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Memoirs of the Comte Roger De Damas

Memoirs of the Comte Roger De Damas

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Excerpt from Memoirs of the Comte Roger De Damas: 1787-1806; Edited and Annotated

In his Memoirs Saint-Simon has shown us, at the Court of Louis XIV, a certain Marquis de Thiange, a lieutenant-general attached to the household of Monseigneur (the Grand Dauphin). He thus describes the marquis: "Damas is a man of distinguished birth and remarkable courage; he has brains and cultivation; and is highly honourable and upright." In these two lines Saint-Simon has given us unawares the portrait of another Damas, the author of these Memoirs. And indeed, a hundred years later, the Prince de Ligne, who witnessed the Russian victories on the Danube, wrote to a correspondent in Paris: "I have before me a phenomenon from your part of the world, and a very pretty phenomenon too: a Frenchman with the good qualities of three centuries. He has the chivalry of one, the charm of another, and the gaiety of the present one. Francis I, the Great Conde, and the Marechal de Saxe would have wished to have a son like him. In the middle of the liveliest and most incessant cannonade he is as merry as a grig; he chatters and sings without mercy, and rattles out the maddest quotations under a rain of bullets. Yet his judgment is marvellously trustworthy all the time. Fighting does not intoxicate him; it merely warms his blood, with the pleasant sort of warmth that one feels at the end of a supper-party. It is only when he is conveying an order, or giving his modest advice, or undertaking something, that he ever waters his wine. He distinguished himself in Nassau's naval victories over the Turkish High Admiral. I saw him in all the sorties of the Janissaries and the little skirmishes with the Spahis: he has already been wounded twice.

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