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Cotgrave's World: Book 5 Death

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Thoughts, proverbs and Sayings from the 16th Century

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

[ 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.

'Tout estat est viande aux vers'.
Every creature is meat for worms.

'Rien n'est nostre n'est que soir
en nous propre'.

Nothing can be said to be ours,
that is not born with us.

'Tout a estre a autruy,
et sera a autruy'.

All, came from and all will go to.
Or, where money and possessions
are concerned,
All, came from and all shall go
to others.

'Contre la mort
n'y a point de medecine'.

There is no medicine,
remedy for death.
[death, when it comes
will bear no denial].

'De nouveau Medecin cimitiere bossu'.
A new physician breeds a fat churchyard.

'La mort n'espargne
ny petit ny grand'.

Death baulks no creature,
spares neither small nor great.

'Iamais grain ne fructisier
sin premier ne se mortise.'.

Seed never comes to fructose
until it has first mortified.

'Rien n'est nostre qui ne soit
en nous propre'.

Nothing, which is not our own
can be said ours.
Rich or poor,
great or small,
foolish or wise,
king or slave
carry but one thing
to the grave.
[ shrouds have no pockets.]

Ecclesiastes, 5-14, 15. But those riches perish,
By evil travail,
And he begetteth a son,
And there is nothing in his hand.
As he came forth
Of his mother's womb,
Naked shall he return to go
As he came, and shall take
Nothing from of his labour
Which he may
In his hands.

'Chantor l'hymne du cigne'.
To sing his last, we say,
his Swan Song.

'Il ne peut restiver au destin'.
In vain he strives against,
or thinks to withstand, his destiny. As it,
but folly to seek a defense against lightning.

'Apres la mort le medecine'.
After death drugs; the mischief past,
a remedy; or, after meat, mustard; after death, a potion. After judgement given, our counsels are at leisure to attend our cause.

'De petit enfant petit dueil'.
The death of little ones
is not much bemoaned; or,
a little mourning, serves for a little child

'Envis meurt qui appris ne l' a'.
Unwillingly he dies,
that has not thought of death; or,
that has not learnt to die.

'Qui bien veut mourir bien viue'.
He that would die well,
needs live well.

'Le loup mourra en sa peauqui ne
l'escorchera vis'.

A knave will sleep,
In a knave's skin,
Until he either loses his coat,
Or his life.
[ A leopard never changes its spots.]

'On s'avise tard en mourant'.
When death approaches,
had I known comes too late.

'Aujourd huy thresorir,
demain tresorriere'.

No man knows
what his last accomplishment will be.

'La memorie de la homme
est escoulable'.

Quickly past, easily erased, soon gone.
[for few men are remembered. M.]

'Le pourpre a soc mort
d'egal poix balance'.

Death matches poor clowns
with purple garlands,
a great or powerful man may amass much,
only for his heirs to squander it all.
Hoarded treasure attracts thieves,
while foolish children squander
their inheritance.
but either way, in the end,

'Le pourpre au ser mort d'egal poids'.
Death equals plough drivers
with purple wearers.
[poid= weight; also, substance.]

'Le pourpre au soc mort
d'egal poix balance'.

Death matches the poor clown
with purple gallants.
[ There is no rank or favour amongst
the dead; or, death equalizes all,
fools and kings all feed worms in the end. M.]

'On ne scait pour qui on amasse'.
Men know not who shall spend their,
gains; or, only God
knows who shall spend those heaps.
For in the end all earthly gains are losses,
Even the richest man in the world dies,
And all he has gathered is sold, binned,
or given to others.

'C'est qui meurent laissent
leur place a ceux qui demeurent'.

They that die possessors
leave all to their successors.

'Aussi tost meurt veau comme vache'.
(& le hardi comme le lasche)
As soon dies the young as the old,
(The coward and the brave)

'Les vieilles gens qui font gambades
a la mort sonnent des aubades'.

Old peoples frisking
does presage their ending. Or,
death laughs when old people frolic.

So long a man toils
and trots up and down,
that at length he bursts,
or falls down.

'Va ou tu peux, meurs ou tu dois'.
Go whether thou can,
But die where thou should;
Go where ever you like,
But die at home,

'La guerre est la feste des morts'.
War is a dead man's holy day,
or, men who dream of glory,
relish death.

'Aussi test meurt vache comme veau'.
The skipping calf, the wanton lamb,
are often killed before, their mother.

'Cheval courant est vn sepulchre ouvert'.
A running horse is an open grave,
(sepulchre= tomb.)

'Le pas de la mort'.
The path of death; a step unto it,
or, the point of it.

'Il commence bien a mourir qui
abandonne son defur'.

Who quits what he desires,
begins to die in earnest.
[A man without purpose or reason,
is as good as dead;
he who loses faith, loses everything:
when your body stops growing
it begins to die,
so, it is of the mind
and soul. M.]

