Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
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W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
 
He warms  to  Help yourself
 
He warms too near that burns. H.  4397
He was born at Little Witham.
  Little Witham is a village in this county [Essex]. It is applied to such as are not overstocked with acuteness, being a nominal allusion; of the like whereto we have many current among the vulgar.—R. This is usually placed among Lincolnshire proverbs; but, as a matter of fact, it is merely a play upon words.
  4398
He was born in a mill.
  i.e., he’s deaf.—R.
  4399
He was born in August.  4400
He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  4401
He was born within the sound of Bow bell. F.
  This is the periphrasis of a Londoner at large. This is called Bowbell, because hanging in the steeple of Bow Church; and Bow Church, because built on bows or arches, saith my author. But I have been told, that it was called from the cross stone arches, or bows, on the top of the steeple. We learn from Stowe, that a mercer, named John Dun, gave, in 1472, two tenements to maintain the ringing of this bell every night, at nine o’clock, as a signal for the city apprentices and servants to leave off work.—R. Bow Church is in the centre of the City, of which the ancient boundaries were sufficiently limited to make it difficult for any one born within the then metropolitan area not to be born within the sound of this bell. But we may rest satisfied that when Richard Whittington had reached Highgate, there was no possibility of him hearing it.
  4402
He was christened with pump water.
  It is spoken of one that hath a red face.—R.
  4403
He was lapped in his mother’s smock.
  Or, wrapped. “Fortune’s darling.”—Walker’s Parœm., 1672, p. 26. In the Comedy of Fidele and Fortunio, 1585, Attilia says:
        “I thank them that they flout me to my face, when no other they mock.
This was my fathers craft, for he ever made my mother to wrap me in her smock.”
The phrase also occurs in Wine, Beer, Ale and Tobacco, contending for Superiority, 1630, where Wine says to Sugar:
        “Why, sure thou were wrapt in thy mother’s smocke.”
And in Rowley’s Match at Midnight, 1633, Randall the Welshman says: “Sure Randalls was wrapt in ’s mother’s smocke.”—(Dodsley, O. P., vii. 355).
  4404
He was meant for a gentleman, but was spoilt in the making. E. Anglia.  4405
He was saying his war prayers. S. Devon.
  i.e., swearing.
  4406
He was scarce of news who told that his father was hanged.  4407
He was slain that had warning, not he that took it.  4408
He washes his sheep with scalding water.  4409
He weareth a whole lordship on his back. CL.  4410
He wears short hose.  4411
He wears the bull’s feather.  4412
He wears the horns.  4413
He who bathes in May, / will soon be laid in clay:
he who bathes in June, / will sing a merry tune:
he who bathes in July, / will dance like a fly. D.
  4414
He who beggeth for others is contriving for himself.  4415
He who buys and sells does not miss what he spends.  4416
He who comes uncalled, unserved should sit.
  Montgomery’s Cherrie and the Slae, 1597 (Poems, 1821, p. 42.) This poem was written long before any known edition of it was printed.
  4417
He who depends on another, dines ill and sups worse.  4418
He who fasteth and doeth no good, saveth his bread, but loseth his soul.  4419
He who findeth fault meaneth to buy.  4420
He who gets doth much, but he who keeps doth more.  4421
He who gives fair words feeds you with an empty spoon.  4422
He who greases his wheels helps his oxen.  4423
He who has been in the oven himself knows where to find the pasty.
  Compare The good wife would not, &c.
        No man will an other in the ouen seeke,
Except that him selfe haue beene there before.
Heywood’s Epigrams on Proverbs, 1562.    
  4424
He who hath a trade hath a share everywhere.  4425
He who hath an ill cause let him sell it cheap.  4426
He who hath bitter in his breast spits not sweet.  4427
He who hath done ill once will do it again.  4428
He who hath good health is young; and he is rich who owes nothing.  4429
He who hath much pease may put the more in the pot.  4430
He who hath no ill-fortune, is cloyed with good.  4431
He who is a good paymaster is lord of another man’s purse.  4432
He who is about to marry should consider how it is with his neighbours.  4433
He who is ashamed of his calling, ever liveth shamefully in it.  4434
He who is born a fool is never cured.  4435
He who is the offender is never the forgiver.
