Political Essays (1819)/The Fudge Family in Paris

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

THE FUDGE FAMILY IN PARIS.

Edited by Thomas Brown, the younger, Author of the "Twopenny Post-bag"—Longmans.

April 25, 1818.

The spirit of poetry in Mr. Moore is not a lying spirit. "Set it down, my tables"—we have still, in the year 1818, three years after the date of Mr. Southey's laureateship, one poet, who is an honest man. We are glad of it: nor does it spoil our theory, for the exception proves the rule. Mr. Moore unites in himself two names that were sacred, till they were prostituted by our modern mountebanks, the Poet and the Patriot. He is neither a coxcomb nor a catspaw,—a whiffling turncoat, nor a thorough-paced tool, a mouthing sycophant, "a full solempne man," like Mr. Wordsworth,—a whining monk, like Mr. Southey,—a maudlin Methodistical lay-preacher, like Mr. Coleridge,—a merry Andrew, like the fellow that plays on the salt-box at Bartlemy Fair,—or the more pitiful jack-pudding, that makes a jest of humanity in St. Stephen's Chapel. Thank God, he is like none of these—he is not one of the Fudge Family. He is neither a bubble nor a cheat. He makes it his business neither to hoodwink his own understanding, nor to blind or gag others. He is a man of wit and fancy, but he does not sharpen his wit on the edge of human agony, like the House of Commons' jester, nor strew the flowers of fancy, like the Jesuit Burke, over the carcase of corruption, for he is a man not only of wit and fancy, but of common sense and common humanity. He sees for himself, and he feels for others. He employs the arts of fiction, not to adorn the deformed, or disguise the false, but to make truth shine out the clearer, and beauty look more beautiful. He does not make verse, "immortal verse," the vehicle of lies, the bawd of Legitimacy, the pander of antiquated prejudices, and of vamped-up sophistry; but of truths, of home, heartfelt truths, as old as human nature and its wrongs. Mr. Moore calls things by their right names: he shews us kings as kings, priests as priests, knaves as knaves, and fools as fools. He makes us laugh at the ridiculous, and hate the odious. He also speaks with authority, and not as certain scribes that we could mention. He has been at Court, and has seen what passes there.

"Tam knew what's what full brawly."

