The March of the 'Mad Cow.'
A Mid-Lent Frolic of the Bohemians
The revival of the old pageanb of the Boeuf Gras, on Shrove Tuesday last, suggested to some choice spirits of Montmarbro, the idea of getting up a rival procession on MiCareme, in which the fatted ox would be replaced by La Yache Enragee. In idiomatic French, 'to have eaten of the mad cow' (' avoir mange de la vacbe enragee ') is to have suffered hardship and hunger. Now, Monbmarbre is always more or less hard up, and, as you may suppose, the suggestion was hailed with delight. Its authors forthwith commenced to pub things in train, and for vreefce nothing elae was talked of on and about the ' Sacred Mount' bub the proposed procession, which by a very natural crystallisation of words became the • Vachalcade. 5 Even the boulevard grew interested. The laundresses, to whom the day of Mid-Lent had hitherto been sacred, and even the students of the schools, who have ot late joined forces with them, were very soon overtaken and beaten in the race for popularity.
Men who are in the habit) of tightening their girths on an empby stomach do noD generally huve any spare cash to spend on their amusements —over and above beer, which ia a necessity—and so the prime movers in the matter were those who still retained a lively remembrance of having partaken liberally of * mad cow' feasts, but who have now something more succulent wherewith to satisfy bbc cravings of their appetites— the successful Bohemians, in a word. Among the-e, Willette stands out the prominent figure ; indeed, the whole idea is said to have originated with him. Ha ia, as you know, a most successful draughtsman, the contributor of the full-page illustrations in the 'Courrier Francaia' —his own paper, 1 Le Pierrob,' having died un early death. Also Kmile Gandeau, a jolly southerner with a equint and comical wrynes." of expression, poet and aong writer, who wan elected honorary president on account of having written a novel called ' La Vache Eurageo 1' and Braniionbourg, likewise poet and novelist. Naturally, a subscription vtraa eet on foot, to which the vendors of boer and the keepers of restaurants contributed for the moat part, as tha affair was sure to bring thorn plenty of custom.
The serio-comic vein of everyone was taxed in providing designs for the different ' numbers ' of tho * Vaohaloade, 1 which was to ba symbolic enough to please all the symboliques of the latest school. To open the march, there vras a phalanx of waiters who for once would nob wait, bub /nareh in the van, Then came v battalion of les jennets, led by a stunning female in tights, and following them the members of the Anti-Landlord Lea-iue —a party of maskfid brigands laden with household furniture.
The bod on wheels, in which sab, comfortably tucked, bvro old parties in peaked nightcaps, a huge wooden bell suspended over their headt>, needs explanation, To remoVte a /a cloche de bois is a midnight fitting ; a wooden bell lacks sonority, and people who flit do it as quietly as possible. Tho gallant Pogasns, led by a couple of bailifl'a officers, preceded the triumphant chariob of Poesy, with tho Nine Muses represented by as many nice-looking femnlee lightly draped.
Jean Rictere, the eccentric proprietor of of the ' Quat'-z"- Arts' tavern on Montmartro, exhales some of hia melancholy in the building up of a chariot dedicated to la belle etoik— to sleep under the etars is to be a houseless vagabond. Yon Lug, Montmartre'a favourite bard, appears in the ohow, leading by the bridle a lean donkey, which drags a little house on wheels containing the poet's wife and children.
I pass over some of tho groups—one ot the boat being Willebte's Pierrots—to arrive at. the grand car of the Sacred Heart, the bntte ot Montmartro, with a model of the votive church on the top, the hill beneath alivo with full grown angels, and sitting among the front rank, a singer of the Quaft'z Am—Michel Leg&y. The heroine of the day, the ' vache enragee,' stands on a low chariot attended by two bonny milkmaids ; ita frenzied eyes roll, while Honour and Glory make way for ifc. Place Pigalle, which is the threshold of Montmartre, is symbolised on another car, and the effigy of the once gay resort of Parisians, the Moulin de la Galebto, is drawn by a pair of miller'a grays, with the miller astride one of them. Then, here is 'ma tante,' the French substitute for 'my uncle,' a eorb of Sarah Gamp, perched on a safe, dragged along by an out at-elbows community, and followed by the myrmidons of the law and an animated clock-face. Finally, the hated bourgeois and Pharisees generally are repressnted by a grotesque monster wibb a bull's hsad and a dragon's tail, out of whoae foaming jaws ever and anon a Isach pulls a toofch with a hus;e pair of forceps. As may well be imagined, thousands gathered to ccc the show, which, startiug from the butte, made the round of the principal thoroughfares", followed by the applause of the multitude. . It wa« rather a gruesome jest, and provoked more curiosity than amu-oment. Bub it will increase the fame of Montmartre and its cabarets and brHHperiof", though ii m«y noh puf. a crust in Ihe way ot those who are doomed to *up off ' m:i(i cow' until such a time as they shall hfcve m«do a name and a position in the world, cot publishers to publish their books, theatres to. enact thair piece?, nmrtieur« to buy thoir pictures, or have perished in the struggle for existence—the latter being, perhaps, I he more likely windup of the two.— Puiia correspondent 'S. F. Argonaut.'
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The March of the 'Mad Cow.', Auckland Star, Volume XXVII, Issue 138, 13 June 1896, Supplement
The March of the 'Mad Cow.' Auckland Star, Volume XXVII, Issue 138, 13 June 1896, Supplement
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