it is the first step that is difficult

The proverb has various forms. The story to which the French saying alludes is referred to in quot. 1979. Cf. Fr. ce n’est que le premier pas qui coûte, it is only the first step that costs.

c 1596 A. MUNDAY et al. Sir Thomas More 11 Would I were so far on my journey. The first stretch is the worst methinks.

1616 J. WITHALS Dict. (rev. ed.) 576 The first step is as good as halfe ouer.

1876 A. B. MEACHAM Wi-Ne-Ma & her People iv. He had fortified himself against the charms of the Indian maiden, as he thought, but consented to visit her. Ah! my man, have you not learned that when the first step is taken the next follows easily.

1979 J. BARNETT Backfire is Hostile xi. St. Denis was executed... Afterwards he picked up his head and walked for six miles... The wise man said, ‘The distance..is not important. It was the first step that was difficult.’

1991 ‘P. RUELL’ Only Game vii. 193 What is it they said about that Frenchman who walked three miles after his head had been chopped off? It’s the first step that counts.


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