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You cannot easily make people change their usual habits, especially when
people have been doing something for a long time. As people get older they
grow more set in their ways and do not welcome much innovation.

> My father refuses to use a computer and there is nothing I can do about it.

> You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, can you?

The quality of the contents of a sack of corn, flour, etc., may be judged by
the quality of a sample. Putting it another way, we do not have to eat the
whole egg to know that it is bad.

The proverb means that we can judge a person’s character on very small
evidence. For example, a generous action suggests a kindly nature, and a
callous remark a hard, unfeeling heart.

You may be acting in the best interests of the horse by taking him to the
trough, but if he doesn’t want to drink is not going to – and that’s that.
Similarly, you can do your utmost to make a person share your views, yet there
is a point beyond which he will not go.

> ‘I’ve listened to your arguments with the closest attention, Professor, and
I have read carefully all the books you recommended, but I still can’t agree
with you.’

This does not necessarily mean that you should endure misfortunes or
difficulties with a broad smile, but rather that you should put up with them
philosophically.

> ‘My wife has just flown out to Canada to stay with her sister for a month.
I’m not looking forward to having the kids on my hands and trying to keep the
home going while she’s away, but I’ll have to grin and bear it.’

##### See also:

* What can’t be cured must be endured

It is worth sacrificing a little in order to gain a great deal more. Here the
fly is the bait on the angler’s hook. This proverbs means the same as Throw
out a sprat to catch a mackerel.

Don’t be a faint-heart and say, ‘I’ll never mange to do it’. Have a go, and
you will be surprised at your own ability.

If you do me a favour then I will do you a favour in return. You praise me and
I will praise you; you flatter me and I will flatter you. Such a reciprocal
arrangement has been described as a Mutual Admiration Society with a
membership of two.

> “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” he said and he winked at me.

To sow ones wild oats is to commit youthful excesses or follies and, having
commuted them, to mend one’s ways. Thomas Nashe wrote over four hundred years
ago:

> Youth ne’er aspires to virtues perfect grown
> Till his wild oats be sown.

Another version is **Youth will have its course**. Let the young enjoy
themselves while they can.

> When all the world is young, lad,
> And all the trees are green;
> And every goose a swan, lad,
> And every lass a queen;
> Then they, for boot and horse, lad,
> And round the world away;
> Young blood must have its course, lad,
> And every dog his day.

You may not choose first one and then the other alternative in order to suit
your own convenience. It is often used in argument when an opponent shifts his
ground.

##### See also:

* You cannot burn the candle at both ends
* You cannot have your cake and eat it

This is sometimes given as: ‘You cannot eat your cake and have it.’ They both
mean the same thing, which is that if a choice has to be made between
alternatives, you must have one or the other, not both. Again, you can’t spend
your money and save it at the same time.

##### See also:

* You cannot burn the candle at both ends
* You cannot have it both ways

This warns us never to attempt the impossible. You can no more make a grab
walk any way but sideways than you can change a person’s character.