Page images

fois que vous aviez pitié de moi, mais, moi, j'ai pitié de vous qui avez prononcé ces mots : J'y suis contraint! Ce n'est pas parler en roi." (Sire, you have several times told me you pitied me; but I pity you who have uttered these words: I am compelled to do it! That is not speaking like a king). Palissy died in prison at the age of 80 (1590).

Cependant, sire, la postérité dis

tinguera toujours Louis le Grand de Louis le Gros. (Still, sire, posterity will always distinguish between Louis le Grand [Great] and Louis le Gros [Fat].)

Remark made by BOILEAU (16361711) to Louis XIV concerning the preference of the latter for the word Gros in place of Grand.

Ce sera la meilleure des républiques. (It will be the best of the republics.)-Mémoires posthumes d'Odilon Barrot.

[blocks in formation]


des républiques" (it is &c.) are given in the Moniteur universel of Aug. 8, 1830, as having been said by Lafay ette the day before, and M. Louis Blanc (Histoire de dix ans, vol. i, p. 347, 1841 edition) attributes ODILON BARROT the phrase "Le duc d'Orleans est la meilleure des republiqnes" (The Duke of Orleans, &c) and as said on July 30, 1830, in reply to the republicans sent to the Hôtel de Ville by the Lointier meeting.

Ces gens tremblent, ils sont à

nous. (These people tremble, they are ours.)

Attributed to the Duc ANNE DE JOYEUSE (1561-87), on seeing the king of Navarre's soldiers kneel

down to pray before the battle of Coutras (1587). The duke thought they were on their knees for pardon.

CHARLES THE BOLD (1433-77) is said to have made a similar remark at the battle of Granson (1476) on seeing the Swiss kneel.

C'est à pareille époque que j'ai

fait instituer le Tribunal révolutionnaire; j'en demande pardon à Dieu et aux hommes. (It is at such a time that I have caused the revolutionary tribunal to be instituted; I ask forgiveness for it of God and men.) H. Riouffe, Memoires d'un détenu (Didot) p. 420.

DANTON (1759-94)—when awaiting the decision of the tribunal as to his own fate.

C'est assez de gémir sur la perte d'un fils dont je n'ai pas assez pleuré la naissance. (It is enough grieving over the loss of a son over whose birth I have not wept enough.)

Mme. de La Vallière (c. 16421710) on learning the death of her son Louis de Bourbon, comte de Vermandois.

C'est bien, mais il y a des longueurs. (It is well, but there are lengthy portions.) Esprit de Rivarol, 1808, p. 161. Reply by RIVAROL (1753-1801) when asked his opinion of a distich. Also attributed to TURGOT (172781).

C'est de la boue dans un bas de soie. (It is mud in a silk stocking.) Chateaubriand, Mémoires d'outre tombe, 1849, vol. 5, p. 402.

Attributed to LORD GRANVILLE, (1815-91) by Chateaubriand, alluding to TALLEYRAND.-In a footnote on the above-named page

Chateaubriand says, "J'affaiblis l'expression" (I soften the expression). Fournier (p. 424 note) says that the phrase is also attributed to Fox. C.-A. Ste-Beuve, in M. de Talleyrand, (Lévy, 1870, p. 37 note) gives it as "C'est un bas de soie rempli de boue" (It is a silk stocking filled with mud) and as having been said by LORD GRANVILLE, but that General Bertrand, in an account of a scene that he had witnessed between Napoleon and Talleyrand, added that the last words were: "Tenez, monsieur, vous n'êtes que de la m

dans un bas de soie." (Look here, sir, you are only

in a

silk stocking). The EARL OF LAUDERDALE (1759-1839), minister to France in 1806 is also credited with the phrase. All agree, however, that Talleyrand is alluded to. C'est dommage de s'en aller; ça

commence à devenir amu. sant. (It is a pity to go away: it is beginning to be amusing.) Death-bed utterance of JOSEPHLOUIS GAY LUSSAC (1778-1850) -alluding to the various new scientific discoveries and inventions then being made.

C'est fini, messieurs, je pars pour le grand voyage. (It is ended, gentlemen; I start for the great journey.)

GONTAUT-BIRON (1562-1602)when condemned to death (beheaded, July 31, 1602). He is also said to have offered a glass of wine to the executioner, saying, " Prenez, vous devez avoir besoin du courage au metier que vous faites." (Take some, you must need courage for the work you do)

C'est grand' pitie quand le valet

chasse le maître. (It is a great pity when the valet turns out the master.)—L'Estoile.

ACHILLE DE HARLAY (15361616) chief president of the Paris Parliament, used these words to the DUC DE GUISE after the day of the Barricades when the victorious duke came to him in the hope of obtaining his adhesion.

