I WHAT is meant by a proverb ? A famous definition is that which was given by James Howell in his book, Paroimiografia, published in 1659: he said that the chief ingredients which go to make a true proverb are "sense, shortness, and salt ".1 He then omitted a most essential, and generally recognized, characteristic of a proverb, namely, popularity, acceptance, and adoption on the part of the people. But he was fully aware of it; for he also says that "proverbs may be called the truest franklins or free-holders of a country", being traditional sayings, precepts, and memorandums handed over from one generation to another. Of course, each of them must have had an authorwe cannot believe in the spontaneous generation of proverbs. But, as Archbishop Trench observes in his little book on proverbs, the author may only have clothed in happier form what others had already felt and uttered. The proverb may have been" the wit of one and the wisdom of many", as Lord Russell put it; and its constitutive element is not the utterance on the part of the one, but the acceptance on the part of the many, whose,. sanction makes it a proverb. 2 The same may be said of the accessions which the stock of popular proverbs in the course of time has received from literary sources.