| All the brothers were valiant, and all the sisters virtuous.|
| From the inscription on the tomb of the Duchess of Newcastle in Westminster Abbey.|
| Am I not a man and a brother?|
| From a medallion by Wedgwood (1787), representing a negro in chains, with one knee on the ground, and both hands lifted up to heaven. This was adopted as a characteristic seal by the Antislavery Society of London.|
| Anything for a quiet life.|
| Title of a play by Middleton.|
| Art and part.|
| A Scotch law-phrase,an accessory before and after the fact. A man is said to be art and part of a crime when he contrives the manner of the deed, and concurs with and encourages those who commit the crime, although he does not put his own hand to the actual execution of it.Sir Walter Scott: Tales of a Grandfather, chap. xxii. (Execution of Morton.)|
| Art preservative of all arts.|
| From the inscription upon the façade of the house at Harlem formerly occupied by Laurent Koster (or Coster), who is charged, among others, with the invention of printing. Mention is first made of this inscription about 1628:|
| As gingerly.|
| George Chapman: May Day.William Shakespeare: Two Gentlemen of Verona.|
| Be sure you are right, then go ahead.|
| The motto of David Crockett in the war of 1812.|
| Before you could say Jack Robinson.|
| This current phrase is said to be derived from a humorous song by Hudson, a tobacconist in Shoe Lane, London. He was a professional songwriter and vocalist, who used to be engaged to sing at supper-rooms and theatrical houses.|
A warke it ys as easie to be done
As tys to saye Jacke! robys on.
| Begging the question.|
| This is a common logical fallacy, petitio principii; and the first explanation of the phrase is to be found in Aristotles Topica, viii. 13, where the five ways of begging the question are set forth. The earliest English work in which the expression is found is The Arte of Logike plainlie set forth in our English Tongue, &c. (1584.)|
| Better to wear out than to rust out.|
| When a friend told Bishop Cumberland (16321718) he would wear himself out by his incessant application, It is better, replied the Bishop, to wear out than to rust out.Horne: Sermon on the Duty of Contending for the Truth.|
Boswell: Tour to the Hebrides, p. 18, note.
| Beware of a man of one book.|
| When St. Thomas Aquinas was asked in what manner a man might best become learned, he answered, By reading one book. The homo unius libri is indeed proverbially formidable to all conversational figurantes.Robert Southey: The Doctor, p. 164.|
| Bitter end.|
| This phrase is nearly without meaning as it is used. The true phrase, better end, is used properly to designate a crisis, or the moment of an extremity. When in a gale a vessel has paid out all her cable, her cable has run out to the better end,the end which is secured within the vessel and little used. Robinson Crusoe in describing the terrible storm in Yarmouth Roads says, We rode with two anchors ahead, and the cables veered out to the better end.|
| Cockles of the heart.|
| Latham says the most probable explanation of this phrase lies (1) in the likeness of a heart to a cockleshell,the base of the former being compared to the hinge of the latter; (2) the zoölogical name for the cockle and its congeners being Cardium, from [greek] (heart).|
| Castles in the air.|
| This is a proverbial phrase found throughout English literature, the first instance noted being in Sir Philip Sidneys Defence of Poesy.|
| Consistency, thou art a jewel.|
| This is one of those popular sayingslike Be good, and you will be happy, or Virtue is its own rewardthat, like Topsy, never was born, only jist growed. From the earliest times it has been the popular tendency to call this or that cardinal virtue, or bright and shining excellence, a jewel, by way of emphasis. For example, Iago says,|
- Good name, in man or woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
| Cotton is King; or, Slavery in the Light of Political Economy.|
| This is the title of a book by David Christy (1855).|
The expression Cotton is king was used by James Henry Hammond in the United States Senate, March, 1858.
| Dead as Chelsea.|
| To get Chelsea; to obtain the benefit of that hospital. Dead as Chelsea, by God! an exclamation uttered by a grenadier at Fontenoy, on having his leg carried away by a cannon-ball.Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1758 (quoted by Brady, Varieties of Literature, 1826).|
| Die in the last ditch.|
| To William of Orange may be ascribed this saying. When Buckingham urged the inevitable destruction which hung over the United Provinces, and asked him whether he did not see that the commonwealth was ruined, There is one certain means, replied the Prince, by which I can be sure never to see my countrys ruin,I will die in the last ditch.Hume: History of England. (1622.)|
| Drive a coach and six through an Act of Parliament.|
| Macaulay (History of England, chap. xii.) gives a saying often in the mouth of Stephen Rice [afterward Chief Baron of the Exchequer], I will drive a coach and six through the Act of Settlement.|
| During good behaviour.|
| That after the said limitation shall take effect,
judges commissions be made quando se bene gesserit.Statutes 12 and 13 William III. c. 2, sect. 3.|
| Eclipse first, the rest nowhere.|
| Declared by Captain OKelley at Epsom, May 3, 1769.Annals of Sporting, vol. ii. p. 271.|
| Emerald Isle.|
| Dr. William Drennan (17541820) says this expression was first used in a party song called Erin, to her own Tune, written in 1795. The song appears to have been anonymous.|
| Era of good feeling.|
| The title of an article in the Boston Centinel, July 12, 1817.|
| Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.|
| It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.)|
There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust.Demosthenes: Philippic 2, sect. 24.
