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

Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

Miss Biddy Fudge in Paris

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,

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

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,

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,

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?

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),

’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

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,

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.

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,

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,

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

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

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.

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,

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;

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,

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;

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,

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

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—

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—

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,

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

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

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,

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.

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

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.