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Catholic principles the Pope cannot annul the priestly character; he may release the priest from his vow of celibacy. Pius VII affected to do the former, but cleverly refrained from doing the latter, for Talleyrand. His letter, dated June 29th, 1802, and addressed to "our very dear son," ran: "We were overjoyed at learning of your ardent desire to be reconciled with us and the Catholic Church. Hence, extending our fatherly love to you, we relieve you, in the fulness of our power, from the bond of all the excommunications, and grant you liberty to wear secular costume and to administer all civil affairs, whether in the office you now fill or in others to which your Government may call you." The statement that Talleyrand thought this secularisation would leave him free to marry, and had asked for it, is ridiculous. The Vatican has only annulled the priestly vow of celibacy twice in the course of its history, though it professes to have full power to do so in any case. It was Napoleon who asked the Pope to secularise Talleyrand. Excommunications sat lightly enough on the ex-bishop; and he would, no doubt, keenly appreciate the "paternal charity" of the Pope in "reconciling" him by removing his excommunication and gravely admitting him to secular employment, while carefully refraining from noticing his notorious domestic relations and his infidelity.
Napoleon, apparently, had a large idea of the privileges he had secured for Talleyrand, and he presently put great pressure on him to marry Mme. Grand.
Talleyrand does not seem to have cared at all for going through the meaningless ceremony.
He knew he was not free to marry from the ecclesiastical point of view, and a civil contract would not in any case alter his relations to the lady of his choice. However, Mme. Grand felt that the form of marriage would improve her position. The etiquette of the Tuileries was developing once more. There was, one observer says, "not exactly a Court, but no longer a camp." She appealed to Napoleon through Josephine, and Talleyrand was forced to go through the ceremony of marriage. The civil
function was performed on September 10th, 1803, and the Church graciously blessed the diplomatic marriage on the following day. In the spiteful mood of later years Napoleon spoke of the marriage he had himself brought about as a "a triumph of immorality." He seems to have discovered at St. Helena that in Catholic eyes a priest is "a priest for ever"; and he contrives to forget that Mme. Grand was not a "married. "married woman but a divorcée.* The story runs that the first time she appeared at a levee after the marriage the Emperor thought fit to express a hope that "the good conduct of Citoyenne Talleyrand would help them to forget the escapades of Mme. Grand." She replied that, with the example of Citoyenne Bonaparte before her, she would do her best.
By this time the heavy diplomatic work that followed the treaties of Lunéville and Amiens was over, and the
* As described in the civil registry of marriage at the time.
German princes had ceased (for the time) to struggle for the debris of the Holy Roman Empire. Talleyrand found himself in a position of great wealth, and with one
two years of comparative leisure. His official residence, a large mansion built under the old regime by a rich colonist, was the Hotel Galiffet in the Rue St. Dominique. He had wandered far since the day when he began his public life in a small house of the same street in 1778, but the tense experiences of those fifteen years had made little change in him. The Revolution and the exile might never have occurred. His principles were unchanged, his wit as keen as ever, his light cynicism not a shade less amiable, his fine taste for books, for food, or for society unimpaired. Lytton describes him at this time reclining, day by day, on a couch near the fire in his salon* and entertaining a brilliant circle of visitors. His chief Parisian friends at this time were Montrond, the Duc de Laval, SainteFoix, General Duroc, Colonel Beauharnais, Louis, Dalberg, and others of the wittier and more cultured men of the time. The dress and manners of the Revolution were now never seen in polite society. The artificial fraternity of the past, with its "thou" and citizen," was abandoned. Men ceased to be brothers
and became friends once more.
The long military coat
*The habit is, of course, pointed to as proof of the indolence of the legendary Talleyrand. The more candid observer would be disposed to refer it to his lameness. We know that Talleyrand had to keep a heavy ironwork about his foot and wear a heavy thick-soled boot. One can easily understand his preference for lying in bed or on a couch.