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Talleyrand been put together. There are those who, in such a case, would take the word of Maubreuil himself, quite apart from the thin rumour that SainteBeuve has captured after it has floated about Paris for half a century, and the strained recollections of Pasquier.
"I am," said Talleyrand, "an old umbrella on which the rain has beaten for forty years: a drop more or less makes no difference." He continued to watch from his long chair at the window over the Tuileries, and smile at the blunders that were hurrying the Bourbons off the stage once more. Napoleon had gone in 1821. "It is not an event," he said; "only a piece of news." Louis died in 1824. The pious and narrowminded Charles X was in the hands of the Clerical party. They readmitted the Jesuits in thin disguise. "M. Cuvier," asked Talleyrand of the great zoologist, "which are the most grateful animals?" Cuvier was puzzled. "The turkeys, of course," said the Prince, "because the Jesuits introduced the turkeys, and now the turkeys (Anglice, geese) are re-introducing the Jesuits." Someone told him that Chateaubriand was getting deaf. "He fancies he's deaf," said Talleyrand, "because he does not hear people talking about him any longer." At last the crisis came, and the kingmaker stepped into public life once more.
THE LAST ACT
TALLEYRAND had acquired through his long experience a sense of political equilibrium. Men of science point out to us in lowly marine organisms a little vesicle filled with fluid and containing a little stone. It is the organ by which they feel that they are ascending or descending. In some such way Talleyrand felt the motion when the governing power had begun to descend a slope. In the later twenties he knew, as many did, that Charles X was moving towards the abyss into which he had seen so many plunge. The King was too narrowly Catholic to love Talleyrand, and, though their relation was amiable enough during the Martignac Ministry, Talleyrand's house became once more the centre of the opposition. All the older Liberals and a large number of the younger men used to gather about his couch in the morning, or fill his rooms in the evening from eleven to one. The Martignac Ministry was the last effort to stem the tide of reaction. But Charles X was quietly hostile to its enlightened policy, and he dismissed it at the first check. On August 8th (1829) he bade the Prince de Polignac, a man of his own views, form a Clerical ministry. Talleyrand left Paris for Rochecotte
in the interest of his health. It was said in Paris that, as when Napoleon set out for Russia, he had declared it "the beginning of the end."
At Rochecotte he was visited by Molé, Sebastiani, de Broglie, Villemain, and numbers of other politicians. Thiers also was there, but Talleyrand regarded him rather as a promising writer whan a politician. There was no plotting at Rochecotte. It was unnecessary. While Polignac was receiving directions form the Virgin Mary in visions for the governing of France, Liberal leagues were being organised everywhere, and the second revolution was preparing. "A thousand sinister rumours are circulating in the capital," said an orator from the tribune. In March (1830) Roger Collard presented to the King an address, voted by the Chamber and drawn up by Guizot and himself. The King replied by proroguing the Chamber until September. "So you have decided on prorogation," said Talleyrand to one of the ministers. "Well, I think I shall buy a little property in Switzerland." Charles X declared he would make no concessions. Weakness had destroyed Louis XVI; "for my part I have no alternative but the throne or the scaffold." "He forgets the post-chaise," said Talleyrand.
In May Talleyrand was back at Rochecotte, tending his peaches and flowers as he loved to do, and discussing the situation with Thiers, Mignet, and others. The elections had gone heavily against the ministers. On June 11th he wrote to the Princess de Vaudemont that