Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
W.C. Hazlitt, comp.  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases.  1907.
Ka me  to  Lightly come
Ka me, ka thee. HE.
  Merie Tales of Skelton, 1567, No. 11; Armin’s Nest of Ninnies, 1608. Da mihi mutuum testimonium. Cic. Orat. pro Flacco. Lend me an oath or testimony. Swear for me, and I’ll do as much for you. And, Pro Delo Calauriam. Neptune changed with Latona Delos for Calauria. Another term is: Scratch my breech, and I’ll claw your elboe; upon which Ray remarks: Mutuum muli scabunt. When undeserving persons commend one another [like our modern “Mutual Admiration Society”]. Manus manum fricat, and Manus manum lavat, differ not much in sense.
Keep again the sow.  5611
Keep counsel thyself first.  5612
Keep good men company, and you shall be of the number. H.
  New Help to Discourse, 1721, p. 134.
Keep not ill men company, lest you increase the number. H.  5614
Keep some, / till furthermore come.  5615
Keep the whole from the broken.
  Newbery’s Dives Pragmaticus, 1563.
Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee.
  Poor Richard Improved, 1758. Quien tiene tienda, que atienda. Span.—R.
Keep your breath to cool your broth.
  This is still a common phrase. It occurs in Porter’s Two Angrie Women of Abington, 1599, edit. Dyce, p. 42, in the Merchant of Venice, i. 1, and in The Knight of the Burning Pestle, perhaps written as early as 1610. Dyce’s B. and F., ii. 206. It is also found in Fletcher’s Scornful Lady, 1616, act ii. sc. 1.
Keep your eye to Hingston. S. Devon.
  i.e., Keep the main object in view, Hingston Down being a high range of hill, visible many miles off.—Shelly.
Keep your feet dry and your head hot, and for the rest live like a beast.  5620
Keep your hurry in your fist. Irish.  5621
Keep your purse and your mouth close.  5622
Keep your tongue within your teeth.  5623
Keep yourself from the anger of a great man, from the tumult of a mob, from a man of ill fame, from a widow that has been thrice married, from wind that comes in at a hole, and from a reconciled enemy.  5624
Keeping from falling is better than helping up.  5625
Kempe’s Shoes.
  See Faiths and Folklore, 1965, p. 543, and Nares, Glossary, 1859, in v.
Kent and Keer / have parted many a good man and his meer.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., No. 104. These two rivers in Lancashire are fatal or dangerous to persons attempting to ford them with their horses or mares. Mr. Skeat, I see, has inserted this in his edition of Pegge’s Kenticisms, and in the Note he has explained Keer to mean (probably) care.
  “The river Kent, at low water, flows in several channels over the sands, to the middle of Morecambe Bay. The Keer enters upon the sands in a broad and rapid current, rendering the passage over it at times more dangerous than fording the Kent. Many have perished in fording both rivers when swollen, and in crossing the adjacent sands without due regard to the state of the tide.”—Lancashire Legends, 1873, p. 193–4. The Kent rises in Westmoreland. Lewis’s Book of English Rivers, 1855, p. 189.
Kentish cousins.
  “Cousins-german quite removed.” A phrase this, which appears to have arisen from the unusual amount of intermarriages which took place in the county of old. See Skeat’s ed. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 78–9.
Kentish longtails.
  I conceive it first of outlandish extraction, and cast by foreigners as a note of disgrace on all Englishmen; though it chanceth to stick only on the Kentish at this day. What the original or occasion of it at first was, is hard to say; whether from wearing a pouch or bag, to carry their baggage in behind their backs, whilst probably the proud Monsieurs had their lacquies for that purpose; or whether from the mentioned story of Austin. Why this nickname (cut off from the rest of England) continues still entailed on Kent, the reason may be (as the Doctor [Fuller] conjectures) because that county lies nearest to France, and the French are beheld as the first founders of this aspersion.—R. Manningham, in his Diary, 16th June, 1602, says: “Kentish tayles are nowe turned to such spectacles, see that yf a man put them on his nose he shall haue all the land he can see,” i.e., probably, none at all.
