E. Cobham Brewer seems, from his most famous work, the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, published 1870, an agreeable old cove. But a biographical sketch by his grandson in the centenary edition praised his fearlessness in taking a stick to a ‘rough-looking man asleep in the stable’. He belaboured ‘the trespasser… exclaiming “Be off, you scoundrel!”’ This came to mind when I saw a sign prohibiting loitering.
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