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

Victor Hugo (1802–1885)

The Bourgeois

THE WORLD, since it exists, we tolerate.

Let us consider men, devoid of hate—

That Bourgeois, product of our age, behold:

Eggs, cheese, and soap in former days he sold;

Now he is rich, has vineyard, field, and wood;

The poor he hates, and loves not noble blood;

A porter’s son, he deems it vain to trace

From Montmorency’s ancient dukes your race.

He is austere, and virtuous, and discreet.

Having, when cold, warm carpets ’neath his feet,

He holds with order that can wealth protect;

Lovers he hates, and men of intellect.

He gives some alms, he lends on usury;

And says—of progress and pure liberty,

Of rights of nations—“Sweep such rubbish hence!”

He has good Sancho’s coarse, rough common sense.

He’d let Cervantes die for want of aid;

He praises Boileau. He’ll caress a maid,

And while with her intriguing, loudly cries

’Gainst novels for their immoralities.

At Mass on Sundays, where he strictly goes,

His book with golden edge and prints he shows,

Which cradle, cross, and day of wrath supplies;

“Not that I credit these absurdities,”

He whispers to you, but it serves his ends;

The rabble will believe, if he pretends.

“You must debase those crowds whom hunger gnaws;

Some God they need to make them fear the laws.”

So past the Swiss he stalks and takes his place,

Settles his huge round paunch and purple face:

His vanity thus doubly gratifies,

He guides the poor, and God can patronize.