I'm reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. It is set in Canada in the early 19th century. A housemaid is recounting her quarrel with the gardener. He had complained that the food she prepared for the two of them wasn't as good as the meal that the master of the house had shared with the housekeeper, who was also his clandestine mistress. The housemaid continues: "...and in any case I was Mr. Kinnear's servant not his [not the gardener's - N.T.]; and he said that if I was his I would not last long as I was such a foul-tempered witch, and the only cure for me was the end of a belt; and I said ill words butter no parsnips." What on earth does that mean? Thanks!