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.
 
If there be  to  In hugger-mugger
 
If there be no remedy, then welcome Pillvall.  4999
If there is ice that will bear a duck before Martlemas [Martinmas], there will be none that will bear a goose all the winter. Midland.  5000
If there were no knaves and fools, all the world would be alike.  5001
If they blow in April, / you’ll have your fill;
but if in May / they’ll go away.
  Spoken of cherries. Skeat’s ed. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 96. Pegge notes that in 1742, however, although the season was late, cherries were plentiful in his garden.
  5002
If they come, they come not; and if they come not, they come.
  The cattle of people living hereabout [Northumberland] turned into the common pasture, did by custom use to return to their home at night, unless intercepted by the freebooters and borderers. If, therefore, those borderers came, their cattle came not: if they came not, their cattle surely returned.—R.
  5003
If they would drink nettles in March, and eat mugwort in May,
so many fine maidens wouldn’t go to the clay. D.
  5004
If things were to be done twice, / all would be wise. H.  5005
If thou be hungry, I am angry; let us go fight.  5006
If thou canst not see the bottom, wade not.  5007
If thou dealest with a fox, think of his tricks.  5008
If thou desirest a wife, choose her on a Saturday rather than on a Sunday.  5009
If thou hadst the rent of Dee mills, thou wouldst spend it. Cheshire.
  Dee is the name of the river on which the city of Chester stands: the mills thereon yield a great annual rent, greater than any of the houses about that city.—R. 1670.
  5010
If thou hast increased thy water, thou must also increase thy meal.  5011
If thou hast not a capon, feed on an onion.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134. Probably of French origin.
  5012
If thou play the fool, stay for a fellow.  5013
If thou wilt come with me, bring with thee. B. OF M. R.  5014
If thou wouldst have a good crop, sow with thy hand, but pour not out of the sack.  5015
If thou wouldst keep money, save money.  5016
If thou wouldst reap money, sow money.  5017
If thy cast be bad, mend it with good play.  5018
If thy hand be in a lion’s mouth, get it out as fast as thou canst.  5019
If to-day will not, to-morrow may.  5020
If virtue keep court within, honour will attend without.  5021
If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him.  5022
If we be enemies to ourselves, whither shall we fly?  5023
If we did not flatter ourselves, nobody else could.  5024
If well and them cannot, then ill and them can.  5025
If wise men play the fool. they do it with a vengeance.  5026
If wishes were butter cakes, beggars might bite.  5027
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
  “Si souhaits furent vrais pastoreaux seroient rois. Fr. If wishes might prevail, shepherds would be kings.”—R. Another and probably older version is:
        “If wishes would bide,
Beggars would ride.”
  Halliwell (Nursery Rhymes of England) has a still more modern one:
        “If wishes were horses,
Beggars would ride;
If turnips were watches,
I would wear one by my side.”
  A large silver watch is called a turnip in popular phraseology.
  5028
If wishes were thrushes, beggars would eat birds. C.  5029
If woolly fleeces spread the heavenly way,
no rain, be sure, disturbs the summer’s day. D.
  5030
If ye swear, we’st catch no fish. CL.  5031
If ye would know a knave, give him a staff. H.  5032
If you are too fortunate you will not know yourself; if you are too unfortunate nobody will know you.  5033
If you be a jester keep your wit till you have use for it.  5034
If you be angry you may turn the buckle of your girdle behind you.
  Se l’ à per male, scingasi. Ital. The Spaniards say, Si tienes de mi enojo descalçate un zapato, y echalo en remojo. If you are angry with me, pull off one of your shoes, and lay it in soak.—R.
  5035
If you be false to both beasts and birds, you must, like the bat, fly only by night.  5036
If you be not pleased, put your hand in your pocket and please yourself.  5037
If you beat spice, it will smell the sweeter.  5038
If you bleed your nag on St. Stephen’s Day,
he’ll work your work for ever and aye. D.
  5039
If you buy the cow, take the tail into the bargain.  5040
If you can be well without health, you may be happy without virtue.  5041
If you can kiss the mistress, never kiss the maid.  5042
If you cannot bite, never show your teeth.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.
