E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Patron saint of goldsmiths, being himself a noted worker in gold. He is represented generally in pontifical robes, but carrying a pair of pincers in his right hand. The pontificals refer to his office as Archbishop of Canterbury, and the pincers to the legend of his holding the Devil by the nose till he promised never to tempt him again.
St. Dunstan and the devil. Dunstan was a painter, jeweller, and blacksmith. Being expelled from court, he built a cell near Glastonbury church, and there he worked at his handicrafts. It was in this cell that tradition says the Devil had a gossip with the saint through the lattice window. Dunstan went on talking till his tongs were red hot, when he turned round suddenly and caught his Satanic Majesty by the nose. One can trace in this legend the notion that all knowledge belonged to the Black Art; that the saints are always more than conquerors over the spirits of evil; and the singular cunning which our forefathers so delighted to honour.