Unrivaled wit

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From F. I. Tyutchev’s impromptu answers to questions in the book The Secretary Game

The amusing book The Secretary Game, compiled and published in French in Paris, was popular in Saint Petersburg in 1855–1859.

So, imagine: in high society, a pretty young lady is asking one of the guests, the famous politician and wit F. I. Tyutchev. Something like a game of forfeits. The answer shall be given in only three seconds! And Fyodor Ivanovich, whom Prince Pyotr Vyazemsky called a “pearlmouth,” gives answers in French, skilfully playing with words.

Where do great ideas come from?

Vauvenargues (Luc de Clapiers Vauvenargues, French philosopher and moralist of the 18th century, author of aphorisms – Ed.) said that they come from the heart, but it would be much more interesting to know in what place they disappear.

Why is it common to make a wish when you see a shooting star?

Just because if we had more time to make a wish, we would never have chosen one.

Why is the fortune blind?

It wouldn’t be like this, if it was sitting in my place now.

Does the star see the one it guides on Earth?

Yes, if it deigns to look down.

If you were interrogated by the Inquisition, what would you confess to?

What I don’t dare admit to you.

Who invented marriage?

The one who, fortunately for him, did not manage to obtain a patent for his invention.

Do you believe in omens?

Much more than the oracles.

Is it true that it is always more pleasant to make others wait than to wait yourself?

No, if you are talking about death.

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