.
  Anguilles de Melun, qui crient avant qu’on lea escorche. Cotgr.
You dance in a net, and think nobody sees you.  10612
You dare as well take a bear by the tooth.  10613
You dare as well take a dead man by the toe. CL.  10614
You drink out of the broad end of the funnel, and hold the little one to me.  10615
You drink vinegar when you have wine at your elbow.  10616
You eat above the tongue, like a calf.  10617
You eat and eat, but you do not drink to fill you.
  That much drinking takes off the edge of the appetite, we see by experience in great drinkers, who for the most part do (as we say) but pingle at their meat, and eat little. Hippocrates observed, that [Greek]. A good hearty draught takes away hunger after long fasting sooner by far than eating would do. The reason whereof I conceive is, because that acid humour, which, by vellicating the membranes of the stomach, causes a sense of hunger, is by copious injection of drink very much diluted, and its acidity taken off. Dio ti guarda da mangiatore che non beve. Ital.—R.
You find fault with a fat goose.  10619
You found it where the fireman found the tongs.  10620
You gather a rod for your own back.
  Tel porte le bâton dont à son regret le bat on. Fr. [Greek].—Hesiod. [Greek]. In tuum ipsius caput lunam deducis.—R.
You gazed at the moon and fell in the gutter.  10622
You get as good as you bring.
  The Italians say: Qual asino da in parete, tal riceve.
You give me Coloquintida (colocynth) for Herb-John. F.  10624
You give me roast, and beat me with the spit. WALKER (1672).  10625
You give notable counsel: but he’s a fool that takes it.  10626
You give the wolf the wether to keep.
  Ha dato la pecora in guardia al lupo. Ital. Ovem lupo commisisti.—R.
You go to a goat to buy wool.  10628
You had as good eat your nails.  10629
You had better be drunk than drowned. E. Anglia.
  “It is better to exceed in wine now and then than to be constantly drinking largely of weak liquors.”—Forby.
You had your name for nothing.  10631
You halt before you’re lame.  10632
You harp on the string that giveth no melody. HE.*  10633
You have a barn for all grain.  10634
You have a handsome head of hair; pray give me a tester.
  When spendthrifts come to borrow money, they commonly usher in their errand with some frivolous discourse in commendation of the person they would borrow of, or some of his parts or qualities; the same may be said of beggars.—R.
You have a head, and so has a pin.  10636
You have a little wit, and it doth you good sometimes.  10637
You have a tangled skein of it to wind of.  10638
You have a wet eel by the tail. WALKER (1672).
  “A slipper holde the taile is of an ele.”—Skelton’s Garland of Lawrell, 1523 (Works, 1843, i. 382).
You have always a ready mouth for a ripe cherry.  10640
You have crept up his sleeve.  10641
You have daily to do with the devil and pretend to be frightened at a mouse.  10642
You have done your day’s work; you may unyoke.  10643
You have eaten some Hull cheese.
  i.e., are drunk. Hull is famous for strong ale.—R.
You have found what was never lost.  10645
You have good manners, but never carry them about you.  10646
You have got the measure of his foot.  10647
You have lost your own stomach and found a dog’s.  10648
You have made a hand of it like a foot.  10649
You have made a long harvest for a little corn. HE.*  10650
You have no goats, and yet you sell kids.  10651
You have no more sheep to shear. Somerset.  10652
You have no need to borrow confidence.  10653
You have taken a bite out of your own arm.  10654
You have wit enough to drown ships in.  10655
You keep Easter when I keep Lent.  10656
You know good manners, but you use but few.  10657
You know not what ladle your dish may come under.  10658
You know not where a blessing may light.  10659
You lay it on with a trowel.  10660
You licked not your lips since you lied last.  10661
You look as if you were crow-trodden.  10662
You look as though you would make the crow a pudding.
  Or, go to fight the blacks, i.e., die. Andare a parlare a Pelato. Ital.
