Put a stout heart to a steep hill.

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Give a thief enough rope and he’ll hang himself.

If you give a bad person enough opportunity he will bring about his own downfall.

There is a play on words in the proverb, for ‘rope’ has tow meanings: (a) a length of stout cordage as used for hanging, which was a penalty of theft in olden days; and (b) liberty of action. We can appreciate the second meaning when we consider a tethered goat, which a long rope allows to feed on a larger area of grass than does a short one, Hence we can reword the old proverb thus: ‘Give a thief enough chances to steal and he will become so overconfident that he will get himself into jail.’

 

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