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Cotgrave's World: Book 12 Ignorance

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

Extracts from a French to English dictionary by, R Cotgrave. Published 1611.

'il y en ce monde a qui ne chault'
There be some in this world
that care not.

'Avoir les mains derriere le dos'
To be lazy, idle, negligent, careless, not to care how the world goes, to sit with your hands firmly under the bum.
And others say,

'le ne charge de rien'
I will take nothing upon me.

adverb: where to, wherefore;
to what end, means or purpose,
what is the use of it,

'Dequoy me sert cela?'
what use do I have for that, what purpose?
or use is that-it, to me?
(it is neither fish nor flesh,
neither here nor there:
there is no reason or rhyme to it,
it is of no matter or
consequence to me.)

'laisser passer les plus chargez'
To take no thought, or care, to pass time
merrily, to let the world slide by, time slip away; (while others pine away through cares;) or, {all the while} suffering others, too busy, charge, and torment themselves with woes.

'& rien ne prend, comme celuy qui lit & rien n' entend'
He that hunts and catches nothing, is much like him, that reads and conceives nothing. Or, as good hunt and catch nothing, as read and understand nothing;
[for you have not yet been given ears that you might listen, nor eyes that see, or minds that conceive].
[ If what you do gains you nothing,
it is not worth doing].

'A rude asne rude asnier'
A rude knave is to be awed
by a rough controller.

'Renvoyer quel qu'un au devin, cecy nous renvoit au devin'
We know not, what this is, what it
Was; what to make or think of it.
We made no provision for it,
Never saw a need to consider it.
[it was foresworn in these times, the later point of Pisces, that the Earth would shown signs both on the Earth and in the heavens of the unfolding times, yet whether it is global warming or crop circles, few see what the tapestry is revealing; indeed, true knowledge is long lost. The inability of those who hold the O.T. as truth, to make it make any sense, has led many to abandon it; is it history? Is it part fact and fable, or something deeper?
Those who have tried to prove it is historical have failed, because it never was a history book. Those who take it at face value are but ignorant fools, never did a man live to be 500 years old, let alone build a small ocean liner without help. They are like those that gaze upon the cartouche of the Giza Pyramid, and can not read it].
yet most say,

'Dieu garde mal qui voit bien, et n'oit goute'
For my part, I am loath to conceive it,
or accept, or acknowledge it,
though I see it, well enough.

'Batre d'eau'
To lose his labour,
to spend his time in vain,
to batter or battle water, as some
foolish king was pretended to have done.

'Haste ne vient feule'
Haste never comes alone,
always woes of one kind
or another accompany it.

'Avoir bec. Ils n'ont que le bec'
They are nothing but words'; or, the best thing in them is but a little tattle; or, they have no more of a man in them but face; outside, presence of.

'La fleur n'est qui cendre'
The best is but trash;
the fairest no better than a dead flourish.

'C'est vne vache de barbarie, qui ne recognoist que son propre veau'
Applied to such, as respect, or know not any, but their own family, friends and kindred; rude, ignorant, barbarous humour.

'Il ne scait rien qui ne va par villes'
He knows nothing,
that knows not more than his own.

'Il ne scait rien que ne veut bien faire'
He nothing knows
that will not do his duty.

'Il ne peut sortir sac que ce qu'il y a dedans'
You can have no more of him
Than there is in him,
[ you cannot extract water from a stone,
nor wisdom from a fool,
a man without money
cannot produce a banquet,
an empty sack is what it is. M.]

'Il n'est point de pite sourd que celuy qui ne veut ouir'
No mans moredeaf than one
who will not listen.
[Or as, none so blind, that will not see].

'A lauer la teste d' un asne on ne perd que le temps & la lexive'
In vain one strives to make learned
a sottish, or make honest
a graceless person.

'Qui se messe d'autruy mestier il trait sa vache en vn panier'
As good milk a cow into a sieve,
Or seek the advice of a fool,
or a, madmen
as deal in an unknown trade.

