Belloc’s The Learned Fish*

Posted by jlubans on October 02, 2022

Caption: Illustration by Lord Ian Basil Gawaine Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood or, if you prefer,
B. T. B., 1896.

This learned Fish has not sufficient brains
To go into the water when it rains.

Hilaire Belloc, The French-born writer who became a British citizen in 1902,
had a thing about some academics (dons) at Cambridge and at Oxford of which he was a distinguished graduate.
Belloc, a boots-and-all Catholic, regarded these dons as the most scurrilous of Britain’s Protestants.
His grievance was that many dons educated the young to enter the labor market thereby aiding and abetting capitalism, one of his many bête noires.
Confrontational in all things social and political, Belloc apparently never read Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
So this absurd, silly, kids' couplet, gleefully humorous, is more than a little disdainful of the overeducated and inutile academic.
Belloc did not regard all dons as bad. Some he championed as “Dons admirable! Dons of Might!”

*Source: The Bad Child's Book Of Beasts (1896) by Hilaire Belloc
My book, Fables for Leaders is available. Click on the image and order up!

And, don’t forget Lubans' book on democratic workplaces, Leading from the Middle
© Copyright original text by John Lubans 2022

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