But he was a man before he became a courtier, and has continued to be one afterwards; nor has he forgotten what passes in the human heart. From what he says of the Prince, it is evident that he speaks from habits of personal intimacy: he speaks of Lord Castlereagh as his countryman. In the Epistles of the Fudge Family, we see, as in a glass without a wrinkle, the mind and person of Royalty in full dress, up to the very throat, and we have a whole-length figure of his Lordship, in the sweeping, serpentine line of beauty, down to his very feet.[1]—We have heard it said of our poet, by a late celebrated wit and orator, that "there was no man who put so much of his heart into his fancy as Tom Moore; that his soul seemed as if it were a particle of fire separated from the sun, and were always fluttering to get back to that source of light and heat." We think this criticism as happy as it is just: but it will be evident to the readers of the Fudge Family, that the soul of "a certain little gentleman" is not attracted with the same lively or kindly symptoms to the Bourbons, or to their benefactors and restorers "under Providence!" The title of this delightful little collection of sweets and bitters, of honey and gall, is, we suppose, an allusion to the short ejaculation which honest Burchell, in the "Vicar of Wakefield," uttered at the end of every sentence, in the conversation of Miss Amelia Carolina Wilhelmina Skeggs and her friend, on the Court and Fashionables; and which word, "Fudge," our malicious Editor thinks equally applicable to the cant upon the same subjects at the present day,—to the fade politesse of the ancient regime,—to "the damnable face-making" of Holy Alliances, and "the flocci-nauci-pili-nihili-fication" of Legitimacy. He may be wrong in this; but if so, we are most assuredly in the wrong with him: and we confess, it gives us as much pleasure to agree with this writer, as it does to differ with some others that we could mention, but that they are not worth mentioning.—The Correspondents of the Fudge Family in Paris are much of the same stamp (with one exception) as the Correspondents of Dr. S———, in his work of that name, which was lately put a stop to by that sort of censorship of the press which is exercised by the reading public; only the Correspondents in the present volume have a very different Editor from him of "The Day and New Times," or, as it is at present called, The New Times alone, the Day having been left out as an anomaly, "ut lucus a non lucendo:" for the readers of that paper roll their eyes in vain, and "find no dawn; but, in its stead, total eclipse and ever-during dark surrounds them."—But to return from "the professional gentleman," as he calls himself, his scavenger's bell, his mud-cart of liberal phraseologies, and go-cart of slavery and superstition, to something as different as genius from dulness, as wit from malice, as sense from moon-struck madness, as independence from servility, as the belles-lettres from law-stationery, as Parnassus from Grub-street, or as the grub from the butterfly,—as the man who winged his airy way from a Court which was unworthy of him, and which would have made him unworthy of himself, "as light as bird from brake," is from the man (if so he can be called) who would grope his way there on all fours, bringing, as the sacrifice best worthy of himself and of the place, his own dignity of spirit and the rights of his fellow-creatures, to be trampled down by the obscene hoofs of a base oligarchy. But we have already in another place spoken our minds of that person, in a way to cut off the communication between his "hand mouth" and the Midas ears of the Stock Exchange; and we do not wish to deprive him of a livelihood. He may receive his Treasury wages for us, so that he no longer levies them on public credulity, and we no longer confound "his sweet voice" with that of the country or city, though it may echo the Court. The New Times is a nuisance; but it is not one that requires to be abated. It speaks a plain, intelligible language. Its principles are as palpable as they are base. Its pettifogging pedantry and its Billingsgate slang can deceive nobody that is worth undeceiving. It is the avowed organ of the deliberate, detestable system which has long been covertly pursued in a certain quarter. This paper raves aloud, under the ambiguous garb of phrenzy, what its patrons think in secret. It proclaims on the house-tops what is whispered in the high places. It soothes the ears of flatterers, of tyrants, and of slaves,—but it sounds the alarm to free men. It is so far a great public good. It tells the people of England what is prepared for them, and what they have to expect. "Nothing is sacred in its pages but tyranny." It links this country in chains of vassalage to the legitimate despotisms of the Continent, which have been a bye-word with us for ages. It binds this nation, hand and foot, in the trammels of lasting servitude,—it puts the yoke upon our necks as we put pack-saddles upon asses,—marks the brand upon our foreheads as we ruddle over sheep,—binds us in "with shame, with rotten parchments, and vile inky blots,"—makes England, that threw off the yoke of a race of hereditary pretenders, shew "like a rebel's whore," and every morning illegitimates the House of Brunswick, and strikes at the title of the Prince Regent to the succession of the Crown, to which his ancestors had no just claim but the choice of the people. It is not a paper for a free people to endure, if a people that has oppressed the struggling liberties of another nation can dare to call itself free; or for the Sovereign of a free people to look at, if a Prince who had restored a despot to a throne, in contempt of the voice of the people, could be supposed to respect the rights of human nature more than his own power. It reverses the Revolution of 1688, by justifying the claims of the Bourbons,—brings back Popery and slavery here, by parity of reasoning,—and sends the illustrious members of the present Royal Family a packing, as vagabonds and outlaws—by right divine. If this is not a legitimate conclusion from the Doctor's reasoning,—from his "brangle and brave-all, discord and debate,"—why then

"The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble."

The chief Dramatis Personæ in the Fudge Family are,—Comic Personages, Miss Biddy Fudge and Mr. Bob Fudge, her brother: Mr. Philip Fudge, their father, and a friend of Lord Castlereagh, a grave gentleman; and a Mr. Phelim Connor, who is a patriotic, or, which is the same thing, a tragic writer. Miss Biddy Fudge takes the account of poke-bonnets and love-adventures upon herself; Mr. Bob, the patés, jockey-boots, and high collars: Mr. Phil. Fudge addresses himself to the Lord Viscount Castlereagh; and Mr. Phelim, "the sad historian of pensive Europe," appeals, we confess, more effectually to us, in words

"As precious as the ruddy drops
That visit our sad hearts."

