heaven protects children, sailors, and drunken men

The proverb is found in various forms; latterly, American examples often add ‘the United States’ to the category of those favoured or in need of special protection.

1861 T. HUGHES Tom Brown at Oxford I. xii. Heaven, they say, protects children, sailors, and drunken men; and whatever answers to Heaven in the academical system protects freshmen.

1865 G. MACDONALD Alec Forbes III. xi. I canna think hoo he cam’ to fa’ sae sair; for they say there’s a special Providence watches over drunk men and bairns.

1980 S. KING Firestarter 57 She didn’t even have a bruise—God watches over drunks and small children.

1997 Washington Times 18 Nov. A15 As we become once more the fool, we can only pray the old epigram is still true: ‘God protects fools, drunkards and the United States.’

2001 Washington Times 15 Nov. A16 We’ve all likely heard at some time or other the stale, snide European-ism: ‘The Lord looks after fools, drunks, and the United States.’ Sometimes you have to wonder: Does He really?


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