Aller á Rouen. To go to ruin. The French are full of these
puns, and our merry forefathers indulged in them also.
(1) Il a fait son cours à Asnières. He knows nothing; he
graduated at Dunse [Dunce] College.
(2) Aller à Cachan. To give leg-bail, or “se cacher” [de
ses créanciers]; to go to Hyde [Hide] Park.
(3) Aller à Dourdan. To go to be whipped (douder, être
battu); to be on the road to Flogny.
(4) Vous êtes de Lagny, vous n'avez pas hâte. I see you are a
man of Laggon. Don't hurry yourself, Mr. Slowcoach.
(5) Il est de Lunel, Il a une chamvre à Lunel, Il est des Luniers
d'Orléans, or Il est Logé à la Lune. He îs a lunatic.
(6) Envoyer à Mortaigne. To be slain, or sent to Deadham.
(7) Aller à Patras. To die; to be gathered to one's fathers (
(8) Aller à Versailles. To be going to the bad. Here the pun
is between Versa-illes and renverser. This wretched pun
is about equal to such a phrase as “Going to Downham.”
The Bloody Feast of Rouen
(1356). Charles the Dauphin gave a banquet to his private friends
at Rouen, to which his brother-in-law Charles the Bad was invited.
While the guests were at table King Jean entered the room with a
numerous escort, exclaiming, “Traitor, thou art not worthy to sit at
table with my son!” Then, turning to his guards, he added, “Take him
hence! By holy Paul, I will neither eat nor drink till his head be
brought me!” Then, seizing an iron mace from one of the men-at-arms,
he struck another of the guests between the shoulders, exclaiming, “Out, proud traitor! by the soul of my father, thou shalt not live!” Four of the guests were beheaded on the spot.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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