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Cotgrave's World: Book 20 Sin, regret, repentance

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

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

  1. Sin
  2. Regret and Repentance

'Les gros poissons mangentles petis'
Justly applied to an unjust world,
The rich devour the poor
The strong the weak
The mighty the small.
A world where,

'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;
[ Isaiah 3-4, and I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
3-12, as for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err. And destroy the way of thy paths.]


'Quand von four est bien chaud legueule s'en ressent'
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
[And was not Jesus given to say, it was not what enters a man's mouth, but what came out of it, which caused him to sin, or something like that].
[what the heart thinks, the mouth speaks]. [an ox is taken by the tail; a man is caught by the tongue].
[ from, 'The horrors and absurdities of religion'. 'No error is harmless: sooner or later it will bring misfortune to him who harbours it.]

'Le poisson commence a sentir tousiours pa la teste'
The head of a fish is ever tainted first.
The mind, brain,
is ever first to agree to sin!
[so many times, I hear people say their stomach is empty, and it demands feeding, but the body is but the tool of the mind, it is the mind that reasons and decides all things, the body speaks as it looks.]

'Qui le bien voit et le mal prend, fait folie En bon esvient'
He that discerns the good,
and chooses the bad, merits a babble.
[we know the difference between good and bad, as we know the difference between good and bad meat, yet we refuse bad meat, but not bad lives; where is the sense in that?]
As. 'Assez va au moulin qui son asne y envoye'
He may well be said to do a thing,
that sets his man about it; or,
he is guilty enough of an offence
that appoints his man to commit.
[aiding and abetting is a crime, but few
understand the law.]

'Qui peut, et n'empesche, peche'
He sins that may, and will not hinder evil.

'Ill est tout presche qui n'a cure de bien faire'
He that will not be saved
needs no preaching,
advice prevails not with such
as are careless
Of their own good; as like,
The sheep which will be lost
must not be looked for. Yet

'Tel cuide vanger sa honte qui l' accroist'
Some thinking to redeem their shame:
Redouble it.
but in the end,

'De mal est venu l'agneau et a mal retoune la peau'
To, naught it goes that came from
[ and in the end.]

'Vne sois saut compter a' l'hoste'
Our account must be made,
Our reckoning paid;
(Our lives examined,
Our vices censured),
One time or other.
Yet in meantime.

'A la continue l'eau cave la pierre'
At length, 0r, in great continuance of time, the water pierces stone. [no matter how slowly time passes, at length it conquers all]] Time, is the enemy of all that is hidden, for in passing it unveils all things. It is rightly then said, man fears the Pyramids, but the Pyramids fear time],
but why should this worry you? For

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

'Le Monde va tousiours a l' empire'
The World grows everyday worse
And more-evil.

'Qui voit enfant il voit neant'
1. [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.
[ but it not the body that is weighed].
[ Proverbs 16-2. All the ways of a man
Are clean in his own eyes;
but the Lord weigheth the spirit.]

'Nul n'a trop pour soy de sens, d'argent, de soy'
No person for his own use has an excess
of money, wisdom or faith.
[to have more than you need
is not a gain. but a burden].
[all evil carries weight, while
Innocence is Lighter than air. M.]

'Rien n'est nostre n'est que soir en nous propre'
Nothing can be said to be ours,
that is not born with us.
[ Machiavelli, observed, 'that a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many who are not good'.]

'Bon droict a bon mestier d'aide'
Good right has need of great help;
(so much ado men have,
in this unjust age,
to recover or keep, their own.)

'Vn meschant vaisseau iamais ne tombe de le main'
The best things run more hazard than the worst, or, ill vessels never, while good ones often, fall. Or, honesty is rarely the best policy, or easiest road. As such, a good dog never lights upon a good bone; the worst bones ever fall to the best dog's share, an honest man hath still the worst luck, or, an unworthy fellow often lights upon a worthy fortune, the worst the knave the better the luck.

'Le feu plus couvert est le plus ardent'
The fire that is covered most burns most (hottest;) 0r, the more a thing is hidden the hotter it burns: 0r, the more a fire is kept down, the more it burns; suppressed heat like truth works vehemently.

'Ne croire a Dieu que sur nons gages'
To trust no man further
than he sees him,
To believe no promise, nor protestation
Before the deed is done. We say, trust no
Man further than we can throw him,
the Lord says best,
Trust no man.

'Toutte chair n'est pas venaison'
All flesh is not venison,
Every man is not to be respected
Esteemed, trusted or used,
Every saying is not wise,
Every work not of worth.

'Toutes heures ne sont pas meures'
All times are not in season for all things.
Or, there is a time and place
for all things.
[ such was the wisdom
of Solomon.]


'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.

