View Full Version : Pseud's Corner; The French blame the French

7th Feb 2009, 19:37
If to any at all, this will appeal to but few.

As one contributor has kindly hinted, my own time here is limited. I must put it to good use and so to Thomas Carlyle, whom I have too long neglected.

After years of study Carlyle spent five months writing Volume 1 of his “French Revolution”. He passed it to J S Mill for criticism. Mill left it untended and the maid used it to light the fire. Sonofagun! Back to the quill pen. Start over again.

Such a man should be worth reading. He is. Seems (page 10) that in the good old days a Seigneur riding home from the hunt on a cold day had the right to kill not more than two serfs and “refresh his feet in their warm blood and bowels”. Hmmm! Well, can’t please everyone, can you? Even allowing for the “not more than two”, this upset some soreheads, and even the French blamed the French.

That is by the way. Now to the pseud part. All my life I have known the Scottish word “fushionless” to mean “empty”, “worthless” or “nonsensical”; and what do I find in “Revolution” (p. 212) but “foisonless”, new to me but obviously, as a little research confirms, the same word as “fushionless” with different pronunciation. Okay then. Interesting to me.

Carlyle considers some “pardonable ... human theatricalities” as “foisonless, unedifying, undelightful; like small ale palled, like an effervescence that has effervesced!” in contrast with an “... unpremeditated outburst of Nature, such as an Insurrection of Women” (that is, as Carlyle puts it, the “original”
spontaneous expedition of the army of Parisian women to Versailles that hanged a few and really caught the attention of the talkers).

Wonderful book.

7th Feb 2009, 19:56
In my book(s) 'fushionless' was able to be unnerstood by furriners as 'pithless' ..
Ah wud jaloose ye ken the meanin' o' "souple" as well:}

7th Feb 2009, 20:29
"my own time here is limited"

On earth? In this forum? You can't get away that easily you know.

Please explain.

The Ancient Mariner

"Fushionless" takes me straight back to my maternal granny and porridge without salt.

tony draper
7th Feb 2009, 21:36
Re the bloody feet,I recall as a wee lad being told a tale along with the rest of the history class about a Medieval king(I recal not which one)riding through his estates debating with a Prince or Bishop riding at his side the mystery of how the human eye works , he espys a serf busy doing serf stuff at the side of the road and being a practical and curious chap he is off his nag out with his dagger and howks out said serf's eyeball,after dissecting same they decide they are none the wiser and it will take clever chaps than they to suss out what all this goo does,so back aboard his horse and away they go.
I remember thinking, worra bastard! and determined there and then to become a republican or perhaps a communist.
Giving the matter more thought one realized it was probably not a honest Saxon King but a dammed Norman and that lot had become brutalized by living in France for so long.

7th Feb 2009, 21:39
that in the good old days a Seigneur riding home from the hunt on a cold day had the right to kill not more than two serfs and “refresh his feet in their warm blood and bowels”.

Now that raises a question in my own mind regarding something a French cavalry officer told me when I was a lad. Were a lad ? No matter.

He said that when they graduated from riding school, they were each presented at dusk with two bottles of champagne, two young whores, and a 100km route, and had to complete the course "in all respects" by daybreak.

Anyone else ever heard of this ? Beats steeping your feet in the blood of a French Baldrick at any rate.....

7th Feb 2009, 22:03
I would use 'fushionless' in the context of that feeling you have the day before you go down with the flu. A description of M.E. if you like.

Now, my daughter looked 'strushle' today.

9th Feb 2009, 15:27
they were each presented at dusk with two bottles of champagne, two young whores, and a 100km route, and had to complete the course "in all respects" by daybreak.

Yes, OFSO. When I lived in Bermuda colleagues overseas asked me to entertain a visiting member of the French nobility. This is a bit above my normal league, but I had once had lunch (in company with others) with a British duke, so why not?

M. le xxxxxxx de xxxxxxxx was of the very top drawer, one of your ancien regime aristos, and a total chancer; entirely self-centred. He was using his titles and contacts in the sordid search for gold. Those guys are very realistic.

He was a real b-st-rd, but very entertaining with it. During the war the Luftwaffe had taken over the family chateau in France, or one of them, as a headquarters. The old chatelaine, Mme la xxxxxxxx herself, was still in residence, and they allowed her to keep a suite of rooms. He said they treated her and the premises with complete respect.

The top Luftwaffe man was one of the famous generals, whose name I now forget. He paid a courtesy call on the old lady, and noticed photographs of three young chaps (my M. le xxxxxxx included) each in RAF uniform with pilot’s wings. He asked who they were? “These”, said
the old tigress, “Are my three sons!”. “Fine looking chaps!”, returned the general. “You must be very proud of them. I hope that if our positions were reversed, my sons would do the same”.

One day the general dropped by to say he expected a visit from the Gestapo next week, and he thought it would be a good idea if maybe she put her sons’ photographs away for a few days.

My chap was a graduate of the French cavalry school at St Cyr, as I recall, and he told substantially the same tale of the military exercise, the wine, and entertaining the “three whores” to quote his exact words. His command of English was good, and he did not exactly say “entertaining”, but something that means “professionally engage” the ladies of the evening.

He chose to do this at a mixed dinner-party in one of the better restaurants in Hamilton. I did myself think he might have selected his words more delicately, but I am just one of your middle-class bourgeois with the middle-class morality, and our lot never did have the right to warm the feet in serfs’ entrails, so we never quite picked up the manners of the aristos. I suppose we just did not have the same sang froid or of course supply of serfs.

Of the company at dinner was an English lady of Cockney origins, not one to be intimidated by man or beast, and certainly not by any damned Froggy aristo. As we all digested the steak, his story, and his vocabulary she volunteered her contribution: “Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!”, she addressed him, “I looooove you! I could just EAT you!”. One treasures such moments.

On dr draper’s point, a visit to the optician was standard sign-off practice for architects building the mediaeval castle, the bold bad baron being reluctant to have anyone but him around who knew the location of the oubliettes and such.

9th Feb 2009, 23:08
Just remembered! When M. le xxxxxxx was going back to London I picked him up at the hotel and drove him to the airport. Au revoir!

A couple of days later I had a call from the hotel. He had stiffed me with his bill, given the cashier my business card (with address of large institution in Bermuda) for payment. My, how I laughed!

I paid and lost not a split second in calling the so-called friends who had sicked him on to me, and they did duly reimburse. We all blamed the French.