Le Sire de Fisch Ton Kan


Le Sire de Fisch Ton Kan

Il avait un' moustache énorme,
Un grand sabre et des croix partout,
Partout, partout !
Mais tout ça c'était pour la forme,
Et ça n'servait à rien du tout,
Rien du tout,
C'était un fameux capitaine
Qui t'nait avant tout à sa peau,
A sa peau !
Un jour il voit qu'son sabre l'gêne,
Aux ennemis, il en fait cadeau,
Quel beau cadeau !
 
Refrain
V'la le sir' de Fisch-ton-Kan
Qui s'en va-t-en guerre,
En deux temps et trois mouv'ments,
Badinguet, fisch'ton camp,
L'pèr', la mèr', Badingue,
A deux sous tout l'paquet,
L'pèr', la mèr', Badingue,
Et le p'tit Badinguet.

Enfin, pour finir la légende,
De c'monsieur qu'on croyait César,
Croyait César !
Sous ce grand homm' de contrebande,
V'la qu'on n'trouve plus qu'un mouchard,
Qu'un mouchard !
Chez c'bohomm'là, tout était louche,
Et la moral' de c'boniment,
C'est qu'étant porté sur sa bouche
Il devait finir par Sedan.
 
Refrain
V'la le sir' de Fisch-ton-Kan
Qui s'en va-t-en guerre,
En deux temps et trois mouv'ments,
Badinguet, fisch'ton camp,
L'pèr', la mèr', Badingue,
A deux sous tout l'paquet,
L'pèr', la mèr', Badingue,
Et le p'tit Badinguet.

 

Commentary

This enormously popular satirical song was composed after the debacle at Sedan during the Commune period (March - May, 1871). The librettist Urbain Roucoux, whose pen name was Paul Burani (1845-1901), was a French playwright, actor, and chansonnier. In addition to being the publisher of the musical journals Le Calino, Café Concert and La chanson illustrée, he was also the author of more than 70 popular songs, the most famous of which were Les pompiers de Nanterre, Le Sire de Fisch ton kan and La Fauvette du temple (music by André Messager, 1885). He was also the librettist for the classical composer Emmanuel Chabrier and his operette Le roi malgré lui (premiered at the Opéra-Comique in 1887). The composer of the music of the song here was Antoine Magdeleine Louis, known as Antonin Louis (d. 1915), who also partnered Roucoux for the Les Pompiers de Nanterre, a piece so popular that it was even played by a Prussian military band for French prisoners to march to.
 
The words parody Napoleon III and the imperial family – indeed if they were published today they would cause a libel action. Whilst the emperor is not named directly, he can clearly be identified via his mocking nickname, Badinguet. This bumbling, clownish appellation was given by Victor Hugo (amongst others), and it was derived from the name of the workman whose clothes Louis-Napoleon borrowed to escape from the prison in Ham (where he languished from 1840 to 1846). Eugénie and the Prince imperial are similarly unnamed and referred to as Mother Badinguet and the Little Badinguet. In six verses, the song pillories the emperor's diplomacy, his military prowess and interest in artillery, his son, his desire to be emperor, his sexual capacity and finally the catastrophe of Sedan – there's even a parody of the words of "Partant pour la Syrie", the Second Empire's national anthem.

As for the unusual title, Le Sire de Fisch-Ton-Kan ("Lord Get-tee Lost-ee"), this seems to be a sort of play on words, the principal meaning being 'go away!' or 'get lost!', aimed at the imperial family. But there are distinct Chinese overtones, 'Ton Kan' sounding like the Chinese city, Tonkin. Now the Second Empire saw renewed interest in all things eastern. The empress Eugénie had a famous lacquer room at the palace in Fontainbleau imported from China, and Offenbach's famous Chinese comic operetta Ba-Ta-Clan (1855) was hugely successful during the Second Empire. Furthermore, in October 1860, second-empire troops famously participated in the sack of the Summer Palace in Peking. Clearly, in opposition circles, Napoleon III and the Second Empire were heavily 'tarred' by this Chinese campaign, since a skit on both the man and regime, entitled Le Sire de Fisch-Ton-Kan, was written in 1873 (and so after the end of the Empire) by Emmanuel Chabrier and Paul Verlaine with a plot full of Chinese references.(1) Indeed, one of the main characters in it is called "Pelican", a thinly-disguised lampoon of the Comte de Palikao, commander in chief of French forces in China in 1860, General Cousin de Montauban, who distinguished himself by routing Manchurian troops at Palikao (hence the honorary title). The use of same title for the both works is however curious, because unlike the operetta the song here contains no explicitly chinese content. Whilst it seems likely that since Roucoux and Chabrier collaborated in the 1880s they probably knew each other earlier and the use of the same name may be the result, the precise reason for Roucoux's choice of a chinese-style name for Napoleon III in 1871 remains unclear.

Composer

Antonin Louis/Paul Burani

Score

Download the score

Source(s)

NOTES
(1) This was in fact their second attempt at lampooning Napoleon III, their first joint parody (written in 1864) being entitled Vaucochard et fils 1er.