Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "wolf by the ear" several times:
But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.
- Jefferson to John Holmes, (discussing slavery and the Missouri question), April 22, 18201
[W]e have the wolf by the ear and feel the danger of either holding or letting him loose.
- Jefferson to Lydia Huntley Sigourney, July 18, 1824
"Wolf by the ears" is a phrase attributed to the emperor Tiberius by the biographer Suetonius: "The cause of his hesitation was fear of the dangers which threatened him on every hand, and often led him to say that he was 'holding a wolf by the ears.'"3 Jefferson owned a 1718 edition of Suetonius's works.
Please click on the photo of President Jefferson's Familly having dinner in order to read the published paper
Gripping A "Wolf By the Ear"