'Envismeurt qui appres ne l'a'.
He that hath not learnt well,
Is loathed to die.

'En vieille beste n'y a point de ressource'.
Of an old beast, there is no recovering;
when an old man runs into errors,
or loses the vigour of his spirit,
there is no hope in him,
either of amendment
or of reinforcement.

'Mourable', mortal, ready or likely to
die, subject, or near to death.

'Mourant'. dying, decaying, perishing.

'Mourir'. To die, decease, depart this
life, to perish, decay.

'Il est sur la bord de la fosse'.
He has already one foot in the grave.

'Il ne la sera longue en ce monde'.
He is no man of this world,
he cannot live any length of time,
He cannot last long now.

'Fortune n'espargne ny derviteur
ny maistre elle donne et repend tel,
est son estre'.

Fortune spares no man, keeps no
covenants, observes no conditions.
[ for tide nor time wait for no man.]
[ While many live longer
than expected,
none live beyond their time;
as time waits for no man,
but all men await their time. M.]
[ today he shall be lifted up,
and tomorrow he shall not be found,
because he has returned to dust
and his thoughts
have come to nothing.]

'Au cerf la biere,
au sanglier le barbier'.

The stag a coffin, the boar a barber needs, {the sense being, if thou are hurt by a stag, you'll require a coffin, but if by a wild boar, someone to clean and sew up your wounds. For those former beasts, being hard laid into, lay hard about them.

'Cerf,' a stag, red deer, a hart;


'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.

'Contre la mort n'y a point d' appel'.
From death, there is no appealing.
Death admits -allows, no appeal, or
None can appeal from- against death.

'Contre la mort
n'y a point de medecine'.

There is no medicine
or remedy for death.

'Desbander l'are ne guerist pas la playe'.
The bows unbending
heals no wounds
that it made;
Or, 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].
[when guns speak,
it is too late to argue].

'il n'est vie que de faire bonne chere,
mais la fin n'en vaut rien'.

whether you consider the stuff
it turns into, or the end it brings one to.)

'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

'Au gibbet le repentir vient trop tard'.
Too late, he repents, that repents
at the gallows.
[as, time waits for no man,
but all men await their time. M.]

'Il se fait poissonnier la vigile de pasques'.
Too late he undertakes that course of action.

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

'La mort n'a point d'ami,
le malade n'a qu'un demi.'.

The dead have no friends,
The sick but faint ones;
Or when a man is dead,
His friends forsake him,
And while he is sick
They care not greatly
For him; or
No man loves death, or
Fully loves the sick.

'En petite chemmee fait on
bien grand feu'.

Men sometimes make great fires
in little chimneys, to their cost.

'Iamais grain ne fructisie si premeir
ne se mortisie'.

Seed never comes to fruit
until it first hath motified, {died].

'Quand vn chein se noye chascum
luy offre a boire'.

When a dog's drowning
everyone offers him a drink.
[as many priests are full of good advice
for the dying, but none for the living.]

'Chascun ira au moullin
avec son propre sac'.

Everyone shall bear his own burden;
or, answer for himself.

'Il n'a nul si'.
He is perfect
without fault or defect,
no want or error
can be found in him,
{he is dead.]

'A vray dire perd on le ieu'.
By speaking truth men (often)
lose their game, or life.

'Telle vie telle fin'.
Such as his life such was his end.

'Le feu est demie vie de l'homme'.
The Fire is half the life of a man
(and worth his whole life to him;
for without it (passion-fire) either
he cannot live, or shall do very little.

'Tel tue qui ne pense qui blesser;
et tel cuide frapper qui tue'.

The wounding mind has often
a murdering hand;
a hurt intended with death is ended.

'Tel true qui ne pense que blesser.'.
Some kill when they mean but to hurt.

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

'Qui plus qu'il n' a vaillant despend,
il fait la corde quoy se pend'.

He that spends above his ability,
may at length,
hang himself,
with great agility.
[give a villain enough rope and he
will at length hang himself].
yet it fair to say at least,

'Qui a `a pendre n'a pas a noyer'.
He that was born to be hanged
needs not fear drowning.

'Homme endormi corps enseueli'.
There is as much use in a dead corpse,
as a drowsy body, or, a sleeping body
is little better than a dead one;
a sleeping sentry guards nothing.

'Vn' Abeille morte ne fait plus de miel'.
A dead thing is good for nothing.

'C'est trop aimer quand on meurt'.
He loves to much, that dies for love.

'Mieux vaut plier que rompre'.
Better bow than break; viz, better to yield unto good advice, or the violent sway of the time, than by following your own opinion, or humour, and bring upon yourself certain destruction.

'Nul ne scait ea qu` a` l'oeil luy pend'.
No man knows
how near he is to mischief, or,
what mystery may befall him.

