(Ste.) The powder-room in a French ship; so called from
St. Barbara, the patron saint of artillery. (See Barbary.)
A barbe de fou apprend-on à raire
(French). An apprentice is taught to shave on the chin of a fool.
Tel a fait sa barbe, qui n'est pas beau fils
(French). You may waste half the day on making your toilet, and yet
not come forth an Adonis. You cannot make a silk purse of a sow's ear.
Not every block will make a Mercury.
Heap lying curls a million on your head;
On socks, a cubit high, plant your proud tread,
You're just what you are—that's all about it.
Goethe: Faust (Dr. Anster), p. 163.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894