Multilingual Folk Tale Database


L'Education (Jean de La Fontaine)

Education L'Education
Frederick Colin Tilney Jean de La Fontaine
English French

Once upon a time there were two dogs, one named Lurcher and the
other Cæsar. They were brothers; handsome, well-built, and plucky, and
descended from dogs who were famous in their day. These two brothers,
falling into the hands of different masters, found their destinies
likewise in different spheres; for whilst one haunted the forests, the
other lurched about a kitchen.

The names to which they now answered were not, however, the names that
were first given them. The influence of each one's career upon his
nature brought about a new name and a new reputation; for Cæsar's nature
was improved and strengthened by the life he led, whilst Lurcher's was
made more and more despicable by a degraded existence. A scullion named
him Lurcher; but the other dog received his noble name on account of his
life of high adventure. He had held many a stag at bay, killed many a
hare, and otherwise risen to the position of a Cæsar among dogs. Care
was taken that he should not mate indiscriminately, so that his
descendants' blood should not degenerate. On the other hand, poor
Lurcher bestowed his affections wherever he would and his brood became
populous. He was the progenitor of all turn-spits in France; a variety
which became common enough to form at last a race in themselves. They
show more readiness to flee than to attack, and are the very antipodes
of the Cæsars.

We do not always follow our ancestors, nor even resemble our fathers.
Want of care, the flight of time, a thousand things, cause us to
degenerate.

Ah! how many, Cæsars, failing to cultivate their best nature and their
gifts, become Lurchers!

Laridon et César, frères dont l'origine
Venait de chiens fameux, beaux, bien faits et hardis,
A deux maîtres divers échus au temps jadis,
Hantaient, l'un les forêts, et l'autre la cuisine.
Ils avaient eu d'abord chacun un autre nom ;
Mais la diverse nourriture
Fortifiant en l'un cette heureuse nature,
En l'autre l'altérant, un certain marmiton
Nomma celui-ci Laridon :
Son frère, ayant couru mainte haute aventure,
Mis maint Cerf aux abois, maint Sanglier abattu,
Fut le premier César que la gent chienne ait eu.
On eut soin d'empêcher qu'une indigne maîtresse
Ne fit en ses enfants dégénérer son sang :
Laridon négligé témoignait sa tendresse
A l'objet le premier passant.
Il peupla tout de son engeance :
Tournebroches par lui rendus communs en France
Y font un corps à part, gens fuyants les hasards,
Peuple antipode des Césars.
On ne suit pas toujours ses aïeux ni son père :
Le peu de soin, le temps, tout fait qu'on dégénère :
Faute de cultiver la nature et ses dons,
O combien de Césars deviendront Laridons !