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Robert Bland, Proverbs
A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V
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1. A fabis abstineto
Abstain from beans, was an admonition of Pythagoras to his followers; meaning by that to exhort them not to interfere in the election of magistrates, in which, it should seem, there was the same heat and contention, the same violence and confusion as too often occur among us, when persons are elected to places of honour, or profit. The electors among the Athenians were used to poll, or give their suffrages, by putting beans, instead of white or black stones as on other occasions, into a vase placed for the purpose. Pythagoras also admonishes, «when the wind rises, to worship the echo», that is in times of tumult and dissension, to retire into the country, the seat of the echo.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2 (8).
2. A puro pura defluit Aqua.
From a pure fountain, pure water may be expected to issue, and from a just and upright man, none but kind and beneficent actions.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2185.
3. Ad consilium ne accesseris, antequam voceris
Ing. Speak when you are spoken to, and come when you are called for
Ing. Proffered service stinks
Fr. Ne prendre conseil que de sa tete
Fr. Un fou avise bien un sage
Esp. Al buen consejo no se halla precio
Speak when you are spoken to, and come when you are called for. Advice should not, generally speaking, be offered until it is required, for, proffered service stinks. But if we see one, in whose welfare we feel ourselves interested, about to engage in a connection, or business, by which he is likely to be injured, it becomes then the part of a friend to interfere, and admonish him of his danger, though his opinion should not have been asked, or even though caution has been used, to keep the circumstance from his knowledge. Still the task is far from being grateful. «Le mauvais metier», Guy Patin says, «que celui de censeur; on ne gagne à l'exercer que la haine de ceux qu'on reprend, et on ne corrige personne», it is a bad business that of a censor, he is sure to incur the hatred of those he reproves, without having the pleasure of finding them improved by his advice. Ne prendre conseil que de sa tete, that is, Take counsel only of your own thoughts, the French say, but this is in some degree contradicted by the following: Un fou avise bien un sage, even a fool may suggest what may deserve the attention of a wise man; we should therefore listen to advice, let it come from what quarter it will, for Al buen consejo no se halla precio, good advice is inestimable.
Fuente: Erasmo, 190.
4. Ad felicem inflectere parietem
Esp. Harto es necio y loco, quien vacia su cuerpo, por hinchar el de otro
When a vessel, in sailing, inclines too much to one side, the passengers usually crowd to the other, where seems to be the greatest safety, and when fortune ceases to smile on anyone, or he is found to be sinking, it is then that his friends usually leave him, and fly to others who are more successful. Though such conduct cannot but be condemned by all ingenuous persons, yet on the other hand, we should not so connect ourselves with the fortunes of those who are falling, as to make our own ruin inevitable with theirs. «Juvare amicos rebus afflictis decet». We should indeed assist our friends in their misfortunes, but not at the hazard of the destruction of ourselves and families, otherwise we should subject ourselves to the censure implied in the following, «Alienos agros, irrigas tuis sitientibus», while watering the fields of our neighbour, we leave our own to be parched with drought. Harto es necio y loco, quien vacia su cuerpo, por inchir el de otro, he is foolish and mad enough, who empties his own purse to fill that of another.
Fuente: Erasmo, 216.
5. Ad finem ubi perveneris, ne velis reverti
Ing. Hell is full of good meanings and wishes
Ing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions
It. [Le vie dell'inferno sono lastricate di buone intenzioni]
When you have nearly completed any business in which you are engaged, do not through weariness, or inconstancy, leave it unfinished, but persist to the end; else all the time, labour, and expense that have been bestowed upon the work, will be lost, and you will lose your character likewise; or when you perceive yourself about to die, with patience and courage submit to your fate, and do not weakly and foolishly wish for an extension of your life, in the vain hope that you should live more rationally. «Hell», we say, «is full of good meanings and wishes». «O mihi praeteritos referat, si Jupiter annos!» You knew that the term of your life was uncertain, and should long since have entered on the course you now propose to begin, but which, if the opportunity were given, you would probably neglect as heretofore.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2 (10).
6. Adversus solem ne loquitor
Arguing against what is clear and self-evident, is the same as denying that the sun shines at mid-day.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2 (18).
7. Ægroto dum anima est spes est
Ing. While there is life, there is hope
Ing. There is life in a muscle
While there is life, there is hope, and there is life in a muscle. We should not give up our exertions too early; what is difficult, is not therefore to be deemed impossible, as persons apparently at the point of death are sometimes found to recover; and a turn not unfrequently takes place in our affairs, and we are rescued from difficulties that seemed at one time hopeless and irremediable.
Fuente: Erasmo, 1312.