Kent-shire: / as hot as fire.
  On account of its chalk hills and chalky as well as gravelly soil.—Pegge’s Kenticisms, by Skeat, p. 74.
Kerdon was a market-town / when Ex’ter was a vuzzy down.
  i.e., Crediton. A somewhat similar saying is extant relative to Plymouth and Plympton; but there may very well be some truth in the ancient prosperity of what is now merely a large straggling hamlet, since Crediton was the seat of the extinct bishopric of Devon and Cornwall.
  In his Autobiography, Dr. Simon Forman refers to his friend and bed-fellow, Henry Gird, son of a Kersey man of Kirton in Devonshire.
Keystone under the hearth, keystone under the horse’s belly.
  A proverb current among the early New Forest smugglers.—Wise’s New Forest, 1867, p. 170, 2nd edit.
Kill the lion’s whelp.  5633
Kill two birds with one stone.  5634
  i.e., Higgledy-piggledy. “1666. This yeare all my business and affairs ran kim-kam, nothing tooke effect.”—Aubrey’s Autobiog. Memoranda, apud Miscellanies, ed. 1857, xii.
Kind to-day, cross to-morrow. CL.  5636
Kind will creep where it cannot go. HE.
  i.e., Nature. Summoning of Every Man (circa 1530), in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 113. Camden, in his Remaines, 1614, seems to have missed the point, and has kindness, in which he is followed by all the modern editors.
Kinder scout, / the cowdest place areawt. Derbyshire.
  Higson’s MSS. Coll., ex rel. patris.
Kindle not a fire that you cannot extinguish.  5639
Kindnesses, like grain, increase by sowing.  5640
King Arthur did not violate the refuge of a woman.  5641
King Cambyses’ vein.
  That is, bombastic or turgid from the prevailing tone of Preston’s drama of Cambyses, first printed about 1570.
King Harry loved a man. C.
  i.e., Valiant men love such as are so, and hate cowards.—R.
King Henry robbed the church and died poor.  5644
King of Hungary’s peace.
        “First Gent.  Heaven grant us its peace,
But not the King of Hungary’s.”
Measure for Measure, i. 2.    
King of the Peak.
  The Peak is a district in Derbyshire so called. It is well known that the famous old ruin of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, was formerly the seat of the Vernons. In a Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain, iii. 98, it is said: “Sir George Vernon, in Queen Elizabeth’s time, was stiled King of the Peak, and his daughter being married to Thomas, the son of the first Earl of Rutland, it came into the family of the Manners.”
Kings an’ bears aft worry their keepers.  5647
Kings are out o’ play.  5648
King’s blood should keep word.  5649
Kings love the treason, but not the traitor.
  Los reyes se pagan de la traycion, pero no del traydor. Span.—R.
Kings that are good are called gods.
  The saying may have originated in the practice of apotheosis or deification among the Romans, when an emperor displayed qualities above the average. T. G., Rich Cabinet Furnished with Varietie of Description, &c., 1616, fol. 74 verso. “Quand en un prince la vertu et bonnes conditions précédent les vices, il est digne de grand memoire et louange.”—Memoires de Commines, Prologue.
Kinsman helps kinsman, but woe to him that has nothing.
  Booke of Merry Riddles, 1639, No. 19.
Kirby’s castle, and Megse’s glory; Spinola’s pleasure, and Fish’s folly.