  5043
If you cannot tell, you are naught to keep sheep.
  Wilkins’ Miseries of Enforced Marriage, 1607, Dodsley’s O. P., v. 12. The play is on the word tell; and the proverb is a sort of taunt to persons who return the idle answer “that they cannot tell.”
  5044
If you could run as you drink, you could catch a hare. H.  5045
If you cut down the woods you’ll catch the wolf.  5046
If you desire to see my light, you must minister oil to my lamp.  5047
If you despise King Log you shall fear King Crane.  5048
If you drink in your pottage you’ll cough in your grave.  5049
If you eat a pudding at home, the dog shall have the skin. C.  5050
If you go to Nun Keling, you shall find your belly filling
            of Whig or of Whay:
but go to Swine, and come betime,
            or else you go empty away:
but the Abbot of Meaus doth keep a good house
            by night and by day. E. R. of Yorkshire.
  Whig, a preparation of milk. Hunter’s Hallamsh. Gloss., 1829, art. Whigged.
  5051
If you grease a cause well, it will stretch.  5052
If you had as little money as manners, you’d be the poorest of all your kin.  5053
If you had done no ill the six days, you may play the seventh.  5054
If you had had fewer friends and more enemies, you had been a better man.  5055
If you had no enemies, it is a sign Fortune has forgot you.  5056
If you hate a man, eat his bread; and if you love him, do the same.  5057
If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.  5058
If you know not me, you know nobody.
  Title of a play by T. Heywood, 4to, 1605; and compare Hobson’s Jests, 1607, and Hazlitt’s Dodsley, vii. 213, where the phrase occurs in a play of 1598.
  5059
If you leap into a well, Providence is not bound to fetch you out.  5060
If you lie upon roses when young, you’ll lie upon thorns when old.  5061
If you love not the noise of the bells, why pull the ropes?  5062
If you love the boll [pod], you cannot hate the branches. CL.  5063
If you make Bacchus your god, Apollo will not keep you company.  5064
If you make not much of threepence, you’ll ne’er be worth a groat.  5065
If you make your wife an ass, she will make you an ox.  5066
If you mock the lame, you will go so yourself in time.  5067
If you oblige those who can never pay you, you make Providence your debtor.  5068
If you pay not a servant his wages, he will pay himself.  5069
If you pity rogues, you are no great friend to honest men.  5070
If you play with a fool at home, he’ll play with you in the market.  5071
If you play with boys, you must take boys’ play.  5072
If you put nothing into your purse, you can take nothing out.  5073
If you run after two hares, you will catch neither.  5074
If you save a rogue from the gallows, he will rob you that same night.  5075
If you see a pin, and let it lie,
you’ll need a pin before you die.
  5076
If you sell the cow, you sell her milk too.  5077
If you sing before breakfast you’ll cry before night. CL.  5078
If you slander a dead man, you stab him in the grave.  5079
If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger:
sneeze on a Tuesday, kiss a stranger:
sneeze on a Wednesday, sneeze for a letter:
sneeze on a Thursday, something better.
sneeze on a Friday, sneeze for sorrow:
sneeze on a Saturday, see your sweetheart to-morrow.
  Halliwell’s Nurs. Rh. of Engl., 6th ed., p. 71. Horman, in his Vulgaria, 4to, 1530, says: “Two or .iij. neses be holsom: one is a shrowed tok.”
  5080
If you squeeze a cork, you will get but little juice.  5081
If you steal for others, you shall be hanged yourself.  5082
If you swallow vice, ’twill rise badly in your stomach.  5083
If you sweep the house with broom in May,
you will sweep the head of that house away.
  Sussex Arch. Coll., xxxiii. 245.
  5084
If you take away the salt, you may throw the flesh to the dogs.  5085
If you tell every step, you will make a long journey of it.  5086
If you toil so for trash, what would you do for treasure? CL.  5087
If you touch pot you must touch penny. Somerset.  5088
If you trust before you try, / you may repent before you die.
  [Greek].—Theogn. Therefore it was an ancient precept, [Greek]. Non vien ingannato se non chi si fida. Ital. There is none deceived but he that trusts.—R.