8. Æqualis æqualem delectat
It. Ogni simile appetisce il suo simile
Fr. Chacun aime son semblable
Esp. Cada uno busca a su semejante
Ing. Two of a trade can never agree
Like to like. Hence we see persons of similar dispositions, habits, and years, and pursuing the same studies, usually congregating together, as most able to assist each other in their pursuits. Ogni simile appetisce il suo simile, every man endeavours to associate with those who are like himself. Chacun aime son semblable, Fr. and which is nearly the same, Cada uno busca a su semejante. Sp. The contrary to this is, «Figulus figulo invidet, faber fabro».
Fuente: Erasmo, 120.
9. Albæ gallinæ filius
Esp. Hijo de la gallina blanca
Esp. En hora buena nace, quien buena fama cobra
Hijo de la gallina blanca. Born of a white hen. This was said of persons who were extremely fortunate; who were successful in whatever they undertook; «who were born», as we say, «with a silver spoon in their mouth». The following is related by Suetonius, as giving origin to this adage. When Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar, was at one of her country seats, an eagle flying over the place, dropped a white hen, holding a sprig of laurel in its beak, into her lap. The empress was so pleased with the adventure, that she ordered the hen to be taken care of, and the laurel to be set in the garden. The hen, we are told, proved unusually prolific, and the laurel was equally thrifty; and as there was thought to be something supernatural in its preservation, branches from it continued long to be used by succeeding emperors, in their triumphs. En hora buena nace, quien buena fama cobra. He that gets a good name, was born under a fortunate planet, or in a lucky hour.
10. Aliorum medicus, ipse ulceribus scates
Ing. Who boast of curing poor and rich, yet are themselves all over itch
   Who boast of curing poor and rich,
   Yet are themselves all over itch.


Physicians pretending to cure the diseases of others, and are themselves loaded with complaints, are the immediate objects of the censure contained in this adage; but it may also be applied to persons railing against vices to which they are themselves addicted. Persons whose office it is instruct the people in the duties of morality and religion, should consider how much their admonitions will lose of their weight and efficacy if their conduct is not in a great degree, at the least, consonant to their doctrine; if they cannot entirely refrain from vice, they should be extremely careful to conceal their deviations from the precepts they mean to inculcate, lest their example should be more powerful than their lectures.
Fuente: Erasmo, 1438.
11. Amens longus
Fuente: Erasmo, 2358.
12. Amicorum communia omnia
Esp. Aceite y vino y amigo, antiguo
Esp. Más vale buen amigo, que pariente primo
Esp. No hay mejor espejo, que el amigo viejo
Fr. L'amitié est l'amour sans ailes
Ing. When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow
It. Chi si trova senz'amici, è come un corpo senz'anima
It. Uova di un'ora, pane di un dì, vino di un anno, amico di trenta
Among, friends all things should be in common. Erasmus thought he could not begin his Collection better than with this apothegm, which is of great antiquity, and much celebrated, and for the same reason it is here placed. first Nothing so frequent in our mouths, nor is any thing less common than such a conjunction of minds as deserves the name of Friendship. When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow, for he is another self No hay mejor espejo, que el amigo viejo. Like a glass he will discover to you your own defects; and Más vale buen, amigo, que pariente primo, a good friend is better than a near relation. A man, the Italians say, without friends is like a body without a soul. "Chi si trova senz'amici, è come un corpo senz'anima". The French, by a very delicate phrase, denominate friendship love that is without wings, L'amitié est l'amour sans ailes, meaning that it should be a permanent affection, and not easily to be obliterated. Ova d'un ora, pane d'un di, vino d'un anno, amico di trenta; that is, eggs of an hour, bread of a day, wine of a year, but a friend of thirty years is best; and Azeyte, y vino, y amigo antiguo, oil, wine, and friends improve by age. Friendship, Montaigne says, "unlike to love, which is weakened by fruition, grows up, thrives, and increases by enjoyment; and being of itself spiritual, the soul is reformed by the practice of it". And according to Sallust, Idem velle et nolle, ea demum firma amicitia est, to have the same desires and dislikes, to love or hate the same persons, is the surest test of friendship. But instances of such exalted friendship, if they do exist, are very rare. "Tantum ego fucorum, tantum perfidiæ in hominum amicitiis reperio, non in his modo vulgaribus, verum his quoque quas Pyladeas vocant, ut mihi jam non libeat novarum periculum facere" -I find so much dissembling, says the good Erasmus, so much perfidy among friends, not only those between whom there subsists only a slight intimacy, but those connected, as it would seem, by the strongest ties of affection, that I have altogether given up the search after such a phenomenon. The same writer, at a more advanced stage of his life, and as the result of long experience, says, "Quin in totum, eo degenerarunt hominum mores, ut hodie, cygnus niger, aut corvus albus, minus rarus sit avis, quam fidelis amicus". In short, men are become so degenerate, (a complaint that has been made in every age), that a black swan, or a white crow, are not so rarely to be met with as a faithful friend. And another writer says, "We talk of friendship as of a thing that is known, and as we talk of ghosts-but who has seen either the one or the other!" "Friendship", Lord Verulam says, "easeth the heart and cleareth the understanding, making clear day in both; partly by giving the purest counsel, apart from our interest and prepossessions, and partly by allowing opportunity to discourse; and by that discourse to clear the mind, to recollect the thoughts, to see how they look in words; whereby men attain that highest wisdom, which Dionysius, the Areopagite, saith 'is the daughter of reflection'". Spenser gives a beautiful detlcription of three kinds of affection, to women, to our offspring, and to our friend, and gives the preference to the latter. "For natural affection soon doth cess, And quenched is with Cupid's greater flame; But faithful friendship doth them both suppress, And them with mastering discipline doth tame, Through thoughts aspiring to eternal fame. For as the soul doth rule the earthly mass, And all the service of the body frame, So love of soul doth love of body pass, No less than purest gold surmounts the meanest brass".