'S'embarquer sans biscuit'
To go abroad without biscuit;
to enter in action
without sufficient provision;
to undertake that which he wants,
lacking the means,
or ability to perform.

'Se couvrir d'un sac mouille'
Foolishly to think he covers his hard dealing (to colour his hand) with his idle pretexts, or insufficient pretenses; or, obstinately to stand on proofs, or allege excuses, which rather convict, than clear him.

'Tel se cuide chasseur qui se brusle'
Some thinking too warm themselves
do burn themselves.

'Neu vent ne fait pour celuy qui n'a point de port destine'
No help serves him that runs an
uncertain course (or he knows not
when to end them).

'La pire roie du chariot est celle qui crie le plus fort'
The worst wheel of the wagon is
That which creaks most;
The most ignorant sot in assemblies
Talks loudest;
No man is in company is,
Soloud as he that can do least;
And the vilest cow in company
Brags most.
correction, Thus-

'A rude asne asnier'
A stubborn servant needs
a forward master;
A rebellious subject
a vigorous sovereign;
A curst wife, a curbing husband.
[Proverbs, 29-19.
A servant cannot be corrected
By mere words;
Though he understands,
He will not respond.]

'Il ne scait rien qui ne va par villes'
He that goes not abroad
knows nothing.

'Il ne scait rien qui ne veut bien faire'
He that will not do well is ignorant.

'Prendre son manteau a foible cheville'
To require advice of a fool,
or alms off a beggar;
also, vainly to rely on weak helps,
or settle his resolution
on a tottering foundation.

'Aprez raire n'y a que tendre'
Shears upon shaven places do no good;
nought is to be gained
where all is already gone.

'Demander de la laine, a vn asne'
To ask for a thing where it is not to be had.

'Qui ne scait rien de rien ne doubte'
He that knows nothing
lives in fear of nothing.

'Il est bien povre qu ne voitgourre'
He that lacks eyes
may well be termed poor.
For he who cannot see,
sees nothing,
But the sense is as understanding,
not eyes,
a man who understands nothing of worth,
is worthless,
and very poor in deed.

'Semer des roses aux pourceau'
To bestow excellent things upon
the vicious that will not,
or the ignorant that cannot,
make use of them.

'Oignez vilain il vous poindra'
We say,
Grab a churl by the breech [arse],
and he will shit on your fist. Or,
Jest with an ass and he will slap your face.v If you feed the devil
he will bite off your hand,
[ There is reason for the sign,
do not feed the animals. M.]

'Telle racine telle fueille'
We say, such as the tree, such is the fruit;
much the same, as author as book,
one is a reflection of the other;
or, as the call, so the echo.

'Tel pot tel couvercle'
Such is the pot, such is the lid,
as master, so the servant.

'Tel autheur tel oevre'
Like author, like
work; such is the writer such is the book;
a fool can only write a Foolish book.
The tests of knowledge are made
by those without knowledge,
what is the worth then?
Of knowledge,
but nothing. M.

'Il n'est si grand despit que de povre orgueilleux'
A proud beggar is the most detestable,
spiteful creature alive.
[set a beggar on horseback
and he'll ride to the devil].

'Il pense que les alouttes luy tomberont en la bouche toutes rosties'
He vainly thinks that good fortune
will come wooing him.

'Il veulent voler sans ailes'
They would compass great matters
without means; or
they would behold themselves masters
before they had served
even half an apprenticeship.

'Nouveau apprenti n'est pas maistre'
A new apprentice is no master;
(and therefore, a great distance is
to be put between them,
whether it be for use or in estimation.)
Burial at sea.

'Celuy qui se met aur la mer ou il est fol, ou il est pouvre, ou il a envie de mourir'
He that unto the sea commits his body,
is either poor, desperate or a noddy.
[I was drawn to the word 'envie', 'fol' is fool, a noddy and pouvre, poor, but envie, is either envy, lusting after the luck or prosperity or good points of another, etc or as ENVIE, the spot, or mark, that a child hath on some part of it's body, that represents the thing his mother longed for, or was frightened of when the child was in her womb. To intrust one's body with the sea, is as to trust the devil with your soul.]