'Vie n'est pas seur heritage'.
Life is no sure (no true,
or guarantee of) inheritance.
[ facts are stubborn things].
[ war is a deadly business].

'Gourmandise tue plus de gens qu'.
espee en guerre trenchant'.
More are killed by gluttony
than by the sword of war.
[Bacchus {drink} has drowned
more men than Neptune].

'Il n'est vie que de faire bonne chere,
mais la fin n'en vautrien'.

The life spent in good cheer,
hath a fair beginning but a foul end.

'Tel sont huy qui demain
ne verront pas'.

Some are alive today,
that will be dead tomorrow.

'Aujoird luy en chere demain en biere'.
Today glad, tomorrow dead, we say,
here today, gone tomorrow.
[tomorrow will always come,
even if not for you. M.].

'C'est vne toux de regnard qui vous
menera au terrier; viz, au sepluche'.


'aujourd luy en terre demain en terre'.
Today on earth, tomorrow in it.
[terrier-or augur as teriere].

'Au cul du sac'.
At length; in the end, or bottom,
when all is done, and gone;
when all is said, and done,
at the bottom of the sack.
When you come to
A Dead End.
[everyone wants to go to heaven
but nobody wants to die].

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 its body, that represents the thing his mother longed for, or was frightened of when the child was in her womb. To entrust one's body with the sea, is as to trust the devil with your soul.]

'Homme endormi corps enseveli'.
There is no difference between a dead,
or a sleepy body,
or, as good as dead,
to be alive and doing nothing.

'Il est bien fol qui cuide tousiours vivre'.
He is a very ass
that thinks he shall live forever.

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

'Il n'est si grand iour
qui ne vienne a vespre'.

The longest days have evenings,
all earthly things an end.

'Nul endroict sans son envers'.
No outside, without an inside, hence,
no end without a beginning. 0r,
while birth is not guaranteed,
death upon birth is.

'Il n'est qu'une mauvaise heure au iour'.
There is but one ill [unlucky] hour
of the day; but who knows which,
or their hour?

'L'an climactere; the climatical,
climax year, the most critical years, the 7th, the 9th and 63rd years of a man's life were deemed the most dangerous, and indeed were for many.

'Climacterie de 63 ans'.
The critical, most dangerous year of all 3 was the age of 63, at which age many worthy men have died. [ I am not sure on this, while there is endless data on evil men, worthy men are rarely recorded in history. I can say 7x 9 = 63, that 6+3=9; that 63 divided by 9 = 7; and 63 divided by 7=9; and 7+9= 16=the power of 7[1+6=7], and 7 divided by 9=7777 rec' and 9 and 19 are death numbers. Indeed, 3x 9 =27 is the number of all major anti Christ's wars. While the most dangerous of all carry the 3 sixes, in their name. [he also advises that at 72, you should think carefully what your last act should be, and 72 as a power no, 7+2 =9. That the 9 times table does this, 9x1=9, 9x2=18- 1+8=9, 9x3=27- 2+7 =9. 9x4=36- 3+6=9, 9x5=45- 4+5=9, and 54-63-72-81- 90, then 99-9+9=18-1+8=9, then 108, 117, 126, 135 and so on,]. I know of no reason yet why a man should fear being 63, any more than 62 or 64, if he should be lucky enough to even reach 60 that is? However, Nostradamus died at the age 63, .

'Contre fortune nul ne peut'.
No man can withstand his destiny,
or against a chance.

'La paix est la feste de tous saincts'.
Peace is the holy man's day.

'Tout estat est viande aux vers'.
Every creature is meat for worms.

'A longue corde tire
qui d'autruy mort desire'.

He that longs for another man's death, hath a long wait, (cold wait), suit of it. We then said, he that wants for dead man's shoes, shall go long barefoot.

'Envieux meurent, mais envie
ne mourra iamais'.

The envious die, but envy lives always.

'Haine de prince
signifie mort d' homme.'.

The hate of a prince, or a queen,
Presages the death of a man.

'Quand tous peches sont vieux
avarice est encores-ieune'.

The love of wealth continues young
when all other sins grow old.

'Argent fait pendre les gens'.
Money brings many men to the gallows. But that was the law then, it could not be a useful proverb in our times? Better said, money brings poor men to the gallows. But today it seems there are no crimes warranting death, but if the law was chiseled in stone who defaced it.

'Tel rit au matin, qui au soir pleure'.
Some laugh in the morning,
who by night shed tears.

'On ne scait qui mord ne qui rue'.
One knows not, what may happen,
Who may hurt him, what mischief
may in time betide him.

'Tei au matin rit qui au soir pleure'.
No glad or happy man knows
how soon he may be sorry.

The last prayer that is said for the dead.
When the dead find out they have been
fiddled out of everything.
[Fedelium, adopted from Lat.]

'Fiens de chien, & marc d'argent
seront tout vn au iour iugement'.

All, will be one at the end of days.
the end crowns the work]