Fables For The Holy Alliance. Fable VIII. Louis Fourteenth's Wig.

The money raised--the army ready--
Drums beating, and the Royal Neddy
Valiantly braying in the van,
To the old tune ""Eh, eh, Sire Àne!"--
Naught wanting, but some coup dramatic,
To make French sentiment explode,
Bring in, at once, the goût fanatic,
And make the war "la dernière mode"--
Instantly, at the Pavillon Marsan,
Is held an Ultra consultation--
What's to be done, to help the farce on?
What stage-effect, what decoration,
To make this beauteous France forget,
In one, grand, glorious pirouette,
All she had sworn to but last week,
And, with a cry of Magnifique!"
Rush forth to this, or any war,
Without inquiring once--"What for?"
After some plans proposed by each.
Lord Chateaubriand made a speech,
(Quoting, to show what men's rights are,
Or rather what men's rights should be,
From Hobbes, Lord Castlereagh, the Tsar,
And other friends to Liberty,)
Wherein he--having first protested
'Gainst humoring the mob--suggested
(As the most high-bred plan he saw
For giving the new War éclat)
A grand, Baptismal Melo-drame,
To be got up at Notre Dame,
In which the Duke (who, bless his Highness!
Had by his hilt acquired such fame,
'Twas hoped that he as little shyness
Would show, when to the point he came,)
Should, for his deeds so lion-hearted,
Be christened Hero, ere he started;
With power, by Royal Ordonnance,
To bear that name--at least in France.
Himself--the Viscount Chateaubriand--
(To help the affair with more esprit on)
Offering, for this baptismal rite,
Some of his own famed Jordan water--
(Marie Louise not having quite
Used all that, for young Nap, he brought her.)
The baptism, in this case, to be
Applied to that extremity,
Which Bourbon heroes most expose;
And which (as well all Europe knows)
Happens to be, in this Defender
Of the true Faith, extremely tender.

Or if (the Viscount said) this scheme
Too rash and premature should seem--
If thus discounting heroes, on tick--
This glory, by anticipation,
Was too much in the genre romantique
For such a highly classic nation,
He begged to say, the Abyssinians
A practice had in their dominions,
Which, if at Paris got up well.
In full costume, was sure to tell.
At all great epochs, good or ill,
They have, says BRUCE (and BRUCE ne'er budges
From the strict truth), a Grand Quadrille
In public danced by the Twelve Judges--
And he assures us, the grimaces,
The entre-chats, the airs and graces
Of dancers, so profound and stately,
Divert the Abyssinians greatly.

"Now (said the Viscount), there's but few
"Great Empires where this plan would do:
"For instance, England;--let them take
"What pains they would--'twere vain to strive--
"The twelve stiff Judges there would make
"The worst Quadrille-set now alive.
"One must have seen them, ere one could
"Imagine properly JUDGE WOOD,
"Performing, in hie wig, so gayly,
"A queue-de chat with JUSTICE BAILLY!
"French Judges, tho', are, by no means,
"This sort of stiff, be-wigged machines;
"And we, who've seen them at Saumur
"And Poitiers lately, may be sure
"They'd dance quadrilles or anything,
"That would be pleasing to the King--
"Nay, stand upon their heads, and more do,
"To please the little Duc de Bordeaux!"

After these several schemes there came
Some others--needless now to name,
Since that, which Monsieur planned, himself,
Soon doomed all others to the shelf,
And was received par acclamation
As truly worthy the Grande Nation.

It seems (as Monsieur told the story)
That LOUIS the Fourteenth,--that glory,
That Coryphée of all crowned pates,--
That pink of the Legitimates--
Had, when, with many a pious prayer, he
Bequeathed unto the Virgin Mary
His marriage deeds, and cordon bleu,
Bequeathed to her his State Wig too--
(An offering which, at Court, 'tis thought,
The Virgin values as she ought)--
That Wig, the wonder of all eyes,
The Cynosure of Gallia's skies,
To watch and tend whose curls adored,
Re-build its towering roof, when flat,
And round its rumpled base, a Board
Of sixty barbers daily sat,
With Subs, on State-Days, to assist,
Well pensioned from the Civil List:--
That wondrous Wig, arrayed in which,
And formed alike to awe or witch.
He beat all other heirs of crowns,
In taking mistresses and towns,
Requiring but a shot at one,
A smile at t'other, and 'twas done!--

"That Wig" (said Monsieur, while his brow
Rose proudly,) "is existing now;--
"That Grand Perruque, amid the fall
"Of every other Royal glory,
"With curls erect survives them all,
"And tells in every hair their story.
"Think, think, how welcome at this time
"A relic, so beloved, sublime!
"What worthier standard of the Cause
"Of Kingly Right can France demand?
"Or who among our ranks can pause
"To guard it, while a curl shall stand?
"Behold, my friends"--(while thus he cried,
A curtain, which concealed this pride
Of Princely Wigs was drawn aside)
"Behold that grand Perruque--how big
"With recollections for the world--
"For France--for us--Great Louis's Wig,
"By HIPPOLYTE new frizzed and curled--
"New frizzed! alas, 'tis but too true,
"Well may you start at that word new--
"But such the sacrifice, my friends,
"The Imperial Cossack recommends;
"Thinking such small concessions sage,
"To meet the spirit of the age,
"And do what best that spirit flatters,
"In Wigs--if not in weightier matters.
"Wherefore to please the Tsar, and show
"That we too, much-wronged Bourbons, know
"What liberalism in Monarchs is,
"We have conceded the New Friz!
"Thus armed, ye gallant Ultras, say,
"Can men, can Frenchmen, fear the fray?
"With this proud relic in our van,
"And D'ANGOULEME our worthy leader,
"Let rebel Spain do all she can,
"Let recreant England arm and feed her,--
"Urged by that pupil of HUNT'S school,
"That Radical, Lord LIVERPOOL--
"France can have naught to fear--far from it--
"When once astounded Europe sees
"The Wig of LOUIS, like a Comet,
"Streaming above the Pyrenées,
"All's o'er with Spain--then on, my sons,
"On, my incomparable Duke,
"And, shouting for the Holy Ones,
"Cry Vive la Guerre--et la Perrugue!"
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.