Saturdays with Stendhal 6

‘One never knows what to say in speaking to our great diplomats,’ said Julien.  ‘They have a mania for starting serious discussions.  If one confines oneself to the commonplaces of the newspapers, one is reckoned a fool.  If one allows oneself to say something true and novel, they are astonished, they do not know how to answer, and next morning, at seven o’clock, they send word to one by the First Secretary, that one has been impolite.’

The Red and the Black, Volume 2, Chapter 37, “An Attack of Gout.”