Charles Talleyrand-Périgord


Charles Talleyrand-Périgord

Anecdote 1...

Claude Rulhières, author of a celebrated work on the Polish Revolution, Histoire de l’anarchie de Pologne (1807), complained in Talleyrand’s hearing that people said that he was mischievous, “although I have done only one mischievous thing in my whole life.”

“And when will that end?” inquired Talleyrand.

Anecdote 2...

Talleyrand once reprimanded a visitor for swallowing a glass of expensive brandy in a single gulp. “The first thing you should do,” explained Talleyrand, “is take your glass in the palms of your hands and warm it. Then shake it gently, with a circular movement, so that the liquid’s perfume is released. Then, raise the glass to the nose and breathe deeply.” His visitor was fascinated. “And then, my lord?” he asked. “And then, sir,” continued Talleyrand, “you replace the glass on the table and talk about it.”

Charles Talleyrand-Périgord quotes

Biographical Note: 

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord was a French statesman and diplomat. Despite his notorious impiety, he was made (1789) bishop of Autun and represented the clergy at the States-General of 1789. He supported the French Revolution at first, but after the fall of the monarchy fled to England (1792) and then to the U.S. (1794). Returning to France (1796), he was foreign minister under the Directory (1797-99) and Napoleon I (1799-1807); however, Napoleon tended to ignore Talleyrand’s cautious advice. After Napoleon’s defeat Talleyrand persuaded the allies to restore (1814) the Bourbon monarchy and represented France at the Congress of Vienna (1815), where he scored his greatest diplomatic triumphs. He later served Louis Philippe as ambassador to London. Often labeled an opportunist, Talleyrand consistently aimed at peace and stability for Europe as a whole.

More Information: 

Read a short biography of Charles Talleyrand.
You may also want to Read a more personal take on Talleyrand and his eloquence.

Photo Info

Portrait of Talleyrand by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon