An extraneous incident altered the whole current of my life. From the most obscure of little towns in the most remote of provinces I was thrust without preparation into the vortex of all that is most sprightly and alert in Parisian society. The world stood revealed to me, and my self became a double one. The Gascon got the better of the Breton; there was no more custodia oris mei, and I put aside the padlock which I should otherwise have set upon my mouth. In so far as regards my inner self I remained the same. But what a change in the outward show! Hitherto I had lived in a hypogeum, lighted by smoky lamps; now I was going to see the sun and the light of day.
About the month of April, 1838, M. de Talleyrand, feeling his end draw near, thought it necessary to act a last lie in accordance with human prejudices, and he resolved to be reconciled, in appearance, to a Church whose truth, once acknowledged by him, convicted him of sacrilege and of dishonour. This ticklish job could best be performed, not by a staid priest of the old Gallican school, who might have insisted upon a categorical retractation of errors, upon his making amends and upon his doing penance; not by a young Ultramontane of the new school, against whom M. de Talleyrand would at once have been very prejudiced, but by a priest who was a man of the world, well-read, very little of a philosopher, and nothing of a theologian, and upon those terms with the ancient classes which alone give the Gospel occasional access to circles for which it is not suited. Abbe Dupanloup, already well known for his success at the Catechism of the Assumption among a public which set more store by elegant phrases than doctrine, was just the man to play an innocent part in the comedy which simple souls would regard as an edifying act of grace. His intimacy with the Duchesse de Dino, and especially with her daughter, whose religious education he had conducted, the favour in which he was held by M. de Quelen (Archbishop of Paris), and the patronage which from the outset of his career had been accorded him by the Faubourg St. Germain, all concurred to fit him for a work which required more worldly tact than theology, and in which both earth and heaven were to be fooled.