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the length of various stadia in Greece. A stadium was six hundred feet in
length, but Hercules's stadium at Olympia was much longer. Now, said the
philosopher, as the stadium of Olympia is longer than an ordinary stadium,
so the foot of Hercules was longer than an ordinary foot ; and as the foot
bears a certain ratio to the height, so the height of Hercules can be easily

That was an exceedingly dull person who made the remark, Ex pede Herculem. He
might as well have said, " From a peck of apples you may judge of the barrel." " Ex pede,"
to be sure I Read, instead, " Ex ungue minimi digiti pedis Herculem, ejusque patrem, ma-
trem, avos et proavos, fiiios, nepotes et pronepotes !" Talk to me about your 66s ■nov vtCi I
Tell me about Cuvier's getting up a megatherium fi-om a tooth, or Agassiz's drawing a por-
trait of an undiscovered fish from a single scale ! As the " O" revealed Giotto, — as the one
word " moi" revealed the Stratford-atte-Bowe-taught Anglais,— so all a man's antecedents
and possibilities are summed up in a single utterance which gives at once the gauge of his
education and his mental organization. — Holmes : Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, ch. v.


Excelsior (L., " Higher"), the motto of New York State, which is hence
sometimes called the " Excelsior State."

And from the sky serene and far
A voice fell like a falling star.
Excelsior !

Longfellow : Excelsior.

Longfellow's use of the word as an interjection or an imperative is not war-
ranted by the genius of the Latin language.

Exception proves the rule. In this proverbial saying the word prove
may be used in its ancient sense of test. Thus, St. Paul says, " Prove all
things," etc., which means that we should test all things, so as to know which
good ones to " hold fast" to. An exception cannot prove a rule in the modern
sense, it tends rather to render it invalid ; but an exception may test n rule, and
in some cases prove it to be wrong, whilst in others the test may show that
the so-called exception may be explained. The alternative explanation, that
the very word exception implies there is a rule, so that the word prove means
proves the existence of, is ingenious, but hardly so satisfying as the other.

Excuses. The French say, " Qui s'excuse, s'accuse" (" Who excuses him-
self, accuses himself"), — a proverb which may be found as far back as the
"Tresor des Sentences," by Gabriel Meurier (i 530-1601).

And oftentimes excusing of a fault

Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.

Shakespeare: Kitigjohn, Act iv., Sc. 2.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.

This proverb, which in its English dress is taken from Franklin's "Poor
Richard's Almanack" for 1743, can boast of a hoary antiquity. It is found in
Livy, in pretty nearly the form in which Franklin has it : " Stultorum eventus
magister est" (" Experience is the teacher of fools"). A shorter Latin prov-
erb ran, "Experientia docet" (" Experience teaches"), and Pliny speaks of
"the excellent school-master experience" {Epistles, I., xx. 12). "Credite ex-
perto" {" Believe one who has had experience"), says Virgil (ALneid, Book xi.,
1. 2S3), in an oft-quoted phrase, though in quotation a slight change is usually
made to " Experto crede." Another well-worn proverb of the ancients was
" Happy he who is made wary by others' perils," which is more neatly para-
phrased in modern proverbial literature as " Wise men learn by others' harms,
fools by their own."

The saying of Publius Syrus, " Unfairly does he blame Neptune who suffers
shipwreck a second time," has numerous modern analogues. An excellent
one is the English " Wit once bought is worth twice taught," and all that
cycle which in English is represented by " A burnt child fears the fire" (q. v.),
and by this line of Shakespeare :

What I wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?

Merchant 0/ Venice, Act iii., Sc. 5.

Other proverbs relating to the same subject are :

He that will not he ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the rock. — Cornish.

Old birds are not to be caught with ii\isM.— English.

Bought wit is best.

It is a silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait.

The French have a humorous equivalent for the latter proverb, growing out
of the following story. A young rustic told his priest at confession that he
had broken down a neighbor's hedge to get at a blackbird's nest. The
priest asked if he had taken away the young birds. "No," said he; " they
were hardly grown enough. I will let them alone until Saturday evening."


No more was said on the subject ; but when Saturday evening came the young
fellow found the nest empty, and readily guessed who it was that had fore-
stalled him. The next time he went to confession he had to tell something in
which a young girl was partly concerned. " Oh !" said his ghostly father ;
" how old is she ?" " Seventeen." " Good-looking ?" " The prettiest girl in
the village." " What is her name ? Where does she live ?" the confessor
hastily inquired ; and then he got for an answer the phrase which has passed
into a proverb, " A d'autres, denicheur de merles !" which may be para-
phrased, " Try that upon somebody else, Mr. filcher of blackbirds."