  Odisse quem læseris. Lat.
  4436
He who is wanting but to one friend, loseth a great many by it.  4437
He who marries a widow will often have a dead man’s head thrown in his dish.  4438
He who marrieth does well, but he who marrieth not, better.  4439
He who more than he is worth doth spend,
e’en makes a rope his life to end.
  4440
He who never was sick, dies the first fit.  4441
He who once hits will be ever shooting.  4442
He who oweth is all in the wrong.  4443
He who peeps through a hole may see what will vex him.  4444
He who plants a walnut-tree expects not to eat of the fruit.  4445
He who repeats the ill he hears of another is the true slanderer.  4446
He who repents him not of his marriage sleeping or wakin’, in a year and a day,
may lawfully go to Dunmow, and fetch a gammon of bacon.
  See Antiquarian Repertory, ed. 1807, iii. 342, where an account of the Dunmow Flitch is given from a MS. in the College of Arms. In the MS. this is quoted as a common proverb or saying, and I suppose that it is intended for a sort of rude rhyme. I give all that I could find on this subject in my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, where I point out that the usage is not peculiar to Essex. It is said to have been instituted there by Lord Fitswalter in the time of Henry II.
        “I set him so on werke, by my fay,
That many a night they songen welaway:
The bacoun was nought fet for hem, I trowe,
That som men fecche in Essex at Donmowe.”
Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 215.    
  4447
He who shareth honey with the bear, hath the least part of it.  4448
He who sows thorns will never reap grapes.  4449
He who spends more than he should,
shall not have to spend when he would.
  4450
He who swells in prosperity will shrink in adversity.  4451
He who threateneth hunteth after a revenge.  4452
He who trusteth not is not deceived.  4453
He who trusts all things to chance, makes a lottery of his life.  4454
He who wants content can’t find an easy-chair.  4455
He who will have a full flock,
must have an old stag and a young cock. Lanc.
  Stag = gander.
  4456
He who will have no judge but himself condemns himself.  4457
He who will stop every man’s mouth must have a great deal of meal.  4458
He who would see old Hoghton right,
must view it by the pale moonlight.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 102. Hoghton is near Blackburn, Lancashire; those who are familiar with the locality will have no difficulty in comprehending the allusion.
  4459
He who would wish to thrive, / must let spiders run alive.
  See N. and Q., 3rd S., xi. 32.
  4460
He whose belly is full believes not him that is fasting. B. OF M. R.  4461
He whose father is judge goes safe to his trial.  4462
He will be hanged for leaving his liquor, like the saddler of Bawtry.
  “He was a saddler at Bawtry on the borders of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, and occasioned this saying, often applied among the lower people to a man who quits his friends too early, and will not stay to finish his bottle. The case was this; There was formerly, and indeed it has not long been suppressed, an ale-house, to this day called The Gallows House, situate between the city of York and their Tyburne, at which house the cart used always to stop, and there the convict and the other parties were refreshed with liquors; but the rash and precipitate Saddler, under Sentence, and on his road to the fatal Tree, refused this little regale, and hasten’d on to the place of Execution, where, very soon after he was turn’d off a Reprieve arrived, insomuch that, had he stopped, as was usual, at the Gallows House, the time consumed there would have been the means of saving his life.”—Pegge’s Curialia, 1818, 340–1.
  A writer in Notes and Queries (21 Oct., 1882) says: A native of Bawtry, who was born in 1732, and resided there until 1754, wrote out, after he had reached the age of seventy, the story of his life, “having,” as he says, “from his early years continually kept a kind of journal of what befell him.” The following is an extract from the MS. now in the possession of a descendant of his:—
  “Bawtry is also the town whence originated the story of the saddler of Bawtry being hanged for leaving his liquor behind him; but … I beg leave to inform my readers that it is there told as follows:—
  “A traveller, who had a good deal of cash in his saddlebags, was robbed soon after his leaving Bawtry on his way to Doncaster, viz. near the King’s Wood in Bawtry Lane, a place at that time noted for robberies, and even murders. He had had the saddler at Bawdry to stuff his saddle, which hurt his horse’s back…. Returning to Bawtry with his pitiable tale, he asked for the saddler, but, lo! no saddler was to be found. The traveller had given him part of a tankard of ale, which was found untouched, standing in a manger of the stable. Now, the saddler being a well-known thirsty blade, it was thought surprising that he forsook the friendly draught, and the sagacity of the multitude immediately suspected him to be the guilty person: on this circumstance, the poor saddler was immediately taken into custody, detained, and sent … to York Castle, where he lay till the following assizes; when he was tried, and acquitted.”
