Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Groaner

The philosopher Rene Descartes moved to Sweden in 1649 to tutor Queen Christina. Descartes was a lazy man used to sleeping late, and he was now grieving over the recent destruction of the robot he had built to replace his dead daughter (the robot having been tossed off a ship by ignorant and fearful sailors), so he was irritated to find he was expected to lecture to the queen every morning at five.

One morning, however, the queen did not send for Descartes. Though he was at first inclined to take advantage of the situation and remain in bed, his curiosity was aroused, and so he arose, dressed, and found the chamberlain. When he did so, he asked, "Why has the queen not sent for me?"

The chamberlain replied, "Monsieur, Her Highness find this morning that she has quite lost her voice, so she simply cannot see you."

Descartes thought about this for a moment. "She's not ill, then? Surely she doesn't need her voice to hear me lecture."

The chamberlain answered, "Ah, Monsieur, perhaps this is true where you come from. But here in Sweden we know it is unwise to put Descartes before the hoarse."
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