Extremes meet, a proverb found in all languages. Coleridge rightly
says that to collect and explain all the instances and exemplifications of its
use " would constitute and exhaust all philosophy." The saying contains the
germ thought of innumerable famous sayings in proverbial and general liter-
ature. " From the sublime to the ridiculous," " In the midst of life we are
in death," "Great wits are sure to madness near allied," "The darkest hour
is just before the dawn," " When unadorned, adorned the most," " Discord a
harmony not understood," "Pleasure-pain," "Bitter-sweet," "Too far east is
west," — what are all these, save different renderings of the same thought?
Here are a few more instances, selected almost at random :

Extremes in Nature equal ends produce.
And oft so mix the difference is too nice,
Where ends the virtue or begins the vice.


Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear.

Milton : Paradise Lost, Book iii.

Such huge extremes inhabit thy great mind.
Godlike, unmoved — and yet, like woman, kind.

The way to rest is pain ;
The road to resolution Hes by doubt ;
The next way home's the farthest way about.
QuARLES : Etnblems.

The glorious lamp of heaven, tha sun,

The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run.

And nearer he's to setting.


The more one loves a mistress, the nearer one comes to hating her. — La Rochefoucauld :

Tout ^tat qui brille est sur son declin (" Every state that shines is on its decline"). —

Wit, like tierce claret, when't begins to pall,
Neglected lies, and 's of no use at all.
But in its full perfection of decay
Turns vinegar, and comes again in play.


The extremes of glory and of shame.
Like east and west, become the same :
No Indian prince has to his palace
More followers than a thief to the gallows.

Butler : Hudibras,

There's but the twinkling of a star
Between a man of peace and war ;
A thief and justice, fool and knave;
A huffing officer and a slave,
A crafty lawyer and pickpocket,
A great philosopher and blockhead.


A formal preacher and a player,
A learned physician and manslayer ;
As wind in th' hypocondries pent
Is but a blast if downward sent,
But if it upwards chance to fly,
Becomes new light and prophecy.

Butler : Hudibras.

But enough of this. Once started, quotations are interminable. Indeed, it
might be said that all wisdom and all wit consist in the meeting of extremes,
— in the real reconciliation of apparent irreconcilables, which is wisdom, and
in the apparent reconciliation of real irreconcilables, which is wit.

Eye. All my eye. This slang term for fudge, nonsense, with its pendant,
" All my eye and Betty Martin," has proved a fruitful field for etymological con-
jecture. Some would derive it from the Welsh al mihivy, " it is very tedious."
Others, looking upon " All my eye and Betty Martin" as the original phrase,
consider it a corruption of " Ah mihi beate Martini !" (" Ah ! [grant] me,
blessed Martin !") " Joe Miller" is cited in evidence. That authority tells the
story of a sailor, who, having been attracted by the music into a Catholic
church, was subsequently asked how he liked the service. He replied that
he supposed it was all very fine, but he had not understood any of it except
something about "all my eye and Betty Martin." Unfortunately, there is no
such Latin formulary in the Catholic Church. Still another story, having all
the marks of an invention after the fact, affirms that Betty Martin, a gypsy
woman in Shrewsbury, gave a black eye to a constable, who was chaffed
accordingly. In truth, there seems little mystery about the origin of the
phrase "all my eye." It is but a humorous extension of the locution "to
have in one's eye," — i.e., to have in mind, to have in contemplation. All in
one's eye, therefore, meant that it was all in the mind and would never take
form in action; that it was seeming, — apparent, but not real. The French
have an analogous phrase, " Mon oeil," accompanied by a knowing wink and a
significant gesture as an invitation to inspect the organ. But when, where,
or why the name " Betty Martin" was added to the phrase is an insoluble

The witty allusions of two famous men to this slang phrase may be added to the general
account of it. The first is in two lines from a burlesque on the Egoismus of Fichte's philoso-
phy, found in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria :

All my I ! All my I ;
He's a heretic dog who but adds Betty Martin.

