Nine Lives of Beaumarchais

“The Americans owe to him more than to anyone else on this side of the Atlantic,” reports Deane. “What a man!” writes Voltaire, “he is a union of every quality: buffoonery and reason, joy and sentimentality, he is a master of every kind of eloquence and a slave of none…” A writer, a teacher, a musician, a businessman, an inventor, a conspirator and a secret agent, he is perfect at everything he does, but he excels at practical jokes: his very first profession being that of a watch maker, on one occasion he was pestered by some smarty pants at Versailles. The annoying courtier wanted Monsieur Beaumarchais to repair a watch; but it is not so easy to make fun of the first wit of the second half of the XVIII century. After informing the other party that he had not practiced this particular skill in a while, Beaumarchais finally took the unfortunate watch in his hands only to drop it, and while gathering the broken pieces, he lamented about how awkward he has become!

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