of red and blue silk with gold trim and plumed hats. For several days they paraded through town behind a marching band and a large wooden parrot mounted on a pole. Then they attached the parrot to the top of a ship's mast in a grassy moat outside the city walls and held an archery contest. The knight who felled the par- rot was proclaimed king. A triumphal arch was raised in front of his house, and the knights danced there with their ladies all night long, then retired for a feast given by the king, while gros rouge was distributed to the populace. The bourgeois did not get to play at knights and ladies very often, however. In fact, the "Divertisse- ment du Perroquet" had last taken place two generations ago, at the birth of the Dauphin in 1730. So it did not provide much 132
A Bourgeois Puts His World in Order amusement in comparison with the joyful bashings that the work- ers administered to themselves every week in the primitive ver- sions of football that they played in the moat. Judging from the account of games and festivities in the Descrip- tion, the "Third Estate" had all the fun. The "First" and "Second" Estates could parade about solemnly in processions generates, but the artisans and laborers got to whoop it up around Le Chevalet, a dummy horse mounted by a popular "king," who set whole neigh- borhoods dancing in a kind of Beggars' Opera parody of court life that dated back to the sixteenth century. Dancing was a passion for the "little people" (petites gens), and it often gave them an opportu- nity to make fun of the big (les grands), especially during carnival time, May Day celebrations, and charivaris. Our author dutifully recorded all these amusements, but he disapproved of them and noted with satisfaction that the bourgeois had left them to the lower orders. "Such amusements have completely gone out of fa- vor in this city and have given way to a concern for making mon- ey. Thus no more public fetes, no more Perroquet archery contests or general merry-making. If any take place from time to time, it is only among the common people. Les honnetes gens do not take part." 34 Hell-raising had even gone out of wedding feasts, except in the "Third Estate." In the upper estates, one invited only the immedi- ate family, not the whole neighborhood. There was no more drunkenness, no more brawling at table, no more smashed furni- ture and broken pates, no invasions from a rowdy counter-ceremo- ny (trouble-Jete) or bawdiness exploding from a charivari or a caba- ret. "All that used to create such a horrible disorder that if anyone tried to revive it today he would be punished for disturbing the peace. The overall change has had a most salubrious effect. Order and decency now reign during meals. They are required in public festivities; and unless the character of the nation changes, there is every reason to believe that they will last forever." 35 True, some disturbing strains of Rabelaisianism stilt existed among the artisans, and our author would have recognized them in the story of Jerome's apprenticeship. But he took heart in the ob- servation that witchcraft, spell casting, and black sabbaths no lon- ger aroused passions in Montpellier. If any superstition remained, it 133
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