Bayard of ten toes

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From the fact that humans, unlike horses, have ten toes. (Bayard was a horse famous in old romances.)


Bayard of ten toes (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete, slang) The feet, as a means of travelling.
    • circa 1616 : Nicholas Breton, An Honest Poor Man ; reprinted (with modernised spelling) in Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges, Bart. M.P., Archaica : Containing a Reprint of Scarce Old English Prose Tracts, with Prefaces, Critical and Biographical, volume 1, 1815 pages 32–33 (London : Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown ; T. Davidson, Whitefriars)
         An honest poor man is the proof of misery, where patience is put to the trial of her strength to endure grief without passion, in starving with concealed necessity, or standing in the adventures of charity : if he be married, want rings in his ears, and woe watereth his eyes : if single, he droopeth with the shame of beggary, or dies with the passion of penury : of the rich he is shunned like infection, and of the poor learns but a heart-breaking profession : his bed is the earth, and the heaven is his canopy, the sun is his summer’s comfort, and the moon is his winter’s candle : his sighs are the notes of his music, and his song is like the swan before her death : his study is patience, and his exercise prayer : his diet the herbs of the earth, and his drink the water of the river : his travel is the walk of the woeful, and his horse Bayard of ten toes : his apparel but the clothing of nakedness, and his wealth but the hope of heaven : he is a stranger in the world, for no man craves his acquaintance, and his funeral is without ceremony, when there is no mourning for the miss of him ; yet may he be in the state of election, and in the life of love, and more rich in grace than the greatest of the world. In sum, he is the grief of nature, the sorrow of reason, the pity of wisdom, and the charge of charity.