Pierre de Camboust, duc de Coislin, 1664 –1710: the Politest Man in France

Pierre de Camboust was a peer of France (sort of the aristocracy of the aristocracy) and a member of the Académie Français at age sixteen.  Other than that, there is little in the way of accomplishment to point to, save perhaps for being a prototype for Alphonse and Gaston. Most of what we know of him comes straight from that first-rate gossip,  Saint-Simon (1675 – 1755).  There’s really no point in paraphrasing.  Here follows S-S’s describing Pierre on the road with two of his brothers, the Chevalier and the Cardinal de Coislin:

“The party rested for the night at the house of a vivacious and very pretty bourgeoise. The Duc de Coislin was an exceedingly polite man, and bestowed amiable compliments and civilities on their hostess, much to the disgust of the  Chevalier. At parting, the Duke renewed the politeness he had displayed so abundantly the previous evening, and delayed the others by his long-winded flatteries.  When at last they left  the house, and were two or three leagues away from it, the Chevalier de Coislin said that in spite of all this politeness, he had reason to believe that their pretty hostess would not long be pleased with the Duke.  The Duke, disturbed, asked his reason for thinking so.

“Do you wish to learn it?” said the Chevalier; “Well, then, you must know that, disgusted by your compliments, I went up into the bedroom in which you slept, and made a filthy mess on the floor, which the landlady will no doubt attribute to you, despite all your fine speeches.”

Saint-Simon, Mémoires (1701-1702), Tome II, Éditions de la Pléiade-Gallimard, 1983

Memoirs of Louis XIV and the Regency by the Duke of Saint-Simon, trans. Bayle St. John, 1901

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