The Paris Sketch Book, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Four Imitations of Béranger

LE ROI D’YVETOT.

Il était un roi d’Yvetot,

Peu connu dans l’histoire;
Se levant tard, se couchant tôt,
Dormant fort bien sans gloire,
Et couronné par Jeanneton
D’un simple bonnet de coton,
Dit-on.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah!
Quel bon petit roi c’était là!
La, la.

Il fesait ses quatre repas

Dans son palais de chaume,
Et sur un âne, pas à pas,
Parcourait son royaume.
Joyeux, simple et croyant le bien,
Pour toute garde il n’avait rien
Qu’un chien.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah! &c.
La, la.

Il n’avait de goût onéreux

Qu’une soif un peu vive;
Mais, en rendant son peuple heureux,
Il faux bien qu’un roi vive.
Lui-même à table, et sans suppôt,
Sur chaque muid levait un pot
D’impôt.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah! &c.
La, la.

Aux filles de bonnes maisons

Comme il avait su plaire,
Ses sujets avaient cent raisons
De le nommer leur père:
D’ailleurs il ne levait de ban
Que pour tirer quatre fois l’an
Au blanc.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah! &c.
La, la.

Il n’agrandit point ses états,

Fut un voisin commode,
Et, modèle des potentats,
Prit le plaisir pour code.
Ce n’est que lorsqu’il expira,
Que le peuple qui l’enterra
Pleura.
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah! &c.
La, la.

On conserve encor le portrait

De ce digne et bon prince;
C’est l’enseigne d’un cabaret
Fameux dans la province.
Les jours de fête, bien souvent,
La foule s’écrie en buvant
Devant:
Oh! oh! oh! oh! ah! ah! ah! ah!
Quel bon petit roi c’était là!
La, la.

THE KING OF YVETOT.

There was a king of Yvetot,

Of whom renown hath little said,
Who let all thoughts of glory go,
And dawdled half his days a-bed;
And every night, as night came round,
By Jenny, with a nightcap crowned,
Slept very sound:
Sing ho, ho, ho! and he, he, he!
That’s the kind of king for me.

And every day it came to pass,

That four lusty meals made he;
And, step by step, upon an ass,
Rode abroad, his realms to see;
And wherever he did stir,
What think you was his escort, sir?
Why, an old cur.
Sing ho, ho, ho! &c.

If e’er he went into excess,

’Twas from a somewhat lively thirst;
But he who would his subjects bless,
Odd’s fish! — must wet his whistle first;
And so from every cask they got,
Our king did to himself allot,
At least a pot.
Sing ho, ho! &c.

To all the ladies of the land,

A courteous king, and kind, was he;
The reason why you’ll understand,
They named him Pater Patriae.
Each year he called his fighting men,
And marched a league from home, and then
Marched back again.
Sing ho, ho! &c.

Neither by force nor false pretence,

He sought to make his kingdom great,
And made (O princes, learn from hence) —
“Live and let live,” his rule of state.
’Twas only when he came to die,
That his people who stood by,
Were known to cry.
Sing ho, ho! &c.

The portrait of this best of kings

Is extant still, upon a sign
That on a village tavern swings,
Famed in the country for good wine.
The people in their Sunday trim,
Filling their glasses to the brim,
Look up to him,
Singing ha, ha, ha! and he, he, he!
That’s the sort of king for me.

THE KING OF BRENTFORD.

ANOTHER VERSION.

There was a king in Brentford — of whom no legends tell, But who, without his glory — could eat and sleep right well. His Polly’s cotton nightcap — it was his crown of state, He slept of evenings early — and rose of mornings late.

All in a fine mud palace — each day he took four meals, And for a guard of honor — a dog ran at his heels, Sometimes, to view his kingdoms — rode forth this monarch good, And then a prancing jackass — he royally bestrode.

There were no costly habits — with which this king was curst, Except (and where’s the harm on’t?)— a somewhat lively thirst; But people must pay taxes — and kings must have their sport, So out of every gallon — His Grace he took a quart.

He pleased the ladies round him — with manners soft and bland; With reason good, they named him — the father of his land. Each year his mighty armies — marched forth in gallant show; Their enemies were targets — their bullets they were tow.

He vexed no quiet neighbor — no useless conquest made, But by the laws of pleasure — his peaceful realm he swayed. And in the years he reigned — through all this country wide, There was no cause for weeping — save when the good man died.

The faithful men of Brentford — do still their king deplore, His portrait yet is swinging — beside an alehouse door. And topers, tender-hearted — regard his honest phiz, And envy times departed — that knew a reign like his.

LE GRENIER.

Je viens revoir l’asile où ma jeunesse De la misère a subi les leçons. J’avais vingt ans, une folle maîtresse, De francs amis et l’amour des chansons Bravant le monde et les sots et les sages, Sans avenir, riche de mon printemps, Leste et joyeux je montais six étages. Dans un grenier qu’on est bien à vingt ans!

C’est un grenier, point ne veux qu’on l’ignore. Là fut mon lit, bien chétif et bien dur; Là fut ma table; et je retrouve encore Trois pieds d’un vers charbonnés sur le mur. Apparaissez, plaisirs de mon bel âge, Que d’un coup d’aile a fustigés le temps, Vingt fois pour vous j’ai mis ma montre en gage. Dans un grenier qu’on est bien à vingt ans!

Lisette ici doit surtout apparaître, Vive, jolie, avec un frais chapeau; Déjà sa main à l’étroite fenêtre Suspend son schal, en guise de rideau. Sa robe aussi va parer ma couchette; Respecte, Amour, ses plis longs et flottans. J’ai su depuis qui payait sa toilette. Dans un grenier qu’on est bien à vingt ans!

