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Omissions, imperfections, and redundances are inseparable from a work of this kind, nor are any collections yet printed entirely free from them; the Publisher claims only to have produced the most comprehensive and complete volume of proverbs yet published in the English language.
H. G. B.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
Not to detain the reader with any long discourse concerning the pature, definition and use of proverbs, my notion of a proverb in brief is this ; a short sentence or phrase in common use, contain ing some trope, figure, homonymy, rhyme, or other novity of expression. It is now sonie ten years or more since I began this collection ; in order to the completing whereof, I read over all former printed catalogues that I could meet with : then I observed all that occurred in familiar discourse, and employed my friends and acquaintance in several parts of England in the like observation and inquiry, who afforded me large contributions. When I thought I had a sufficient stock, I began to consider of a convenient method to dispose them in, so as readily and easily to find any proverb upon occasion; for that I had observed wanting in all former collections. Two presently occurred to my thoughts, both already practised by others. 1. The alphabetical order. 2. The way of heads or common places. This last is made use of by Clerk in his Adagia Latino-Anglica, wherein he assumes the heads of that great work commonly known by the name of Erasmus's Adages ; though indeed it be a complex of the Adages of Erasmus, Junius, Cognatus, Brassicanus, and others; and wherein the Chiliads of Erasmus are miserably mangled, shuffled, and distracted. To these he accommodates, and with these Adages he parallels our English ones, as many as he
This way of heads or common places, I have rejected upon several considerations.
1. Because the number of common places would be too great ; or else some proverbs must have been referred to improper heads and many titles would not have had above one or two proverbs under them.
2. Because, contrive your heads with as much care and circumspection as is possible, some proverbs will be found reducible to more than one, and so must have been repeated.
3. This is no way for finding any proverb upon occasion ; so that besides the book, there would be an Index necessary for that purpose, which would be as big as a good part of the book. *
* The Index given in the present edition, (1855) verifies Mr. Ray's calculation.-Ed.
4. In the alphabetical way the proverbs most of them, will be found reduced to heads, as those, for example, which belong to a beggar, a fool, a dog, a horse, &c.
will come together. The method I have made choice of, is this : First, I have culled out the proverbs belonging to three heads or common-places, because they are very numerous, and put by themselves in the first place. The remainder I have divided into three general heads or classes. 1. Complete sentences. 2, Phrases, or forms of speech. 3. Similies. The proverbs belonging to each of these heads I have put in an alphabetical order; not taking, as others heretofore have done, the first letter of any though syncategorematical particle that might happen to stand foremost in the sentence, and which is both removable and variable without any prejudice to the sense, but the first letter of the most material word, or, if there be more words equally material, of that which usually stands foremost. And under every letter I have also put those words in alphabetical order, and caused them to be printed in a different character, that so, with the least cast of an eye, any man may find any proverb of which he remembers the most substantial words. All superstitious and groundless observations of augury, days, hours and the like, I have purposely omitted, because
I wish they were quite erased out of people's memories, and should be loth to be any way instrumental in transmitting them to posterity. Such also as are openly obscene I have rejected; yet accepting many that are homely and slovenly, because else I must have left out a good number of the most witty and significant of our English proverbs.
I might have added large commentaries, shewing the original, the meaning and use of each proverb ; but that I forbear upon good reasons. 1. Because these proverbs being generally used and well known to the vulgar, I feared lest I might incur just blame for endeavouring to explain that of which nobody is ignorant. 2. Because it would swell the book to too great a bulk, and so render it less useful and vendible, many wanting ability or will to purchase, and more leisure or patience to read, a great book : esteeming, as is commonly said, Méya Bibliov loov tu peyal que kară (A great book is a great evil.)
And lest any thing should be wanting in this collection, I have added, 1. Local proverbs, with their explications, out of Dr. Th. Fuller's work of the Worthies of England, adding thereto such others as came to my hands or memory since the finishing of the precedent Catalogues. 2. A catalogue of proverbs which I gathcred out of formerly printed collections; the greatest part whereof are not English, but French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, or Welsh Englished ; for the most part transcribed out of Mr. Howel. 8. Some old English saws, and a miscellany of proverbs, partly
rustic and rude ; partly such as come to my knowledge after the former catalogues were completed. Lastly, to these I have added the Scotch proverbs, collected by David Ferguson, minister of Dunfermline ; and so much the rather, because they are not in Mr. Howel's collections.
