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Cotgrave's World: Book 16 Children

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

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

'Les oisons menet paistre les oyes'
Said when;
Subjects govern their princes,
children their parents,
mean men the magistrates,
soldiers their officers,
servants their masters,
the young instruct the old.
Thus, the cart leads the horse;

'Qui voit enfant il voit neant'
[the palmist says.]
"Man, being weighed upon the balance,
Is lighter than nothing itself"
What then can a child be?
But the nought of nothing.

'Avec le temps, & la paille lon meure les mesles'
Time & affliction,
nurtures a supple harvest.
[Adversity is a great school master].

'Qui bien aime bien chastie'
He that loves thoroughly, pays home
When he punishes.
[he that spares the bad,
injures the good].
[he that spares the rod,
spoils the child].

'Le mortier sent tousiours les aulx'
The ill impressions made by nature'
or bad habits gained by custom,
Are seldom,
or never worn out.

'Debonnaire mire fait playe puante'
A tenderhearted surgeon makes
A wound stink.
Just as a weak father, or mother,
produce evil offspring.

'Rien ne peut estre grand qui n'a ben fondement'
Nothing that lacks a good foundation
can be great.
So, it is with a child.

'Aux receveurs les honneurs, etaux femmes leurs douleurs'
Receivers get preferment, foolish women pain; or (as truly for the mother) woman's pains bring them honour, receivers honour breeds their pain.
] women are honoured when they give birth, but what they have given birth to, generally brings them great grief.]

'Enfans sont richesses de pauvres gens'
A store of children is all the wealth poor men can brag of, but it is an idle boast, if they be idle, or,
Children are poor men riches; in other countries, whose people are industrious, they may perhaps be so, but in ours, for the most part, a store of children make a poor man a plain beggar.
While you may do anything for your children, your children will often do little or nothing for you without reward. Parents who can no longer feed their children are all too often a burden. M. Hence,

'Ioyeuse, et riche vie pere, et mere oublie'
Contentment and wealth gained
makes father and mother forgotten.
yet some say,

'Si truye forfaict les pouceaux le'souffrent'
Children are the punishment
for their parent's faults.

'l'oye mene l'oison paistre'
Careful parents teach their children
how to live of, and off themselves.

'Nourriture passe nature'
Nurture surpasses nature.

'Enfans devien nent grand gens'
(we say) boys will be men one day.
but remember,

'Ce que l'enfant oit au fouyer est bien tost cogneu iusques au monstier'
Little pitchers have wide ears, (we say,
and it seems by this proverb, that little children have long tongues.

'Qui voit enfant, il voit neant'
He that sees an infant, sees nothing.
(belike, because they alter so quickly.)

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

'Les vertus surmountent les signes'
Worth exceeds wonders, example
prevails more than a sign
for the conversion of a sinner, or,
the education of a child.

'Pas a` pas le boeuf prend le lievee'
Step by step the ox
does catch up with the hare;
by diligence and continuance,
in a direct course,
Even the dullest wit
comes to great knowledge.