Curious Proposal of the Women of the Maubert Marketplace (1785)
As a result of the "libels" against the court and especially the Queen, a sense was spreading that the monarchy was not fulfilling its obligations in ruling over France. Demonstrating that sentiment, this pamphlet is written in the voice of Parisian working women from the open–air market of the place Maubert. It describes how such hardworking, salt–of–the–earth,honest, family–oriented women could do a better job raising the Dauphin than the Queen, thus suggesting that the future of the realm should be entrusted to its people rather than the royal family.
After having heard that the Queen and the Dauphin were coming to Paris, the fishwives gathered, drank some wine and Mrs. Tripodin, after having bowed,said in a loud voice: . . . "why should not we talk now? And only those who have pride will not say a word. . . . When the Queen comes, we will go in the middle of the street, surround her coach, compliment her, and ask if we could raise the Dauphin the way we do with our kids. . . .
"He is so nice. When he was born, I sent him flowers. We will take good care of him, because these doctors kill our Princes while they think they are curing them.
"We will take care of him as if he was a bird, he will become as happy as a pinch-mark. We will be his governesses. And you can trust me that things will go much better with us than with all these Court Ladies who frolic about all day long, while the young Prince yawns his head off and looks as sad as the oven of a kitchen where there is no fire.
"I saw this charming Prince. People called him Monsieur; he was like a relic which you praises and that does not answer.
"When we take care of him, he will chatter like a magpie; he will jump like a kid, and he will eat everything we give him, sometimes good, sometimes bad. We will make him have a royal heart, but his stomach will be like ours. He will eat potatoes and drink some wine like we do when we feel like drinking some. We will protect him."
Everybody applauded this proposal, as the People want a Prince like them.
"Our good King," they all say while laughing, "will be so satisfied that he will thank us. He is good the way he is, but if we had raised him, he would have thrown out of the window all the Secretaries that have tied him up."
"Oh!" said one of them, "I will take this friendly Prince to listen to our priest's sermon, so he will hear about God. Because at the Court, there are only soft sermons, in which nothing is said, and no piety to be found. He will have friends who will flatten his pride, and also they will take him to see some craftsmen so he will see the sweat going down their forehead and this will teach him something when he becomes King." . . .
The gathering ate soup on a huge table. They drank to the King's, the Queen's, the Prince's and the Nation's health. Each fishwife had a funnel on their mouth where plenty of wine was going through.
They ended the session by making a proposal whose object was to marry all fisher-women, daughters or widows, to Soldiers of the French Guard, in order to perpetuate the Parisian race.
Anonymous, Motion curieuse des dames de la place Maubert (Paris:Guillaume, 1785)..