  These were four houses about the city, built by citizens, large and sumptuous above their estates.—R. Fuller [1662] says, “The first of these is so uncastellated, and the glory of the second so obscured, that very few know (and it were needless to tell them) where these houses stood. As for Spinola, a Genoan, made a free denizen, the master and fellows of a college in Cambridge knew too well what he was, by their expensive suit, known to posterity by Magdalen-College case, If his own country (I mean the Italian) curse did overtake him, and if the plague of building did light upon him, few, I believe, did pity him. As for the last, it was built by Jasper Fish, free of the Goldsmiths’, one of the six clerks in Chancery, and a justice of peace, who being a man of no great wealth (as indebted to many), built here a beautiful house, with gardens of pleasure, and fine long alleys about it, called Devonshire House to this day.” See Lysons’s Environs, ii. 29. Fish’s Folly is also called by some authorities Fisher’s Folly, following Stow who nevertheless states that the builder was Jasper Fish, Goldsmith.
Kiss till the cow come home.
  This appears to be introduced proverbially into Fletcher’s Scornful Lady, 1616, where Loveless says:
        “And you, my learned council, set and turn, boys;
Kiss till the cow come home.”—Dyce’s B. and F., iii. 31.
Kisses are keys. CL.
  Clarke also gives: After kissing comes more kindness.
Kissing goes by favour. CL.  5656
Kissing’s out of fashion when the furze’s out of blossom.  5657
Kit cat-cannio.
  Another name for the game of Noughts and Crosses.
Kit hath lost her key.
  i.e., her maidenhead. See Rimbault’s Book of Songs and Ballads, 1851, p. 49. But comp. Davies, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 362.
Knavery may serve for a turn.  5660
Knavery, without luck, is the worst trade in the world.  5661
Knavery’s plain face is never seen till used.  5662
Knaves and fools divide the world.  5663
Knaves are in such repute that honest men are accounted fools.  5664
Knaves imagine nothing can be done without knavery.  5665
Knit my dog a pair of breeches, and my cat a codpiece.
  Said ironically of anything done inappropriately.
Knock under the board.
  He must do so that will not drink his cup.—R.
Knotty timber requires sharp wedges.  5668
Know ere thou knit, and then thou mayst slack:
if thou knit ere thou know, then it is too late.
  Caxton’s ed. of Lydgate Stans Puer ad Mensam, ad fin. “Know before thou knit.”—Pyrrye’s Prayse and Disprayse of Women [1564].
Knowledge begins a gentleman, but ’tis conversation that completes him.  5670
Knowledge is a second light, and hath bright eyes.  5671
Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.  5672
Knowledge is no burden.  5673
Knowledge is power.
  This saying, says St. John (Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece, 1842, i. 107), may be traced to Plato, De Rep. v. t. vi. p. 268.
Labbe it wist, and out it must.
  MS. 15th cent., cited in Retrosp. Rev., 3rd S., ii. 309.
Lad’s love is lassies’ delight,
and if lads won’t love, lassies will flite. Craven.
  Lad’s Love has a double meaning, being one of the names of the sothernwood or old man. Flite is to scold, the same as the Scotish Flit.
Lad’s love’s a busk of broom, hot awhile and soon done.  5677
Lady Willowby.
  The rod. Hazlitt’s Dodsley, ix. 27.
Lady’s Bed-straw.
  The Pharnaceum moluge of botany. An evergreen plant or shrub, of which the name may allude to its former employment as the stuffing of beds.
  An expression applied to persons who affect youthful manners and dress.
  Decker, in his Lanthorne and Candlelight, 1608, sign. I., has a chapter, “How a Horse-Courser makes a Iade that has no stomach to eate Lamb-pye,” which of course consists in belabouring the wretched creature with a cudgel till he can scarcely stand.
Lame Giles has played the man. CL.  5682
Lame hares are ill to help.  5683
Lancashire fair women.
  Whether the women of this county be indeed fairer than their neighbours, I know not; but that the inhabitants of some counties may be, and are generally fairer than those of others, is most certain: the reason whereof is to be attributed partly to the temperature of the air, partly to the condition of the soil, and partly to their manner of food. The hotter the climate, generally the blacker the inhabitants; and the colder the fairer: the colder, I say, to a certain degree; for in extreme cold countries the inhabitants are of dusky complexions. But in the same climate, that in some places the inhabitants should be fairer than in others proceeds from the diversity of the situation (either high or low, maritime, or far from sea), or of the soil and manner of living, which we see have so much influence upon beasts as to alter them in bigness, shape and colour; and why it may not have the like on men, I see not.—R. Nor do I.
