Thursday, October 25, 2007

My father was known to quote Victor Hugo

Burning the candle at both ends these days, and something has to suffer. This week it's the blog. But I've been thinking about work ethic...where it comes from. I've also been thinking of where I come from. A long line of peasants on both sides. Very little other than peasants a long, long way back.
In those cantons where there was a taste for the law, and where the
farmers were ruining themselves with stamped paper, he would say, "Look
at those good peasants of the valley of Queyras. There are three thousand
souls there. Why, it is like a little republic! Neither judge nor
constable is known there. The mayor does everything. He apportions the
impost, taxes each one according to his judgment, decides their
quarrels without charge, distributes their patrimony without fees,
gives judgment without expense; and he is obeyed, because he is a just
man among simple-hearted men." In the villages which he found
without a schoolmaster, he would again hold up the valley of
Queyras. "Do you know how they do?" he would say. "As a little
district of twelve or fifteen houses cannot always support a
teacher, they have schoolmasters that are paid by the whole valley,
who go around from village to village, passing a week in this place;
and ten days in that, and give instruction. These masters attend the
fairs, where I have seen them. They are known by quills which they
wear in their hatband. Those who teach only how to read have one
quill; those who teach reading arithmetic have two; and those who
teach reading, arithmetic, and Latin, have three; the latter are
esteemed great scholars. But what a shame to be ignorant! Do like
the people of Queyras."

Les Miserables, 1862

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