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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

William Edmondstoune Aytoun (1813–1865)

Idées Napoléoniennes

COME, listen all who wish to learn

How nations should be ruled,

From one who from his youth has been

In suchlike matters school’d;

From one who knows the art to please,

Improve, and govern men—

Eh bien! écoutez aux Idées


To keep the mind intently fixed

On number One alone;

To look to no one’s interest,

But push along your own,

Without the slightest reference

To how, or what, or when—

Eh bien! c’est la première Idée


To make a friend, and use him well,

By which, of course, I mean

To use him up until he’s drain’d

Completely dry and clean

Of all that makes him useful, and

To kick him over then

Without remorse—c’est une Idée


To sneak into a good man’s house

With sham credentials penn’d;

To sneak into his heart and trust,

And seem his children’s friend;

To learn his secrets, find out where

He keeps his keys, and then

To bone his spoons—c’est une Idée


To gain your point in view; to wade

Through dirt, and slime, and blood;

To stoop to pick up what you want

Through any depth of mud;

But always in the fire to thrust

Some helpless cat’s-paw, when

Your chestnuts burn—c’est une Idée


To clutch and keep the lion’s share;

To kill or drive away

The wolves, that you upon the lambs

May, unmolested, prey;

To keep a gang of jackals fierce

To guard and stock your den,

While you lie down—c’est une Idée


To bribe the base; to crush the good,

And bring them to their knees;

To stick at nothing, or to stick

At what or whom you please;

To stoop; to lie; to brag; to swear;

Forswear, and swear again;

To rise—Ah! voilà, des Idée