Land of green ginger.
  Marriage of Wit and Wisdom (circa 1570), Sh. Soc. ed., 41, where Idlenes says:
        “I haue bin at St. Quintins,
  Where I was twise kild;
I haue bin at Musselborow,
  At the Scottish feeld;
I haue bin in the land of greene ginger—”
Land was never lost for want of an heir.
  Ai ricchi non mancano parenti. Ital. The rich never want kindred.—R.
Large trees give more shade than fruit.  5687
Lasses are lads’ leavings. Cheshire.
  In the east part of England, where they use the word mauther for a girl, they have a fond old saw of this nature, viz.: Wenches are tinkers’ bitches, girls are pedlars’ trulls, and modhers are honest men’s doughters.—R.
Last, but not least.
        “Now, Madam Tinder, your aggrieves are last.
  Tinder.  But not the least.”—Lady Alimony, 1659.
  But Spenser, in his Colin Clout, 1595, has the form: “though last, not least” in apparent allusion to Shakespeare under the name of Aëtion.
Last in bed, best heard.  5690
Laugh and be fat.
  Title of a tract by Taylor the Water-poet, printed about 1815, and re-published in his works, 1630; Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Libr., repr. 181).
Laugh and lie down.
  Title of a tract by C. T., perhaps Cyril Tourneur, 4to, 1605.
Laugh at leisure; ye may greet ere night.  5693
Laugh on one eye and cry on the other. CL.  5694
Laughter is the hiccup of a fool.  5695
Lavishness is not generosity.  5696
Law cannot persuade where it cannot punish.  5697
Law is a bottomless pit.  5698
Laws catch flies, but let hornets go free.  5699
Lawyers’ gowns are lined with the wilfulness of their clients.  5700
Lawyers’ houses are built on the heads of fools.  5701
Lay on more wood; ashes give money.  5702
Lay the saddle upon the right horse.  5703
Lay things by; they may come to use.  5704
Lay thy hand upon thy halfpenny twice, before thou partest with it.  5705
Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.  5706
Lazy folks take the most pains.  5707
Lazy Lawrence or Sir Lawrence Lazy.
  A saying, as well as another one, probably unconnected with the Saint, and derived from some individual. Comp. Lusty Lawrence, and I’ve got, &c.
Lean liberty is better than fat slavery.  5709
Lean not on a reed.  5710
Learn weeping, and thou shalt laugh gaining. H.  5711
Learn not, and know not.  5712
Learn to lick betimes; you know not whose tail you may go by.  5713
Learn to say before you sing.  5714
Learning is a sceptre to some, a bauble to others.  5715
Learning is the eye of the mind. Draxe.  5716
Learning makes a good man better and an ill man worse.  5717
Learning makes a man fit company for himself.  5718
Leave a jest / when it pleases you best.  5719
Leave is light. HE.
  It is an easy matter to ask leave, only the expense of a little breath; and therefore servants, and such as are under command, are much to blame, when they will do, or neglect to do, what they ought not, or ought, without asking.—R.
Leave jesting while it pleaseth, lest it turn to earnest. H.  5721
Leave the court ere the court leave thee.  5722
Leave well alone.  5723
Leaves enough, but few grapes.  5724
Left and right / brings good at night.
  When your right eye itches, it is a sign of good luck; when the left, a sign of bad luck: when both itch, the above distich expresses the popular belief.—Halliwell.
Lemster [Leominster] bread and Weabley ale. Herefordshire.
