Posted by Elyse Bruce on December 31, 2010
The old saying, let sleeping dogs lie, means more than just to let sleeping dogs lie, which is very sound advice in the first place. It also means that one ought not instigate trouble. In other words, people should leave situations or people alone else it might cause them trouble.
The Atlanta Constitution newspaper reported on a court case on August 6, 1909 that dealt with a Mr. Jerome who had menaced a Mr. Carvalho who had threatened Mr. Jerome. The article read in part:
“You’d better let sleeping dogs lie, Mr. Jerome,” exclaimed the witness, before the district attorney had said a word. As he spoke the expert’s eyes flashed and he pointed an agitated finger at Jerome.
In November of 1870, the New York Times ran an article entitled, “Russia and India: The Frontier of the Russian Empire.” The article asked whether England was on the verge of losing its Asiatic possessions.
Let us consider why Russia has gained enough to suppose she is sufficiently strong to infringe the wholesome rule to “let sleeping dogs lie” when applied to the English. The Crimean War showed her plainly that her people were barbarians, and that her strength lay in brute force.
The saying “let sleeping dogs lie” was a favourite of Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, who exercised considerable influence over King George I as well as King George II from 1721 through to 1742. He was quoted as saying this on more than one occasion regardless of whether it had to do with matters of the King’s Court, the American Revolution or any other situation where difficulties had arisen.
Geoffrey Chaucer used a similar phrase in his story, Troilus and Criseyde, published in 1374.
It is nought good a sleepyng hound to wake.
It’s recorded in French even earlier in the 14th century, as found in the Proverbia Vulgalia et Latina, where the saying is: “Ne reveillez pas le chien qui dort.” Translation: Do not wake the dog that sleeps.
As the phrase is referenced in the Proverbia Vulgalia et Latina, it is most likely that it comes from the Latin saying, “Quieta non movere” which means “Do not move settled things.”
That being said, the Book of Proverbs (26:17) says:
He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one that takes a dog by the ears.
In other words, the saying “let sleeping dogs lie” has its roots in the Christian Bible.
Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Bible, Christian, Idioms from the 14th Century, Religious References, Rome | Tagged: 1374, American Revolution, Atlanta Constitution, Bible, Christian, England, English idiom, French idiom, Geoffrey Chaucer, George I, George II, Great Britain, India, Latin idiom, let sleeping dogs lie, Ne reveillez pas le chien qui dort, New York Times, Proverbia Vulgalia et Latina, Proverbs 26:17, quieta non movere, Robert Walpole, Russia, Troilus and Criseyde | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on May 12, 2010
William Shakespeare used the phrase “in the twinkling of an eye” in his play “The Merchant of Venice” in 1596. Launcelot, in speaking with his father Bassanio, says:
“Well, if Fortune be a woman,
she’s a good wench for this gear.
Father, come; I’ll take my leave of the Jew
in the twinkling of an eye. “
However, Shakespeare was not the first to use the phrase in his literary work. Robert Manning of Brunne, wrote Handlyng Synne in 1303 in which the phrase was used: “Yn twynkelyng of an ye“
However, Manning was not the first to use this phrase either. The phrase can be found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:52 where you can find the following written:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Posted in Bible, Christian, Idioms from the 14th Century, Idioms from the 16th Century | Tagged: Bible, Christian, Handlyng Synne, in the twinking of an eye, Merchant of Venice, Robert Manning, William Shakespeare | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 18, 2010
The term “red letter day” has come to mean an important or significant day. For years, printers have printed holidays in red on calendars. But the history goes back to early prayer books.
Back in the day, the Saints’ days and Christian festivals –including Holy Days of Obligation – were printed in prayer books in red. As was the custom, Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation were days devoted to the Church rather than to work.
In time, a red letter day became synonymous with a holiday from work which, of course, was a joyous occasion for most. Eventually, a “red letter day” was thought of as a day when something special happened or was expected to happen.
Posted in Bible, Christian, Religious References | Tagged: Christian, Christian festivals, holiday, holy days of obligation, red letter day, saints | 1 Comment »