p.181 /


      Metrical proverbs are so numerous, that a large volume might be filled with them without much difficulty; and it is, therefore, unnecessary to say that nothing beyond a very small selection is here attempted. We may refer the curious reader to the collections of Howell, Ray, and Denham, the last of which chiefly relates to natural objects and the weather, for other examples; but the subject is so diffuse, that these writers have gone a very short way towards the compilation of a complete series.

Give a thing and take again,
And you shall ride in hell's wain!
Said by children when one wishes a gift to be returned, a system naturally much disliked. So, says Plato, twn orqws doqentwn afairesis ouk esi. Ray, p. 113, ed. 1768. Ben Jonson appears to allude to this proverb in the Sad Shepherd, where Maudlin says—"Do you give a thing and take a thing, madam?" Cotgrave, Dic- p.182 / tionarie of the French and English Tongues, 1632, in v. Retirer, mentions "a triviall proverb:"
Give a thing,
And take a thing,
To weare the divell's gold-ring.
And it is alluded to in a little work entitled Homer à la Mode, a mock poem upon the First and Second Books of Homer's Iliads, 12mo. Oxford, 1665, p.34:
Prethee for my sake let him have her,
Because to him the Græcians gave her;
To give a thing, and take a thing,
You know is the devil's gold-ring!
      The proverb sometimes runs thus:
Give a thing, take a thing,
That's an old man's play-thing.
      "A lee with a hatchet," as they say in the North, is a circumstantial self-evident falsehood, and so runs the proverb:
That's a lie with a latchet,
All the dogs in the town cannot match it.
      Children say the following when one has been detected in any misrepresentation of a mischievous character—
Liar, liar, lick spit,
Your tongue shall be slit,
And all the dogs in the town
Shall have a little bit.
      The following versions of the former rhyme are current in the North of England:
That's a lee wi' a latchet,
You may shut the door and catch it.

That's a lee wi' a lid on,
And a brass handle to tak houd on.

      In Yorkshire a tell-tale is termed a pleen-pie, and p.183 / there is a proverb current which is very similar to that given above:
A pleen-pie tit,
Thy tongue sal be slit,
An iv'ry dog i' th' town
Sal hev a bit.

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.

He got out of the muxy,
And fell into the pucksy.
A muxy is a dunghill, and the pucksy a quagmire. This is a variation of the old saying of falling out of the dripping-pan into the fire:
Incidit in Scyllam cupiens vitare Charybdini.

Those that made me were uncivil,
For they made me harder than the devil!
Knives won't cut me, fire won't sweat me,
Dogs bark at me, but can't eat me!
These proverbial lines are supposed to be spoken by Suffolk cheese, which is so hard that a myth tells us gate-pegs in that county are made with it. The proverb has been long true, and Pepys, writing in 1661, says: "I found my wife vexed at her people for grumbling to eate Suffolk cheese, which I also am vexed at."

Speak of a person and he will appear,
Then talk of the dule, and he'll draw near.
Said of a person who makes his appearance unexpectedly, when he is spoken of.

p.184 /

When Easter falls in our Lady's-lap,
Then let England beware a rap.
That is, when Easter falls on Lady-day, March 25, which happens when the Sunday Letter is G, and the Golden Number 5, 13, or 16. See Aubrey's Miscellanies, ed. 1696, p. 21.
In July
Some reap rye.
In August,
If one won't, the other must.
From Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, given in Hone's Year-Book, col. 1595.
In March
The birds begin to search;
In April
The corn begins to fill;
In May
The birds begin to lay.
From Lancashire. This resembles in its character the cuckoo song we have given at p. 160.

Friday night's dream
     On the Saturday told,
Is sure to come true,
     Be it never so old.

When it gangs up i' sops,
It'll fau down i' drops.

A North country proverb, the sops being the small detached clouds hanging on the sides of a mountain. Carr, ii. 147.

To-morrow come never,
When two Sundays come together.
This is sometimes addressed to one who promises something "to-morrow," but who is often in the habit of making similar engagements, and not remembering them.

p.185 /

      The proverb of tit for tat may perhaps be said to be going out of fashion, but it is still a universal favorite with children. When any one is ill-natured, and the sufferer wishes to hint his intention of retaliating at the first convenient opportunity, he cries out—
Tit for tat,
If you kill my dog,
I'll kill your cat.

Lazy Lawrence, let me go,
Don't me hold summer and winter too.
This distich is said by a boy who feels very lazy, yet wishes to exert himself. Lazy Lawrence is a proverbial expression for an idle person, and I possess an old chap-book, entitled "the History of Lawrence Lazy, containing his birth and slothful breeding; how he served the schoolmaster, his wife, the squire's cook, and the farmer, which, by the laws of Lubberland, was accounted high treason." A West country proverb, relating to a disciple of this hero, runs thus:
Sluggardy guise,
Loth to go to bed,
And loth to rise.

March will search, April will try,
May will tell ye if ye'll live or die.

Sow in the sop,
'Twill be heavy a-top.
That is, land in a soppy or wet state is in a favorable condition for receiving seed; a statement, however somewhat questionable.

p.186 /

A cat may look at a king,
And surely I may look at an ugly thing.
Said in derision by one child to another, who complains of being stared at.

He that hath it and will not keep it,
He that wanteth it and will not seek it;
He that drinketh and is not dry,
Shall want money as well as I.
From Howell's English Proverbs, 1659, p. 21.

Gray's Inn for walks,
     Lincoln's Inn for a wall;
The Inner-Temple for a garden,
     And the Middle for a hall.
A proverb, no doubt, true in former times, but now only partially correct.

In time of prosperity friends will be plenty,
In time of adversity not one amongst twenty.
From Howell's English Proverbs, p. 20. The expression not one amongst twenty is a generic one for not one out of a large number. It occurs in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, v. 2.

Trim tram,
Like master like man.
From an old manuscript political treatise, dated 1652, entitled a Cat may look at a King.

Beer a bumble,
'Twill kill you
Afore 'twill make ye tumble.
A proverbial phrase applied to very small beer, implying that no quantity of it will cause intoxication.

p.187 /

Lancashire law,
No stakes, no draw!
A saying by which a person, who has lost a verbal wager, avoids payment on the plea of no stakes having been deposited.

As foolish as monkeys till twenty and more,
As bold as a lion till forty-and-four;
As cunning as foxes till three score and ten,
We then become asses, and are no more men.
These proverbial lines were obtained from Lancashire. An early version occurs in Tusser, p. 199.

They that wash on Monday
     Have a whole week to dry;
They that wash on Tuesday
     Are not so much agye;
They that wash on Wednesday
     May get their clothes clean;
They that wash on Thursday
     Are not so much to mean;
They that wash on Friday
     Wash for their need;
But they that wash on Saturday
     Are clarty-paps indeed!
A North country version of these common proverbial lines, given by Mr. Denham, p. 16. Clarty-paps are dirty sluts.

The children of Holland
     Take pleasure in making
What the children of England
     Take pleasure in breaking.
Alluding to toys, a great number of which are imported into this country from Holland.