The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

To Henrietta,

On Her Departure for Calais.

When little people go abroad, wherever they may roam,

They will not just be treated as they used to be at home;

So take a few promiscuous hints, to warn you in advance,

Of how a little English girl will perhaps be served in France.

Of course you will be Frenchified; and first, it’s my belief,

They’ll dress you in their foreign style as à-la-mode as beef,

With a little row of beehives, as a border to your frock,

And a pair of frilly trousers, like a little bantam cock.

But first they’ll seize your bundle (if you have one) in a crack,

And tie it with a tape by way of bustle on your back;

And make your waist so high or low, your shape will be a riddle,

For anyhow you’ll never have your middle in the middle.

Your little English sandals for a while will hold together,

But woe betide you when the stones have worn away the leather;

For they’ll poke your little pettitoes (and there will be a hobble!)

In such a pair of shoes as none but carpenters can cobble!

What next? — to fill your head with French to match the native girls,

In scraps of Galignani they’ll screw up your little curls;

And they’ll take their nouns and verbs, and some bits of verse and prose,

And pour them in your ears that you may spout them through your nose.

You’ll have to learn a chou is quite another sort of thing

To that you put your foot in; that a belle is not to ring;

That a corne is not the nubble that brings trouble to your toes;

Nor peut-être a potato, as some Irish folks suppose.

No, No, they have no Murphies there, for supper or for lunch,

But you may get in course of time a pomme de terre to munch,

With which, as you perforce must do as Calais folks are doing,

You’ll maybe have to gobble up the frog that went a wooing!

But pray at meals, remember this, the French are so polite,

No matter what you eat or drink, “whatever is, is right!”

So when you’re told at dinner-time that some delicious stew

Is cat instead of rabbit, you must answer ”Tant mi — eux!”

For little folks who go abroad, wherever they may roam,

They cannot just be treated as they used to be at home;

So take a few promiscuous hints, to warn you in advance,

Of how a little English girl will perhaps be served in France!

The daughter of Hood’s friend William Harvey, the artist.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem145.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51