  4463
He will be (or you are) in a quandary. WALKER (1672).  4464
He will be two men.
  Spoken of a man who is no longer himself when he loses his temper. See Skeat’s edition of Pegge’s Kenticisms, p. 12.
  4465
He will burn his house to warm his hands. H.  4466
He will go to law / for your wagging of a straw. CL.  4467
He will have a finger in every pie.  4468
He will ill catch a bird flying that cannot keep his own in a cage.  4469
He will kill a man for a mess of mustard. HE.  4470
He will make a tight old man.
  “This is said of a lazy fellow who does not hurt himself with work.”—Forby.
  4471
He will never get to heaven that desires to go thither alone.  4472
He will never set the temse on fire.
  The sieve employed in sifting the flour at a mill is so called in Yorkshire, it appears (N. and Q., 3rd S., vii. 239); and in Lincolnshire, the same class of utensil is in use among brewers to separate the hops from the beer (ibid., 306). The word has been, oddly enough, corrupted into Thames, which has no particular meaning. In the case of the temse, however, combustion has occasionally happened through the hard and constant friction of the iron rim of the temse against the flour-barrel’s rim. See Lucas, Studies in Nidderdale, 15.
  4473
He will not climb up May Hill. New Forest.
  i.e., he will not survive May.
  4474
He will play at small game, before he will sit out. C.  4475
He will see daylight through a little hole.  4476
He will shoot higher that shoots at the moon than he that shoots at a dunghill.  4477
He winketh with the one eye and looketh with the other. HE.  4478
He would be quartermaster at home if his wife would let him.  4479
He would fain fly, but he wanteth feathers. HE.
  Sine pennis volare haud facile est.—Plautus, in Pœnul. Non si puo volar senza ale. Ital. “No flying without wings,” says Ray.
  4480
He would flay a flint.
  Or, flay a groat. Spoken of a covetous person.—R. We usually call such an one a skin-flint. Compare He goes where the devil, &c., and A skin-flint.
  4481
He would get money in a desert.
  The Italians say, Vivere e far robba in su l’acqua. He would thrive where another would starve.
  4482
He would have made a good butcher but for the by-blow. CL.  4483
He would live as long as old Rosse of Pottern, who lived till all the world was weary of him.
  Pottern is near Devizes. Howell calls him Russe.
  4484
He would live even in a gravel pit.
  Said of a wary, sparing, niggardly person.—R.
  4485
He wounded a dead man to the heart.  4486
He wrongs not an old man that steals his supper from him. H.  4487
He’d drive a louse a mile for the skin an tallow of ’en. S. Devon.  4488
He’d rather lose his friend than his jest. CL.  4489
He’d skin a louse and send the hide to market.
  Egli scortarebbe un pedocchio per haverne la pelle. Ital. He would flay a louse to get the skin.—R.
  4490
He’d starve the rats, and make the mice go upon scritches [crutches]. S. Devon.  4491
He’ll as soon eat sand as do a good turn.  4492
He’ll bear it away, if it be not too hot or too heavy.
  Spoken of a pilferer.—R.
  4493
He’ll bring buckle and thong together.  4494
He’ll dance to nothing but his own pipe.  4495
He’ll dress an egg and give the offal to the poor.  4496
He’ll eat till he sweats, and work till he freezes.  4497
He’ll find money for mischief, when he can find none for corn.  4498
He’ll find some hole to creep out at.  4499
He’ll go where the devil can’t, between the oak and the rind. Cornw.He’ll have enough one day, when his mouth is full of mould. CL.  4500
He’ll have the last word though he talk bilk for it.
  Bilk, i.e., nothing. A man is said to be bilked at cribbets when he gets nothing, when he can never make a game.—R.
  4502
He’ll laugh at the wagging of a straw.  4503
He’ll make nineteen bits of a bilberry.