  Both these the best in their kinds, understand it of this country. Otherwise there is wheat in England that will vie with that of Lemster for pureness: for example, that of (Norden’s Middlesex, Camden. Brit.) Heston, near Harrow on the Hill, in Middlesex, of which for a long time the manchet for the kings of England was made: and for ale, Derby town, and Northdown in the Isle of Thanet, Hull in Yorkshire, and Sambich in Cheshire, will scarce give place to Weabley.—R.
Lend and lose; so play fools.  5727
Lend thy horse for a long journey: thou mayest have him return with his skin.  5728
Less of your courtesy and more of your purse.
  Re opitulandum, non verbis.—R.
Let a horse drink when he will, not what he will.  5730
Let an ill man lie in thy straw, and he looks to be thy heir. H.  5731
Let another’s shipwreck be your sea-mark.  5732
Let but the drunkard alone, and he will fall of himself.  5733
Let bygones be bygones.
        “Suppose all byegones as [char.]e se;
[char.]e are nae prophet worth a plak,
  Nor I bund to believe.”
Montgomery’s Cherrie and Slae, 1597, st. 83.    
Let every cuckold wear his own horns.  5735
Let every herring hang by its own tail. Irish.  5736
Let every man praise the bridge he goes over.
  i.e., Speak not ill of him who hath done you a courtesy, or whom you have made use of to your benefit, or do commonly make use of.—R.
Let every pedlar carry his own burden.  5738
Let every tub stand on its own bottom.
  Chacun ira au moulin avec son propre sac. Fr. Every one must go to the mill with his own sack; i.e., bear his own burden. Some say, Let every man soap his own beard.—R. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678.
Let go the cup.
  i.e., Pass the cup. Was no doubt a regular proverb. See Piers Plowman, ed. Wright, p. 97.—Note by Mr. Skeat.
Let him alone with the saint’s bell, and give him rope enough.  5741
Let him be begged for a fool.
  Walker (1672). At the time when Walker wrote, the pernicious and wicked practice to which this saying refers was not yet extinct. See Thoms’ Anecdotes and Traditions, 1839, p. 7.
Let him hang by the heels. Somerset.
  The man that dies in debt; his wife leaving all at her death, crying her goods at three markets, and three parish churches, is so free of all her debts.—R.
Let him have as he brews.
        “Richard of Alemaigne, whil that he was kyng,
He spende al is tresour vpon swyvyng;
Haveth he nout of Walingford o ferlyng:
Let him habbe ase he brew, bale to dryng.”
Maugre Wyndesore.    
  Wright’s Political Songs, 1839, p. 62.—Another form is, Let him drink as he has brewed.
Let him mend his manners; it will be his own another day.  5745
Let him that earns the bread eat it.  5746
Let him that owns the cow take her by the tail.  5747
Let him that receives the profit repair the inn.  5748
Let me gain by you, and no matter whether you love me or not.  5749
Let me see, as the blind man said.  5750
Let no woman’s painting breed thy heart’s fainting.  5751
Let none say, I will not drink water. H.  5752
Let not him that fears feathers come among wildfowl. H.  5753
Let not the child sleep upon bones. Somerset.
  The nurse’s lap.—R.
Let not the mouse-trap smell of blood.  5755
Let not your tongue run at rover. HE.*  5756
Let not your tongue run away with your brains.  5757
Let patience grow in your garden always. HE.*
  Patience is also the name of a dock used sometimes in physic; hence the double entendre.
Let pleasure [lust, voluptas] overcome thee, and thou learnest to like it, quoth Hendyng.
  P. of H. (Reliq. Antiq. i. 110)
Let the best horse leap the hedge first.  5760
Let the black sheep keep the white. CL.  5761
Let the cat wink, and let the mouse run. HE.
  Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 265. The first portion is in the interlude of the World and the Child, 1522, and in Appius and Virginia, 1575.
