Knox does not seem to have known beforehand of Rizzio's "slaughter," which had been intended to be a semi-judicial act; but soon after it he records that "that vile knave Davie was justly punished, for abusing of the commonwealth, and for other villainy which we list not to express."
From the Greek sophists they borrowed ingenious ways of playing off one duty against another, or duty in general against self-interest - leaving the doubter in the alternative of neglecting the one and being a knave, or neglecting the other and being a fool.
Swift, who was intimate with him, speaks of him as "an arrant knave"; but the dean may have been disappointed at being unmentioned in Rivers's will, for he made a fierce comment on the earl's bequests to his mistresses and his neglect of his friends.
Underlying them were such maxims as that of Hume, that in erecting a stable government every citizen must be assumed a knave, and be bound by self-interest to co-operation for the public good.
1298), to explain, who coolly said that he thought it expedient to wink at one knave cutting off another, " whereat the king smiled and bade him return into Ireland."