Jean des Vignes

(French). So the jonglers call the poupée to which they address themselves. The French Protestants in the sixteenth century called “the host” Jean, and the word is pretty well synonymous with buffoon. Jean des Vignes was a drunken marionette performer of considerable ability; “Jean” was his name, “des Vignes” his sobriquet. Hence when a person does a bad action, the French say, “Il fait comme Jean des Vignes;” an illicit marriage is called “le marriage de Jean des Vignes.” and a bad fellow is “un Jean des Vignes.” Hence Assoucy says, “Moi, pauvre sot, plus sot que Jean des Vignes!”

Jean! que dire sur Jean? c'est un terrible nom,
Qui jamais n'accompagne une epithete honnête Jean des Vignes, Jean ligne.
Ou vais-je?
Trouves bon
Qu'en si beau chemin je m'arrête.

Virgile Travesti,
vii. (Juno to Æneas).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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