The Bacon of Theology. Bishop Butler, author of the Analogy. (1692–1752.)
Bacon's brazen head. (See Brazen.)
To baste your bacon. To strike or scourge one. The Saxons were called “hogs” by their Norman lords. Henry VIII spoke of the common people as the “swinish multitude”; and Falstaff says to the travellers at Gadshill,
“On, bacons, on!” (1Henry IV, ii. 2). Bacon is the outside portion of the sides of pork, and may be considered generally as the part which would receive a blow.
To save one's bacon. To save oneself from injury.
But as he rose to save his bacon, By hat and wig he was forsaken.
Coombe: Dr. Syntax, canto vi. line 240.
There seems to be another sense in which the term is used—viz. to escape loss; and in this sense the allusion is to the care taken by our forefathers to save from the numerous dogs that frequented their houses the bacon which was laid up for winter store, the loss of which would have been a very serious calamity.
A Chaw-bacon. A rustic. Till comparatively modern times the only meat which rustics had to eat was bacon. I myself know several farm labourers who never taste any meat but bacon, except on club and feast days.
He may fetch a flitch of bacon from Dunmow, i.e. he is so amiable and good tempered he will never quarrel with his wife. The allusion is to a custom founded by Juga, a noble lady, in 1111, and restored by Robert de Fitzwalter in 1244; which was, that “any person from any part of England going to Dunmow, in Essex, and humbly kneeling on two stones at the church door, may claim a gammon of bacon, if he can swear that for twelve months and a day he has never had a household brawl or wished himself unmarried.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894