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Tony Grist

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Wrapped Up Warm And Reading About Talleyrand [Jan. 16th, 2014|10:01 am]
Tony Grist
I spent much of yesterday sitting in my armchair shivering and snivelling and wrapped up warm. At the time I though I must have caught something off the kids in Liverpool but in retrospect I think think it's more as if something- I've no idea what- had triggered an allergy. Ailz suggests I'm just exhausted. Well, that could be it too.

Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better today.

I'm reading Duff Cooper's biography of Talleyrand- a diplomatist on a diplomatist. Duff pays lip service to the conventional view of Talleyrand as a weaselly roue (Duff was a bit of a roue himself- it goes with the job) but the picture he builds up is of a man who stood above his age- kindly and charming in private life, practical, humane and courageous in politics- a peacemaker in a time of war and revolution- and just about the only person at the court of Napoleon prepared to stand up to the little monster. If smaller minds, caught up in the political moment, thought of him as lacking principle it was because his loyalty to a vision of a Europe at peace through the balance of power transcended any loyalty he may have felt towards individuals or ideology. Such things were tools- he selected those best fitted to his purpose at any given time- and If a king broke or wore out he made another. He was very good at his job. He understood people individually and in the mass- and if his advice had been taken by those who found him indispensable but then ignored him the continent would have been spared much misery and millions of untimely deaths.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sovay
2014-01-16 05:48 pm (UTC)
but the picture he builds up is of a man who stood above his age- kindly and charming in private life, practical, humane and courageous in politics- a peacemaker in a time of war and revolution- and just about the only person at the court of Napoleon prepared to stand up to the little monster.

Kipling liked Talleyrand.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-16 05:50 pm (UTC)
And that's the chief reason for my interest. I've wanted to know more about the man ever since I read A Priest in Spite of Himself.
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From: cmcmck
2014-01-16 06:22 pm (UTC)
Defintely a diplomat's diplomat.

If only there were a few like him around today.

'The art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence.'

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand de Périgord
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-16 08:53 pm (UTC)
A great man and -in spite of his reputation- a very good man, I think.
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