The Corner

They Forget Nothing — but I Forget Much

It was the desiccated Bourbon line, and not their cousins, the Orleans, about whom it was said that ”They have learned nothing and they forget nothing.”  Many of you have written to tell me that Talleyrand is the quote’s author — but no cites. One reader pointed out that the line is conventionally attributed to Talleyrand, but he had never seen a citation. My college buddy, Amanda Malkovich, sent the following:  « Les gens de qualité savent tout sans avoir jamais rien appris. »  Molière, Les Precieuses Ridicules (1660)  That sound like the original line, which was perhaps later specifically applied to the Bourbons.  It also served to remind me that I once went to college and  thought about more interesting things than the Bushes and Ms. Shalala, let alone packing my children’s camp duffels, which is the day’s task.  My sister claims that the quote “was in that Sanche de Gramont book we both read, Epitaph for Kings.”  If someone has an authoritative Talleyrand quote, in context, I’d be interested.

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