  Spoken of a covetous person.—R.
  4504
He’ll neither do right nor suffer wrong.  4505
He’ll never dow [i.e., be good] egg nor bird. North.  4506
He’ll not let anybody lie by him.  4507
He’ll not lose his jest for his guest, if he be a Jew. CL.  4508
He’ll not lose the paring of his nails.
  Aquam plorat, qu’um lavat, profundere.—Plaut.
  4509
He’ll not put off his doublet before he goes to bed.
  i.e., part with his estate before he die.—R.
  4510
He’ll play small game rather than stand out.
  Aulædus sit qui citharædus esse non potest.—R.
  4511
He’ll rather die with thirst than take the pains to draw water.  4512
He’ll split a hair.  4513
He’ll swear through an inch board.  4514
He’ll swear a daggar out of sheath.  4515
He’ll swear the devil out of hell.  4516
He’ll swear ’till he’s black in the face.  4517
He’ll turn / rather than burn.  4518
He’ll wag as the bush wags.  4519
He’s a fond [foolish] chapman that comes the day after the fair. CL.  4520
He’s a fool that is wiser abroad than at home.  4521
He’s a friend at a sneeze; the most you can get of him is a God bless you.  4522
He’s a friend to none that is a friend to all.  4523
He’s a good man whom fortune makes better.  4524
He’s a hawk of the right nest.  4525
He’s a little fellow, but every bit of that little is bad.  4526
He’s a man of able mind, / that of a foe can make a friend.  4527
He’s a thief, for he has taken a cup too much.  4528
He’s a velvet true heart. Cheshire.  4529
He’s a wise man that can wear poverty decently.  4530
He’s a wise man that leads passion by the bridle.  4531
He’s always behindhand, like the miller’s filler. Northampt.  4532
He’s an early angler, that angles by moonshine.
  Franck’s Northern Memoires, 1694, p. 79, written in 1658.
  4533
He’s an ill boy that goes like a top, only when he’s whipt.  4534
He’s as brisk as bottled ale.  4535
He’s born in a good hour who gets a good name.  4536
He’s brought to Beggar’s Bush. CL.  4537
He’s drinking at the Harrow when he should be driving his plough.  4538
He’s dwindled down from a pot to a pipkin.  4539
He’s good in carding.  4540
He’s got t’ oil bottle in his pocket. Craven.
  Hone’s Table-Book, p. 722.
  4541
He’s in a St. Giles’s sweat. Lancashire.
  Or, in the provincial vernacular. “He’s in O sent Gheighl’s swat,” i.e., he lies in bed, while his clothes are being mended. St. Giles is adopted by beggars as their patron saint.
  4542
He’s in clover.  4543
He’s in Cob’s Pound. CL.
  Butler, in his Hudibras, 1663, wrote “Lob’s pound,” and Dr. Grey, his editor in 1744, supposed the dissenter, Dr. Lob, to be referred to. He also furnishes an explanatory anecdote. Others have queried Lob, a looby, a clown, and have conjectured that Lob’s Pound was Bridewell. Clarke, writing in 1631, two and thirty years before the publication of Hudibras (for the Parœmiologia lay by for eight years before it was printed in 1639), gives COB’S pound as the true form of the phrase. In the Batchellors Banquet, 1603, attributed to T. Decker, the other form, “Lob’s Pound,” is employed.
  Lob’s Pound is also mentioned in Ovidius Exulans, or Ovid Travestie, 1673, in the mock-epistle of Leander to Hero:
        “If that I chanced to be drown’d,
Or ere to be catch’d in Lobs Pound,
Well fare then cry your little Pander,
My pretty smock-fac’d Rogue Leander.”
and by Addison in the Drummer, where it is proposed to entrap the Ghost in Lob’s Pound.
  4544
He’s in great want of a bird that will give a groat for an owl.  4545
He’s in his better blue clothes.
  He thinks himself wondrous fine.—R.
  4546
He’s like a bagpipe; you never hear him till his belly is full.  4547
He’s like a buck of the first head.  4548
He’s like a cat; fling him which way you will, he’ll light on his legs.  4549
He’s like a rabbit, fat and lean in twenty-four hours.  4550
He’s like a singed cat, better than he’s likely.  4551
He’s like a swine, he’ll never do good while he lives.  4552
He’s like Gorby, whose soul neither God nor the devil would have. F.  4553
He’s metal to the back.
