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.
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).
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.)