'Gasteau, et mauvaire coustume se doirent rompre'
A (good) cake and an ill custom
should be broken.


'Il n'est vie que de faire bonne chere, mais la sin n'en vaut rien'
The life spent in good cheer
has a fair beginning, but foul end.
Whether you consider the stuff it turns into, or the end it brings one to.

'Qui trop se haste en beau chemin se fourvoye'
The over hasty traveler misses the easy way; we say, the hasty man seldom lacks woe (now a greater woe than to miss the way, cannot befall him that has cause to make haste {in the first place.})
[the road to hell is paved
with good intentions].

'Qui a mange le rost ronge l'os'
When the roast meat is clean gone,
one must fast, or gnaw the bone.

'Tel consent qui se repent'
Some yielding, repent thereof,
some agreements prove a grievance;
we say, act in haste repentant at leisure.

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

'Desbander l'are ne guerist pas la playe'
The bows unbending
heals no wounds
that it made;
0r, the diffusing of a mischievous instrument is no amends for the hurt it hath done.
[Things wrongly done, cannot be undone, no words excuse a murder].

'Trop tard crie l'oiseau quand il est prins'
Too late cries the bird when she is taken; or too late comes repentance when we are sure of punishment; or, we repent us, too late of wrongs done, when we are paying for them.
No words or excuses
can defer Judgement Day

'On s'advise tard en mourant'
Too late one takes advice
when he must leave this world.

'Quand vn chein se noye chascum luy offre a boire'
When a dog is drowning
everyone offers him a drink.
[as many priests
are full of good advice
for the dying,
but none for the living. M]

'Petite chose de loing poise'
We say then, light burden fare heavy,
a little thing carried a long way
grows ever heavier.
[as a burden laid by others is heavy,
yet, a chosen burden weighs but little.]

'A chasque mercier son pannier'
Let each man carry his own burden.

'A vn chascun son fardeau poise'
Everyone finds his own burden
heavy enough.
Because in the end,

'Chascun ira au moullin avec son propre sac'
Everyone shall bear his own burden;
or, answer for himself.
Or. 'Les mauldissons sont fueilles
qui les seme les recueille'

Those that curse often accursed be;
curses prove choke pears
to them that plant them. [Hesiod wrote, a man fashions ill for himself
who fashions ill for another;
an ill design is most ill for the designer.]

'Il n'est point de pite sourd que celuy qui ne veut ouir'
No man's more-deaf than one
who will not listen.
[or as, none so blind, that will not see].

'Nul vice sans son supplice'
All vices have their attendant
plague, Or diseases.

'Ensans de la terre'
Sensual persons,
Those that a wholly swayed
By their voluptuous,
Or intemperate humours,
Those that make earth their heaven,
Or have their heaven on earth.

'Qui entre dans vn moullin il convient de necessite qu'il s' ensarine'
He that goes into the mill
needs be, be-milled,
he that touches pitch
needs be defiled.
All who fish get wet,
all men and women who live,
will sin,
all, are defiled by living.

'Pardonne a tous mais a toy point'
Pardon all men but thyself; or,
Pardon other mens offences;
but punish thine own.

'De grand (ou petit) peche grand (ou petit.')
Great offences need great pardons;
little faults are soon forgiven; or,
as is thy fault so must the pardon be.

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

'Par trop debatre la verile se perd'
Too much debating makes truth be lost.
[anger and hate hinder good council]

'Grande dispute la verite rebute'
Wrangling, contention is truths prevention.
[few words give truth, many, give lies].

'En vaisseau mal lave ne peut on vin garder'
Wine will not keep in an unclean vessel.

'A grand pecheur esclandre'
Great shame is great sinner's mead.

'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.

'Rien n'a qui assez n'a'
He that has not enough has nothing; or, he that covets more than he has, enjoys not even what he does have.

'Tout est fait negligemment la ou l'un a l'autre s'attend'
Nothing is well done
where one altogether trusts unto another.

'Il n'est oevre que d' ouvriers'
There no work done,
unless its rightly done.

'Large de bouche, & estroict de ceincture'
That promises, or offers, much, but put to the Test, will part with little or nothing;
He promises the Earth, but only gives clods [sods].
[Proverbs 25-14.
Whoso boasteth himself
Of a false gift
Is like clouds and wind
Without rain.]
[everyone wants to go to heaven
but nobody wants to die].

'Il n' est cheval qui n' air son mesham'
There is no creature perfect,
everyone is in some part,
or point faulty or defective.

'Il n'est bon qui ne faille'
The best men have their faults,
the most honest their errors.
[to err is human].
[Proverbs, 20-9.
Who can say,
"I have kept my heart pure;
I am clean and without sin?]
[Eccles' 7- 20.
There is not a righteous
Man, on earth
Who does what is right
And never sins.]
[no one can make you inferior
without your consent].

