Je parle un peu français, mais quand je suis sous c’est mieux. I speak a little French, but when I’m drunk it’s better. That, mes amis, is the magic phrase. Tell it to a Frenchman or woman in country et voilà! Out comes the wine. That said, wine isn’t always a social lubricant, as the pinfire pistol above would attest (if it could speak). It belonged to French poet Paul Verlaine. Wikipedia.org tells the l’histoire:
Verlaine returned to Paris in August 1871, and, in September, he received the first letter from Arthur Rimbaud. By 1872, he had lost interest in Mathilde, and effectively abandoned her and their son, preferring the company of his new lover. Rimbaud and Verlaine’s stormy affair took them to London in 1872.
In Brussels in July 1873 in a drunken, jealous rage, he fired two shots with a pistol at Rimbaud, wounding his left wrist, though not seriously injuring the poet. As an indirect result of this incident, Verlaine was arrested and imprisoned at Mons, where he underwent a conversion to Roman Catholicism, which again influenced his work and provoked Rimbaud’s sharp criticism.
A colorful tale to be sure, but I’m still thinking that “French Poetry’s Most Notorious Gun” is a bit like “Jewish Yachtsmen’s Most Famous Victory.” We shall see what the commercial market makes of it, n’est-ce-pas?