'Qui est sur la mer ne sair pas des vents ce qu` il veut'
The winds are not subject
unto those that sail.
No more than the Moon heeds
the howling of wolves.

'Il vault mieulx tresbucher vne fots, que toujours chanceller'
Better to fall at once,
than stagger always.
Or, better to err altogether,
than always waver;
better to step in at once,
on the wrong side,
than still to doubt,
what side he shall follow.

'C'est tout vn de cheoir, & de treboucher'
A man had as good fall outright,
[at once]
than stumble always.

'A conseil de fol cloche de bois'
When loggerheads consult,
logs serve as bells.

'Qui envoye chetif a le mer il n'en rapporte ne poisson, ne sel'
A man either loses, or gets nought,
by sending an unfit messenger.

'Il en parlecomme un aveugle de colours'
He speaks of it like a blindman
(speaks) of colours.

'Laissons aux asnes les chardons'
Let ass's feed on thistles
Dunces on dull stuff,
Dull wit on dry matters.

'Il se laisse emporter du vent'
He runs freely without stopping; also, inconsistent, variable, flitting, unstable or unsteady, light-hairy fairy; or suffers himself to be swayed altogether by his own giddy humours.

'Saulter du coq a l'asne'
To digress from the matter, or, leap suddenly, and disorderly, from one matter or another. [ from 'cock to ass', so to speak.]

'Bien escorche a qui ne deult'
Senseless people may well enough be flayed; or. It is good fleecing of them that have so much, as they miss not what is gone.

'Il n'a escu ny targe'
The devil may dance freely in his purse;
there is not even a cross to fright him,
or bless the owner with.
foolish anger.

'Mettre tout par escuelles'
(as we say) to throw the house out of the windows; [ now we more likely say, to throw the baby out with the bath water.]

'A goupil endormy rien tombe en la gueule'
He that knows what should be done,
but chooses to sleep instead,
lives like a beast,
and dies like a beggar.
[Proverbs, 19-15.
Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep;
and an idol soul shall suffer hunger.]
[Proverbs, 20-4. The sluggard
Will not plow by reason of the cold;
Therefore, shall beg in harvest.
And have nothing.]
[everyone's faults are not written
on their foreheads].

'Fol est quin se sie en eau endormie'
Men of a still, sad, sleepy, melancholy
Disposition, are not to be relied on;
for either they can do little,
or that which they do is full of
treachery, and dissimulation.

'Connin et villain avec la main'
A cony dismembered with the hand,
and a knave well pummeled
with the fists,
are much the sooner eaten or amended.

'Robbe d'autruy ne fait honneur a nully'
A borrowed gown does well on
no mans shoulder; apparel graces
none but them that own it.

'Il est gelen de ne rien faire'
He is starved by his own idleness.
[experience keeps a dear school,
but fools learn in no other].
Or more to the point,
[ Experience keeps no school,
she teaches each child individually].

'Truye ne songe qu' ordure; et, tousiours truye songe bran'
Base minds have always base
and beastly thoughts;
their wishes, projects, dreams,
are like (a reflection of) themselves.

'Il ne scait rien de rien ne doubte'
He that knows nothing,
can nothing doubt.

'On les fait croire que les estoilles sont des, papillotes'
They are made believe that stars be
(no better than) spangles; viz,
they are extremely gullible, or abused,
or as we say, they think the moon
is made of cheese.

'Il fait accroire qe les lievres pondent, & sont des oeufs'
{app'- extreme prattler, monstrous liar},
he would have us believe
that hares lay eggs.

'Meschant ourier ne trouvera ia bons outils'
A bungler cannot find good tools.

'Avoir vn quartier de la lune en la teste'
To be giddy- humourous, fantastical,
half frantic, mad like;
affected by the quarters of the moon,
as we say, he's a luny, a nutter, etc.

'A la troute qui mode'
Setting the cart before the horse,
arse about face,
back to front.

'Perdre la chair pour les os'
To lose the essential, for idle things.