You look for hot water under the ice.  10664
You look like a runner, quoth the devil to the crab.  10665
You love to make much of nought [yourself].  10666
You make a muck-hill on my trencher, quoth the bride.
  You carve me a great heap. I suppose some bride at first, thinking to speak elegantly and finely, might use that expression; and so it was taken up in drollery; or else it is only a droll, made to abuse country brides affecting fine language.
You make his nose warp.  10668
You make me claw where it itcheth not. HE.*  10669
You make the better side the worse. Somersetshire.  10670
You may as soon / make a cloak for the moon. F.  10671
You may as well sip up the Severn and swallow Malvern.
  Or do any other impossibility.
You may as well tell me the moon is made of green cheese.  10673
You may as well try to break up St. Beuno’s chest.
  Said of any difficult enterprise; this is a Welsh proverb. See Pennant’s Tours in Wales, 1810, ii. 399. This chest was made of a solid piece of oak, and secured with three locks. Miss Costello’s North Wales, 1845, p. 155.
You may be a wise man, though you cannot make a watch.  10675
You may be godly, but you’ll never be cleanly.  10676
You may beat a horse till he be sad, and a cow till she be mad.  10677
You may beat the de’il into your wife, but you’ll never bang him out again.  10678
You may catch a hare with a tabor as soon. HE.
  Perhaps this proverb arose from the satirical drawing of a hare playing on a tabor. It has been engraved from an early MS. as an illustration to some modern work. Heywood’s words are:
        “And yet shall we catche a hare with a taber,
As soone as catche ought of them, and rather—”
You may change Norman for a worse horse.  10680
You may dance on the ropes without reading Euclid.  10681
You may either wink or nod at a blind horse.  10682
You may follow him long ere a shilling drop from him.  10683
You may gape long enough, ere a bird fall into your mouth. CL.  10684
You may go and shake your ears.
  Spoken to one who has lost his money.—R.
You may if you list; but do if you dare.  10686
You may keep wool till it is dirt, and flax till it is silk.  10687
You may know by a handful the whole sack.  10688
You may know by a penny how a shilling spends.  10689
You may know the horse by the harness. R. (1670).  10690
You may love your neighbour, and yet not hold his stirrup.  10691
You may make as good music on a wheelbarrow.  10692
You may tell an idle fellow if you but see him at dinner.  10693
You may truss up all his wit in an eggshell.  10694
You may trust him with untold gold. WALKER (1672).  10695
You may wink and choose.  10696
You measure every one’s corn by your own bushel.
  Tu misuri gli altri col tuo possetto. Ital.—R.
You mend as the fletcher mends his bolt. HE.*  10698
You might as well try to bore a hole through Beacon-Hill.
  In Yorkshire; this has been accomplished many years ago; see N. and Q., 1st S., xi. p. 223.
You might be a constable for your wit.
  Constables, from Dogberry downward, have not been famous in this respect. One of Glapthorne’s plays is called Wit in a Constable.
You might have gone farther and fared worse. HE.  10701
You might ride to Brentford on it.
  Said contemptuously of a knife with a blunt, turned edge, in which a similitude is seen (by the imaginative) to the back of a raw-boned hack.
You must ask your neighbours if you shall live in peace.  10703
You must be content sometimes with rough roads.  10704
You must do as they do at Hoo:
what you can’t do in one day, you must do in two. East Anglia.
You must drink another yard of pudding first. E. Anglia.
  “You must grow older.”—Forby.
You must drink as much after an egg as after an ox.  10707
You must go into the country to hear what news at London.  10708
You must go to Old Weston. Huntingdonshire.
  See N. and Q., 1st S., iii. 449.
You must hunt squirrels and make no noise. E. Anglia.
  “If you wish to succeed in an inquiry, you must go quietly about it.”—Forby.
You must kiss the hare’s foot or the cook.
  Spoken to one that comes so late that he hath lost his dinner or supper. Why the hare’s foot must be kissed, I know not; why the cook should be kissed there is some reason, to get some victuals of her.—R. Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Seruing-men, by J. M., 1598, repr. 112. Llamar a uno debaxo de la mesa. Span.
