Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Louis XVIII – Stickler for Etiquette

Louis XVIII, known as "The Desired" (le Désiré), was a Monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France from 1814 to 1824. He spent 23 years in exile, from 1791 to 1814, during the French Revolution and the First French Empire, and then again in 1815, during the period known as "the Hundred Days" upon Napoleon I's return from Elba.
How a Bright Answer Banished a King’s Anger 

ONE of the problems that sorely perplexes those who employ spies is whether or not some particular spy is not selling to the enemy as much information as he gives his employer. When Louis XVIII returned to France after his exile he appointed as his minister of police, Fouche, who had served under his enemies. During a private conversation with Fouche, Louis asked him to be frank. “Tell me.” Louis said, "who was the spy who did you the best service when your men were watching me?” Fouche tried to evade replying, but was compelled to answer. "Well sire, if you insist on knowing, it was the Duc de Blacas." “How much did he get for the job?” the King smiled. "Two hundred thousand francs a year, sire.” "Ah!” the King cried with satisfaction. "That was the sum. He didn't cheat me. We went halves!” 

Stickler for Etiquette 

However free and easy Louis was as an exile, he was most punctilious in his demand that the Court etiquette be observed when he ascended the throne. One of Louis' ministers was M. de Corbiere. During a heated discussion one day, Corbiere, having his handkerchief and snuff box in his hand, unconsciously placed them on the King's table beside which he was sitting. The King seemed thunderstruck, and "looked daggers" at the offender. But Corbiere was an honest, simple Breton, who was not easily awakened to what he had done. Ignorant of the niceties of Court etiquette, he really didn’t know he had done anything very wrong. He was brought to a sense of something wrong by the furtive glances and expressive gestures of another of the men sitting nearby. Without haste, and with quiet gesture, Corbiere removed the offending handkerchief and snuff box from the King's table, remarking as he did so: "Sire, it would be very much better if you always had ministers who empty their pockets instead of those who fill them.” In his exile Louis had learned many things. One of these was to permit his spirit of fellowship full play. This witty apology pleased him, so he permitted his love of etiquette to vanish in a laugh that pardoned Corbiere.  – By Mark Stuyvesant, 1921

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia