Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Antoine Boulanger

At last I may have found a weak spot in history's attempt to hide from me the who-about's of Antonio Boulanger, Edouard D. Boulanger's father. It seems that through all my searching I did not find any secretary noted of the Boulanger name as belonging to Talleyrand despite the fact that small forests sacrifice themselves regularly so that the big T may have yet another book written about him.

But I did find a man, the diplomatic agent Comte the Montrond (Casimir de Mouret 1768-1843) who was an intimate (read, puppet) of Talleyrand, that is to say, a close friend (his mother Angelique d'Arlus was actually close to Talleyrand) who had a secretary name Antoine Boulanger whom surviving sources seem puzzled over for he acted as valet de chambre, secretary, banker, friend, counsellor and other various roles to the Comte. The reason that this was strange is that the Comte was not rich (he had been, having practiced what we call now 'insider trading') yet Antoine Boulanger had his own wealth sufficient to have a domestic servant for himself and his family and retain a family lawyer. In other words, Antoine had more money than his boss. Huh?

What's more, Casimir seem's to be a fascinating man;  like a Talleyrand drawn in crayon and possibly a little 'unique'. He had a brother named Edouard de Mouret. Where did Antoine get his money? Was he the Boulanger in the English law case Talleyrand vs. Boulanger (a French money lender)? What happened to the money? Was it lost in the musical chairs of who-governs-who this week that was the early 19th century of France?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Smythe, Sultan of the Cerebellum

I was trawling today, as is my habit, amongst the digitized newsprint of the 19th century journals of the day, fishing for any item, be it minnow or marlin, that might give me insight into Smythe's life and character and today I got a bite.

It seems that in July of 1855 Smythe did not go straight to South Australia as I had thought but under the influence of the Australian sun, three months of salt air, ship's library books and his natural 21 year old's enthousiasm fueled by his intellectual life at Robson and Levey, set himself in as one of the honourable secretaries of the Victorian Institute and Philosophical Society which had just been formed and was awaiting royal grant for it's charter, being to develop Victoria through science and education by instrument of original researches and papers of it's members. Well this is a turn up. I did notice he noted as R.S.Smyth, not quite ready to abandon his bog-standard Smithness in favour of his now well known and bespoke monicker.

But he didn't stick around. I know he left for South Australia soon afterward's to take up as Parlimentary Reporter on the South Australian Register, a paper which I have been reading much about lately and about which I will emblog anon.

July and Smythe's Angry Face

It is the first of July. Another dull unwieldy and nerve-grinding month ahead. I found these juicy Smythe quotes. 

"When a man begins a letter to the editor of a newspaper by anticipating an ex-parte and incorrect statement from the other side, and declaring that he is ready to substantiate under oath all that he is going to say, you may safely conclude that he is going to say something which he thinks people will not believe" -R.S.Smythe, Letter to the Argus, 3rd Sep 1874

"The proverb states that a certain class of people ought to have good memories [prov: Liars should have good memories]. Mr. Bennett's memory is remarkably bad. Most people in writing a sentence can remember what they said in the preceding one, but Mr. Bennett before he gets to the end of one forgets what he said at the beginning" -R.S.Smythe, Letter to the Argus, ibid.

All of which is Smythe's floral way of saying 'Liar, liar, pants on fire." I love that kind of prose.