| Fiat justitia ruat clum.|
| William Watson: Decacordon of Ten Quodlibeticall Questions (1602). Prynne: Fresh Discovery of Prodigious New Wandering-Blazing Stars (second edition, London, 1646). Ward: Simple Cobbler of Aggawam in America (1647).|
Fiat Justitia et ruat Mundus.Egerton Papers (1552, p. 25). Camden Society (1840). Aiken: Court and Times of James I., vol. ii. p. 500 (1625).
January 31, 1642, the Duke of Richmond in a speech before the House of Lords used these words: Regnet Justitia et ruat Clum. (Old Parliamentary History, vol. x. p. 28.
| Free soil, free men, free speech, Frémont.|
| The Republican Party rallying cry in 1856.|
| Gentle craft.|
| According to Brady (Clavis Calendaria), this designation arose from the fact that in an old romance a prince of the name of Crispin is made to exercise, in honour of his namesake, Saint Crispin, the trade of shoemaking. There is a tradition that King Edward IV., in one of his disguises, once drank with a party of shoemakers, and pledged them. The story is alluded to in the old play of George a-Greene (1599):|
- Marry, because you have drank with the King,
And the King hath so graciously pledged you,
You shall no more be called shoemakers;
But you and yours, to the worlds end,
Shall be called the trade of the gentle craft.
| Gentlemen of the French guard, fire first.|
| Lord C. Hay at the battle of Fontenoy, 1745. To which the Comte dAuteroches replied, Sir, we never fire first; please to fire yourselves.Fournier: LEsprit dans lhistoire.|
| Good as a play.|
| An exclamation of Charles II. when in Parliament attending the discussion of Lord Rosss Divorce Bill.|
The king remained in the House of Peers while his speech was taken into consideration,a common practice with him; for the debates amused his sated mind, and were sometimes, he used to say, as good as a comedy.Thomas B. Macaulay: Review of the Life and Writings of Sir William Temple.
Nullos his mallem ludos spectasse.Horace: Satires, ii. 8, 79.
| Greatest happiness of the greatest number.|
| That action is best which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers.Hutcheson: Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil, sect. 3. (1720.)|
Priestley was the first (unless it was Beccaria) who taught my lips to pronounce this sacred truth,that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation Bentham: Works, vol. x. p. 142.
The expression is used by Beccaria in the introduction to his Essay on Crimes and Punishments. (1764).
| Hanging of his cat on Monday|
For killing of a mouse on Sunday.
| Drunken Barnabys Four Journeys (edition of 1805, p. 5).|
| Hobsons choice.|
| Tobias Hobson (died 1630) was the first man in England that let out hackney horses. When a man came for a horse he was led into the stable, where there was a great choice, but he obliged him to take the horse which stood next to the stable-door; so that every customer was alike well served according to his chance,from whence it became a proverb when what ought to be your election was forced upon you, to say, Hobsons choice.Spectator, No. 509.|
- Where to elect there is but one,
T is Hobsons choice,take that or none.
| Intolerable in Almighty God to a black beetle.|
| Lord Coleridge remarked that Maule told him what he said in the black beetle matter: Creswell, who had been his pupil was on the other side in a case where he was counsel, and was very lofty in his manner. Maule appealed to the court: My lords, we are vertebrate animals, we are mammalia! My learned friends manner would he intolerable in Almighty God to a black beetle. (Repeated to a member of the legal profession in the United States.)|
| It is a far cry to Lochow.|
| Lochow and the adjacent districts formed the original seat of the Campbells. The expression of a far cry to Lochow was proverbial. (Note to Scotts Rob Roy, chap. xxix.).|
| Lucid interval.|
| Francis Bacon: Henry VII. Sidney: On Government, vol. i. chap. ii. sect. 24.Thomas Fuller: A Pisgah Sight of Palestine, book iv. chap. ii. South: Sermon, vol. viii. p. 403.John Dryden: MacFlecknoe.Mathew Henry: Commentaries, Psalm lxxxviii.Samuel Johnson: Life of Lyttelton.Edmund Burke: On the French Revolution.|
| Nisi suadeat intervallis.|
| Bracton: Folio 1243 and folio 420 b. Register Original, 267 a.|
| Mince the matter.|
| Cervantes: Don Quixote, Authors Preface.William Shakespeare: Othello, act ii. sc. 3 William King: Ulysses and Teresias.|
| Months without an R.|
| It is unseasonable and unwholesome in all months that have not an R in their name to eat an oyster.Samuel Butler: Dyets Dry Dinner. (1599.)|
| Nation of shopkeepers.|
| From an oration purporting to have been delivered by Samuel Adams at the State House in Philadelphia, Aug. 1, 1776. (Philadelphia, printed; London, reprinted for E. Johnson, No. 4 Ludgate Hill, 1776.) W. V. Wells, in his Life of Adams, says: No such American edition has ever been seen, but at least four copies are known of the London issue. A German translation of this oration was printed in 1778, perhaps at Berne; the place of publication is not given.|
To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers.Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations, vol. ii. book iv. chap. vii. part 3. (1775.)
