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18th Century English Proverbs

Dates given are generally for the first written appearance of the form of the proverb in English; the proverb may have been in spoken use, in England or orther countries, much earlier and in some cases referred to as "an old saying" prior to that time.

Any port in a storm.
-mid 18th

As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined.
-early 18th

Ask no questions and hear no lies.
-late 18th

Attack is the best form of defence.
usually quoted as "the best defence is a good offence" in the US
-late 18th

A bad penny always turns up.
-mid 18th

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
-mid 18th, 3rd century BC in Greek

Be just before you're generous.
-mid 18th

The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley.
-early 18th

Better to war out than to rust out.
-early 18th

Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite them, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
-early 18th

A bird never flew on one wing.
-early 18th

Birds in their little nests agree.
-early 18th

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
-early 18th

Blessings brighten as they take their flight.
-mid 18th

Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is better.
-early 18th

Care killed the cat.
-late 18th

Civility cost nothing.
-early 18th; late 15th century in French

Cleanliness is next to godliness.
-late 18th

The cobbler to his last and the gunner to his linstock.
-mid 18th

A creaking door hangs longest.
-late 18th

Death is the great leveller.
-early 18th

The devil finds work for idle hands to do.
-early 18th

The devil looks after his own.
-early 18th

Distance lends enchantment to the view.
-late 18th

Don't halloo till you are out of the wood.
-late 18th

Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs.
-early 18th

A door must be either shut or open.
-mid 18th

A dripping June sets all in tune.
-mid 18th

Drive gently over the stones.
-early 18th

Every man has his price.
-mid 18th; Walpole

Experience keeps a dear school.
-mid 18th

Extremes meet.
-mid 18th; mid 17th century in French

The eye of a master does more work than both his hands.
-mid 18th

Facts are stubborn things.
-early 18th

First impressions are the most lasting.
-early 18th

A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
-early 18th; Young

Fools and bairns should never see half-done work.
-early 18th

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
-early 18th; Pope

Give a dog a bad name and hang him.
-early 18th

Give and take is fair play.
-late 18th

Give credit where credit is due.
-late 18th

The greater the sinner the greater the saint.
-late 18th

The greater the truth, the greater the libel.
-late 18th

Half the truth is often a whole lie.
-mid 18th

He that follows freits (omens), freits will follow him.
-early 18th

He that will eat the fruit must climb the tree.
-early 18th

He who hesitates is lost.
-early 18th

Hope springs eternal.
-early 18th

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
-mid 18th

If in February there be no rain, ‘tis neither good for hay nor grain.
-early 18th

If the cap fits, wear it.
-early 18th

If the shoe fits, wear it.
-late 18th

It never rains but it pours.
-early 18th

It takes two to make a quarrel.
-early 18th

Jack is as good as his master.
-early 18th

Jouk and let the jaw go by.
jouk = stoop, jaw = a rush of water

-early 18th

Keep your own fish-guts for your own sea-maws.
-early 18th

Lay-overs for meddlers.
-late 18th

Learning is better than house and land.
-late 18th

Length begets loathing.
-mid 18th

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
-from Pope, early 18th

Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.
-mid 18th

Many a mickle makes a muckle.
a popular corruption of ‘Many a little makes a mickle’

-late 18th

Money is power.
-mid 18th

A moneyless man goes fast through the market.
-early 18th; late 14th century in French

Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.
-early 18th

A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.
-late 18th

No man is a hero to his valet.
-mid 18th

Nothing for nothing.
-early 18th

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.
-early 18th

Obey orders, if you break owners.
-late 18th

Old habits die hard.
-mid 18th

On Saint Thomas the Divine kill all turkeys, geese and swine.
St. Thomas the Apostle’s feast is on 21 December
-mid 18th

One hand for oneself and one for the ship.
-late 18th

One volunteer is worth two pressed men.
-early 18th

Procrastination is the thief of time.
-mid 18th

The robin and the wren are God’s cock and hen; the martin and the swallow are God’s mate and marrow.
-late 18th

A stitch in time saves nine.
-early 18th

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
-mid 18th

Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves.
-mid 18th

There is always a first time.
-late 18th

There is no accounting for tastes.
-late 18th

Those who play at bowls must look out for rubbers.
-mid 18th

Three removals are as bad as a fire.
-mid 18th

‘Tis better to d and lost, than never to d at all.
-early 18th

Turn about is fair play.
-mid 18th

Two blacks don’t make a white.
-early 18th

Two is company, but three is none.
often used with the alternative ending ‘three’s a crowd’

-early 18th

Two wrongs don’t make a right.
-late 18th

United we stand, divided we fall.
-late 18th

Variety is the spice of life.
-late 18th

Wanton kittens make sober cats.
-early 18th

Waste not, want not.
-late 18th

We must eat a peck of dirt before we die.
-mid 18th

What can you expect from a pig but a grunt.
-early 18th

When all fruit fails, welcome haws.
-early 18th

When house and land are gone and spent, then learning is most excellent.
-mid 18th

When the furze is in bloom, my love’s in tune.
-mid 18th

Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.
-mid 18th

A whistling woman and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men.
-early 18th

Wilful waste makes woeful want.
-early 18th

Wonders will never cease.
-late 18th

 
NOTE: Some of this information can be found in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

 




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