The other is Macaulay's reply, reported by Lady Chatterton to Rogers, when asked what he
thought of Harriet Martineau's mesmeric ciu-es : " Oh 1 it's all my eye and Hetty Martineau."
— American Notes and Qu

The tenderness of spring is all my eye.
And that is blighted.

Hood : Spring:

I've lost one eye, but thet's a loss it's easy to supply
Out o' the glory thet I've gut, fer thet is all my eye ;
An' one is big enough, I guess, by diligently usin' it.
To see all I shall ever git by way o' pay for losin' it.

Lowell : Biglow Papers, first series, viii.

Eye. To see ■with half an eye. This expression is found in Jeremy
Taylor, " But half an eye may see the different accounts" (vol. ix. p. 386,
Edin. ed.), and a still earlier use has been pointed out in Hugo van Linscho-
ten's "Discours of Voyages into ye Easte and West Indies" (159S) : "There
is much counterfeit money abroad, which is hard to be knowne from the good,
were it not for these Karaffos, which can discern it with half an eye." (Ed.
1864, page 190.)



F, the sixth letter and fourth consonant in the English, as in the Latin and
the Phoenician and even in the early Greek alphabet, whence the Latin was
derived from the Phoenician. But in the later Greek alphabet as we know it
the letter has gone out of use. The Phoenician character had the name vav ox
zvazv (a " peg" or " hook"), and its form was an adaptation of the hieroglyphic
picture of the cerastes, or horned Egyptian asp, its value being approximately
that of the English w. As this sound gradually went out of use in Greek,
the symbol known as the digamma, or double gamma, followed it. In the
alphabet adapted to Latin use, our moderny sound was given to it, the w
being written with the same character as the u. They" sound in Greek was
conveyed by the symbol 0, and in words derived from the Greek the English
spelling usually substitutes//^ for/ as in philosophy, etc.

Face. All my body is face. It is often asserted that a Greek philos-
opher made this answer to one who marvelled at his going naked or scantily
clad in inclement weather. But the phrase, in fact, was invented by Montaigne.
" I know not," he says, in his " Essay on the Custom of Wearing Clothes," " I
know not who would ask a beggar whom he should see in his shirt in the
depth of winter, as brisk and frolic as he who goes muffled up to the ears in
furs, how he is able to endure to go so. 'Why, sir,' he might answer, 'you
go with your face bare, and I am all face.' " The beggar, it will be seen, is a
purely imaginary being. But the world loves a concrete personality on whom
to father famous sayings. So early as the time of Fuller the imaginary being
had become a reality : " The beggar who being demanded how he could go
naked, returned, ' All my body is face.' " ( Worthies: Berkshire, p. 82, published
in 1662.) The transition to the more august and authoritative " Greek philos-
opher" is only in the natural order of things.

Face, Outface, or Face it out, an old verb, still extant, meaning to bully,
to browbeat, to bluff, and, like the latter term, connected with cards. It ex-
pressed the confident audacity of a player who, in primero or some other game,
boldly stood upon a ten, and bluffed an adversary who really had a face card
against him.

First pyck a quarrel and fall out with him then.
And so outface him with a card of ten.

Skelton : quoted by Nares, Glossary.

A vengeance on your crafty, withered hide,
Yet I have faced it with a card of ten.

Shakespeare : Taviing of the Shrew, Act ii.

The original signification of the phrase being lost, its apparent connection
with face in the modern sense of cheek slightly extended and modified its
meaning, though with no damage to its integrity :

I that had face enough to do the deed
Cannot want tongue to speak it.

MiDDLETON : A Fair Quarrel, 1617.

Face the Music, a proverbial phrase probably derived from the stage,
where it is used by actors in the greenroom when preparing to go on the
boards to literally face the music. Another explanation traces it to militia-
muster, where every man is expected to appear fully equipped and armed,
when in rank and file, facing the music.


Faces, A sea of upturned. Webster made use of this figure of speech,
in Faneuil Hall, September 30, 1S42, beginning an address with the words,
" In this sea of upturned faces there is something which excites me strangely,
deeply, before I even begin to speak." The figure was no doubt quoted from
"Rob Roy," in which the identical collocation of words occurs:

I next strained my eyes, with equally bad success, to see if, among the sea of upturned
faces which bent their eyes on the pulpit as a common centre, I could discover the sober and
business-like physiognomy of Owen. — Rob Roy, ch. xx.

The parallelism between a vast silent multitude and a sea is drawn by
Coleridge in the apostrophe to Mont Blanc :

But thou, most awful Form 1
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines.
How silently !

