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God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb

Here ‘tempers’ means ‘softens, makes less severe’, and ‘shorn’ means ‘with its wool cut off’. The proverb means that God treats the weak with greater kindness than he shows to those better able to look after themselves. In his A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, Laurence Sterne tells of his second meeting with Maria, a girl who had lost her reason. Since last they had met had travelled much – alone across the Apennines, over all Lombardy without shoes. ‘How she had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell, but, “God tempers the wind ”, said Maria, “to the shorn lamb”.