Take for example the following magnanimous and most heroical Epistle:—

FROM PHELIM CONNOR TO———
"Return!"—no never, while the withering hand
Of bigot power is on that helpless land;
While, for the faith my fathers held to God,
Ev'n in the fields where free those fathers trod,
I am proscrib'd, and—like the spot left bare
In Israel's halls, to tell the proud and fair
Amidst their mirth, that Slavery had been there—
On all I love, home, parents, friends, I trace
The mournful mark of bondage and disgrace!
No!—let them stay, who in their country's pangs
See nought but food for factions and harangues;
Who yearly kneel before their masters' doors,
And hawk their wrongs, as beggars do their sores:
Still let your * * * * *[2]
* * * * * * * *
Still hope and suffer, all who can!—but I,
Who durst not hope, and cannot bear, must fly.

But whither?—every-where the scourge pursues—
Turn where he will, the wretched wanderer views.
In the bright, broken hopes of all his race,
Countless reflections of th' Oppressor's face!
Every-where gallant hearts, and spirits true,
Are serv'd up victims to the vile and few;
While E******, every-where—the general foe
Of Truth and Freedom, wheresoe'er they glow—
Is first, when tyrants strike, to aid the blow!
Oh, E******! could such poor revenge atone
For wrongs, that well might claim the deadliest one;
Were it a vengeance, sweet enough to sate
The wretch who flies from thy intolerant hate,
To hear his curses on such barbarous sway
Echoed, where'er he bends his cheerless way;—
Could this content him, every lip he meets
Teems for his vengeance with such poisonous sweets;
Were this his luxury, never is thy name
Pronounc'd, but he doth banquet on thy shame;
Hears maledictions ring from every side
Upon that grasping power, that selfish pride,
Which vaunts its own, and scorns all rights beside;
That low and desperate envy, which to blast
A neighbour's blessings, risks the few thou hast;—
That monster, Self, too gross to be conceal'd
Which ever lurks behind thy proffer'd shield;—
That faithless craft, which in thy hour of need,
Can court the slave, can swear he shall be freed,
Yet basely spurns him, when thy point is gain'd,
Back to his masters, ready gagg'd and chain'd!
Worthy associate of that band of Kings,
That royal, rav'ning flock, whose vampire wings
O'er sleeping Europe treacherously brood,
And fan her into dreams of promis'd good,
Of hope, of freedom—but to drain her blood!

If thus to hear thee branded be a bliss
That Vengeance loves, there's yet more sweet than this,—
That 'twas an Irish head, an Irish heart,
Made thee the fall'n and tarnish'd thing thou art;
That, as the Centaur gave th' infected vest
In which he died, to rack his conqueror's breast,
We sent thee C————gh:—as heaps of dead
Have slain their slayers by the pest they spread,
So hath our land breath'd out—thy fame to dim,
Thy strength to waste, and rot thee, soul and limb—
Her worst infections all condens'd in him!
* * * * * * * * *

When will the world shake off such yokes? Oh, when
Will that redeeming day shine out on men,
That shall behold them rise, erect and free
As Heav'n and Nature meant mankind should be?
When Reason shall no longer blindly bow
To the vile pagod things, that o'er her brow,
Like him of Jaghernaut, drive trampling now;
Nor conquest dare to desolate God's earth;
Nor drunken Victory, with a Nero's mirth,
Strike her lewd harp amidst a people's groans;—
But, built on love, the world's exalted thrones
Shall to the virtuous and the wise be given—
Those bright, those sole Legitimates of Heaven!

When will this be?—or, oh! is it, in truth,
But one of those sweet, day-break dreams of youth,
In which the Soul, as round her morning springs,
'Twixt sleep and waking, sees such dazzling things!
And must the hope, as vain as it is bright,
Be all giv'n up?—and are they only right,
Who say this world of thinking souls was made
To be by Kings partition'd, truck'd, and weigh'd
In scales that, ever since the world begun,
Have counted millions but as dust to one?
Are they the only wise, who laugh to scorn
The rights, the freedom to which man was born;
Who * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * *
Who, proud to kiss each separate rod of power,
Bless, while he reigns, the minion of the hour;
Worship each would-be God, that o'er them moves,
And take the thundering of his brass for Jove's!
If this be wisdom, then farewell my books,
Farewell ye shrines of old, ye classic brooks,
Which fed my soul with currents, pure and fair,
Of living truth, that now must stagnate there!—
Instead of themes that touch the lyre with light,—
Instead of Greece, and her immortal fight
For Liberty, which once awak'd my strings,
Welcome the Grand Conspiracy of Kings,
The High Legitimates, the Holy Band,
Who, bolder ev'n than He of Sparta's land,
Against whole millions, panting to be free,
Would guard the pass of right-line tyranny!
Instead of him, th' Athenian bard, whose blade
Had stood the onset which his pen pourtray'd,
Welcome * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
And, 'stead of Aristides—woe the day
Such names should mingle!—welcome C————gh!