And what is true of a shopkeeper is true of a shopkeeping nation.Tucker (Dean of Gloucester): Tract. (1766.)
Let Pitt then boast of his victory to his nation of shopkeepers.Bertrand Barère. (June 11, 1794.)
| New departure.|
| This new page opened in the book of our public expenditures, and this new departure taken, which leads into the bottomless gulf of civil pensions and family gratuities.T. H. Benton: Speech in the U. S. Senate against a grant to President Harrisons widow, April, 1841.|
| Nothing succeeds like success.|
| (Rien ne réussit comme le succès.Dumas: Ange Pitou, vol. i. p 72, 1854.) A French proverb.|
| Orthodoxy is my doxy; Heterodoxy is another mans doxy.|
| I have heard frequent use, said the late Lord Sandwich, in a debate on the Test Laws, of the words orthodoxy and heterodoxy; but I confess myself at a loss to know precisely what they mean. Orthodoxy, my Lord, said Bishop Walburton, in a whisper,orthodoxy is my doxy; heterodoxy is another mans doxy.Priestley: Memoirs, vol. i. p. 572.|
| Paradise of fools; Fools paradise.|
| The earliest instance of this expression is found in William Bulleins Dialogue, p. 28 (1573). It is used by Shakespeare, Middleton, Milton, Pope, Fielding, Crabbe, and others.|
| Paying through the nose.|
| Grimm says that Odin had a poll-tax which was called in Sweden a nose-tax; it was a penny per nose, or poll.Deutsche Rechts Alterthümer.|
| Public trusts.|
| It is not fit the public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any till they are first proved, and found fit for the business they are to be intrusted with.Mathew Henry: Commentaries, Timothy iii.|
To execute laws is a royal office; to execute orders is not to be a king. However, a political executive magistracy though merely such, is a great trust.Edmund Burke: On the French Revolution.
When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.Thomas Jefferson (Winter in Washington, 1807), in a conversation with Baron Humboldt. See Rayners Life of Jefferson, p. 356 (Boston, 1834).
The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party.John C. Calhoun: Speech, July 13, 1835.
The phrase, public office is a public trust, has of late become common property.Charles Sumner (May 31, 1872).
The appointing power of the pope is treated as a public trust.W. W. Crapo (1881).
The public offices are a public trust.Dorman B. Eaton (1881).
Public office is a public trust.Abram S. Hewitt (1883).
He who regards office as a public trust.Daniel S. Lamont (1884).
| Rather your room as your company.|
| Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570).|
| Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.|
| From an inscription on the cannon near which the ashes of President John Bradshaw were lodged, on the top of a high hill near Martha Bay in Jamaica.Stiles: History of the Three Judges of King Charles I.|
This supposititious epitaph was found among the papers of Mr. Jefferson, and in his handwriting. It was supposed to be one of Dr. Franklins spirit-stirring inspirations.Randall: Life of Jefferson, vol. iii. p. 585.
| Rest and be thankful.|
| An inscription on a stone seat on the top of one of the Highlands in Scotland. It is also the title of one of Wordsworths poems.|
| Rowland for an Oliver.|
| These were two of the most famous in the list of Charlemagnes twelve peers; and their exploits are rendered so ridiculously and equally extravagant by the old romancers, that from thence arose that saying amongst our plain and sensible ancestors of giving one a Rowland for his Oliver, to signify the matching one incredible lie with another.Thomas Warburton.|
| Sardonic smile.|
| The island of Sardinia, consisting chiefly of marshes and mountains, has from the earliest period to the present been cursed with a noxious air, an ill-cultivated soil, and a scanty population. The convulsions produced by its poisonous plants gave rise to the expression of sardonic smile, which is as old as Homer (Odyssey, xx. 302).Mahon: History of England, vol. i. p. 287.|
The explanation given by Mahon of the meaning of sardonic smile is to be sure the traditional one, and was believed in by the late classical writers. But in the Homeric passage referred to, the word is sardanion ([greek]), not sardonion. There is no evidence that Sardinia was known to the composers of what we can Homer.
