Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

philosopher as saying τον πλούτον είναι νεύρα πραγμάτων, , that riches were the sinews of affairs,' or, as the phrase may mean, 'of the State.' Referring perhaps to this maxim of Bion, Plutarch says in his Life of Cleomenes (c. xxvii.), “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 τα νεύρα του πολέμου, “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. S. V. Meyávopos Toútov. So Cicero, Philipp. v. 2, 'nervos belli, infinitam pecuniam.'

Begging the question.' This is a common logical fallacy, petitio principii; and the first explanation of the phrase is to be found in Aristotle's Topica, viii. 13, where the five ways of begging the question are set forth. The earliest English work in which the expression is found is 'the Arte of Logike plainlie set forth in our English Tongue, &C., 1584.'

6

Old wood to burn ! Old wine to drink! Old

friends to trust! Old authors to read !* Alonso of Aragon was wont to say, in commendadation of age, that age appeared to be best in these four things. MELCHIÒR. Floresta Espanola de Apothegmas

o sentencias, &C., ii. 1. 20.

* I love everything that's old. Old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine. --GOLDSMITH. She Stoops to Conquer. Act i. Sc. 1.

'A Rowland for an Oliver.' These were two of the most famous in the list of Charlemagne's twelve peers; and their exploits are rendered so ridiculously and equally extravagant by the old romancers, that from 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.

It is unseasonable and unwholesome in all months that have not an R in their name to eat an oyster.

BUTLER. Dyet's Dry Dinner.

1599

Hobson's Choice.' Tobias Hobson was the first man in England that let out hackney horses.-When a man came for a horse, he was led into the stable, where there was a great choice, but he obliged him to take the horse which stood next to the stable-door; so that every customer was alike well served according to his chance, from whence it became a proverb, when what ought to be your election was forced upon you, to say, 'Hobson's Choice.'

Spectator, No. 509.

'Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.' From an inscription on the cannon near which the ashes of President John Bradshaw were lodged, on the top of a high hill near Martha Bay in Jamaica.

Stiles' History of the Three Fudges of King Charles I.

'All is lost save honour.' It was from the imperial camp near Pavia that Francis the First, before leaving for Pizzighettone, wrote to his mother the memorable letter, which, thanks to tradition, has become altered to the form of this sublime laconism: “Madame tout est perdu fors l'honneur.'

The true expression is, “Madame pour vous faire savoir comme se porte le reste de mon infortune, de toutes choses ne m'est demeuré que l'honneur et la vie qui est sauve.

MARTIN. Histoire de France.

Tom. viii.

"As good as a play.' An exclamation of Charles II. when in Parliament attending the discussion of Lord Ross's Divorce Bill.*

Die in the last ditch.'

To William of Orange may be ascribed this saying. When Buckingham urged the inevitable destruction which hung over the United Provinces, and asked him whether he did not see that the commonwealth was ruined, “There is one certain means,' replied the prince,

by which I can be sure never to see my country's ruin -I will die in the last ditch.'

HUME. History of England. 1672.

No one is a hero to his valet.' This phrase is commonly attributed to Madame de Sevigné, but on the authority of Mad. Aisse belongs to Madame Cornuel.

Lettres, édit. 7. Ravenal, 1853.

* The King remained in the House while his speech was taken into consideration, a common practice with him ; for the debates amused his sated mind, and were sometimes, he used to say, as good as a comedy. MACAULAY. Review of the Life and Writings of Sir William Temple. Few men are admired by their servants.

MONTAIGNE. Essais. Book iii. Ch. 11. When Hermodotus in his poems described Antigonus as the son of Helius (the sun), ‘my valet-dechambre,' said he, 'is not aware of this.'

PLUTARCH. De Iside et Osiride, ch. xxiv.

'La Garde meurt et ne se rend pas.' This phrase attributed to Cambronne, 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 Indépendant.

[ocr errors]

Defend me from my friends.' The French Ana assign to Maréchal Villars taking leave of Louis XIV., this aphorism, “Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself from my enemies.'

But of all plagues, good Heaven, thy wrath can send, Save, save, oh save me from the candid friend.

CANNING. New Morality.

'Beginning of the end.' M. Fourniert asserts, on the written authority of Talleyrand's brother, that the only breviary used by the ex-bishop was L'Improvisateur Français, a compilation of Anecdotes and Bonmots, in twenty-one duodecimo volumes.

* When pressed by a pretty woman to repeat the phrase he really did use, he replied, “Ma foi, Madame, je ne sais pas au juste ce que j'ai dit à l'officier Anglais qui me criait de me rendre : mais ce qui est certain est qu'il comprenait le Français, et qu'il m'a répondu mange.'

| L'Esprit dans l'Histoire.

Whenever a good thing was wandering about in search of a parent, he adopted it; amongst others, C'est le commencement de la fin.

To shew our simple skill This is the true beginning of our end.

SHAKSPERE. Midsummer Night's Dream.

Act v. Sc. I.

'Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.'

Ils n'employent les paroles que pour déguiser leur pensées.

VOLTAIRE. Dialogue xiv. Le Chapon et la Poularde.

When Harel 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 Nain Faune the phrase, ‘Speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts.' FOURNIER. L'Esprit dans l'Histoire.

Where Nature's end of language is declined,
And men talk only to conceal the mind.

YOUNG. Love of Fame. Satire ii. Line 207. The germ of this saying is to be found in Jeremy Taylor; Lloyd, South, Butler, Young, and Goldsmith have repeated it after him.

' Orthodoxy is my doxy, Heterodoxy is another

man's doxy.' I have heard frequent use (said the late Lord Sandwich, in a debate on the Test Laws), of the words Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy; but I confess myself at a

« AnteriorContinuar »