Saturday, September 7, 2013

Anecdote Related

This is an excerpt from a tongue-in-cheek anecdote in which the writer describes dinner with the Abbé.  The writer related a story that Maury told about meeting with the Pope, in whose hands his future lay, describing how he slyly maneuvered the Pope into sampling his homemade snuff, implying that he did so in hopes of gaining favor with the Pope.  

From  CIRCUMNAVIGATING A POPE.-- Even at the dinner-table he permitted himself the indulgence of a vast quantity of Spanish snuff, which he generally shared with his neighbors, distributing a large portion on their plates, which rather spoiled the pleasure of those who had the good fortune to be seated next to him, as it once happened to me at Madame du Roure's. While singing the praises of his beautiful villa at Monte-Fiascone, he frequently drew from his pocket an enormous snuff-box, the contents of which were most liberally showered down upon the company placed near him, and, between two pinches, he informed us that he had formerly the pretension of taking the very best snuff in France. He prepared it with his own hands, and spared no pains in the important proceeding. When he emigrated to Rome he carried with him two jars of the precious mixture. The future destiny of the Abbe Maury was dependent on the pope, and he was a great snuff-taker! "I presented myself several times (I quote his own expressions) before his holiness, and took great care never to omit displaying my snuff-box, which I opened and shut several times during the interview, making as loud a noise as possible. This was all I dared do,--respect forbade me making any advances toward his holiness by offering directly a taste of the mixture of which I was so justly proud. At length my perseverance met with its reward. One day I managed skillfully to push the snuff-box beneath his hand, and, in the heat of argument, he opened it mechanically, and took a pinch of snuff therefrom. It was an awful moment, as you may imagine. I observed him with the greatest attention, and immediately remarked the expression of satisfaction and surprise which overspread his features as he stretched forth his fingers to take another pinch. "_Donde vi viene questo maraviglioso tobacco?_" I told him that I alone possessed the mixture, and that I had only two jars left, or rather that I had no more, as, of course, they now belonged to his holiness. I am inclined to believe that this present was agreeable to him, as it was useful to me." After the story the cardinal boasted to us of the extraordinary frankness of his character. He had shown more of this than he had intended in the tale he had been telling.
--Souvenirs de France et d'Italie dans les Annees 1830, 1831 et 1832.


Anonymous said...

I am very amazed by your mysterious life that few people know....who would know by looking at you that you are a master of French history?

When I look at your pictures you look so relaxed. You must have a very satisfying job or no job at all. I will continue to keep up with your blog.

You are wonderful!!!

Madeleine Doak said...

Thank you for your kind words. I think. The inner life masked by my bland exterior is crowded with friends and family - historical figures, imaginary, past, present. Some day I'll probably get fired from my real job, because I can't concentrate on it. In fact, I was so excited that someone posted on my blog that I neglected to complete one of my most routine daily tasks that day and will probably find desk cleared out and nameplate removed on Monday.

I'm sure you're wonderful, too, whoever you are.