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Patelin

The artful dodger. The French say, Savoir son Patelin (to know how to bamboozle you). Patelin is the name of an artful cheat in a farce of the fifteenth century so called. On one occasion he wanted William Josseaume to sell him cloth on credit, and artfully fell on praising the father of the merchant, winding up his laudation with this ne plus ultra: “He did sell on credit, or even lend to those who wished to borrow.” This farce was reproduced in 1706 by Brueys, under the name of L'Avocat Patelin.

“Consider, sir, I pray you, how the noble Patelin, having a mind to extol to the third heaven the father of William Josseaume, said no more than this: `And he did lend to those who were desirous to borrow of him.' ” —Rabelais: Pantagruel, iii. 4.

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