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

William Wycherley (1640–1716)

The Frenchified Englishman

From “The Gentleman Dancing Master”


Mons.’Tis veritable, jarni! what de French say of you Englis: you use de drink so much, it cannot have wid you de French operation; you are never enjoyee. But come, let us be for once infiniment gaillard, and sing a French sonnet.(Sings)“La bouteille, la bouteille, glou, glou!”

Mar.(to GERRARD).What a melodious fop it is!

Mons.Auh! you have no complaisance.

Ger.No, we can’t sing, but we’ll drink to you the lady’s health, whom, you say, I have so long courted at your window.

Mons.Auh! dere is your complaisance. All your Englis complaisance is pledging complaisance, ventre! But if I do you reason here(takes the glass), will you do me reason to a little French chanson à boire? I shall begin to you?(Sings)“La bouteille, la bouteille.”

Mar.(to GERRARD).I had rather keep company with a set of wide-mouthed, drunken cathedral choristers.

Ger.Come, sir, drink, and he shall do you reason to your French song, since you stand upon’t.—Sing him “Arthur of Bradley,” or “I am the Duke of Norfolk.”

Mons.Auh! tête bleu! An Englis catch! Fy! Fy! Ventre!

Ger.He can sing no damned French song.

Mons.Nor can I drink the damned Englis wine.(Sets down the glass.)

Ger.Yes, to that lady’s health, who has commanded me to wait on her to-morrow at her window. I will be an easy fool for once.

Mar.By all means, go.

Mons.Oui, oui. By all means, go. Ha! ha! ha!

Ger.Come—’tis to her health!

Mons.And to your good reception—tête bleu!

Ger.Well, monsieur, I’ll say this for thee: thou hast made the best use of three months at Paris that ever English squire did.

Mons.Considering I was in a damn Englis pension, too.

Mar.Yet you have conversed with some French, I see—footmen, I suppose, at the fencing-school? I judge it by your oaths.

Mons.French footmen! Well, well, I had rather have de conversation of a French footman dan of an Englis squire; dere’s for you——

Mar.I beg your pardon, monsieur, I did not think the French footmen had been so much your friends.

Ger.Yes, yes, I warrant they have obliged him at Paris more than any of their masters did. Well, there shall be no more said against the French footmen.

Mons.Non, de grace! You are always turning de nation française into ridicule, dat nation so accomplee, dat nation which you imitate so, dat in the conclusion you butte turn yourself into ridicule, ma foi! If you are for de raillery, abuse de Dutch—why not abuse de Dutch? Les gros vilains, pendards, insolents! But here in your England, ma foi! you have more honneur, respect, and estimation for de Dutch swabber, who come to cheat your nation, dan for de French footman, who come to oblige your nation.

Mar.Our nation! Then you disown it for yours, it seems.

Mons.Well, wat of dat? Are you de disobligee by dat?

Ger.No, monsieur, far from it; you could not oblige us or your country any other way than by disowning it.

Mons.It is de brutal country, which abuse de France, and reverence de Dutch. I will maintain, sustain, and justifee, dat one little French footman have more honneur, courage, and generosity, more good blood in his vaines, an mush more good manners and civility, dan all de State-General together, jarni! Dey are only wise and valiant wen dey are drunkee.

Ger.That is, always.

Mons.But dey are never honest wen dey are drunkee; dey are de only rogue in de warld dat are not honest wen dey are drunkee—ma foi!

Ger.I find you are well acquainted with them, monsieur.

Mons.Oui, oui. I have made the tour of Holland, but it was en poste. Dere was no staying for me, tête, non! For de gentleman can no more live dere dan de toad in Ir’land, ma foi! For I did not see on’ chevalier in de whole countree. Alway you know de rebel hate de gens de qualité. Besides, I have made sufficient observation of the canaille barbare de first nightee of my arrival at Amsterdamme. I did visit, you must know, one of de principal of de State-General, to whom I had recommendation from England, and did find his Excellence weighing soap, jarni! Ha! ha! ha!

Ger.Weighing soap!

Mons.Weighing soap, ma foi, for he was a wholesale chandeleer; and his lady was taking de tale of chandels wit her own witer hands, ma foi! And de young lady, his Excellence daughter, stringing harring—stringing harring, jarni!

Ger.So! And what were his sons doing?

Mons.Auh! his son—for he had but one—was making de tour of France, Espagne, Italy, and Germany, in a coach and six; or rader, now I tink on’t, gone of an embassy to dere master Cromwell, whom dey did love and fear, because he was someting de greater rebelle. But now I talk of de rebelle, none but de rebelle can love de rebelle. And so mush for you and your friend de Dutch. I’ll say no more, but pray, do you say no more of my friend de French, not so much as of my friend, de French footman——

Ger.No, no. But, monsieur, now give me leave to admire you, that in three months at Paris you could renounce your language, drinking, and your country—for which we are not angry with you, as I said—and come home so perfect a Frenchman, that the draymen of your father’s own brew-house would be ready to knock you on the head.

Mons.Vel, vel, my fadder was a merchant of his own beer, as the noblesse of France of their own wine. But I can forgive you dat raillery, since you say I have de air français. But have I de air français?

Ger.As much as any French footman of them all.

Mons.And do I speak agreeable ill Englis enough?

Ger.Very ill.



Mons.For you must know, ’tis as ill breeding now to speak good Englis as to write good Englis, good sense, or a good hand.

Ger.But, indeed, methinks you are not slovenly enough for a Frenchman.

Mons.Slovenly? You mean negligent.

Ger.No, I mean slovenly.

Mons.Den I will be more slovenly.

Ger.You know, to be a perfect Frenchman, you must never be silent, never sit still, and never be clean.