The Sincerest Form of Flattery

John Fell was the head of Christ Church College and also the Bishop of Oxford. Doctor Fell had the reputation of a severe schoolmaster, but legend has it that when a student about to be punished was able to offer the following jingle as an extemporaneous translation of an epigram by Martial, the doctor excused him from punishment:

I do not love thee, Dr. Fell,

The reason why I cannot tell,

But this I know and know full well,

I do not love thee, Dr. Fell.[1]

—Tom Brown

 

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hereby flatter Brown with my own jingle:

I do not love thee, Mr. Klein,

The reason is, I must opine,

An argument, of which the crux

Is “Value added learning sucks.”

 

The following bit was written by a Victorian satirist who cast a cold eye on the House of Hanover:

George the First was always reckoned

Vile, but viler George the Second.

And what mortal ever heard

Any good of George the Third?

But when from earth the Fourth descended,

Thank God! at last the Georges ended.

—Walter Savage Landor

 

Let me then, in imitation, cast a cold eye of my own:

 

Mr. Klein talks lots of bunk, and

More bunk comes from Mr. Duncan.

Are any folks on earth such prats

As these scholastic bureaucrats?

For answers we must dodge their wind and

Catch a plane up north to Finland.


[1] Hence Mr. Utterson’s referring to Mr. Hyde’s repulsiveness as “the old story of Dr. Fell” before settling on the explanation that Hyde has “a foul soul that…transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent.”  Does this make Stevenson the first literary figure to attach horror to a character by comparing him to an education administrator?

 

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