Eh bien! C’est moi!

Talleyrand

Political invective knows no boundaries, of course, but Latin countries bring their own particular spices to the feast.  Here is a list of things Talleyrand was accused of being at various stages of his long and lucky life (1754-1838), shown here in French and English, all collected by him over the years from opponents, fellow courtiers, fellow guests, journalists and others, and printed up front in the introduction to Volume 1 of his memoirs. A more urbane selection could not be imagined, especially as he omits to record what Napoleon said to him in 1808: “You’re shit in a silk stocking.”

Le dernier Représentant du dix-huitième siècle.
The last representative of the 18th century

Le Patriarche de la politique.
The Patriarch of Politics

Le Vétéran de la diplomatie.
Veteran of diplomacy

Le Bourreau de l’Europe.
The hitman of Europe

Le Singe de Mazarin.
Mazarin’s monkey

Le Sosie du Cardinal Dubois.
Cardinal Dubois’ avatar

L’Abbé malgré lui.
The reluctant priest

L’Évêque pour rire
Bishop-having-a-laugh

Le Bâtard de Voltaire.
Voltaire’s bastard

La Demi-voix de Mirabeau
Mirabeau’s mouthpiece

Ésope en habit de cour.
Aesop dressed up for court

L’Ambassadeur du Diable boiteux.
The Lame Devil’s Ambassador

Le Moutardier du Pape.
The Pope’s mustard pot

Le Champion de l’Angleterre.
Cheerleader for England

L’Impresario de Napoléon.
Napoleon’s stage manager

Le Cicérone d’Alexandre.
Alexander’s tour guide

L’Évangéliste de la Restauration.
Evangelist for the Restoration

Le Porte-parapluie de Louis-Philippe, etc
Louis-Philippe’s umbrella-bearer

Let’s leave the great man on a positive note: in the final admiring words of his online biographer, Pierre Combaluzier (op.cit), “Ainsi se termine la vie du plus illustre des diplomates que la France ait jamais connu. Cet homme, qui n’a jamais cessé d’alimenter la haine et les controverses, passa son existence à aimer la France, à la défendre de toutes ses forces dans la période la plus troublée de son histoire. Européen avant l’heure, souhaitant développer le commerce, la paix et l’instruction, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, attaché aux mœurs de l’Ancien Régime, a été en fait un homme moderne toujours tourné vers l’Avenir. C’est là la moindre de ses contradictions.”

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About rimboval

Writer, thinker and proud grandfather
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