Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > God.

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Gothic, goth (god); German, gott. (See ALLA, ADONIST, ELOHISTIC, etc.)   1
   It was Hiero, Tyrant of Syracuse, who asked Simonids the poet, “What is God?” Simonids asked to have a day to consider the question. Being asked the same question the next day he desired two more days for reflection. Every time he appeared before Hiero he doubled the length of time for the consideration of his answer. Hiero, greatly astonished, asked the philosopher why he did so, and Simonids made answer, “The longer I think on the subject, the farther I seem from making it out.”   2
   It was Voltaire who said, “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.   3
   God and the saints.Il vaux mieux s’adresser à Dieu qu’à ses saints.” “Il vaut mieux se tenir au tronc qu’aux branches.” Better go to the master than to his steward or foreman.   4
   God bless the Duke of Argyle. It is said that the Duke of Argyle erected a row of posts to mark his property, and these posts were used by the cattle to rub against. (Hotten: Slang Dictionary.)   5
   God helps those who help themselves. In French, “Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera.” “A toile ourdie Dieu donne le fil” (You make the warp and God will make the woof).   6
   God made the country, and man made the town. Cowper in The Task (The Sofa). Varro says in his De Re Rustica,Divina Natra agros dedit; Ars humana œdificavit urbes.   7
   “God save the king.” It is said by some that both the words and music of this anthem were composed by Dr. John Bull (1563–1622), organist at Antwerp cathedral, where the original MS. is still preserved. Others attribute them to Henry Carey, author of Sally in our Alley. The words, “Send him victorious,” etc., look like a Jacobin song, and Sir John Sinclair tells us he saw that verse cut in an old glass tankard, the property of P. Murray Threipland, of Fingask Castle, whose predecessors were staunch Jacobites.   8
   No doubt the words of the anthem have often been altered. The air and words were probably first suggested to John Bull by the Domine Salvum of the Catholic Church. In 1605 the lines, “Frustrate their knavish tricks,” etc., were added in reference to Gunpowder Plot. In 1715 some Jacobin added the words, “Send him [the Pretender] victorious,” etc. And in 1740 Henry Carey reset both words and music for the Mercers’ Company on the birthday of George II.   9
   God sides with the strongest. Julius Civiles. Napoleon I. said, “Le bon Dieu est toujours du côté des gros bataillons.” God helps those that help themselves. The fable of Hercules and the Carter.   10
   God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. Sterne (Maria, in the Sentimental Journey). In French, “A brebis tondue Dieu lui mesure le vent;” “Dieu mesure le froid à la brebis tondue.” “Dieu donne le froid selon la robbe.” Sheep are shorn when the cold north-east winds have given way to milder weather.   11
   Full of the god—inspired, mænadic. (Latin, Dei plenus.)   12



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