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


  • [Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon-Malesherbes, a French judge and philanthropist; born in Paris, 1721; president of the “Cour des Aides,” 1750; censor of books, 1750–68; minister of the king’s household and of police, 1775; resigned with Turgot; member of the Academy; counsel for Louis XVI.; executed April, 1794.]
  • Contempt of life.

  • When asked what made him so bold as to use the words “sire,” and “your majesty,” in addressing Louis XVI. on his trial, after the Convention had proscribed the use of such expressions, he replied, “Scorn of you, and contempt of life” (Mon mépris de vous et de la vie). He accepted the perilous service of defending the king with the words: “I was twice called to the council of him who was my master, when all the world coveted the honor; and I owe him the same service now, when it has become one which many reckon dangerous.”
  • When leaving prison for the Revolutionary Tribunal, where he was to receive sentence, he made a misstep, and remarked, “It is a bad sign: a Roman would have turned back” (C’est de mauvais augure: un romain serait rentré chez lui). The sentence was death. Lockhart (“Life of Napoleon”) puts the same words into the mouth of Napoleon, whose horse stumbled and threw him to the ground, as he was about to cross the Niemen, on the expedition to Russia, June 24, 1812.