Pirie's Chair to Planets

Pirie's Chair “The lowest seat o' hell.” “If you do not mend your ways, you will be sent to Pirie's chair, the lowest seat of hell.”

“In Pirie's chair you'll sit, I say,
The lowest seat o' hell;
If ye do not amend your ways,
It's there that ye must dwell.”
Child's English and Scottish Ballads: The Courteous Knight.
    Pirrie or pyrrie means a sudden storm at sea (Scotch pirr). “They were driven back by storme of winde and pyrries of the sea.” (North: Plutarch, p. 355.)

Pirithoos King of the Lapithae, proverbial for his love of Theseus (2 syl.), King of Athens.

Pis-aller (French). As a shift; for want of a better; a dernier ressort; better than nothing.

“She contended herself with a pis-aller, and gave her hand ... in six months to the son of the baronet's steward.”- Sir W. Scott: Waverley. chap. v.
Pisanio A servant noted for his attachment to Imogen. (Shakespeare: Cymbeline.)

Piso's Justice That is Piso's justice. Verbally right, but morally wrong. Seneca tells us that Piso condemned a man on circumstancial evidence for murder; but when the suspect was at the place of execution, the man supposed to have been murdered exclaimed, “Hold, hold! I am the man supposed to have been killed.” The centurion sent back the prisoner to Piso, and explained the case to him; whereupon Piso condemned all three to death, saying, “Fiat justitia.” The man condemned is to be executed because sentence of death has been passed upon him, and fiat justitia; the centurion is to be executed because he has disobeyed orders, and fiat justitia; the man supposed to have been murdered is to be executed because he has been the cause of death to two innocent men, and fiat justitia etsi coelum ruat.

Pistol Falstaff's lieutenant or ancient; a bully, but a coward, a rogue, and always poor. (Shakespeare: 1 and 2 Henry IV.; Merry Wives of Windsor.)

Pistols So called from Pistoja, in Tuscany, where they were invented in 1545. (Latin, pistorium.)
   To discharge one's pistol in the air. To fight a man of straw; to fight harmlessly in order to make up a foolish quarrel.

“Dr. Réville has discharged his pistol in the air [that is, he pretends to fight against me, but discharges his shot against objections which I never made].”- W. E. Gladstone: Nineteenth Centary, November, 1885.
Pistris, Pistrix, Pristis or Pristrix. The sea-monster sent to devour Andromeda. In ancient art it is represented with a dragon's head, the neck and head of a beast, fins for the forelegs and the body and tail of a fish. In Christian art the pistris was usually employed to represent the whale which swallowed Jonah. (Aratus: Commentaries.) Aratus died A.D. 213.

Pit-a-pat My heart goes pit-a-pat. Throbs, palpitates. “Pat” is a gentle blow (Welsh, ffat), and “pit” is a mere ricochet expletive. We have a vast number of such ricochet words, as “fiddle-faddle,” “harum- scarum,” “ding-dong,” etc.

“Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat.”
Browning: Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Pitch Touch pitch, and you will be defiled. “The finger that touches rouge will be red.” “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” “A rotten apple injures its companions.”

Pitch and Pay Pitch down your money and pay at once. There is a suppressed pun in the phrase: “to pay a ship” is to pitch it.

“The word is pitch and pay- trust none”
Shakespeare: Henry V., ii.3.
Pitch into Him Thrust or dart your fists into him.

Pitcher The pitcher went once too often to the well. The dodge was tried once too often, and utterly failed. The same sentiment is proverbial in most European languages.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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