E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Geese (g hard).
(See GANDER, GOOSE.)
Geese save the capitol. The tradition is that when the Gauls invaded Rome a detachment in single file clambered up the hill of the capitol so silently that the foremost man reached the top without being challenged; but while he was striding over the rampart, some sacred geese, disturbed by the noise, began to cackle, and awoke the garrison. Marcus Manlius rushed to the wall and hurled the fellow over the precipice. To commemorate this event, the Romans carried a golden goose in procession to the capitol every year (B.C. 390).
Those consecrated geese in orders,
That to the capitol were warders,
And being then upon patrol,
With noise alone beat off the Gaul.
Butler: Hudibras, ii. 3.
All his swans are geese, or All his swans are turned to geese. All his expectations end in nothing; all his boasting ends in smoke. Like a person who fancies he sees a swan on a river, but finds it to be only a goose.
The phrase is sometimes reversed thus, All his geese are swans. Commonly applied to people who think too much of the beauty and talent of their children.
Every man thinks his own geese swans. Everyone is prejudiced by self-love. Every crow thinks its own nestling the fairest. Every child is beautiful in its mothers eyes. (See Æsops fable, The Eagle and the Owl.)
Latin: Suum cuique pulchrum. Sua cuique sponsa, mihi meas. Sua cuique res est carissima. Asinus asino, sus suo pulcher.
German: Eine güte mutter halt ihre kinder vor die schönsten.
French: A chaque oiseau son nid paraît beau.
Italian: A ogni grolla paion belli i suoi grollatini. Ad ogni uccello, suo nido è bello.
The more geese the more lovers. The French newspaper called LEurope, December, 1865, repeats this proverb, and says:It is customary in England for every gentleman admitted into society to send a fat goose at Christmas to the lady of the house he is in the habit of visiting. Beautiful women receive a whole magazine . and are thus enabled to tell the number of their lovers by the number of fat geese sent to them. (The Times, December 27th, 1865.) Truly the Frenchman knows much more about us than we ever dreamt of in our philosophy.