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thence arose that saying, amongst our plain and sensible ancestors, of giving one a " Rowland for his Oliver," to signify the matching one incredible lie with another. — Thomas Warburton.
The island of Sardinia, consisting chiefly of marshes or of mountains, has, from the earliest period to the present, been cursed with a noxious air, an ill-cultivated soil, and a scanty population. The convulsions produced by its poisonous plants gave rise to the expression of sardonic smile, which is as old as Homer (Odyssey, xx. 302). — Million, History of England, Vol. i. p. 287.
See how these Christians love one another.
Vide, inquiunt, ut invicem se diligant. — Tertullian, Apolot/et., c. 39.
Sinews of war.
jEschines (Advt. Ctesiph., e. 153) ascribes to Demosthenes the expression vwortrfjtrjTai ra vtvpa ruv irpaypdruv, "the sinews of affairs are cut." Diogenes Laertius, in his Life of Bion (Lib. iv. c. 7, § 3), represents that philosopher as saying rbv -wKovrov ttvai vtvpa •wpayiiaWwv, ''that riches were the sinews of business," or, as the phrase may mean, "of the state." Referring, perhaps, to this maxim of Bion, Plutarch says in his Life of Cleomcnes (c. 27), "He who first called money the sinews of the state seems to have said this with special reference to war." Accordingly, we find money called expressly ra. vtvpa rod ro\4fiov, "the sinews of war," in Libanius, Orat. xlvi. (Vol. ii. p. 477, ed. Reiske), and by the Scholiast on Pindar, Olymp., i. 4 (comp. Photius, Lex. 8. v. Ktydvopos Ttaoutou). So Cicero, Philipp., v. 2, "nervos belli, infinitam pecuniam."
Smell of the lamp.
Plutarch, Life of Demosthenes.
Speech was given to man to conceal his thoughts.
lis n'employent les paroles que pour deguiser leurs pensees.— Voltaire, Dialogue xiv. 1763.
When Harcl wished to put a joke or witticism into circulation, he was in the habit of connecting it with some celebrated name, on the chance of reclaiming it if it took. Thus he assigned to Talleyrand in the Jfain Jaunt the phrase, "Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts."—Fournier, L'Etprit dans VHistoire. See Young, ante, p. 266.
Strike, but hear.
Eurybiades lifting up his staff as if he was going to strike,
Style is a man's own.
Le style est I'homme mSrae. — Buffon, (Oeuvres Completes, Vol.
Talk of nothing but business, and despatch that busi-
Tempest in a teapot.
C'est une tempete dans une verre d'eau. — This was said of the insurrectionary movement in Geneva. It is attributed to Paul, Grand-Due de Russie, and also to Linguet.
The empire, it is peace.
An exclamation of Napoleon III. at a public banquet at Bordeaux, Oct. 9, 1852.
The Guard dies, but never surrenders.
This phrase, attributed to Cambronnc, who was made prisoner at Waterloo, was vehemently denied by him. It was invented by Rougemont, a prolific author of mots, two days after the battle, in the Independant.— Fournicr, L'Esprit dans I'His. toire.
The King is dead! Long live the King!
The death of Louis XIV. was announced by the captain of the body-guard from the window of the state apartment. Raising his truncheon above his head, he broke it in the centre, and, throwing the pieces among the crowd, exclaimed in a loud voice, Le Roi est mart! then, taking another staff, he flourished it in the air as he shouted, Vive le Itoi!
"There is no other royal path which leads to geometry," said Euclid to Ptolemy I. Proclus, Commentary on Euclid's Elements, Book ii. Ch. 4.
We have changed all that.
Moliere, Le .Wedecin malore Lui, Act ii. Sc. 6.
We are dancing on a volcano.
In the midst of a fete given by the Duke of Orleans to the King of Naples, in 1830, a few days before the events of the three days of July, M. de Salrandy said to the Duke, "Nous dansons But un volcano."
When at Rome, do as the Romans do.
St. Augustine was in the habit of dining upon Saturday as upon Sunday; but, being puzzled with the different practices then prevailing (for they had begun to fast at Rome on Saturday), consulted St. Ambrose on the subject. Now at Milan they did not fast on Saturday, and the answer of the Milan saint was this: "When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday; when at Rome, I do fast on Saturday."
"Quando hie sum, non jejuno Sabbato: quando Rome sum,
When they are at Rome, they do there as they see done.—Burton,
When in doubt, win the trick.
Hoyle, Twenty-four RuUifor Learners, Rale 12.
Where the shoe pinches.
Plutarch relates the story of a Roman being divorced from his wife. "This person, being highly blamed by his friends, who demanded, Was she not chaste? Was she not fair? holding out his shoe, asked them whether it was not new and well made. Yet, added he, none of you can tell where it pinches me." — Plutarch, Life of ^Emilias Paulus.
Wisdom of many and the wit of one.
A definition of a proverb which Lord John Russell gave one morning at breakfast at Murdock's, — " One man's wit, and all men's wisdom." — Memoirs of Mackintosh, Vol. ii. p. 473.
Wooden walls of England.
The creditc of the Realmc, by defending the same with our
You carry Caesar and his fortunes.
FOUND IN THE WORKS OF ENGLISH WRITERS, WHICH ARE OF COMMON ORIGIN.
A brown study.
It seemes to me ... . that you are in some brown study
Lyly, Euphues, 1580, Arber's reprint, p. 80.
A curtain lecture.
Part of the title of a volume printed in 1637.
A day after the fair.
John Heywood, Works, Ch. viii., 1562; Thomas Heywood, If you know not me, etc., 1605; Tarlton's Jests, 1611.
All is fish that cometh to net.
Heywood's Proverbs, 1546; Tusser, Five Hundred Points of
All that glisters is not gold.
Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, Act ii. Sc. 7; Heywood's
All is not gold that glisteneth.
But all thing which that shineth as the gold
1 Tyrwhitt says this is taken from the Parabola of Alanus de Insulis, who died in 1294: —
"Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet et aurum."
All is not golde that outward shewith bright.
Gold all is not that doth golden seem.
All, as they say, that glitters is not gold.
Que tout n'est pas ore c'on voit luire.
Another, yet the same.
Pope, Dunciad, Book iii.; Tickell, From a Lady in England;
Anything for a Quiet Life.
As cold as a cucumber.
Fletcher, Cupid's Revenge, 1615.
As the case stands.
Middleton, The Old Law, Act i. W. 1; Henry's Commentaries,
At my finger's end.
Hevwood's Proverbs, 1546; Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act i.
At six and seven.
Heywood's Proverbs; Middleton, The Widow, Act i. Sc. 2.
Beat the bush.
Heywood's Proverbs, 1546; Pettowe's Philochasander and Elanira, 1599.
Beggars should [must] be no choosers.
Heywood's Proverbs, 1546; Beaumont and Fletcher, Scornful
Better day the better deed.
Ray's Proverbs, 1670; Sir John Holt (1642-1709), Sir W.