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Devil and Tom Walker (The)


An American proverb, used as a caution to usurers. Tom Walker was a poor, miserly man, born at Massachusetts in 1727, and it is said that he sold himself to the Devil for wealth. Be this as it may, Tom suddenly became very rich, and opened a counting-house at Boston during the money panic which prevailed in the time of Governor Belcher. By usury he grew richer and richer; but one day, as he was foreclosing a mortgage with a poor land-jobber, a black man on a black horse knocked at the office door. Tom went to open it, and was never seen again. Of course the good people of Boston searched his office, but all his coffers were found empty; and during the night his house caught fire and was burnt to the ground. (Washington Irving: Tales of a Traveller.)

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Deuce of Cards (The)
Deva’s Vale
Devil among the Tailors (The)
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Devil and Dr. Faustus (The)
Devil and his Dam (The)
Devil and the Deep Sea (Between the)
Devil and Tom Walker (The)
Devil catch the Hindmost (The)
Devil in Dublin City (The)
Devil looking Over Lincoln. (The)
Devil loves Holy Water (As the)
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Devil on the Neck (A)
Devil rides on a Fiddlestick (The)
Devil Sick would be a Monk (The)
Devil to Pay and no Pitch Hot (The)