Monday, May 17, 2010

Talleyrand

Charles Maurice De Talleyrand-Perigord was a French diplomat who worked for five French rulers, covering perhaps the most turbulent time in French history.  Talleyrand served under Louis XVI, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, Charles X, and Louis-Philippe.  Talleyrand died on May 17, 1838.  Walter Scott mentions Talleyrand several times in his "The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte", including:

INSTRUCTIONS BY NAPOLEON TO TALLEYRAND, PRINCE OF BENEVENTUM.


Volume V. page 57.


This very singular memorandum contains the instructions given by Napoleon to Talleyrand, concerning the manner in which he wished him to receive Lord Whitworth, then about to quit Paris, under the immediate prospect of the war again breaking out. He did not trust, it seems, to that accomplished statesman the slightest circumstance of the conference ; " although," as Talleyrand himself observed, as he gave to the Duke of Wellington the interesting document, in Napoleon's own hand-writing, " if I could be trusted with any/thing, it must have been the mode of receiving and negotiating with an Ambassador." From the style of the note, it seems that the warmth, or rather violence, which the First Consul had thrown into the discussion at the levee, did not actually flow from Napoleon's irritated feelings, but was a calculated burst of passion, designed to confound and overwhelm the English nobleman, who proved by no means the kind of person to be shaken with the utmost vehemence. It may be also remarked, that Napoleon, while he was desirous to try the effect of a cold, stern, and indifferent mode of conduct towards the English Minister, was yet desirous, if that should not shake Lord Whitworth's firmness, that Talleyrand, by reference to the pleasure of the First Consul, should take care to keep open the door for reconciliation...

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