an old poacher makes the best gamekeeper

c 1390 CHAUCER Physician’s Tale 1. 83 A theef of venysoun, that hath forlaft His likerousnesse [depravity] and al his olde craft, Kan kepe a forest best of any man.

1695 T. FULLER Church Hist. Britain IX. iii. Alwayes set a—to catch a—; and the greatest dear-stealers, make the best Parke-keepers.

1878 R. JEFFERIES Gamekeeper at Home ix. There is a saying that an old poacher makes the best gamekeeper, on the principle of setting a thief to catch a thief.

1970 v. CANNING Great Affair iii. What the Church needed, possibly, was a good leavening of sinners in its ministry, on the principle that poachers make the best gamekeepers.

1978 T. SHARPE Throwback i. 5 ‘You’ll have heard the saying that a poacher makes the best gamekeeper?.. Well, Dodd’s the reverse. He’s a gamekeeper who would have made the best poacher.’


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