'A lan fin scaura on qui a mange le lard'
A thief no matter how cunning
will at length be discovered.

'Tout cheval a besoing d'esperon'
All men have need of some correction.
[the boy is the father of the man].

'Il n'est cheval qui n'ait sa tare'
He is lifeless, who is faultless.
[ he who makes no mistakes
makes nothing,
does nothing,
is nothing.]

'Grand bandon fait grand l'arron'
Great liberty makes great thieves.
[arron- turn, turnabout, go backwards,
from good too bad.]

'Nul grain sans paille'
No corn without straw, {or chaff], good and Bad are commonly lodged together.

'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.
Seest thou a man that is hasty
In his words,
There is more hope of a fool
Than of him.]

'Tous composez d'vne mesme peau'
All whelps of a litter,
All birds of a feather,
All of one fashion,
Affection, disposition.

'De telles verges ils sont tous batus'
The same disease,
or sickness infects them all.

'Ne criore a dieu, que sur bons gages'
To trust no man, however rich he maybe, without good pawns, to believe no man however honest he seems, without good proofs.

'De qui ie me fie dieu me garde'
God preserve me from him
who I trusted.
sow as reaps.

'Qui seme des chardons, recueille des espines'
He that sows thistles gathers thorns. 0r,
We reap what we sow, 0r,
he who lives by the sword, dies by it,
[Proverbs, 18-21.
Death and life are in the power
of the tongue:
and they that love it
shall eat the fruit thereof.]

'Il n'est si bon qui ne faille'
The best men commit faults,
the most honest their errors,

'D'un sac a charbon ne peut sortir' Que le la poussiere noire'
A coal sack yields nothing but black
dust; Black thoughts can none
but baleful acts produce.

'Se couper soy mesme par ses fefenses'
To accuse another, with the intention to excuse ones-self. A sinner caught attacks, those who stand on unfirm ground make great noise. It is common for those found wanting, to point out the faults of others, as they, so often say, attack is the best form of defense, or cowards shout the loudest.

'Mieux vaut estre seul que mal accompagne'
It is better to be alone, than with idle,
or ill-sorted company.
(better no heart than fool hardy;
Better no pies, than pies made
with scabby hands)

'Mieux vant se taire que mal parler'
Better silence than a senseless tongue.
[better to be unborn than ill taught].

'Le fleuve passe le sainct oublie'
The danger past our vows are ill paid.
[ In danger
They pray to God,
The danger passed
They praise
The ladies Fortune and Fate,
A miracle becomes
but a lucky chance. M.]

'Envieux meurent, mais envie eternal'
The envious are mortal,
but envy eternal. Or,

'Envieux meurent, mais envie ne mourra iamais'
The envious die, but envy lives always.

'Quand tous peches sont vieux avarice est encores-ieune'
The love of wealth continues young
when all other sins grow old.

'L'on endure tout sors que trop d'asfe'
We say all things may be suffered
saving wealth.

'Argent ard gent'
Money burns many,
0r the love thereof
inflames their hearts.

'Profit sans vertu ne vaut vn festu'
Dishonest gains are not worth a chip,
or there is no scoundrel
like a dishonest rich man.
['What's more insufferable than a
wealthy female.' Juvenal, satire 6, 460.]

'Argent frais, et nouveau ruine le iovenceau'
The abundant, or free use of money
ruins youth.

'En argent soit le capitol de celuy la qui le veut mal'
(belike, because the keeping of it,
is both sinful and casual.)

'Qui n'a honte il n'aura ia honneur'
He that lacks shame,
shall never much credit win.

'Telle semence telle moisson'
Look to how you sow,
for so shall thee reap.

'Les vertus surmontent les signes'
Worth exceeds wonders,
good example prevails more than a sign,
for the conversion of a sinner.

'Mieux vant servitude ex paix que seigneurie en guerre'
Better a vassal of peace,
than warfare's Marshal.

'Ou rendre, ou prendre,
ou mort, d'enfer attendre'

The thief that restores not, or is not punished in this life, has good cause to expect damnation in the next; (enfer =Hell.)
[he knows much who knows
when to hold his tongue].

'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.

'Quand d'autruy parler tu voudras
regarde toy, & e tairas'

Let him that mean to tax or discredit
another, examine himself first,
then he will be silent.
Let him first see his own faults, before
complaining of the faults in others.

'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.
[he jests at scars that never
felt a wound].

'Oraculeux- oraculeuse'
oracle like, as true as the Gospels; thus infallible.
But the words of the oracle
cannot be trusted.

'Conscience a` pont Levis'
A very large conscience; or none at all,
for Levi like his brother Simeon,
were hardly nice guys.

'Tel veu tel supplice'
Such is the crime,
such is the correction -