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When Talleyrand broached the subject of the consti

plea for tact and

“You wish me to

tution, the King brushed aside his consideration with a courtly sneer. accept a constitution from you, and you don't wish to accept a constitution from me. That is very natural ; but in that case, my dear M. Talleyrand, I should be standing and you seated." Talleyrand saw that his worst fears as to the conduct of the returned emigrants -whom he would soon call "the foreigners of the interior"—were likely to be realised. In the end the King asked him, with some suspicion of irony, how he had been able to upset in succession the Directory and Bonaparte. Talleyrand saw his opportunity. “I did nothing at all, Sire," he replied. "There seems to be an inexplicable something in me that brings bad luck to governments that neglect me." This, at all events, is the current version of the interview. The mythopaic faculty has evidently been at work. It is safe to assume that the King was cold, cynical, polite and tactless.

Two days later the Tsar reached Compiègne, and endeavoured in vain to induce the King to surrender his illusions. The Senate was also brought from Paris, and was introduced by Talleyrand. "You succeed to twenty years of ruin and misery. Such a heritage might

was speaking of their remote ancestors and the relative positions their families had won in France. Beugnot would have it that the emigrant party had been the cleverer in 1789. But it is impossible to understand the words in this sense. They would imply that Talleyrand had aimed at the throne.

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frighten an ordinary virtue," he said gravely to the pompous mediocrity before him. His sense of humour seems to have failed him when, after pleading for a "constitutional charter," he went on: "You know even better than we do, Sire, that such institutions, so well approved among a neighbouring people, lend support to, and do not put restraint on, monarchs who love the laws and are the fathers of their people." It was all of very little avail. An English caricature of the time represents the banquet at Compiègne that night, with the Tsar, the Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, Prince Schwartzenberg, Blücher, Bernadotte, and the leading figures amongst the Allies and in France around the tables. Talleyrand sits in silence at one end of the room, but a thread passes from his hand to each of the other diners, as if they were puppets under his control. The truth is that Talleyrand had now encountered one of the most serious difficulties of his career. All his diplomacy fell before the royal system of filling the ante-chamber with sleek, cunning, incompetent favourites and flatterers. The King refused to take the oath to the new constitution, or to adopt the moderate proclamation prepared by Talleyrand. His satellites prepared one more in accord with his inflated pretensions-the Declaration of St. Ouen-and posted it throughout Paris. It gave a constitution to the nation instead of receiving one from the people's representatives. Providence had restored the throne, and to Providence, rather than statesmanship, it was to be

confided. In ten months the king would be flying ignobly for the frontier.

However, Louis XVIII had accepted the substance of Talleyrand's constitution, and he gave the guarantees which were to dispel the expectation of vindictiveness. Talleyrand returned to Paris to prepare for his reception, which was at least orderly. A few days afterwards he was appointed Foreign Minister and Grand Almoner to the King's household. There is a story that after he had taken the oath of loyalty to the King he observed to him: "That is my thirteenth oath of loyalty, Sire, and I trust it will be the last." History had another in reserve for him-the oath to Louis Philippe. Although he afterwards spoke strongly of the peers who had "violated the religion of the oath " during the Hundred Days, he had not a great awe of that ceremony. He is Isaid to have described it once as "the ticket you take at the door of the theatre." Speaking once of cheeses, he declared that the Brie was the king of cheeses; he had thought so in his youth and thought so still. Eugène Sue observed that he had "taken no oath to that royalty." On another occasion, when he had to administer the oath to a pretty lady, he said, with a glance at her ankles: "That is a very short skirt to take an oath of fidelity in."

Not only was Talleyrand omitted from the committee appointed to frame the new constitution, but its members were strictly forbidden to confer with him on the subject. He was jealously excluded from influence

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