A table un jour, jour de grande richesse, De mes amis les voix brillaient en choeur, Quand jusqu’ici monte un cri d’allégresse: A Marengo Bonaparte est vainqueur. Le canon gronde; un autre chant commence; Nous célébrons tant de faits éclatans. Les rois jamais n’envahiront la France. Dans un grenier qu’on est bien à vingt ans!

Quittons ce toit où ma raison s’enivre. Oh! qu’ils sont loin ces jours si regrettés! J’échangerais ce qu’il me reste à vivre Contre un des mois qu’ici Dieu m’a comptés, Pour rêver gloire, amour, plaisir, folie, Pour dépenser sa vie en peu d’instans, D’un long espoir pour la voir embellie, Dans un grenier qu’on est bien à vingt ans!

THE GARRET.

With pensive eyes the little room I view,

Where, in my youth, I weathered it so long;
With a wild mistress, a stanch friend or two,
And a light heart still breaking into song:
Making a mock of life, and all its cares,
Rich in the glory of my rising sun,
Lightly I vaulted up four pair of stairs,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Yes; ’tis a garret — let him know’t who will —
There was my bed — full hard it was and small.
My table there — and I decipher still
Half a lame couplet charcoaled on the wall.
Ye joys, that Time hath swept with him away,
Come to mine eyes, ye dreams of love and fun;
For you I pawned my watch how many a day,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

And see my little Jessy, first of all;

She comes with pouting lips and sparkling eyes:
Behold, how roguishly she pins her shawl
Across the narrow casement, curtain-wise;
Now by the bed her petticoat glides down,
And when did woman look the worse in none?
I have heard since who paid for many a gown,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

One jolly evening, when my friends and I

Made happy music with our songs and cheers,
A shout of triumph mounted up thus high,
And distant cannon opened on our ears:
We rise — we join in the triumphant strain —
Napoleon conquers — Austerlitz is won —
Tyrants shall never tread us down again,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Let us begone — the place is sad and strange —

How far, far off, these happy times appear;
All that I have to live I’d gladly change
For one such month as I have wasted here —
To draw long dreams of beauty, love, and power,
From founts of hope that never will outrun,
And drink all life’s quintessence in an hour,
Give me the days when I was twenty-one!

ROGER-BONTEMPS.

Aux gens atrabilaires Pour exemple donné, En un temps de misères Roger-Bontemps est né. Vivre obscur à sa guise, Narguer les mécontens: Eh gai! c’est la devise Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Du chapeau de son père Coîffé dans le grands jours, De roses ou de lierre Le rajeunir toujours; Mettre un manteau de bure, Vieil ami de vingt ans; Eh gai! c’est la parure Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Posséder dans sa hutte Une table, un vieux lit, Des cartes, une flûte, Un broc que Dieu remplit; Un portrait de maîtresse, Un coffre et rien dedans; Eh gai! c’est la richesse Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Aux enfans de la ville Montrer de petits jeux; Etre fesseur habile De contes graveleux; Ne parler que de danse Et d’almanachs chantans; Eh gai! c’est la science Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Faute de vins d’élite, Sabler ceux du canton: Préférer Marguerite Aux dames du grand ton: De joie et de tendresse Remplir tous ses instans; Eh gai! c’est la sagesse Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Dire au ciel: Je me fie, Mon père, à ta bonté; De ma philosophie Pardonne le gaîté Que ma saison dernière Soit encore un printemps; Eh gai! c’est la prière Du gros Roger-Bontemps.

Vous, pauvres pleins d’envie, Vous, riches désireux, Vous, dont le char dévie Après un cours heureux; Vous, qui perdrez peut-être Des titres éclatans, Eh gai! prenez pour maître Le gros Roger Bontemps.

JOLLY JACK.

When fierce political debate

Throughout the isle was storming,
And Rads attacked the throne and state,
And Tories the reforming,
To calm the furious rage of each,
And right the land demented,
Heaven sent us Jolly Jack, to teach
The way to be contented.

Jack’s bed was straw, ’twas warm and soft,

His chair, a three-legged stool;
His broken jug was emptied oft,
Yet, somehow, always full.
His mistress’ portrait decked the wall,
His mirror had a crack;
Yet, gay and glad, though this was all
His wealth, lived Jolly Jack.

To give advice to avarice,

Teach pride its mean condition,
And preach good sense to dull pretence,
Was honest Jack’s high mission.
Our simple statesman found his rule
Of moral in the flagon,
And held his philosophic school
Beneath the “George and Dragon.”

When village Solons cursed the Lords,

And called the malt-tax sinful,
Jack heeded not their angry words,
But smiled and drank his skinful.
And when men wasted health and life,
In search of rank and riches,
Jack marked, aloof, the paltry strife,
And wore his threadbare breeches.

“I enter not the church,” he said,

But I’ll not seek to rob it;”
So worthy Jack Joe Miller read,
While others studied Cobbett.
His talk it was of feast and fun;
His guide the Almanack;
From youth to age thus gayly run
The life of Jolly Jack.

And when Jack prayed, as oft he would,

He humbly thanked his Maker;
“I am,” said he, “O Father good!
Nor Catholic nor Quaker:
Give each his creed, let each proclaim
His catalogue of curses;
I trust in Thee, and not in them,
In Thee, and in Thy mercies!

“Forgive me if, midst all Thy works,

No hint I see of damning;
And think there’s faith among the Turks,
And hope for e’en the Brahmin.
Harmless my mind is, and my mirth,
And kindly is my laughter:
I cannot see the smiling earth,
And think there’s hell hereafter.”

Jack died; he left no legacy,

Save that his story teaches:—
Content to peevish poverty;
Humility to riches.
Ye scornful great, ye envious small,
Come follow in his track;
We all were happier, if we all
Would copy JOLLY JACK.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/paris/chapter17.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07