PHILOSOPHY MASTER (Straightening the collar that indicates he is
a Philosopher) Now to our lesson.
Oh! Sir, I am distressed by the blows they gave you.
It's nothing. A philosopher knows how to take these
things and I'll compose a satire against them, in the style of Juvenal,
which will fix them nicely. Let it be. What would you like to learn?
Everything I can, for I have every desire in the
world to be educated, and I'm furious that my father and mother did not
make me study all the sciences when I was young.
This is a reasonable sentiment. Nam sine doctrina
vita est quasi mortis imago. You understand that, and you doubtless know
Yes, but act as if I did not know it. Tell me what
It says that without science life is almost an image
It is that which teaches the three operations of
What are these three operations of the mind?
The first, the second, and the third. The first is
to conceive well by means of the universals; the second is to judge well
by means of the categories; and the third is to draw well a conclusion
by means of figures. Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralipton, etc.
Those words are too ugly. This logic doesn't suit
me at all. Let's learn something else that's prettier.
Would you like to learn morality?
Physics explains the principles of natural things
and the properties of the material world; it discourses on the nature of
the elements, of metals, minerals, of stones, of plants and animals, and
teaches the causes of all the meteors, the rainbow, the will o' the wisps,
the comets, lightning, thunder, thunderbolts, rain, snow, hail, winds,
There's too much commotion in it, too much confusion.
Then what do you want me to teach you?
Afterwards, you may teach me the almanack, to know
when there is a moon and when not.
So be it. Following your thought and treating this
matter as a philosopher, it is necessary to begin according to the order
of things, by an exact knowledge of the nature of letters and the different
ways of pronouncing them all. And thereupon I must tell you letters are
divided into vowels, called vowels because they express the voice; and
into consonants because they sound with the vowels and only mark the diverse
articulations of the voice. There are five vowels or voices: A, E, I, O,
The vowel E is formed by approaching the lower jaw
to the upper: A, E.
A, E; A, E. By my faith, yes. Ah! How fine!
And the vowel I, by bringing the jaws still nearer
each other and stretching the two corners of the mouth towards the ears:
A, E, I.
A, E, I. I. I. I. That's true. Long live science!
The vowel O is formed by opening the jaws and drawing
together the two corners of the lips, upper and lower: O.
O, O. There's nothing truer. A, E, I, O,I O.. That's
admirable! I, O, I, O.
The opening of the mouth happens to make a little
circle which represents an O.
O, O, O. You are right! O. Ah! What a fine thing
it is to know something!
The vowel U is formed by bringing the teeth nearly
together without completely joining them, and thrusting the two lips outward,
also bringing them nearly together without completely joining them: U.
Your two lips thrust out as if you were making a
face, whence it results that if you want to make a face at someone and
mock him, you have only to say to him "U."
U, U. That's true. Ah! Why didn't I study sooner
in order to know all that!
Tomorrow we shall look at the other letters, which
are the consonants.
Are there things as curious about them as about these?
Without a doubt. The consonant D, for example, is
pronounced by clapping the tongue above the upper teeth: D.
D, D, Yes. Ah! What fine things! Fine things!
The F, by pressing the upper teeth against the lower
F, F. That's the truth. Ah! My father and my mother,
how I wish you ill!
And the R, by carrying the tip of the tongue to the
top of the palate, so that being grazed by the air that comes out with
force, it yields to it and comes back always to the same place, making
a kind of trill: R. AR.
R, R, AR. R, R, R, R, R, RA. That's true. Ah! What
a clever man you are! And how I have lost time! R, R, R, AR.
I'll explain to you all these strange things to their
Please do. But now, I must confide in you. I'm in
love with a lady of great quality, and I wish that you would help me write
something to her in a little note that I will let fall at her feet.
By my faith! For more than forty years I have been
speaking prose without knowing anything about it, and I am much obliged
to you for having taught me that. I would like then to put into a note
to her: "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love,"
but I want that put in a gallant manner and be nicely turned.
Put it that the fires of her eyes reduce your heart
to cinders; that you suffer night and day for her the torments of a . . .
No, no, no. I want none of that; I only want you
to say "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love."
The thing requires a little lengthening.
No, I tell you, I want only those words in the note,
but turned stylishly, well arranged, as is necessary. Please tell me, just
to see, the diverse ways they could be put.
One could put them first of all as you said them:
"Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love." Or else:
"Of love to die make me, beautiful marchioness, your beautiful eyes." Or
else: "Your lovely eyes, of love make me, beautiful marchioness, die."
Or else: "Die, your lovely eyes, beautiful marchioness, of love make me."
Or else: "Me make your lovely eyes die, beautiful marchioness, of love."
But, of all those ways, which is the best?
The way you said it: "Beautiful marchioness, your
lovely eyes make me die of love."
I never studied, and yet I made the whole thing up
at the first try. I thank you with all my heart, and I ask you to come
I shall not fail to do so. (He leaves).
That cursed tailor makes me wait all day when I have
so much to do! I'm enraged. May the quartan fever shake that tormentor
of a tailor! To the devil with the tailor! May the plague choke the tailor!
If I had him here now, that detestable tailor, that dog of a tailor, that
traitor of a tailor, I . . .