C'est l'acteur qui m'empêche de

vous entendre. (It is the actor who prevents my hearing you.) Goizet, Hist. anecdotique, &c. 1867, p. 56.

Attributed to ALEXIS PIRON (1689-1773). The poet was annoyed by some one next him humming all the tunes of Rousseau's Devin du village beforehand, and made an uncomplimentary remark. On the person in question asking whether this was addressed to him, Piron replied, "Oh, non ! monsieur, c'est à l'acteur, &c. (Oh, no sir, it is to the actor, &c.) A similar anecdote, however, is found in Melange amusant, &c. vol 12, p. 452 (1829). C'est le commencement de la fin !

(It is the beginning of the end!) Attributed to TALLEYRAND(17541838) by Sainte-Beuve (see his work on M. de Talleyrand, ch. 3) alluding to the disasters of the Russian campaign, in 1812. Lockhart (in his Life of Napoleon, vol. 2, p. 205) also credits Talleyrand with the phrase, but Fournier (L'Esprit dans l'Histoire) says that it was suggested Also to him by M. de Vitrolles. quoted, Voilà le commencement de la fin. (There's the beginning of the end)

C'est le lapin qui a commencé.

(The rabbit began it.)

The story goes that a dog passing through a market killed a rabbit and although its master offered to pay ten times the value of the rabbit, the rabbit's owner insisted on going before the police commissary. A

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

vrai," replied Soult, "c'est nous," &c. (That is true, it is we, &c.,) Another version (A. Combes, Hist. &c., de Soult, 1869, p. 102) gives the phrase as "Est-ce que je ne suis pas un ancêtre, moi ?" (Am I not an ancestor ?)

C'est par la gloire que les peuples

libres sont menés à l'esclavage. (It is through glory that free nations are brought to slavery.)

CHATEAUBRIAND (1761-1848)— in the French Chamber, March 2, 1818. Cf. Fabre d' Eglantine, Le

Triomphe de Grétry: "Le cri d'un peuple libre est celui de la gloire." (A free people's cry is that of glory). C'est par le travail qu'on règne. (It is by work that one reigns.) Saying of LOUIS XIV (1638-1715). C'est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute. (It is more than a crime, it is a blunder.)

Attributed both to JOSEPH FOUCHÉ (1763-1820) and TALLEYRAND (1754-1838), referring to the death of the duc d'Enghien, who was tried by court-martial at II, one day, found guilty and condemned to death at 2 a.m., and shot between 4 and 5 a.m., the next morning (Mar. 21, 1804). Fouché, in his Mémoires, says: "Je ne fus


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


pas celui qui osa s'exprimer avec "le moins de ménagement sur cet attentat contre le droit des nations 'et de l'humanité. C'est plus qu'un crime, dis-je, c'est une faute !' paroles que je rapporte parce qu'elles ont été répétées et attri"buées à d'autres." (I was not he who dared to express himself with the least moderation regarding this violation of the rights of nations and of humanity. "It is more than a crime, I say it is a blunder!" words that I record because they have been repeated and attributed to others) Napoleon, in his Mémorial, refers to 'Fouché as being the Talleyrand "of the clubs, and Talleyrand, the "Fouché of the Salons.' Ste. Beuve, M. de Talleyrand (1870) ch. 2. p. 79, quotes the phrase as "C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute" and (pp. 79-80) says that he has been assured that it was in reality uttered by BOULAY (de la Meurthe). Boulay de la Meurthe, in les Dernières anneés du duc d'Enghien, says (referring to his execution) "Dans ce milieu où depuis long

*But see Histoire des deux Restaurations, vol, 1, p. 92, 1858.

"temps on se mêlait tout bas de "juger Bonaparte, l'impression qui "prévalut aussitôt fut celle d'une "faute commise." (In this circle where for a long time they had taken upon themselves to judge Bonaparte in whispers, the impression which at once prevailed was that of a mistake committed) Cf. "Il y a de mauvais exemples qui "sont pires que les crimes: et plus "d'états ont péri parce qu' on a violé "les mœurs que parce qu' on a violé "les lois." (There are bad examples which are worse than crimes and more states have perished because morality has been sinned against than because laws have been broken). Montesquieu, Grandeur et Décadence des Romains, ch. viii. Also "Si comme vous le dites, Bonaparte 's'est rendu coupable d'un crime, 'ce n'est pas une raison que je me "rende coupable d'une faute.' (If, as you say, Bonaparte has been guilty of a crime, that is no reason why I should become guilty of a mistake) Lady C. J. Blennerhassett, Talleyrand, Eine Studie, ch. 14 (Berlin, 1894, p. 324).

