Bottle-holder

One who gives moral but not material support. The allusion is to boxing or prize-fighting, where each combatant has a bottle-holder to wipe off blood, refresh with water, and do other services to encourage his man to perserve and win.

“Lord Palmerston considered himself the bottle-holder of oppressed States. ... He was the stead-fast partisan of constitutional liberty in every part of the world.” —The Times.

Bottle-imps
The Hebrew word for familiar spirits is oboth, leather bottles, to indicate that the magicians were wont to imprison in bottles those spirits which their spells had subdued.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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