Happy Birthday, Camille!

Lawyers, let’s face it, are plagiarists.  Apart from such inventive intellects as Lord Thompson Denning, Master of the Rolls who for example advanced the novel thesis that “a bastard is a child” most lawyers prefer to derive credibility from more traditionally accepted propositions such as “you cannot give what you do not have” which naturally sounds even more persuasive in Latin as Nemo dat quod non habet.  And while even the most trite averment is subject to interpretation, I am today (December 20, 2023) comforted to know two indisputable facts; namely, 1) it is Camille’s 24th birthday; and, 2) the following recipe (or what I mischievously call a “compôte” although it isn’t cooked) is nonpareil.

Compote or compôte (French for stewed fruit) is a dessert originating from medieval Europe, made of whole or pieces of fruit in sugar syrup. Whole fruits are cooked in water with sugar and spices. The syrup may be seasoned with vanilla, lemon or orange peel, cinnamon sticks or powder, cloves, other spices, ground almonds, grated coconut, candied fruit or raisins. The compote is served either warm or cold.

By way of introduction, allow me first to report that 1) Camille is the great-niece of my partner, that is, she is my partner’s brother’s daughter’s daughter; and, 2) the recipe which follows is his alone, not derived from any more than his skilful imagination notwithstanding its obvious similarity to the compôte mentioned above. The explanation of the reference to plagiarism (“the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own”) arises first from the inclusion (as the featured image hereof)  of a painting by Frederick Simpson Coburn (March 18, 1871 – May 26, 1960), a Canadian painter and illustrator who was also a photographer of note. I recognize no one would imagine that I painted it, but it closely resembles another I once owned but subsequently auctioned through Heffel Auctioneers, Montréal, PQ. Accordingly I derive unmerited applause just for having owned one of Coburn’s magnificent paintings. I might further interject that it is in my learned opinion no accident that Coburn’s friend was named Drummond after whose family the famous Drummond Street in Montréal is no doubt named; and, that the middle name of one of the leading lights of the descendants of the Birks family jewellers is Drummond.

Coburn was born in the village of Upper Melbourne in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, southeast of Montreal. His talent was recognized early by William Henry Drummond who introduced him to the firm of Notman and Fraser for advice on Coburn’s art education. It suggested the Council of Arts and Manufactures School in Montreal where he studied briefly before moving on to the Carl Hecker School of Art in New York, the Royal Academy in Berlin (1890), study with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris, then in London, the Slade School of Fine Art, with Henry Tonks. While studying with Tonks, he did paintings for the London Sporting and Dramatic News, and illustrations for the London News.

The second reason for the reference to plagiarism is that I intend to use my partner’s recipe as a gift to Camille for her 24th birthday. For some time now I have provoked my partner to itemize the ingredients of this superb dessert; but it is only now upon his grand-niece’s birthday that he has gratefully succumbed to do so. Once again, in deference to my legal training, I expect to extract from this beneficence a portion of acknowledgement though I am clearly mooring myself to the talent of another.  Be that as it may be, it is a deprivation I able to accommodate.

A mostly berry dessert by Denis

It therefore remains only to add, “Happy Birthday, Camille; and many happy returns of the day!”
L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.