Hymn in the Vale of Cham otini.

And possibly the orator may have had the figure in mind, and felt its force,
in the silence that preceded his speech. The upturned face and rooted atten-
tion are associated in the lines of Moore :

It seemed as if each thought and look

And motion W'ere that minute chained
Fast to the spot, such root she took,
And — like a sunflower by a brook.

With face upturned — so still remained.

Lozies of the A ngels : First AngeFs Story.

Facile princeps ^2X. facilis, ''■ &2&y,^'' princeps, "prince, chief"), easily the
first, acknowledged chief.

Goethe, the greatest literarj- critic that ever lived, was more comprehensive and universally
tolerant ; but De Quincey v.s.s facile princeps, to the extent of his touch, among the English
critics of his generation.— D. Masson : Life of De Quincey, p. 180.

Chapman speaks of one of his princely Greek heroes thus :
So facilie he bore
His royall person.

Iliad, xxiu.

But this has nothing to do with the case.

Facilis descensus Averni ("The descent of Avernus is easy"). — Virgil:
ALneid, vi. 126. Some ancient manuscripts read " Averno," — i.e., to, and not
of, Avernus.

As he approached the entrance to that den of infamy, from which his mind recoiled even
while in the act of taking shelter there, his pace slackened, while the steep and broken stairs
reminded him of \}cie. facilis descensus Averni, and rendered him doubtful whether it were not
better to brave the worst which could befall him in the public haunts of honorable men than
to evade punishment by secluding himself to those of vice and profligacy.— Scott : The
Fottunes of Nigel, ch. xvi.

Thus he will inevitably commit himself at once to his political destruction. His downfall,
too, will not be more precipitate than awkward. It is all very well to talk about l)xe facilis
descensus Averni: but in all kinds of climbing, as Catalani said of singing, it is far more
easy to get up than to come down. — PoE : The Purloined Letter.

Facings, To put one through his, a popular colloquialism, meaning to
call to account, to scold, or to make some one show off his accomplishments.
In the latter sense is apparent the military derivation of the phrase originally
applied to the regular drill, — " Face !" " Right about face," etc.
We were scarcely wed a week

When she put me through my facings.
And walloped me — and worse ;

She said I did not wan: a wife,
I ought to have had a nurse.

F. Egerton : If my wife would let me.


Factotum, from the Latin facere, "to do," and totus, neuter totum, "all,"
" the whole ;" meaning one who does all or every kind of work for another.

Tip. — Art thou the Dominus ?
Host. — Factotum here, sir.

Ben Jonson.

And Foulis, in his " History of the Plots of our Pretended Saints," second
edition, 1674, says, " He was so farre the dominus fac-totum in thisyM«c^ that
his words were laws."

He could not sail without him ; for what could he do without Corporal Vanspitter, his
protection, his factotum, his distributer of provisions? — Marryat : Snarleyyoxv, chap. xiii.

The name has become famous in its application by Greene to Shakespeare ;
and the allegations of Greene and his friends, in their totality, form one of
the curiosities of literature. After having referred, in a general way, to the
subterfuge practised by

theological poets, which for their gravity and calling, being loath to have profane pam-
phlets pass under their hands, get some other Batillus to set his name to their verses. . . .
Thus is the ass made proud by this underhand brokery, and he that cannot write true Eng-
lish, without the help of clerks of parish churches, will make himself the father of interludes :"
(Farewell to Folly, Introduction), —

and after having procured his friend Nashe to write an "Epistle" to his
" Menaphon," in which occur references to a " sorry ballet-maker, passing
good at a moral," one "who could not write true English" without the aid of
the "sexton of St. Giles beyond Cripplegate," and innuendoes concerning

" sundry sweet gentlemen, that have vaunted their pens in private devices, and have
tricked up a company of taiTety fools with their feathers," and in which he says, " It is a
common practice nowadays amongst a sort of shifting companions, that run through every
art and thrive by none, to leave the trade of noverint vhereto they were bom, and busy them-
selves with endeavors of art," whereby " they who could scarcely latinize their neck-verse,
if they should have need, . . . out-brave better pens with the swelling bombast of blank
verse," —

Greene finally, in his "Groat's Worth of Wit," which he finished on his
death-bed, made the well-known allusion to "the upstarte crowe," "beauti-
fied with our feathers," who thinks himself as well able to "bombast out a
blank-verse as the best of you, and being a veritable Johannes Factotum, is,
in his own conceit, the onlie Shake-scene in a countrie."

