Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Dear, Dear Eggs

Reproducing the 1848 French textbook I've been reading could get repetitive fairly quickly, but I was just glancing at the exercise for the eighty-first lesson in Ohlendorff's New Method of Learning to Write and Speak French and I'm scratching my head over how a pleasant if tedious little exchange about travel and national identity and the drinking habits of Mahometans could suddenly take an unheralded turn for the moral imperative.

I was impressed that when the person being questioned here started sinking too deeply into the condescending banality of listing the countries in Northern Europe the questioner made a game effort to change the subject, by enquiring as to the breakfast of the speaker's brother. That doesn't seem to have made the conversation any more interesting, though. Perhaps the bromidic conclusion is a sort of crazy trance response to complete and utter boredom.

I share this with you all...

Whither shall you go next year? --I shall go to England, for it is a fine kingdom, (le royaume,) where I intend spending the summer on (à) my return from France. --Wither shall you go in the winter? --I shall go to Italy, and thence (de là) to the West Indies, (aux Indes occidentales;) but before that I must go to Holland to take leave of my friends. --What country do these people inhabit, (habiter?) --They inhabit the south (le midi) of Europe; their countries are called Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and they themselves are Italians, Spaniards, or Portuguese; but the people called Russians, Swedes, or Poles, inhabit the north (le nord) of Europe; and the names of their countries are Russia, Sweden, and Poland, (la Pologne.) France is separated (séparer) from Italy by (par) the Alps, (les Alpes,) and from Spain by the Pyrenees, (les Pyrénées.) --Though the Mahometans (le Mahométan) are forbidden the use of wine, (défendre quelque chose à quelqu'un,) yet for all that some of them drink it. --Has your brother eaten anything this morning? -- He has eaten a great deal; though he said he had no appetite, yet for all that he ate all the meat, bread, and vegetables, (les légumes,) and drank all the wine, beer, and cider. -- Are eggs (un oeuf) dear at present? --They are sold at six francs a hundred. --Do you like grapes, (le raisin?) --I do not only like grapes, but also plums, (une prune,) almonds, nuts, and all sorts of fruit. --Though modesty, candor, and an amiable disposition (l'amiabilité) are valuable endowments, yet for all that there are some ladies that are neither modest, nor candid, (candide), nor amiable. --The fear of death and the love of life being natural to men, they ought to shun (fuir) vice, (le vice,) and adhere to (s'attacher à) virtue.

Yet for all that, perhaps I shall continue to avoid adhering to virtue myself. Now I must go hide all the wine, beer, and cider before this guy's brother gets wind of it.
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