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Smelling Sin

Shakespeare says, “Do you smell a fault?” (King Lear, i. 1); and Iago says to Othello, “One may smell in this a will most rank.” Probably the smell of dogs may have something to do with such phrases, but St. Jerome furnishes even a better source. He says that St. Hilarion had the gift of knowing what sins or vices anyone was inclined to by simply smelling either the person or his garments; and by the same faculty he could discern good feelings and virtuous propensities. (Life of Hilarton, A.D. 390.)

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