Thursday, June 17, 2010


A Saying of Alex Therien

Thoreau, Journal (February 14, 1855):
I said to Therien, "You didn't live at Smith's last summer. Where did you live? At Baker's?" "Yes," said he. "Well, is that a good place?" "Oh, yes." "Is that a better place than Smith's?" "Oh, a change of pasture makes a fatter calf."
There is a French proverb to this effect—"Changement d'herbe réjouit les veaux." According to Littré, it "se dit pour exprimer que les changements plaisent d'ordinaire aux jeunes gens." Eugène Rolland, Faune Populaire de la France, Tome V (Les Mammifères Domestiques), Deuxième Partie (Noms Vulgaires, Dictons, Proverbes, Contes et Superstitions) (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1882), p. 49, gives the following English equivalent—"Change of pasture makes fat calves."

Alex Therien was French Canadian, and I wonder if he had this French proverb in mind when answering Thoreau's question.

On the relations between the two men, see Robert W. Bradford, "Thoreau and Therien," American Literature 34 (1962-1963) 499-506.

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