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Cotgrave's World: Book 17 Great Matters

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

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

'Rien ne peut estre grandqui n'a ben fondement'
Nothing that lacks a good foundation
can be great..

'Et petit champeroist bien bon bled'
Good corn grows very well in little
fields; or very good corn- excellent
spirits are often lodged in exile,
or small bodies.


'Qui na patience il n`a rien'
He that hath no patience has nothing, for


'Tout vient a` poinct qui peut attendre'
He that is patient, anything may compass..

'Peu a peu le loup mange l'oye'
Little by little
the wolf devours the goose;
by diligence, or degrees,
a man obtains his purpose..

'Le temps renverse les ponts'
In time are bridges
(all things) overthrown..

'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.

'Grand bien ne vient pas en peu d'heure'
Great matters are not compassed
in a moment..

'Commemcement n'est pas fusee'
Things are not done as soon as begun,
or, things are not then accomplished
because they are undertaken..

'L' Arbre ne tombe pas du premeir coup'
Though a little man
can fell a great oak,
yet it falls not at the first blow;
Rome was not built in a day,
nor are great matters achieved
as soon as attempted.
[the 1st blow fells not the tree,
the 1st attempt, or effort,
carries not the matter.
all things are difficult
before they are easy.}
The straight road begins in hell
and ends in heaven..

'On ne fait pas a grand coups douce vielle'
Tis not the great {but the apt} stroke
that makes, brings harmony..

'Sur petit commencement on fait grande susee'
Of small beginnings
are great matters raised.

'Denier sur denier bastit la maison'
Penny upon penny builds the house;
little by little, great matters are affected,
great works finished.