Here break we off, at this unhallow'd name,
Like priests of old, when words ill-omen'd came.
My next shall tell thee, bitterly shall tell,
Thoughts that * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
Thoughts that—could patience hold—'twere wiser far
To leave still hid and burning where they are!

Indignatio facit versus. Mr. Moore's better genius is here his spleen. The politician sharpens the poet's pen. Poor Phelim resumes this subject twice afterwards, and the last time with such force and spirit, that he is compelled to break off in the middle, for fear of consequences. But as far as he goes, we will accompany him.

Yes—'twas a cause, as noble and as great
As ever hero died to vindicate—
A Nation's right to speak a Nation's voice,
And own no power but of the Nation's choice!
Such was the grand, the glorious cause that now
Hung trembling on Napoleon's single brow;
Such the sublime arbitrement, that pour'd,
In patriot eyes, a light around his sword,
A glory then, which never, since the day
Of his young victories, had illum'd its way!

Oh, 'twas not then the time for tame debates,
Ye men of Gaul, when chains were at your gates;
When he, who fled before your Chieftain's eye,
As geese from eagles on Mount Taurus fly,
Denounc'd against the land, that spurn'd his chain,
Myriads of swords to bind it fast again—
Myriads of fierce invading swords, to track
Through your best blood his path of vengeance back;
When Europe's Kings, that never yet combin'd
But (like those upper Stars, that, when conjoin'd,
Shed woe and pestilence) to scourge mankind,
Gather'd around, with hosts from every shore,
Hating Napoleon much, but Freedom more;
And, in that coming strife, appall'd to see
The world yet left one chance for liberty!—
No, 'twas not then the time to weave a net
Of bondage round your Chief; to curb and fret
Your veteran war-horse, pawing for the fight,
When every hope was in his speed and might—
To waste the hour of action in dispute,
And coolly plan how Freedom's boughs should shoot,
When your invader's axe was at the root!
No, sacred Liberty! that God, who throws
Thy light around, like his own sunshine, knows
How well I love thee, and how deeply hate
All tyrants, upstart and Legitimate—
Yet, in that hour, were France my native land,
I would have followed, with quick heart and hand,
Napoleon, Nero—ay, no matter whom—
To snatch my country from that damning doom,—
That deadliest curse that on the conquered waits—
A Conqueror's satrap, thron'd within her gates!

True, he was false, despotic—all you please—
Had trampled down man's holiest liberties—
Had, by a genius form'd for nobler things
Than lie within the grasp of vulgar Kings,
"But rais'd the hopes of men—as eaglets fly
With tortoises aloft into the sky—
To dash them down again more shatteringly!

All this I own—but still * * *[3]
* * * * * * * * *

All is not in this high-wrought strain, which we like as well as the War Eclogues of Tyrtæus, or the Birth-day Odes (which seem also to have broke off in the middle) of Mr. Southey. Mr. Thomas Brown the Younger, is a man of humanity, as Mr. Southey formerly was: he is also a man of wit, which Mr. Southey is not. For instance, Miss Biddy Fudge, in her first letter, writes as follows:—

By the bye though at Calais, Papa had a touch
Of romance on the pier, which affected me much.
At the sight of that spot, where our darling Dixhuit,
Set the first of his own dear legitimate feet,[4]
(Modell'd out so exactly, and—God bless the mark!
'Tis a foot, Dolly, worthy so Grand a Monarque)
He exclaim'd, "Oh mon Roi!" and, with tear-dropping eye,
Stood to gaze on the spot—while some Jacobin nigh,
Mutter'd out with a shrug (what an insolent thing!)
"Ma foi, he be right—'tis de Englishman's King;
And dat gros pied de cochon—begar, me vil say
Dat de foot look mosh better, if turn'd toder way."

