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apon better consideration, I could wish that it was also oblite. rated. For I would by no means be guilty of administering fuel to lust, which I am sensible needs no incentives, burning too eagerly of itself.

But though I do condemn the mention of anything obscene, yet I cannot think all use of slovenly and dirty words to be such a violation of modesty, as to exact the discarding all Proverbs of which they are ingredients. The useful notions which many ill. worded Proverbs do import, may, I think, compensate for their homely terms ; though I could wish the contrivers of them had put their sense into more decent and cleanly language. For if we consider what the reasons are why the naming of some excrements of the body, or the egestion of them, or the parts employed therein, is condemned, we shall find them to be, either, 1. Bocause such excrements being offensive to our senses, and usually begetting a loathing in our stomachs, the words that signify them are apt to do so too ; and for their relation to them, such also as denote those actions and parts of the body by which they are expelled : and therefore the mention of them is uncivil, and contrary to good manners; or, 2. Because such excrements reflect somo dishonour upon our bodies, it being reputed disgraceful to lie under a necessity of such evacuations, and to have such sinks about us : and therefore modesty requires that we decline the naming of them, lest we seem to glory in our shame. Now these reasons to me seem not so weighty and cogent, as to neces. sitate the omission of so many of the most witty and significant of our English Proverbs. Yet, further, to avoid all occasion of offence, I have, by that usual expedient of putting only the initial letters for the uncleanly words, so veiled them, that I hope they will not turn the stomach of the most nice. For it is the naming such things by their plain and proper appellatives that is odious and offensive; when they come lapped up (as we say) in clean linen, (that is, expressed in oblique, figurative, or metaphorical terms) or only intimated and pointed at the most modest can brook them well enough. The appendix of Hebrew Proverbs was collected and communicated by my worthy friend Mr. Richard Kidder, Rector of Rayn, in Essex.

So I have dispatched what I thought needful to premise either for my own excuse, or the reader's satisfaction, to whose favour. able acceptance I recommend this work. Ι



LITTLE need to be said concerning the nature and use of the subject of this book, conveying at once entertainment and profit, as the wise man observes, like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

A proverb is usually defined, an instructive sentence, or common and pithy saying, in which more is generally designed than expressed ; famous for its peculiarity and elegance, and therefore adopted by the learned as well as the vulgar, by which it is distinguished from counterfeits, which want such authority.

It owes its original and reputation to the sayings of wise men, allusions of the ancient poets, the customs of countries, and manners of mankind, adapted to common use, as ornaments of speech, rules of instruction, arguments of wisdom, and maxims of undeniable truth.

The peculiarity of proverbs arises sometimes from the novelty of an expression, which strikes the fancy of the hearer, and engages him to convey it down to posterity. Sometimes the thing itself discovers its own elegance, and charms men into an universal reception of it. It is also frequently beholden to the propriety or the ambiguity of a word, for its singularity and approbation. In short, brevity, without obscurity, is the very soul of it.

The dignity also of proverbs is self-evident. They are not to be reckoned insignificant trifles, only fit for School-boys, since the most learned among the ancients studied and recorded them in lasting monuments of fame, and transmitted them to their successors as the most memorable instructions of human life, either in point of regular conduct, or common prudence. Plutarch, Theophrastus, Plato, and Erasmus, with many others, thought the knowledge of them an honourable study.

Solomon compiled a book on this subject, the noblest in the world, the design of which is to shew, that a proverb is the inter. pretation of the words of the wise, Prov. i. 6. There is scarce any part of the sacred writings in which they are not to be found.

Their usefulness is at least equal to their dignity, as they conduce to the understanding of philosophy, of which they are the very remains, and are adapted effectually to persuade : for what can strike more than universal truths, well applied to a point in question ? They drive the nail home in discourse, and clinch it with the strongest conviction : for which reason Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, places proverbs among the undeniable testimonies of truth. Quintilian, on account of their veracity and success, commends them as belps to the art of speaking and writing well

The understanding of adages is not half so difficult as the knack of applying them with propriety ; and therefore they are not to be used as meat, but sauce, or seasoning ; not to clog, but adorn. The too frequent use and repetition of them beget a distaste, and therefore they ought to be introduced only at proper times and places ; for when impertinently applied they are not only disgustful, but even darken one another.

Of this book there have been three editions: the two first published by the learned and ingenious author himself; the third in the

year 1742, which wanted many articles that were in the former, all which are restored in this, with some additions, made and in. serted through the assistance of a learned gentleman, by the public's most obedient servant.

December 5, 1767.


The object of the Author in compiling this work, and the plan he pursued in its exposition and arrangement, are so fully detailed in the preceding pages, as to require no illustration. It only remains to the Editor to note the improvements which this impression of “Ray's Collection of English Proverbs” has un. dergone, and in what respects it will be found superior to the edition of 1768.

The book has been attentively revised; the parallel Proverbs in French and Italian, corrected, and, with few exceptions, modernized; and such additional applications have been made from sources in the Spanish and Portuguese languages, as will, it is presumed, give the work a feature of novelty. The augmenta. tion on this head might have been carried to a much larger extent, had not the Editor been restrained by the consideration which operated with Mr. Ray in the adoption of the Greek and Latin adages, that of unnecessarily increasing its bulk. Many English proverbs, omitted in former editions, are also incorpo

and those contributed by Mr. Paschall, inserted in their proper places. The Scottish proverbs are restored to the dialect of their country, of which, to render them more intelligible, they had been divested, to their manifest injury in terseness and joint); and to gratify curiosity, some expressions peculiar to the Welsh and the Irish have been interspersed.

rated ;

To render this volume more acceptable to the public, the original prefaces to the editions of 1670, and Camb. 1678, together with the address prefixed to the impression of 1768, are reprinted.

With this brief recital of the points to which his labours havo been directed, the Editor submits his work to the attention of the Literati with much diffidence and respect.

J. B.

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