« PredošláPokračovať »
made their first appearance in the farce of The Rehearsal, written by Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, with the assistance of Butler, Sprat, and others. Dryden is satirized in it under the name of Bayes.
A little Bird told me. The origin of this phrase is doubtless to be found in Ecclesiastes, x. 20:
Curse not the king, no, not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bed-chamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.
By Hook or Crook. This saying is probably derived from a forest custom. Persons entitled to fuel wood in the king's forest, were only authorized to take it of the dead wood or branches of trees in the forest, "with a cart, a hook, and a crook."
To Eat Humble Pie.-The humble pie of former times was a pie made out of the "umbles" or entrails of the deer, a dish of the second table, inferior, of course, to the venison pasty which smoked upon the dais, and therefore not inexpressive of that humiliation which the term "eating humble pie " now painfully doscribes. The "umbles" of the deer are constantly the perquisites of the gamekeeper.
Grin like a Chesire Cat.-Some years since Chesire cheeses were sold moulded into the shape of a cat, bristles being inserted to represent the whiskers. This may possibly have originated the saying. Charles Lamb's ingenious theory that Chesire was a county Palatine, and that the cats, when they think of it, are so tickled that they cannot help grinning, is not entirely satisfactory
"The Wise Men of Gotham."-In Thoroton's Nottinghamshire, vol. i. pp. 42, 43, the origin of the general opinion about the wisdom of these worthies is thus given, as handed down by tradition
King John intending to pass through Gotham towards Nottingham, was
prevented by the inhabitants, they apprehending that the ground over which a king passed was for ever after to become a public road. The king, incensed at their proceedings, sent from his court, soon afterwards, some of his servants to inquire of them the reason of their incivility and ill-treatment, that he might punish them. The villagers hearing of the approach of the king's servants, thought of an expedient to turn away his majesty's displeasure from them. When the messengers arrived at Gotham, they found some of the inhabitants engaged in endeavouring to drown an eel in a pool of water; some were employed in dragging carts upon a large barn, to shade the wood from the sun: and others were engaged in hedging a cuckoo, which had perched itself upon an old bush. In short, they were all employed upon some foolish way or other, which convinced the king's servants that it was a village of fools.
“God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”—This saying is from Sterne's Sentimental Journey. He, however, takes it from the French: "A brebis tondue, Dieu mesure le vent." It appears to be of some antiquity, as it is to be found in somewhat different versions in a collection of proverbs published in 1594“Dieu mesure le froid à la brebis tondue, Dieu donne le froid selon la robbe."
Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.-The origin of this proverb may be found in Plutarch (Julius Caesar, cap. 10), or in the following passage from Suetonius (Jul. Cæs. 74):
The name of Pompeia, the wife of Julius Cæsar, having been mixed up with an accusation against P. Clodius, her husband divorced her; not, as he said, because he believed the charge against her, but because he would have those belonging to him as free from suspicion as from crime.
SONG BY SIR JOHN SUCKLING.
The following verses are contained in a small quarto MS. Collection of English Poetry, in the handwriting of the time of Charles I. They are much in Suckling's manner, and in the MS are described as
In reference to the discovery of America by Madoc, Seneca shadows forth such a discovery :
Venient annis sæcula seris
Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
Medea, act ii. ad finem, v. 375.
"A vaticination," says the commentator, "of the Spanish discovery of America."
The probability of a short western passage to India is mentioned in Aristotle de Cœlo, ii., near the end.
AN OLD-WORLD VILLAGE.
Years hence, in the time of Mr. Macaulay's New Zealander, when the great Holyhead Road is good pasture, and Cary has sensitive commentators, I don't imagine that the precise locality of Newton Prodgers will be settled without inkshed. It is the very height of improbability that any reader of "N. & Q.," unless he is a taxman, ever went there; still less, having done so once, that he would be desirous of enjoying the felicity twice, for the road to Newton Prodgers is not only not the road to any other place whatsoever, but is moreover the true and only genuine site of the stupendous adventure of the Manchester Bagman, which the Yankees have appropriated with characteristic coolness, and pitched somewhere or other down in Alabama. The thing itself actually occurred to a respectable farmer of our village, no way connected with the public press, who set to work one fine morning to dig out a riding whip, the tip of which he saw sprouting out of the middle of the road. After an hour's hard digging he came to a hat, and under that, to his intense horror, was a head belonging to a body in a state of advanced suffocation. Assistance was procured, and after several hours of unremitting exertion, worthy of Agassiz or Owen, the entire organism of a bagman was developed. "Now, gentlemen," said the exhumed commercial to his perspiring diggers, who of course concluded their labors finished, "now, gentlemen, you've saved my life; and now, for God's sake, lend a hand to get out my mare! !" I am aware that at first sight this anecdote appears to tell against our village; but then everybody knows it is the busi
ness of the Little Pudgington folks to mend these roads, and not We never have repaired them, and it is not very likely we shall begin now, for we have a religious antipathy to all innovation, especially when it is likely to touch the rates. In M'Adam's time, when the aforesaid Little Pudgington folks were going to bring the branch turnpike through a corner of Newton Prodgers, we rose as one man, called a public meeting, and passed a resolution expressing strong abhorrence of French principles; and we have not degenerated, for it is only the other day since we thrashed the surveyors of the "Great Amalgamated Central." Search the whole county, and I doubt if you find such another respectable old-fashioned place. When I get out at the Gingham Station, and mount for Newton, after an absence in town, I feel I am stepping back two centuries, and am quite disappointed next morning that the postman don't deliver a Mercurius Politicus with the latest intelligence of his Majesty's forces in the north, and the last declaration of his Majesty's affectionate Parliament. It is true we have no resident clergyman or squire either since the last Prodgers was cleaned out at Crockford's but then, by way of set-off, we haven't a school or a sanitary law in the parish; no spelling-books to put improper notions into the people's heads; and as for pig legislation, I should just like to see them try it on at Newton Prodgers, that's all.
Our village is not one of those rural paradises which the adventurous explor er might discover among the properties at the Adelphi, nor one of Mr. James's receptacles for benighted horsemen, not even one of Miss Mitford's charming villages-all gables and acacia—nor any thing, in short, but a plain average parish of the Bedford Level, still in a state of refreshing pastoral simplicity, or, as our radical paper perversely has it, "frightfully neglected condition." We have a church, green, and stocks in tolerable repair. A green is always the germ of the Saxon thorpe, no matter where found-Schleswig, Kent, Massachusetts, Austra