Mr. Phil. Fudge, in his dreams, thinks of a plan for changing heads.

Good Viscount S—dm—th, too, instead
Of his own grave, respected head,
Might wear (for aught I see that bars)
Old Lady Wilhelmina Frump's—
So while the hand sign'd Circulars,
The head might lisp out, "What is trumps?"
The R—g—t's brains could we transfer
To some robust man-milliner,
The shop, the shears, the lace, and ribbon,
Would go, I doubt not, quite as glib on;
And, vice versâ, take the pains
To give the P—ce the shopman's brains,
The only change from thence would flow,
Ribbons would not be wasted so!

Or here is another proposal for weighing the head of the State;

Suppose, my Lord,—and far from me
To treat such things with levity—
But just suppose the R—g—t's weight
Were made thus an affair of state;
And, ev'ry sessions, at the close,
'Stead of a speech, which, all can see, is
Heavy and dull enough, God knows—
We were to try how heavy he is.
Much would it glad all hearts to hear
That, while the Nation's Revenue
Loses so many pounds a year.
The P——e, God bless him! gains a few.

With bales of muslin, chintzes, spices,
I see the Easterns weigh their Kings;—
But, for the R—g—t, my advice is,
We should throw in much heavier things:
For instance, ———'s quarto volumes,
Which, though not spices, serve to wrap them;
Dominic St—dd—t's Daily columns,
"Prodigious!"—in, of course we'd clap them—
Letters, that C—rtw—t's pen indites,
In which, with logical confusion,
The Major like a Minor writes,
And never comes to a conclusion:
Lord S—m—rs' pamphlet, or his head—
(Ah, that were worth its weight in lead!)
Along with which we in may whip, sly,
The Speeches of Sir John C—x H—pp—sly;
That Baronet of many words.
Who loves so, in the House of Lords,
To whisper Bishops—and so nigh
Unto their wigs in whisp'ring goes,
That you may always know him by
A patch of powder on his nose!—
If this won't do, we must in cram
The "Reasons" of Lord B—ck—gh—m;
(A book his Lordship means to write,
Entitled, "Reasons for my Ratting:"
Or, should these prove too small and light,
His ——'s a host, we'll bundle that in!
And, still should all these masses fail
To stir the R—g—t's ponderous scale,
Why then, my Lord, in heaven's name,
Pitch in, without reserve or stint,
The whole of R—g—ly's beauteous dame—
If that won't raise him, devil's in't.

But we stop here, or we shall quote the whole work. We like the political part of this jeu d'esprit better, on the whole, than the merely comic and familiar. Bob Fudge is almost too suffocating a coxcomb, even in description, with his stays and patés; and Miss Biddy Fudge, with her poke bonnet and her princely lover, who turned out to be no better than a man-milliner, is not half so interesting as a certain Marchioness in the Twopenny Post Bag, with curls "in the manner of Ackermann's dresses for May, and her yellow charioteer." Besides, Miss Biddy's amour ends in nothing. In short, the Fudges abroad are not such fat subjects for ridicule as the Fudges at home. "They do not cut up so well in the cawl; they do not tallow so in the kidneys:" but as far as they go, Mr. Brown, Junior, uses the dissecting knife with equal dexterity, and equally to the delight and edification of the bystanders.


  1. "I look down towards his feet;
    But that's a fable."—Othello.

  2. I have thought it prudent to omit some parts of Mr. Phelim Connor's letter. He is evidently an intemperate young man, and has associated with his cousins, the Fudges, to very little purpose.
  3. Somebody (Fontenelle, I believe) has said, that if he had his hand full of truths, he would open but one finger at a time; and I find it necessary to use the same sort of reserve with respect to Mr. Phelim Connor's very plain-spoken letters. The remainder of this Epistle is so full of unsafe matter of fact, that it must, for the present at least, be witheld from the public.
  4. To commemorate the landing of Louis le Desiré from England, the impression of his foot is marked out upon the pier at Calais, and a pillar with an inscription raised opposite to the spot.