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Scratch a — and find a — an investigation of someone or something soon reveals their true nature. First in English in the early 19th century as scratch the Russian and you will find the Tartar, translating French and attributed to Napoleon.

you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours if you do me a favour, I will return it. Proverbial; mutual back-scratching as a metaphor for reciprocity has been current since the early 18th century.

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