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Catch a Tartar

The biter bit. Grose says an Irish soldier in the Imperial service, in a battle against the Turks, shouted to his comrade that he had caught a Tartar. “Bring him along, then,” said his mate. “But he won't come,” cried Paddy. “Then come along yourself,” said his comrade. “Arrah!” replied Paddy, “I wish I could, but he won't let me.”

“We are like the man who boasted of having caught a Tartar, when the fact was that the Tartar had caught him.” —Cautions for the Times.

Catch as Catch can
Get by hook or crook all you can.

“All must catch that catch can.” —Johnson: Rambler, No. 197.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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