E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Persons ready to quarrel for anything. The allusion is to the jugglers who eat flaming tow, pour melted lead down their throats, and hold red-hot metal between their teeth. Richardson, in the seventeenth centurySignora Josephine Girardelli (the original Salamander), in the early part of the nineteenth centuryand Chaubert, a Frenchman, of the present century, were the most noted of these exhibitors.
The great fire-eater lay unconscious upon the floor of the house.Nashville Banner.