one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb
The proverb alludes to the former penalty for sheep-stealing. The idea is present in: 1662 N. ROGERS Rich Fool 253 As some desperate Wretches, Who dispairing of life still act the more villainy, giving this desperate Reason of it, As good be hanged for a great deal, as for a little.

1678 J. RAY English Proverbs (ed. 2) 350 As good be hang’d for an old sheep as a young lamb. Somerset.

1732 T. FULLER Gnomologia no. 683 As good be hang’d for a Sheep as a Lamb.

1836 MARRYAT Midshipman Easy II. ii. We may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb... I vote that we do not go on board.

1841 DICKENS Barnaby Rudge liii. Others..comforted themselves with the homely proverb, that, being hung at all, they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

1915 D. H. LAWRENCE Rainbow vi. One might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. If he had lost this day of his life, he had lost it.

1977 B. PYM Quartet in Autumn xv. Letty..decided that she might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and make the most of her meal.

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