Let the church stand in the churchyard.  5763
Let the grafts be very good, / or the knife be where it stood.  5764
Let the horns go with the hide.  5765
Let the losers have their words. HE.  5766
Let the plough stand to catch a mouse.  5767
Let the smith himself wear the fetters he forged.  5768
Let the thresher take his flail, / and the ship no more sail.
  Stevenson’s Twelve Moneths, 1661, p. 51, under November.
Let the world pass.
  Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (1566), ed. 1847, p. 41.
Let the world slide.
  Towneley Mysteries, 101; Induction to the Taming of a Shrew.
Let the world wag.
  Triall of Treasure, 1567, edit. 1849, p. 13.
Let them care that come a-hent.  5773
Let them laugh that win.  5774
Let them that be a-cold blow at the coal. HE. and DS.
  But it is used by Skelton before Heywood’s time (Why come ye nat to Courte, Works, ed. Dyce, ii. 29).
Let thy grandchild buy wax, and do not thou trouble thyself.  5776
Let Uter Pendragon do what he can,
the river Eden will run as it ran.
  Parallel to that Latin verse,—
        “Naturam expellas furcâ licet usque recurret.”
  Tradition reporteth that Uter Pendragon had a design to fortify the castle of Pendragon in this county [Westmoreland]. In order whereto, with much art and industry, he invited and tempted the river Eden to forsake his old channel, but all to no purpose.—R.
Let women spin and not preach.  5778
Let your purse be your master.
  Messe tenus propriâ vive.—R.
Let your trouble tarry till its own day comes.  5780
Let’s have no Gateshead. North.
  Unfair play at cards.
Leve [trust], none better than thyself.
  How the Goode Wif, &c., in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i.
Liar, liar, lick-spit, / your tongue shall be slit;
and all the dogs in the town / shall have a little bit.
  Quoted in Chettle’s Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631 (written long before it was printed).
Liars should have good memories.  5784
Liberality is not giving largely, but wisely.  5785
Liberty Hall.  5786
Lick honey with your little finger. WALKER.  5787
Lickorish of tongue, light of tail.
  Wilson’s Arte of Rhetorique, 1553, edit. 1584, p. 221.
Lie not in the mire, and say, God help! CL.
  This is, of course, merely a sentence formed out of the old Æsopian apologue of Hercules and the wagoner.
Lies have short wings.
  Davies Sc. of Folly (1611), p. 146.
Life and misery began together.  5791
Life is a shuttle.  5792
Life is half spent before we know what it is.  5793
Life is sweet.  5794
Life lieth not in living, but in liking.
  Martial saith, Non est vivere, sed valere vita.—R.
Life without a friend is death without a witness. H.  5796
Life would be too smooth if it had no rubs in it.  5797
Light burthen, far heavy. H.
  Petit fardeau pese a la longue; or Petite chose de loin pese. Fr.—R.
Light cheap, lither yield.
  “Men say, lyght chene … letherly for yeeldys.”—Towneley Mysteries, p. 102. We still say, Cheap and nasty. That that costs little will do little service for commonly the best is best cheap.—R. “Courteous Reader, do you not wonder? if you do not, well you may, to see so slight a Pamphlet so quickly spent: but lightly come, and lightly go; it is a Juglers Term.”—Hocus Pocus Junior, &c., edit. 1683, To the Reader.
Light gains make a heavy purse. C.
  Le petit gain remplit la bourse. Fr. They that sell for small profit, vend more commodities, and make quick returns; so that to invert the proverb, What they lose in the hundred, they gain in the county. Whereas they who sell dear, sell little, and many times lose a good part of their wares, either spoiled or grown out of fashion by long keeping. Poco è spesso empie il borsetto. Ital. Little ond often fills the purse.—R.
Light-heeled mothers make leaden-heeled daughters.  5801
Light suppers make clean sheets.  5802
Lightly come, lightly go. HE.
  Debate of Carpenters Tools, in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, i. Three Tales of Thrie Priests of Peblis, 1603, p. 227 (Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry of Scotland, i. 135). See above.


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