Originally posted on Mimi Matthews.
In the late 18th century, Horace Walpole sent a letter to his friend Lady Ossory containing an entertaining anecdote about the two rival lovers of their mutual acquaintance, Françoise-Thérèse de Choiseul-Stainville. Madame de Choiseul was the daughter of nobleman Jacques Philippe de Choiseul-Stainville. Described as a “fair, young French lady,” she was being pursued by both Monsieur de Coigny and Prince Joseph of Monaco. Both were anxious to win her affections – and each was very jealous of the other.
Madame de Choiseul longed for a pet parrot that would be “a miracle of eloquence.” Such a creature was not difficult to obtain as, at the time, there were an abundance of shops in Paris which sold macaws, parrots, cockatoos, and the like. One of Madame’s lovers swiftly took himself off to just such a pet shop, where he obtained for his beloved the desired bird.
But Madame de Choiseul “had two passions as well as two lovers.” In addition to desiring an eloquent parrot, she had also become enamored of…