'Chasser apres les mouches'
To spend time most vainly, idly, foolishly;
to as little purpose as may be;
or to lose time altogether.

'La teste luy berse en gondolle'
His head totters like a boat in a storm.

'Verde busche faict chand feu'
A green log makes a hot fire.
(said of fools, or those who are but
novices, green under the collar.)

'Il y a plus de chair que de saucer'
Their company grows fulsome;
there is much more flesh
than sauce amongst them.

'Qui n'a point de teste, n'a que faire de chaperon'
He that his no head,
No needs hood.

'Voila vne belle sagesse'
Said ironically of a foolish action,
or words.
That was a worthy wise act,
the very cream of Apollo's panne,

'Avoir la bouche fraiche, tant vous'
avez la bouche fraiche!'
Good Lord,
What quaint terms,
What goodly words you use.

'Il Abbaye contre la lune'
He barks at the Moon.
{said of one that obstinately strives to
Falsify or disgrace the truth.}

'D'un vilain refraict Dieu nous garde'
From a churl grown rich
good Lord deliver us.

'Qui perd le sien perd le sens'
He who loses his patience,
foregoes his senses,
power to reason, or act-
respond appropriately.
(nothing should be done hastily,
except the killing of fleas).
[Proverbs, 29-20.
Do you see a man,
Who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool
Than him.]

'Trois beaucoup, & trois peu destruisent l'homme'
To speak much and know little,
to spend much and have but little,
to presume much and be but little,
that is a (foolish) man.

'Mal poise qui ne contrepoise'
He weighs badly,
That weighs not one
With or against another.
[every white has it's black,
every why a wherefore,
all ends, a beginning].

'Cuider n'est pas iuste mesure'
Conjecture is no just measure;
the just, conclude not by imagination;
he often wrongs both himself and others,
who makes a certain estimate;
or gives a final judgement,
upon the first, or outward
appearance of things.

'Qui envoye chetif a la men, il n'en rapporte poison ne sel'
He that sends a bad servant to sea,
hath small return for his venture.
I have sent a knave
to do a knight's errant,
a mere boy, on a mans errand.
[To blindly trust the untrustworthy
or incapable,
to lame yourself or your cause,
by sending a fool
on an important mission].
[Proverbs, 26-6.
He that sendeth a message
by the hand of a fool
cuteth off (his) the feet,
and drinket damage.]

'C'est trop bas cercher la charite de fouiller prez des sesses'
He looks too low for charity
that looks so low as the buttocks.
[better to starve than sell your arse].

'Rien n' a qui assez n'a'
He who has not enough, has nothing.

'Chantez a l'asne, il vous sera des pets'
Sing to an ass and he
will fart in your face.
Or bestow a good thing on a churle,
and if he requite, [returns the favour]
it will only be by one
filthy manner or another.

'De grosse table a l' estable'
He that in housekeeping
spends more than he is able,
may fall to horse keeping
and die in a stable.

'Celuy est homme de bien qui est homme de biens'
He is righteous, that is a rich man
(says the worldling.)

'Trop est trop; & trop n'est point bon'
Too much is too much, or,
too much is good for nothing.

'Trop grate cuit trop parler nuit'
Too much scratching hurts the skin,
too much talking the whole body.

'C'est vn banquet de diables ou il n'y a point de sel'
A feast that lacks salt
is fit only for Devils.
Did they not give Jesus to say?

'Men without knowledge of God,
are like vegetables without salt,
while both are still edible,
neither is desirable'

'Semer des roses aux pourceaux'
To bestow excellent things
upon the vicious, that will not,
or the ignorant that cannot,
make use of them.
To cast pearls before pigs.

'Truye ne songe qu` ordure, & tousiours truye songe bran'
Base minds, have always base
& beastly thoughts, their wishes;
projects, dreams are like themselves.

'Se mocque qui cloque'
He mocks, that least may.
The greatest mockers have commonly
the most imperfections.
Or, he mocks that worst may;
some jest at other mens defects,
and yet are most defective.