13. Anicularum Deliramenta.
The dreams, or ravings of old women. «Old wives tales». By such titles, idle and ridiculous stories were used anciently, and still continue to be called.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2616.
14. Animo ægrotanti medicus est oratio.
Ing. A soft answer turneth away wrath
Esp. Cortesia de boca mucho valer, y poco costa
Ing. An ounce of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar
Kind words are a medicine to an afflicted spirit. A soft answer turneth away wrath. Cortesia de boca mucho valer, y poco costa, civility costs little, but has considerable influence in appeasing restless and unquiet minds. An ounce of honey, we say, will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.

«Sunt verba et voces quibus hunc lenire dolorem
Possis, et magnam morbi depellere partera».

«Know there are words, which fresh and fresh applied,
Will cure the arrantest puppy of his pride».

Pride, and other evil affections of the mind, were by the Stoics considered as diseases, for which there were no better remedies, than good and sensible discourses.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2100.
15. Annosa Vulpes haud capitur Laqueo.
Esp. A otro perro, con esse huesso
An old fox is not easily to be taken in a snare; age has made him cautious. The proverb may be applied to persons attempting to impose upon us, and to excite compassion by the relation of some affecting but improbable story. «Quære peregrinum», tell your tale to one less acquainted with you, or with the circumstances you are relating; they will gain you no credit here. A otro perro, con esse huesso, throw that bone to another dog.
Fuente: Erasmo, 0917.
16. Annosam arborem transplantare
Persons quitting a business or profession in which they have been long engaged, and had been successful, and attempting some new employment, are as little likely to succeed, as a tree is to flourish, when removed from the soil in which it had been long fixed.
Fuente: Erasmo, 343.
17. Ansam quærere
Seeking a handle or opportunity for breaking an agreement into which any one may have improvidently entered, or an occasion for quarreling; and to persons of a litigious disposition, very trifling causes will afford handle sufficient for the purpose. The phrase is used by us in as many ways, as it was formerly among the Romans. You know the temper of the man, be careful that you give him no handle, no ground for caviling, though that may be though that may be difficult, as a man so disposed, will make a handle of any thing. «When we have determined to beat a dog, the first hedge we come to will furnish us with a stick for the purpose».
Fuente: Erasmo, 304.
18. Ante barbam doces senes.
Lat. Odi puerulos præcoci sapientiâ
Ing. Soon ripe soon rotten
Esp. Buey viejo, sulco derecho
Esp. Diablo sabe mucho por que es viejo
Being young and inexperienced do you set yourself up for a teacher? This among the ancients would have been looked upon as a preposterous attempt, and perhaps our manners are not much mended by our departing from their practice on this subject. Odi puerulos præcoci sapientiâ, I hate these forward wits, or to see young men thrusting themselves into concerns that require rather strength of heads than of hands. The most early wits were supposed to be least lasting, and never to attain to perfection; soon ripe soon rotten, is a very old maxim. Buey viejo, sulco derecho, an old ox makes a straight furrow ; and diablo sabe mucho, por que es viejo, the devil knows much, the Spaniards say, because he is old.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2210.
19. Anus Hircum olet.
Ing. How like a goat she smells
How like a goat she smells, said of libidinous old women. The phrase, therefore, taken originally from the Greeks, is neither modern nor peculiar to this country; though no where used, it may be presumed, but among the common people.
Fuente: Erasmo, 2366.
20. Anus simia, sero quidem
Ing. The old fox is caught at last
The old ape is taken at length. This was said, when any one, who for a long time, by craft and cunning, had succeeded in plundering his neighbours, was at last taken, and condemned to suffer the punishment due to his crimes. Our English proverb has it, The old fox is caught at last.
Fuente: Erasmo, 1414.
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