One of the ships which took part in the Battle of the Nile, and was called by the English sailors “the Bully-ruffran,” or “Belly-ruffron.”
“Why, she and the Belly-ruffron seem to have pretty well shared and shared alike.” —Captain Marryat: Poor Jack, chap. xiii.
The Joseph of Greek mythology; Antæa, the wife of Proetos, being the “Potiphar's wife” who tempted him, and afterwards falsely accused him. Being successful in various enterprises, he attempted to fly to heaven on the winged horse Pegasos, but Zeus sent a gad-fly to sting the horse, and the rider was overthrown.
Pausanias, the Spartan, sent messengers from time to time to King Xerxes, with similar letters; the discovery by one of the bearers proved the ruin of the traitor.
David's letter sent by Uriah (2 Sam. xi. 14) was of a similar treacherous character; hence the phrase, “Letters of Uriah.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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