The life-story of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, as I propose to write it, begins when, in his third or fourth year, he falls off a chest of drawers and permanently injures his foot. That wrench of muscles and tendons, making him limp for life, led to a perverse action on the part of his educators that did equal violence to an excellent natural disposition. They say now that the education of a child begins a hundred years before he is born. In the case of Talleyrand you may just as well say a thousand. On his father’s side he came of one of the oldest noble families in France, and his mother was a daughter of the Marquis d’Antigny. But these hereditary influences only shape the general contour of his character—give the refinement, the instinct to rise (Talleyrand, or Tailleran—as Napoleon always pronounced it—is said to be from “tailler les rangs”), the “sensibility” and “spirituality” (as people spoke then), the self-possession. When you wish to trace the growth of the peculiar traits of Prince Talleyrand, you find the beginning in that fateful fall and dislocation of the foot.