Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
Miss Biddy Fudge in Paris
By Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
 
From “Fudge Letters”

WHAT a time since I wrote! I’m a sad naughty girl—
Though, like a teetotum, I’m all in a twirl,
Yet even (as you wittily say) a teetotum
Between all its twirls gives a letter to note ’em.
But, Lord, such a place! And then, Dolly, my dresses,        5
My gowns, so divine! There’s no language expresses,
Except just the two words superbe, magnifique,
The trimmings of that which I had home last week!
It is call’d—I forget—à la—something which sounded
Like alicampane—but, in truth, I’m confounded        10
And bother’d, my dear, ’twixt that troublesome boy’s
(Bob’s) cookery language, and Madame Le Roi’s.
What with fillets of roses, and fillets of veal,
Things garni with lace, and things garni with eel,
One’s hair, and one’s cutlets both en papillote,        15
And a thousand more things I shall ne’er have by rote,
I can scarce tell the difference, at least as to phrase,
Between beef à la Psyché and curls à la braise.
But, in short, dear, I’m trick’d out quite à la française,
With my bonnet—so beautiful!—high up and poking,        20
Like things that are put to keep chimneys from smoking.
 
Where shall I begin with the endless delights
Of this Eden of milliners, monkeys, and sights—
This dear busy place, where there’s nothing transacting,
But dressing and dinnering, dancing and acting?        25
Imprimis, the Opera—mercy, my ears!
  Brother Bobby’s remark t’other night was a true one.
“This must be the music,” said he, “of the spears,
  For I’m curst if each note of it doesn’t run through one!”
Pa says (and you know, love, his book’s to make out),        30
’Twas the Jacobins brought every mischief about;
That this passion for roaring has come in of late,
Since the rabble all tried for a voice in the state.
What a frightful idea, one’s mind to o’erwhelm!
  What a chorus, dear Dolly, would soon be let loose of it        35
If, when of age, every man in the realm
  Had a voice like old Laïs, and chose to make use of it!
No—never was known in this riotous sphere
Such a breach of the peace as their singing, my dear;
So bad, too, you’d swear that the god of both arts,        40
  Of Music and Physic, had taken a frolic
For setting a loud fit of asthma in parts,
  And composing a fine rumbling base to a cholic!
 
But, the dancing—ah parlez moi, Dolly, da ça
There, indeed, is a treat that charms all but Papa.        45
Such beauty—such grace—oh ye sylphs of romance!
  Fly, fly to Titania, and ask her if she has
One light-footed nymph in her train, that can dance
  Like divine Bigottini and sweet Fanny Bias!
Fanny Bias in Flora—dear creature!—you’d swear,        50
  When her delicate feet in the dance twinkle round,
That her steps are of light, that her home is the air,
  And she only par complaisance touches the ground.
And when Bigottini in Psyche dishevels
  Her black flowing hair, and by demons is driven,        55
Oh! who does not envy those rude little devils,
  That hold her, and hug her, and keep her from heaven?
Then, the music—so softly its cadences die,
So divinely—oh, Dolly! between you and I,
It’s as well for my peace that there’s nobody nigh        60
To make love to me then—you’ve a soul, and can judge
What a crisis ’twould be for your friend Biddy Fudge!
 
The next place (which Bobby has near lost his heart in),
They call it the Playhouse—I think—of Saint Martin:
Quite charming—and very religious. What folly        65
To say that the French are not pious, dear Dolly,
When here one beholds, so correctly and rightly,
The Testament turn’d into melodrames nightly;
And, doubtless, so fond they’re of scriptural facts,
They will soon get the Pentateuch up in five acts.        70
Here Daniel, in pantomime, bids bold defiance
To Nebuchadnezzar and all his stuff’d lions,
While pretty young Israelites dance round the Prophet,
In very thin clothing, and but little of it.
Here Bégrand, who shines in this scriptural path,        75
  As the lovely Susanna, without even a relic
Of drapery round her, comes out of the Bath
  In a manner, that, Bob says, is quite Eve-angelic!
 
But, in short, dear, ’twould take me a month to recite
All the exquisite places we’re at, day and night;        80
And, besides, ere I finish, I think you’ll be glad
Just to hear one delightful adventure I’ve had.
 
Last night, at the Beaujon, a place where—I doubt
If I well can describe—there are cars that set out
From a lighted pavilion, high up in the air,        85
And rattle you down, Doll, you hardly know where.
These vehicles, mind me, in which you go through
This delightfully dangerous journey, hold two.
Some cavalier asks, with humility, whether
  You’ll venture down with him—you smile—’tis a match;        90
In an instant you’re seated, and down both together
  Go thundering, as if you went post to old Scratch.
Well, it was but last night, as I stood and remark’d
On the looks and odd ways of the girls who embark’d,
The impatience of some for the perilous flight,        95
The forc’d giggle of others, ’twixt pleasure and fright,
That there came up—imagine, dear Doll, if you can—
A fine sallow, sublime, sort of Werter-fac’d man,
With mustaches that gave (what we read of so oft),
The dear Corsair expression, half savage, half soft        100
As hyenas in love may be fancied to look, or
A something between Abelard and old Blucher!
Up he came, Doll, to me, and uncovering his head
(Rather bald, but so warlike!) in bad English said,
“Ah! my dear—if Ma’mselle vil be so very good—        105
Just for von little course”—though I scarce understood
What he wish’d me to do, I said, “Thank you,” I would.
Off we set—and, though faith, dear, I hardly knew whether
  My head or my heels were the uppermost then,
For ’twas like heaven and earth, Dolly, coming together—        110
  Yet, spite of the danger, we dared it again.
And oh! as I gazed on the features and air
  Of the man, who for me all this peril defied,
I could fancy almost he and I were a pair
  Of unhappy young lovers, who thus, side by side,        115
Were taking, instead of rope, pistol, or dagger, a
Desperate dash down the falls of Niagara!
 
This achiev’d, through the gardens we saunter’d about,
  Saw the fireworks, exclaim’d magnifique! at each cracker,
And, when ’twas all o’er, the dear man saw us out        120
  With the air, I will say, of a prince, to our fiacre.
Now, hear me—this stranger—it may be mere folly—
But who do you think we all think it is, Dolly?
Why, bless you, no less than the great King of Prussia,
Who’s here now incog., he, who made such a fuss, you        125
Remember, in London, with Blucher and Platoff,
When Sal was near kissing old Blucher’s cravat off!
Pa says he’s come here to look after his money
(Not taking things now as he used under Boney),
Which suits with our friend, for Bob saw him, he swore,        130
Looking sharp to the silver received at the door.
Besides, too, they say that his grief for his queen
(Which was plain in this sweet fellow’s face to be seen)
Requires such a stimulant dose as this car is,
Used three times a day with young ladies in Paris.        135
Some Doctor, indeed, has declared that such grief
  Should—unless ’twould to utter despairing its folly push—
Fly to the Beaujon, and there seek relief
  By rattling, as Bob says, “like shot through a holly-bush.”
 
I must now bid adieu—only think, Dolly, think        140
If this should be the King—I have scarce slept a wink
With imagining how it will sound in the papers,
  And how all the Misses my good luck will grudge,
When they read that Count Buppin, to drive away vapours,
  Has gone down the Beaujon with Miss Biddy Fudge.        145
 
 
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