The books which I have made use of principally are, 1. The Children's Dictionary, a book well known formerly in schools, in which there is an alphabet of Latin proverbs paralleled with English. 2. Camden's Remains, in which also there are a good number of English proverbs alphabetically disposed. 3. Clerk's collection before mentioned. 4. An alphabetical collection by N. R. Gent. 5. Mr. Herbert's Jacula Prudentum. 6. A collection of many select and excellent proverbs by Robert Codringtou, Master of Arts. 7. and lastly, Paramiographia of Ja. Howell, Esq. Those which I am not assured to be English proverbs I have inserted, yet put in the Italic character, for distinction's sake.
AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The former edition of this Collection of English Proverbs, falling into the hands of divers ingenious persons, my worthy friends, in several parts of this kingdom, had (as I hoped it would) this good effect to excite them, as well to examine their own memories, and try what they could call to mind themselves that were therein wanted, as also more carefully to heed what occurred in reading, or dropped from the mouthis of others in discourse. Whereupon, having noted many such, they were pleased, for the perfecting of the work, frankly to communicate them to me; all which, amounting to some hundreds, besides not a few of my own observations, I present the reader with in this second edition. I dare not pretend it to be a complete and perfect catalogue of all English Proverbs ; but I think I may, without arrogance, affirm it to be more full and comprehensive than any collection hitherto published. And I believe not very many of the proverbs generally used all England over, or far diffused over any considerable
part of it, whether the East, West, North or Midland Counties, have escaped it; I having had communication from observant and inquisitive persons in all those parte ; namely, from Francis Jessop, Esq., of Broomhall, in Sheffield Parish, Yorkshire ; Mr. George Antrcbus, Master of the Frco School at Tamworth, in Warwickshiro ; and Mr. Walter Ash
more, of the same place ; Michael Biddulpn, Gent. of Poles. worth, in Warwickshire, deceased ; Mr. Newton, of Leicester ; Mr. Sheringnam of Caius College, in Cambridge; Sir Philip Skippon, of Wrentham in Suffolk, Knight; Mr. Andrew Paschall, of Chedsey, in Somersetshire : and Mr. Francis Brokesby. of Rowley, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. As for Local Pro. verbs of lesser extent, proper to some towns or villages, as they are very numerous, so are they hard to be procured ; and few of them, could they be had, very quaint or significant.
If any one shall find fault, that I have inserted many English phrases that are not properly Proverbs, though that word be taken in its greatest latitude, and according to my own definition of a Proverb, and object that I might as well have admitted all the idioms of the English tongue; I answer, that, to say the truth, I cannot warrant all those phrases to be genuine Proverbs to which I have allowed room in this collection ; for, indeed, I do not satisfy myself in many : but because they were sent me for such by learned and intelligent persons, and who, I ought to pre. sume, understand the nature of a Proverb better than myself, and because I find the like in collections of Foreign Proverbs, both French and Italian, I chose rather to submit them to the censuro of the reader, than myself pass sentence of rejection on them.
As for the method I have used in the preface to the former edition, I have given my reason why I made choice of it, which to me does still appear to be sufficient. The method of commonplaces, if any man think it useful, may easily be supplied by an index of common-places, wherein, to each head, the Proverbs appertaining, or reducible, shall be referred by the apposition of the numeral characters of
and line. Some Proverbs the reader may possibly find repeated; but I dare say not many. I know this might have been avoided by running over the whole book, and searching for the Proverbs, one by one, in all the places where our method would admit them entry. But sloth and impatience of so tedious a work, enticed me rather to presume upon memory; especially considering it was not worth while to be very solicitous about a matter of so small importance. In such papers as I received after the copy was out of my hands, when I was doubtful of any proverb, I chose to let it stand, resolving that it was better to repeat some than to omit any.
Now, whereas I understand that some proverbs, admitted in the former edition, have given offence to sober and pious persons, as savouring too much of obscenity, being apt to suggest impure fancies to corrupt minds, I have in this omitted all'I could suspect for such, save only one, for the letting of which stand, I havo given my reason in the note upon it; and yet now,