Quote: Supposed Lincoln quote traces to Alphonse Karr - help with French requested

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 16 14:41:29 UTC 2013

GO'T: Maybe a little more context via my pathetic French. NOT A
WORD-FOR-WORD RENDITION; lots of paraphrases, elipses. Not sure if Alphonse
Karr is actually in favor of garden-path education, or is just scoring
points as a picky critic. Did he compose the poem? I can't tell, but he
gives no reference to anyone else. (Perhaps a possible anonymous author was
too well know to merit mention?) I sure am tentative.


Un Mai^tre d'E'cole (A school master)

A critique of a Parisian play, _Mai^tre d'E'cole_, starring the famous
actor Fre'de'rick Lemai^tre. In the play, a peasant boy recites the fable
of “The Cicada and the Ant” and then laughs, because the moral of the story
is funny. The teacher berates the pupil: The cicada sings for us
beautifully night & day, all summer long; it is not right that the cicada
should freeze & starve in the winter. This idea is found also in the novel
_Clovis Gosselin_ by He'rambert; and favored by some German and a French
professor Issaurat from Nice: children must be reared in the great outdoors
in gardens where they can see and breathe the roses while declining the
Latin word _rosa_ (rosa, rosae, rosam), since these are mere words, while a
living rose has to do with knowledge, feelings, morals, philosophy. Just by
saying Latin _rosa_ -- rose -- his school master spoke of nature, of
Providence, of God; of the discoveries about man: grafting, planting,
artificial fertilization (la fe'condation artificielle!!!); of greenish
rose parasites, plant lice, *ants* and the exotic story of these bugs,
stories more interesting to kids than fairy tales, the most beautiful
poetry about roses, hence all the stories involving roses, the folded rose
leaf that troubles the sleep of the sybarite, while the genuine man sleeps
a restorative sleep on the straw which has just fallen under his
hard-working scythe.

Let us try to see things from their better side:

You complain about seeing thorny rose bushes;

Me, I rejoice and give thanks to the gods

That thorns have roses.

And so on and so forth, morality tale, history, fable, natural history,
philosophy, it doesn't hinder learning the first declension, which becomes
what it should be, a detail of instruction, instead of being what it is for
so many, education as a whole.

Thus giveth Fre'de'rick Lemai^tre his lesson on _The Cicada & the Ant_. An
old, sick friend wrote this author the other day: just as his wife
complements him, so cicadas should marry ants.

The author of _The School Master_ resembles La Fontaine, unfortunately not
his pretty side. La Fontaine knows people, but he doesn't know every animal.

In _The Cicada & the Ant_ , La Fontaine mistakes the cicada of le Midi for
the grass hopper, Chateau-Thierry & d'Auteuil's <criquet> (cricket or

The author of _The School Master_ does the same …

[The de'nouement:] The mistake of the author of the new piece, however, is
a demonstration that the need of the school master (like my He'rambert and
like his Fre'de'rick) is strongly felt & was not satisfied at the time of
his studies.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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