  5089
If you want a pretence to whip a dog, it is enough to say he ate up the frying-pan. F.  5090
If you want a thing done, do it yourself.
  This is the gist of the Apologue of Æsop on the larks. See Aulus Gellius, c. 29.
  5091
If you will have good cheese, and have old,
you must turn him seven times before he is cold.
  This intends, of course, to express that while a cheese is being made, it must be turned so many times before the warmth has quite left the curd. But in the Cheshire cheese-dairies it is always usual to continue turning the cheeses while they are maturing, so that one side may not remain too long down; and the same practice may prevail perhaps in the Gloucestershire and other farms.
  5092
If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your knuckles.  5093
If you wish a thing done, go; if not, send.  5094
If you wish good advice, consult an old man.  5095
If you wish to go into Hertfordshire,
hitch a little nearer the fire.
  See Hunter’s Hallamshire Glossary, p. 50. The point seems to be in the play on the word Hertfordshire (quasi Hearthfordshire).
  5096
If you would be a pope, you must think of nothing else.  5097
If you would compare two men, you must know them both.  5098
If you would enjoy the fruit, pluck not the flower.  5099
If you would fruit have, / you must carry the leaf to the grave.
  That is, you must transplant your trees just about the fall of the leaf, neither sooner nor much later: not sooner, because of the motion of the sap; not later, that they may have time to take root before the deep frosts.—R.
  5100
If you would go to a church miswent,
you must go to Cuckstone in Kent.
  So said because the church is “very unusual in proportion.”—Halliwell.
  5101
If you would have a good servant, take neither a kinsman nor a friend.  5102
If you would have a hen lay, you must bear with her cackling.  5103
If you would know secrets, look them in grief or pleasure. H.  5104
If you would know the value of a ducat, try to borrow one.  5105
If you would live for ever,
you must wash the milk off your liver. F.
  Vin sur laict c’est souhait, laict sur vin c’est venin. Fr. This is an idle old saw, for which I can see no reason, but rather for the contrary.—R.
  5106
If you would make an enemy, lend a man money, and ask it of him again.  5107
If you would not live to be old, you must be hanged when you are young.  5108
If you would wish the dog to follow you, feed him.  5109
If you wrestle with a collier, you will get a blotch.  5110
If you’ll live a little while, / go to Rapchild:
If you’ll live long, / go to Tenham or Tong.
  Pegge’s Kenticisms, by Skeat, 84.
  5111
If your luck goes on at this rate, you may very well hope to be hanged.  5112
If your meet mate and you meet together,
then shall we see two men bear a feather. HE.
  5113
If your plough be jogging you may have meat for your horses.  5114
If your shoe pinch you, give it your man.  5115
If youth knew what age would crave,
it would both get and save.
  S’ il giovane sapesse e s’ il vecchio potesse, non v’ è cosa che non si’ facesse. Ital.—R.
  5116
Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune.  5117
Ignorance is the mother of impudence.  5118
I’ll be holy, ay, marry will I. CL.  5119
I’ll chance it, as Parson (or Old) Horne did his neck.
  A writer, in Notes and Queries says, that this was once a common saying in the midland counties, and may be now. I have heard of its being used in Scotland. Horne was a clergyman in Nottinghamshire. Horne committed a murder. He escaped to the Continent. After many years’ residence abroad he determined to return. In answer to an attempt to dissuade him, and being told he would be hanged if he did, he said, “I’ll chance it.” He did return, was tried, condemned, and executed. The account of his “life, trial, character, and behaviour” may be found in the Newgate Calendar.
  5120
I’ll die where Bradley died, in the middle of the bed. Irel.  5121
I’ll either grind or find.  5122
I’ll first see thy neck as long as my arm.  5123
I’ll foreheet [predetermine] nothing but building churches and louping over them. Northern.  5124
I’ll give him a kick for a cuff. E. Anglia.
  “A Rowland for an Oliver.”—Forby.
  5125
I’ll go twenty miles on your errand first.  5126
I’ll make a shaft or a bolt on’t. M. W. of Windsor, 1602.  5127
I’ll make him buckle to.  5128
I’ll make him fly up with Jackson’s hens.
  i.e., undo him. So when a man is broke or undone, we say he is blown up.—R.
