Improbable Patriot: The Secret History of Monsieur de by Harlow Giles Unger

By Harlow Giles Unger

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais used to be an eighteenth-century French inventor, famed playwright, and upstart near-aristocrat within the courtroom of King Louis XVI. In 1776, he conceived an audacious plan to ship reduction to the yankee rebels. What’s extra, he confident the king to bankroll the undertaking, and singlehandedly carried it out. through war’s finish, he had provided Washington’s military with so much of its guns and powder, although he was once by no means paid or said by means of the United States.

To a few, he was once a speeding hero—a towering mind who stored the yankee Revolution. To others, he used to be natural rogue—a double-dealing adventurer who stopped at not anything to enhance his repute and fortune. actually, he was once either, and extra: an consultant to kings, an hands broker, and writer of a few of the main enduring works of the level, together with the wedding of Figaro and The Barber of Seville.

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Additional resources for Improbable Patriot: The Secret History of Monsieur de Beaumarchais, the French Playwright Who Saved the American Revolution

Sample text

12 Louis XV, the French monarch from 1715 to 1774, was first to use Beaumarchais as a secret agent. More interested in pursuing palace pleasures than governing, Louis lost most of the great French empire of his forebear Louis XIV to the British. RÉUNION DES MUSÉES NATIONAUX Madame de Pompadour, daughter of a bourgeois financier and wife of a wealthy merchant, so enraptured King Louis XV that he snatched her from her husband, entitled her a marquise, and placed her in his bedchamber as official Royal Mistress.

In view of your weakness for music, however, I will let you play the violin and flute on condition that you only play them on working days after supper. … I will allow you your room and board and eighteen francs [about $60 today] a month pocket money. 3 Desperately lonely for the love and gaiety of his home — and determined to accept his father’s challenge to become “celebrated in your profession” — he replied in the humblest terms: Monsieur and honored father, I agree to all your conditions with every intention of meeting them, with the help of the Lord; I am sorry I had to learn to fulfill my family obligations in so unfortunate a way.

In one of his airs, he invited the audience to let themselves go, in the modern sense, saying and doing anything they pleased. The time was right for such behavior, he said, and he was not there judge them. Oser tout dire, oser tout faire, C’est le bon siècle d’à présent; Mais blâmer n’est pas mon affaire; Rions; moi, je suis né plaisant. 15 Beaumarchais’s reinvented harp drew so much attention from other musicians and instrument makers that it became the rage of court society — and a new source of income for the former watchmaker.

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