It looks as though the word was to be connected with the verb [greek], show the teeth; grin like a dog; hence that the sardonic smile was a grim laugh.M. H. Morgan.
| Sister Anne, do you see any one coming?|
| The anxious question of one of the wives of Bluebeard.|
| Stone-wall Jackson.|
| This saying took its rise from the battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861. Said General Bernard E. Bee, See, there is Jackson, standing like a stone-wall.|
| The King is dead! Long live the King!|
| The death of Louis XIV. was announced by the captain of the bodyguard from a window of the state apartment. Raising his truncheon above his head, he broke it in the centre, and throwing the pieces among the crowd, exclaimed in a loud voice, Le Roi est mort! Then seizing another staff, he flourished it in the air as he shouted, Vive le Roi!Pardoe: Life of Louis XIV., vol. iii. p. 457.|
| The woods are full of them!|
| Alexander Wilson, in the Preface to his American Ornithology (1808), quotes these words, and relates the story of a boy who had been gathering flowers. On bringing them to his mother, he said: Look, my dear ma! What beautiful flowers I have found growing in our place! Why, all the woods are full of them! |
| Thin red line.|
| The Russians dashed on towards that thin red-line streak tipped with a line of steel.Russell: The British Expedition to the Crimea (revised edition), p. 187.|
Soon the men of the column began to see that though the scarlet line was slender, it was very rigid and exact. Kinglake: Invasion of the Crimea, vol. iii. p. 455.
The spruce beauty of the slender red line.Ibid. (sixth edition), vol. iii. p. 248.
| What you are pleased to call your mind.|
| A solicitor, after hearing Lord Westburys opinion, ventured to say that he had turned the matter over in his mind, and thought that something might be said on the other side; to which he replied, Then sir, you will turn it over once more in what you are pleased to call your mind.Nash: Life of Lord Westbury, vol. ii. 292.|
| When in doubt, win the trick.|
| Hoyle: Twenty-four Rules for Learners, Rule 12.|
| Wisdom of many and the wit of one.|
| A definition of a proverb which Lord John Russell gave one morning at breakfast at MardocksOne mans wit, and all mens wisdom.Memoirs of Mackintosh, vol. ii. p. 473.|
| Wooden walls of England.|
| The credite of the Realme, by defending the same with our Wodden Walles, as Themistocles called the Ship of Athens.Preface to the English translation of Linschoten (London).|
| But me no buts.|
| Henry Fielding: Rape upon Rape, act ii. sc. 2. Aaron Hill: Snake in the Grass, sc. 1.|
| Cause me no causes.|
| Philip Massinger: A New Way to Pay Old Debts, act i. sc. 3.|
| Clerk me no clerks.|
| Sir Walter Scott: Ivanhoe, chap. xx.|
| Diamond me no diamonds! prize me no prizes!|
| Alfred Tennyson: Idylls of the King. Elaine.|
| End me no ends.|
| Philip Massinger: A New Way to Pay Old Debts, act v. sc. 1.|
| Fool me no fools.|
| Bulwer: Last Days of Pompeii, book iii. chap. vi.|
| Front me no fronts.|
| Ford: The Ladys Trial, act ii. sc. 1.|
| Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle.|
| William Shakespeare: Richard II., act ii. sc. 3.|
| Madam me no madam.|
| John Dryden: The Wild Gallant, act ii. sc. 2.|
| Map me no maps.|
| Henry Fielding: Rape upon Rape, act i. sc. 5.|
| Midas me no Midas.|
| John Dryden: The Wild Gallant, act ii. sc. 1.|
| O me no Os.|
| Ben Jonson: The Case is Altered, act v. sc. 1.|
| Parish me no parishes.|
| George Peele: The Old Wives Tale.|
| Petition me no petitions.|
| Henry Fielding: Tom Thumb, act i. sc. 2.|
| Play me no plays.|
| Foote: The Knight, act ii.|
| Plot me no plots.|
| Beaumont and Fletcher: The Knight of the Burning Pestle, act ii. sc. 5.|
| Thank me no thanks, nor proud me no prouds.|
| William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, act iii. sc. 5.|
| Virgin me no virgins.|
| Philip Massinger: A New Way to Pay Old Debts, act iii. sc. 2.|
| Vow me no vows.|
| Beaumont and Fletcher: Wit without Money, act iv. sc. 4.|