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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Abbé Maury

  • [Jean Siffrein Maury, known in history as the Abbé Maury, a French prelate; born in the Venaissin, 1746; acquired a reputation after coming to Paris, by his pulpit-oratory and writings; member of the States-General, where he was a prominent royalist; left Paris for Rome, and was made a cardinal; returned under Napoleon, and became Archbishop of Paris, but was deprived of the office at the Restoration; died in Rome, 1817.]
  • Silence those sans-culottes! (Faites taire ces sans-culottes!)

  • According to Barrau (“History of the Revolution,” 134), the abbé paused in a speech in the Constituent Assembly to ask the president to silence the sans-culottes, who were interrupting him from the gallery. The republicans were called sans-culottes because they had, discarded knee-breeches (culottes) for pantaloons. Sainte-Beuve intimates that it was said of the women who filled the gallery of the club of the Feuillants, and the German Sherr (“Studien,” II. 76) gives a similar origin to the words. Littré, the French lexicographer, accepts neither version.
  • The abbé had a happy gift at repartee, which on one occasion saved his life. Being recognized in the street, when the ultra-royalist opinions which he boldly advanced had made him odious to the mob, he was dragged to the nearest lantern, but managed to find a moment in which to ask, “When you have put me in place of the lantern, will you see better?” (Eh bien! quand vous m’auriez mis à la lanterne, y verrez-vous plus clair?) The crowd laughed, and allowed him to slip away.
  • When asked by Napoleon how he stood with regard to the Bourbons, Maury replied, “Sire, my respect for them is unalterable; but I have lost faith and hope, and there remains to me only charity.”
  • Maury was proud without being conceited. To Regnault le St.-Jean d’Angely, who in a moment of pique said to him, “It seems you think much of yourself,” he replied, “Very little by myself, but much by comparison” (Très peu quand je me considère, beaucoup quand je me compare).
  • He expressed his contempt of the liberal members of the noblesse in the National Assembly, who proposed the abolition of titles, by telling one of them, “Thy scorn of ostentation is itself an ostentation” (Tu foules à tes pieds le faste, mais avec plus de faste). Thus Socrates said to Antisthenes, the Cynic philosopher, who made a display of his disregard of the ordinary usages of life, “I can see thy pride through the holes in thy robe.” When Diogenes trampled upon a couch at dinner in Plato’s house, saying, “I trample upon Plato’s pride,” the latter answered, “But with greater pride, Diogenes.” Lord Chesterfield said in a letter to his son, Nov. 19, 1745, “Diogenes the Cynic was a wise man for despising them [social distinctions], but a fool for showing it.”
  • “But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
  • He says he does, being then most flattered.”
  • Julius Cæsar, II. 1.