  5129
I’ll make him know churning days.  5130
I’ll make him water his horse at Highgate.
  i.e., I’ll sue him, and make him take a journey to London.—R.
  5131
I’ll make one, quoth Kirkham, when he danced in his clogs.  5132
I’ll make you know your driver.  5133
I’ll neither meddle nor make [mate] with them.
  Troilus and Cressida, 1609.
  5134
I’ll not go before my mare to the market.
  I’ll do nothing preposterously: I’ll drive my mare before me.—R.
  5135
I’ll not hang my bells on one horse.
  That is, give all to one son.—R.
  5136
I’ll not play with you for shoe buckles.  5137
I’ll not wear the wooden dagger.  5138
I’ll see thee hanged first.
  Shakespeare, Henry IV., Part 1, ii. 1.
  5139
I’ll send you to Bodmin.
  i.e., to gaol.
  5140
I’ll tent thee, quoth Wood;
if I can’t rule my daughter, I’ll rule my good.
  5141
I’ll thank you for the next, for this I am sure of.  5142
I’ll throw you into Harborough Field. Leicestershire.
  A threat for children, Harborough having no field.—R.
  5143
I’ll trust him no farther than I can fling him.
  Or, than I can throw a millstone. Compare No further than I can, &c.
  5144
I’ll vease thee. Somerset.  5145
I’ll warrant you for an egg at Easter.  5146
Ill comes upon war’s back.  5147
Ill doers are ill thinkers.  5148
Ill doth the devil preserve his servants.  5149
Ill egging makes ill begging.
  Evil persons, by enticing and flattery, draw on others to be as bad as themselves—R.
  5150
Ill fare that bird that picks out the dam’s eye! CL.  5151
Ill goes the boat without oars. B. OF M. R. and DS.  5152
Ill-gotten goods thrive not to the third heir.
  The idea is in Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 303, and in Flautur. Male parta male delabuntur—Erasm. “Della robba di mal acquista non se ne vede allegrezza. Ital. And, Vien presto consumato l’ingiustamente acquistato. De mal è venu l’agneau et à mal retourne le peau. Fr. To naught it goes that came from naught. [Greek]. Mala lucra æqualia damnis.”—R. Compare De bonis, &c., the Latin equivalent, which is almost better understood. “What successe they haue had, some of them haue reported, finding the prouerbe true, that ill gotten goodes are il spent.” Second and Third Blast of Retrait from Plaies and Theaters, 1580, in Hazlitt’s English Drama and Stage, 1869, p. 152.
  5153
Ill-gotten, ill-spent. C.  5154
Ill kings make many good laws.  5155
Ill luck is good for something. C.
  A quelque chose malheur est bon. Fr. Misfortune is good for something.
  5156
Ill luck is worse than found money.  5157
Ill natures never want a tutor.  5158
Ill natures, the more you ask them, the more they stick. H.  5159
Ill news comes apace.
  W. Browne, in his Elegy on Prince Henry, 1613, has:—
        “Is that the cause fair Maids? then stay and know
Bad newes are swift of wing, the Good are slow.”—
Sign. E. This Elegy was incorporated with Britannia’s Pastorals; but the lines quoted were cancelled.
  5160
Ill news comes too soon. C.  5161
Ill sowers make ill harvest.  5162
Ill tongues ought to be heard only by persons of discretion.  5163
Ill vessels seldom miscarry. H.  5164
Ill ware is never cheap. H.  5165
Ill weather is seen soon enough when it comes.  5166
Ill weeds grow fast. C.
  Mauvaise herbe croît toujours. Fr. Pazzi crescono senza inaffiargli. Ital. Fools grow without watering. A mauvais chien la queüe luy vient. Fr. Herba mala presto cresce. Ital.—R.
          “Mother.                    Good Lord,
How you are grown?—Is he not, Alexander?
  Alex.  Yes, truly, he’s shot up finely, God be thanked!
  Mercury.  An ill weed, mother, will do so.
  Alex.  You say true, sir; an ill weed grows apace.”
The Coxcomb (1612), Dyce’s Beaumont and Fletcher, iii. 186.