You must look for grass on the top of the oak tree.
  Because the grass seldom springs well before the oak begins to put forth, as might have been observed the last year [1669?].—R.
You must look where it is not, as well as where it is.  10713
You must lose a fly to catch a trout. H.  10714
You must not let your mousetrap smell of cheese.  10715
You must sell as markets go.  10716
You must spoil before you spin.  10717
You must take the fat with the lean.  10718
You must take the will for the deed.  10719
You need not be so crusty; you are not so hard-baked.  10720
You need not doubt; you are no doctor.  10721
You need not get a golden pen to write upon dirt.  10722
You never speak but your mouth opens.  10723
You put it together with a hot needle and burnt thread.  10724
You ride as if you went to fetch a midwife.  10725
You ride on a horse that was foaled of an acorn.
  i.e., the gallows.—R.
You rose on your right side. HE.*
  It is said of one who gets up ill-tempered that he got out of bed the wrong side.
You run, like Teague, before your errand.  10728
You run to work in haste, as if nine men held you. HE.  10729
You saddle to-day and ride out to-morrow.  10730
You say true: will you swallow my knife?  10731
You scatter meal and gather ashes.  10732
You see a break where the hedge is whole.  10733
You see no green cheese but your teeth must water. HE.  10734
You see what we must all come to, if we live.  10735
You seek a needle in a bottle of hay. CL.  10736
You set saffron and there came up wolfsbane.  10737
You shall have as much favour at Billingsgate for a box on the ear.  10738
You shall have that which the cat left in the malt-heap. CL.  10739
You shall have the basket.
  Said to the journeyman who is envied for pleasing his master.—R.
You shall have the whetstone.  10741
You shall ride an inch behind the tail.  10742
You shew bread in one hand and a stone in the other.  10743
You sift night and day, and get nothing but bran.  10744
You sit upon thorns.  10745
You smile and bite.  10746
You speak as if you would creep into my mouth. HE.  10747
You speak in clusters; you were got in nutting.
  Falla com sete pedras na ma. Port.—R.
You tell how many holes be in a scummer. CL.  10749
You tell your money over a gridiron.  10750
You to the cabbage and I to the beef.  10751
You two are finger and thumb.  10752
You want the thing you have. B. OF M. R.  10753
You want to taste the broth as soon as the meat is in.  10754
You wash out ink with ink.
  They say, however, that the bookbinders sometimes wash or boil out oil with oil; which seems not less extraordinary.
You were better give the wool than the sheep. R.
  Meglio e dar la lana che la pecora. Ital.—R.
You were born at Hogs-Norton. Oxfordshire.
  This is a village properly called Hoch-Norton, whose inhabitants (it seems formerly) were so rustical in their behaviour, that boorish and clownish people are said to be born there. But whatever the people were, the name was enough to occasion such a proverb.—R. But in the version of Don Quixote by J. Philips, folio, 1687, where the proverbs are Anglicised, we have: “I was neither born at Hoggs-Norton nor at Taunton Dean, that I should be such a clown.” In the Interlude of Youth (circa 1554), we have an amplified form, where Youth says scoffingly to Humility:
        “Were thou born in Trumpington,
And brought up at Hoggesnorton?”
To be born in Trumpington was probably equivalent to saying one was a fool. Trumpington is in Cambridgeshire.
You were bred in Brazen-nose College.
  A mere play on the name to signify a person of assurance.
You will have the red cap. Somersetshire.
  Said to a marriage-maker.—R.
You will neither dance nor hold the candle.  10760
You will thieve in all haste. HE.*  10761
You would be over the stile ere you come at it. HE.  10762
You would fain leap over the stile before you come at the hedge.
  Gascoigne’s Works, by Hazlitt, i. 215.
You would spy faults if your eyes were out.
  “It is your vice to spy into abuses,” as Shakespeare puts it.


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