Dun in the Mire

To draw Dun out of the mire. To lend a helping hand to one in distress. The allusion is to an English game, explained by Mr. Gifford in his edition of Ben Jonson, vii. 283. A log of wood is brought into a room. The log, called Dun, is supposed to have fallen into the mire, and the players are to pull him out. Every player does all he can to obstruct the others, and as often as possible the log is made to fall on someone's toes. Constant allusion is made to this game.

“Sires, what? Dun is in the mire.” —Chaucer: Prologue to Maunciples Tale.

“If thou art dun we'll draw thee from the mire.”

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, i. 4.

Well done, my masters, lend's your hands;
Draw Dun out of the ditch,
Draw, pull, helpe all. So, so; well done.

Duchesse of Suffolke (1631).

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