Facts are stubborn things. The phrase occurs in Le Sage's "Gil
Bias," Book x., chap. i. (Smollett's translation), but was used earlier than by
Smollett, ipsissima verba, in Elliott's "Essay on Field Husbandry" (1747).
It expresses the general, if not universal, conviction of the incontrovertibility
of the evidence of the senses, of the truths of actual experience, — in short, of
facts, — and the phrase, or analogous ones, as " facts won't lie," or its variant,
expressive of the unassailability of mathematical certainty, viz., the colloquial-
ism "figures won't lie," have become proverbial.

It is possible that Le Sage in his phrase may have had a faint adumbration
of the Italian proverb, " Fatti maschi, parole femine" (literally, " Facts or
deeds are masculine, words feminine," but in application meaning " Actions
are becoming to a man, a woman has words"). The full text of the Italian
proverb is, " Le parole son femine e i fatti son maschi," which is so much
the worse for the facts, for notwithstanding their masculinity, or perhaps
because of it, notwithstanding their apparent stubborn rigidity, facts have the
mutability which appertains to all things mundane : thus, —

Time dissipates to shining ether the solid angularity of facts.— Emerson : Essays, First
Series : History.

The words " Fatti maschi, parole femine," which were the motto of Lord


Baltimore, the founder of the colony, have been adopted as the motto in the
seal of the State of Maryland.

Facts, So much the worse for the. This expression is attributed to
Voltaire. Something very like it, however, is to be found in the brochure of
Royer-Collard against the opinions of the Jansenists of Port-Royal on Grace.
He says, " lis ont les textes pour eux, mais j'en suis fache pour les textes"
("The texts are with them, but I am sorry for the texts"). The stubbornness
of facts, the quality of refusing to yield, or to be brushed aside without
ceremony, is a characteristic which is generic, being common to facts of all
kinds. With this general correspondence, however, goes, on the other hand,
the greatest diversity, and we have "plain facts," "dry facts," and facts which
are "cold," "bald," etc. But "General texts prove nothing." (Selden :
Table- Talk: Prayer.)

Fagot-vote, in English political slang, a vote given by an elector who has
qualified more or less fraudulently, as by the purchase of property under
mortgage, etc., probably derived from the military term fagots, = dummy
soldiers or sailors, hired, to appear at muster and fill up the deficiencies in
companies or crews.

Why, gentlemen, quite apart from any question of principle, nothing, I venture to say, can
be so grossly imprudent as that which is familiarly known in homely but most accurate phrase
as the manufacture of fagot-votes. — Gladstone : First Midlothian Speech, November 25, 1879.

Fagots and fagots, There be. This form of expression, of comparing
things and things, is a very common colloquialism, which has thousands of
variations, e.g., there are books and books, honors and honors, dinners
and dinners, etc., ad libitum. This particular phrase originated with Mo-
here, in his " Medecin malgre Lui," Act i., Sc. 6, and is used by the wood-
cutter Sganarelle, who refuses to sell his wood at a lower price, saying it were
quite possible that wood might be bought for less, but " il y a fagots et fagots."
A story is told of Madame de Stael. With great persistency she urged a
lady in mourning, a daughter of M. de Guichen, lieutenant-general of marines,
to take part in a dance, until at last the lady was obliged to appeal to her to
desist. " Consider, madame," she said, " if you had the misfortune to lose
your father, could you think of dancing so soon ?" " Oh," haughtily retorted
the de Stael, " there is such a difference between fathers and fathers ;" to
which the other, "True, madame: my father served his king and country
during sixty years ; yours in a fortnight ruined both."

Failings leaned to virtue's side. The amiable weaknesses of the
country vicar, in Goldsmith's " " Deserted Village," are thus described :

Careless their merits or their faults to scan,

His pity gave ere charity began.

Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride.

And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side.
Goldsmith, again, has a similar descriptive bit in his play of " The Good-
Natured Man," Act i. : "All his faults are such that one loves him still the
better for them." . .

The very words we have used above,—" amiable weaknesses," — words origi-
nating with Fielding in " Tom Jones," Book x. chap, viii., and later endorsed
by Gibbon and Sheridan, may have been suggested by this line. That virtue,
on the other hand, through its uncompromising austerity, may lean towards

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