  A metaphor taken from knives and swords.—R.
  4554
He’s miserable indeed that must lock up his miseries.  4555
He’s not the best carpenter that makes the most chips.  4556
He’s overshot in his own bow.  4557
He’s so full of himself that he is quite empty.  4558
He’s so great a thief that he’ll even steal the commandments.  4559
He’s standing on his forkle-end. S. Devon.
  i.e., He’s well and on his legs, able to get about.—Shelly.
  4560
He’s well to live.  4561
He’s wise that knows when he’s well enough.  4562
He’s won with a feather and lost with a straw.  4563
He’s Yorkshire.
  Equivalent to the Italian: E Spoletino. The Yorkshiremen are supposed to be remarkable for their practical shrewdness. In the Dialect of Craven, 1828, Carr quotes a sentence illustrative of the meaning of the phrases, “He is Yorkshire,” or “Yorkshire.” “Don’t thee think to but Yorkshire o’ me, I warn’t born in a post [i.e., stupid]; but I confess that from this sentence I draw a conclusion exactly opposite to that which seems to have been drawn by the writer. The sense appears to me really to be, “You musn’t try your cunning at me; I am no fool.”
  4564
Health and wealth create beauty.  4565
Health is better than wealth.  4566
Health is great riches.  4567
Health is not valued till sickness comes.  4568
Health to wear it, strength to tear it, and money to buy a new one.
  Said in some parts to anybody who gets a new article of dress.
  4569
Health without wealth is half an ague. H.  4570
Hear news, quoth the fox, when he let—in the morning.
  Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570).
  4571
Hear twice before you speak once.  4572
Hear ye, and see not.
  MS. of the 15th cent., quoted in Retrospective Review, 3rd S., ii. 309.
  4573
Hearken to reason, or she will be heard. H.  4574
Hearts may agree, though heads differ.  4575
Heat and pilchards. Cornw.  4576
Heaven will make amends for all.  4577
Hedgehogs lodge among thorns, because they themselves are prickly.  4578
Hedges have eyes and walls have ears.  4579
Heigh ho! the devil is dead.  4580
Hell and chancery are always open.  4581
Hell, Hull, and Halifax.
  Compare From Hell, &c.
  4582
Hell’s [or Hell] broke loose.
  Title of a tract by S. R., 1605, and of three others in 1646, 1651, and 1661.
  4583
Hell is full of the ungrateful.  4584
Hell is paved with good intentions.
  Baxter was once nearly stoned by the women at Kidderminster for declaring in a sermon that hell was paved with—infants’ skulls.
  4585
Hell is wherever heaven is not.  4586
Hell-kettles.
  Three pits, most probably disused coal-pits, at Oxehall, near Darlington, Co. Durham, used to be so called in the 18th century. They were filled with water, and popular ignorance and credulity ascribed to them this character. See Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain, 1761, iii. 153. But compare the Account of Gisborough, Co. York, in Antiq. Repertory, 1808, iii. 307.
  4587
Hell will never have its due, / till it have its hold of you.  4588
Help at a pinch.
  Bale’s Kyng Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 81.
  4589
Help, hands; / for I have no lands. CL.  4590
Help yourself, and your friends will bless you.
  Compare Thy Thrift, &c.
  4591
Hempseed I set, / hempseed I sow,
the young man that I love, / come after me and mow!
  4592
Hengston [or Hingston] Down well wrought,
is worth London town dear-bought.
  In respect of the great quantity of tin to be found there underground: though the gainful plenty of metal this place formerly afforded, is now fallen to a scant-saving scarcity. As for the diamonds which Dr. Fuller fancieth may be found there, I believe they would be little worth.—R. This is one of the popular saws, of which the force was at no time perhaps very great, and of which time has at all events very sensibly decreased the significance.
  “Mines of tin, copper, lead, and silver have been worked at Calstook, but the old couplet has not yet been verified.”—Wallis’s Cornwall Register, 1847, p. 340.
  4593
 

 
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