[ocr errors]



C'est que vous n'avez pas été

sous la baguette du magicien. (You have never been under the influence of the magician's wand.) WILLIAM PITT (1759-1806)—in reply to a Frenchman who expressed his astonishment that a moral nation like England should submit to be governed by a man so wanting in private virtue as Charles James Fox. C'est toujours avec un nouveau plaisir... (It is always with renewed pleasure. . .)

Favourite expression of LOUIS PHILIPPE (1773-1850)-much ridiculed in the newspapers, notably La Caricature, May 16, 1833.

C'est une croix de bois qui a sauvé le monde. (It is a

cross of wood that has saved the world.) Chateaubriand, Mémoires d'outre-tombe, vol. 3, P. 235.

In a speech by MONTLOSIER (1755-1838) to the Constituent Assembly (Nov. 2, 1789).

C'est une médisance, sire, il n'y

a pas de jour que je ne fasse au moins trois fois le tour de mon cousin d'Aumont. (It is a slander, sire, not a day passes but what I walk at least three times round my cousin d'Aumont.)

Joking reply by the DUC DE VIVONNE (1636-88) to Louis XIV, who reproached him, in the presence of the DUC D'AUMONT (who was very fat, like Vivonne) with not taking enough exercise. C'est un grand diable d'Anglais

sec, qui va toujours droit devant lui. (He is a tall thin devil of an Englishman, who always goes straight forwards.) A Bourbon queen of Spain's * sarcasm against JAMES FITZJAMES, Duke of Berwick (1670-1734) her untractable marshal. Cf. George Darley's preface to the works of Beaumont & Fletcher (1840).

C'est un sale coup pour la fanfare! (It is a great blow for the band.)

Reported to have been said by a captain of tirailleurs at Weissenburg, Aug. 4, 1870, on seeing the musicians decimated by the fire of the Bavarians.

C'est vous qui êtes le nègre ? Eh bien, continuez! (It is you who are the " nègre " Well, go on !)

*Probably Marie Louise Gabrielle de Savoie (1688-1714) married to Philip V. of Spain in 1701.

ti.e., military brass band.

Remark made by MARSHAL MACMAHON (1808-93) to a pupil at Saint Cyr at a review (see the Abbé L. C. Berry's biography of MacMahon (1895, p. 64). The word



nègre" (= negro) is applied at Saint Cyr to the first pupil of his year. Unfortunately, it appears that the pupil addressed was mulatto, and the term pursued him to such an extent that he at last sent in his resignation (cf. Le Gaulois, March 4, 1898).

Cet homme sera pendu, mais la

corde cassera. (That man will be hanged, but the rope will break.)

SOPHIE ARNOULI) (1744-1803)—


Cette femme apprend à penser à ceux qui ne s'en aviseraient point ou qui l'avaient oublié. (That woman teaches to think those who would not dream of doing so or who had forgotten it.)

[blocks in formation]


Cette poutre durera plus que vous et moi. (This beam will last longer than you and I.)

Answer made by the Duc DE SULLY (1560-1641) to Henri IV, who sent for his three ministers, Villeroi, President Jeannin and Sully, in turn and pointed out to each a beam that seemed in danger of falling, to shew a Spanish ambassador their respective characters from their remarks. Villeroi said: "Sans doute; il faut la raccommoder, je vais donner des ordres."—(Of it must be repaired, I'll go Jeannin and give instructions). said: "Il faudra s'en assurer.' (It must be attended to). said: Eh! Sire, y pensez vous? cette poutre durera plus que vous et moi." (Do you think so, sire? this


[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]

Term applied to an exaggerated patriotism, derived from the name (Chauvin) of one of the principal characters in a vaudeville la Cocarde tricolore, by Théodore and Hippolyte Cogniard (acted in 1831). The definition given in the 1878 edition of the dictionary of the French Academy is as follows: "Terme très familier, qu'on a employé pour chercher à

tourner en ridicule un sentiment exalté de la gloire des armes françaises." (Very familiar term, which has been used to turn into ridicule an exalted sentiment of the glory of the French arms)

Cherchez la femme. (or Où est la femme?) (Find the woman. [or where is the woman?]) Attributed to GABRIEL DE SARTINE (1729-1801) lieut.-general of police in 1759. Cf.

M. Jackal.--Que dis-je toujours, monsieur Salvator? "Cherchez la femme!" Cette fois, la femme est trouvée.

Mme. Desmarest.-Comment, la femme est trouvée ? vous croyez qu'il y a une femme dans cette affaire?

M. Jackal.-Il y a une femme

« PreviousContinue »