one Englishman can beat three Frenchmen

Now also used of other nationalities, and in different proportions.

1599 SHAKESPEARE Henry V III. vi. 144 When they were in health... I thought upon one pair of English legs Did march three Frenchmen.

1745 H. WALPOLE Letter 13 July (1941) IX. 17 We, who formerly..could any one of us beat three Frenchmen, are now so degenerated that three Frenchmen can evidently beat one Englishman.

1834 MARRYAT Peter Simple III. viii. My men..there are three privateers... It’s just a fair match for you—one Englishman can always beat three Frenchmen.

1851 G. BORROW Lavengro I. xxvi. In the days of pugilism it was no vain boast to say, that one Englishman was a match for two of t’other race [the French].

1913 A. LUNN Harrovians i. Peter knew that an Englishman can tackle three foreigners, and forgot that the inventor of this theory took care to oppose three Englishmen to one foreigner as often as possible.

1981 London Review of Books 16 July-5 Aug. 5 Spain’s conquest of Mexico ‘gave Europeans a new and potent myth’, the conviction of one European as equal to twenty others.


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