The Earl of Huntingdon, one of the rebels in Monmouth's army.
And, therefore, in the name of dulness, be The well-hung Balaam.
Dryden: Absalom and Achitophel, 1573–4.
A “citizen of sober fame,” who lived hard by the Monument of London; “he was a plain, good man; religious, punctual, and frugal,” his week-day meal being only “one solid dish.” He grew rich; got knighted; seldom went to church; became a courtier; “took a bribe from France;” was hanged for treason, and all his goods were confiscated to the State. (See
Diamond Pitt.) It was Thomas Pitt, grandfather of the Earl of Chatham, who suggested to Pope this sketch. (Pope: Moral Essays
, Ep. iii.)
Matter kept in type for filling up odd spaces in periodicals. These are generally refuse bits—the words of an oaf, who talks like “Balaam's ass.” (Numb. xxii. 30.) (American.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894