phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Mind in your purse

Posted by RRC on March 04, 2008 at 17:11:

In Reply to: Mind in your purse posted by Baceseras on March 04, 2008 at 15:44:

: : : : Does anyone know what the phrase "Mind in your purse" means?

: : :
: : : Well, if someone said "mind your purse" to me, I would think they were saying "keep an eye on your purse or someone might steal it". This seems to be a common understanding judging by a google search. I'm wondering if the "mind" has anything to do with the meaning of "mind" as "remember" (i.e. "mind your manners"). Byron, the poet, also had it as a line in a poem - I think in this context it may have meant be thrifty (with your passions) but I'm not sure. Here is the first and last part of the poem:


: : : But now at thirty years my hair is grey--
: : : (I wonder what it will be like at forty?
: : : I thought of a peruke the other day--)
: : : My heart is not much greener; and, in short, I
: : : Have squandered my whole summer while 'twas May,
: : : And feel no more the spirit to retort; I
: : : Have spent my life, both interest and principal,
: : : And deem not, what I deemed, my soul invincible.
: : : No more--no more--Oh! never more on me
: : : The freshness of the heart can fall like dew,
: : : Which out of all the lovely things we see
: : : Extracts emotions beautiful and new;
: : : Hived in our bosoms like the bag o' the bee.
: : : Think'st thou the honey with those objects grew?
: : : Alas! 'twas not in them, but in thy power
: : : To double even the sweetness of the flower.
: : : No more--no more--Oh! never more, my heart,
: : : Canst thou be my sole world, my universe!

: : : ...

: : : What are the hopes of man? Old Egypt's King
: : : Cheops erected the first Pyramid
: : : And largest, thinking it was just the thing
: : : To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid;
: : : But somebody or other rummaging
: : : Burglariously broke his coffin's lid:
: : : Let not a monument give you or me hopes,
: : : Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops.
: : : But I, being fond of true philosophy,
: : : Say very often to myself, 'Alas!
: : : All things that have been born were born to die,
: : : And flesh (which Death mows down to hay) is grass;
: : : You've passed your youth not so unpleasantly,
: : : And if you had it o'er again--'twould pass--
: : : So thank your stars that matters are not worse,
: : : And read your Bible, sir, and mind your purse.

: I don't know who first broke off these stanzas and published them separately under the title "Growing Old", but it wasn't Byron. They come near the end of the first canto of his "Don Juan". Nothing wrong with excerpting, but I think some of the wit is lost when the lines are run together without regard for the ottava rima form. - Bac.

: [postscript] I suspect "mind in your purse" is an accusation that you think only of your own advantage, in matters where morality demands you take a broader view.

I agree with Baceseras that (lacking any other context) "mind IN your purse" could mean "your mind is in your purse/wallet" and you only think about money.
Also, IMO, the mind in "mind your manners" is not "remember" as much as "look to", "see to", "take care of",... as in "mind the children". If your spouse told you to mind the child over the weekend, you would have to feed them and check on their whereabouts from time to time, not merely remember that they exist. ;-)