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Fable 8 – Louis Fourteenth’s Wig
by [?]

The money raised–the army ready–
Drums beating, and the Royal Neddy
Valiantly braying in the van,
To the old tune ““Eh, eh, Sire Ane!”[1]–
Naught wanting, but some coup dramatic,
To make French sentiment explode,
Bring in, at once, the gout fanatic,
And make the war “la derniere mode”
Instantly, at the Pavillon Marsan,
Is held an Ultra consultation–
What’s to be done, to help the farce on?
What stage-effect, what decoration,
To make this beauteous France forget,
In one, grand, glorious pirouette,
All she had sworn to but last week,
And, with a cry of Magnifique!”
Rush forth to this, or any war,
Without inquiring once–“What for?”
After some plans proposed by each.
Lord Chateaubriand made a speech,
(Quoting, to show what men’s rights are,
Or rather what men’s rights should be,
From Hobbes, Lord Castlereagh, the Tsar,
And other friends to Liberty,)
Wherein he–having first protested
‘Gainst humoring the mob–suggested
(As the most high-bred plan he saw
For giving the new War eclat)
A grand, Baptismal Melo-drame,
To be got up at Notre Dame,
In which the Duke (who, bless his Highness!
Had by his hilt acquired such fame,
‘Twas hoped that he as little shyness
Would show, when to the point he came,)
Should, for his deeds so lion-hearted,
Be christened Hero, ere he started;
With power, by Royal Ordonnance,
To bear that name–at least in France.
Himself–the Viscount Chateaubriand–
(To help the affair with more esprit on)
Offering, for this baptismal rite,
Some of his own famed Jordan water[2]–
(Marie Louise not having quite
Used all that, for young Nap, he brought her.)
The baptism, in this case, to be
Applied to that extremity,
Which Bourbon heroes most expose;
And which (as well all Europe knows)
Happens to be, in this Defender
Of the true Faith, extremely tender.

Or if (the Viscount said) this scheme
Too rash and premature should seem–
If thus discounting heroes, on tick–
This glory, by anticipation,
Was too much in the genre romantique
For such a highly classic nation,
He begged to say, the Abyssinians
A practice had in their dominions,
Which, if at Paris got up well.
In full costume, was sure to tell.
At all great epochs, good or ill,
They have, says BRUCE (and BRUCE ne’er budges
From the strict truth), a Grand Quadrille
In public danced by the Twelve Judges[3]–
And he assures us, the grimaces,
The entre-chats, the airs and graces
Of dancers, so profound and stately,
Divert the Abyssinians greatly.

“Now (said the Viscount), there’s but few
“Great Empires where this plan would do:
“For instance, England;–let them take
“What pains they would–’twere vain to strive–
“The twelve stiff Judges there would make
“The worst Quadrille-set now alive.
“One must have seen them, ere one could
“Imagine properly JUDGE WOOD,
“Performing, in hie wig, so gayly,
“A queue-de chat with JUSTICE BAILLY!
French Judges, tho’, are, by no means,
“This sort of stiff, be-wigged machines;
“And we, who’ve seen them at Saumur
“And Poitiers lately, may be sure
“They’d dance quadrilles or anything,
“That would be pleasing to the King–
“Nay, stand upon their heads, and more do,
“To please the little Duc de Bordeaux!”

After these several schemes there came
Some others–needless now to name,
Since that, which Monsieur planned, himself,
Soon doomed all others to the shelf,
And was received par acclamation
As truly worthy the Grande Nation.