  5167
Ill will never said well.  5168
Ill words are bellows to a slackening fire.  5169
Ill wounds may be cured, but not ill names.  5170
Imitation is the sincerest flattery.  5171
Impatience never gets preferment.  5172
Impedit omne forum / carentia denariorum.
  Plumpton Correspondence, 1839, p. 13, in a letter of 1464. It is introduced as an expression likely to be easily understood. There is an English equivalent.
  5173
In a calm sea, every man is a pilot.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.
  5174
In a false quarrel there is no true valour.  5175
In a fiddler’s house all are dancers.  5176
In a fiddler’s house all fiddle.  5177
In a good house all is quickly ready. H.  5178
In a great river great fish are found,
but take heed lest you be drowned. H.
  5179
In a leopard the spots are not observed. H.
  Perhaps because they are familiar. But in the black leopard they are apt to be overlooked, unless he is seen in strong sunlight.
  5180
In a long journey straw weighs. H.  5181
In a night’s time springs up a mushroom.  5182
In a retreat the lame are foremost. H.  5183
In a shoulder of veal there are twenty and two good bits.
  This is a piece of country wit. They mean by it there are twenty (others say forty) bits in a shoulder of veal, and but two good ones.—R.
  5184
In a thousand pounds of law there’s not an ounce of love.  5185
In all games it is good to leave off a winner.  5186
In an enemy spots are soon seen.  5187
In an ermine spots are soon discovered.  5188
In and out, / like Bellesdon I wot.  5189
In April Dove’s flood / is worth a king’s good. C.
  Leigh’s England Described, 1659, p. 179. “The river Dove has a white clayish channel, without any shelves of mud, which is so greatly enriched by running on a limestone soil, as Camden relates, that the meadows on both sides have a fresh and green aspect, even in the depth of winter; and if it overflows there in April, it renders them so fruitful, that the neighbouring inhabitants joyfully, on this occasion, apply the following rhyme:
        In April, Dove’s flood
Is worth a King’s good.
  But Dr. Plot ascribes this fertility to the sheep’s dung washed down from the hills by the rain, and thrown on the banks by the floods.”—Universal Magazine, p. 49, 1758, quoted by Brady, Var. of Lit., 1826.
  5190
In April / the cuckoo shows his bill;
in May, / he sings all day;
in June, / he alters his tune;
in July, / away he’ll fly:
in August, / away he must.
  Halliwell’s Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, 1849, p. 160.
  5191
In at one ear and out of the other. CL.
  Dentro da un crecchio e fuora dall’ altra. Ital.—R.
  5192
In choice of a wife let virtue be thy guide,
for beauty’s a blossom that fadeth like pride:
and wealth without wisdom will waste fast away;
if chaste thoughts be lacking, all soon will decay.
  Countryman’s New Commonwealth, 1647.
  5193
In choosing a wife and buying a sword, we ought not to trust another. H.  5194
In conversation, dwell not too long on a weak side.  5195
In courtesy, rather pay a penny too much than too little.  5196
In every country dogs bite. H.  5197
In every country the sun riseth in the morning. H.  5198
In every fault there is folly.  5199
In fair weather prepare for foul.  5200
In for a penny, in for a pound.
  Preso por uno, preso por ciento. Span.—R.
  5201
In Golgotha are skulls of all sizes.  5202
In good bearing beginneth worship.
  How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, i.
  5203
In good years corn is hay: in ill years straw is corn. H.  5204
In haste, like a snail. HE.  5205
In his mother’s plum-tree.
  In the womb. Comp. Ancient Ballads and Broadsides, 1867.
  5206
In hugger-mugger.
  “Tom Strowd…. I do but stay here to talk 3 or 4 cold words in hugger-mugger with the Blind-beggars Daughter….”—Day’s Blind Beggar of Bednal Green, 1659, ed. Bullen, 89.
  5207
In July / some reap rye,
in August, / if one won’t, t’ other must.
        “En May rosée, en Mars gresil,
Pluye abondante au mois d’Avril,
Le laboureur content plus
Que ne feroient cinq cens escus.”
Old Fr. in Hart. MS., 4043, 16th cent., in Rel. Antiq. ii. 10.    
  5208
 

 
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