What Number and Value of them we have now circulating, is, as our Gentlemen of Business express it, no more than a Spratt in a Whale Belly, NED Sprat sb. 3b.
1734 New-York Weekly Journal in Newspaper Extracts(l) 1.406:
I have already spent too much Time on this Bradfordian, envious pitiful Tub.
1776 JA in Adams FC 2.53:
[He] is throwing out his Barrells to amuse Leviathan, untill his Reinforcements shall arrive.
1776 HGates in Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings 67(1941-4) 141:
Can't you throw out some tubb to these whales?
1777 WCarmichael in WHM 44 (1949) 13:
The Ministry have made it a tub to throw out to the Whale.
1779 AMcDougall in Clinton Papers 4.598:
This is the Tub of the Day, to divert the whales.
1781 Adams Works 7.379:
Peace is a tub easily thrown out for the amusement of the whale.
1781 JEliot in Belknap Papers 3.217:
The destination of the French fleet is the tub of our present diversion.
1781 Oliver Origin 96:
They knew that the Whole Rabble must have a Tub to play with.
1782 AA in Adams FC 4.371:
It was only a tub to the Whale.
1782 EPendleton in Madison Papers 4.257:
A mere Tub thrown out to amuse the Whale.
1785 Jefferson Papers 7.643:
They are throwing out another barrel for the political whales to play with.
1789 Mason Papers 3.1164.
1793 Brackenridge Modern 202:
[It] is like throwing a barrel to a whale, in order to preserve the ship.
1801 Weems Letters 2.171:
It w'd do as a barrel to the whale untill we coud get another & better plan in progress.
1802 Moultrie Memoirs 1.95.
1802 Paine To the Citizens 2.924:
It is as a tub thrown out to the whale to prevent its attacking and sinking the vessel.
1809 Lee Diary and Letters 77:
Which is but a secondary object with me: as we say in New England - a tub to catch a whale with.
1809 Weems Washington 30:
This it seems he had drawn up as a Tub for the whale.
1810 King Life 5.181.
1811 Claiborne Letter Books 6.13.
1811 Weems Cambling 25:
Great whales must needs have their great tubs.
1813 Paulding Lay 40.
1814 JRandolph in Quincy JQuincy 350:
They will be delighted with some tub for the popular whale against the next election.
1818 Jefferson Writings 19.259:
As some tub ... must always be thrown our to the whale.
1820 King Life 6.289:
The proposed compromise is a tub to the whale.
1825 JDesha in Jackson Correspondence 3.286:
The management in the late Presidential election will be the tub to be thrown out to the whale for the next season.
1830 Ames Mariner's 280:
The literary arena . . . has served as a tub to the whale for a long time.
1842 Paulding Letters(II) 317:
Every little mite of a politician ... has only to throw a Tub to the great Whale, the People.Oxford 845-6; TW 384(2).