THÉOPHILE DELCASSÉ was born on I March 1852 in Pamiers, a small town in the department of Ariège, seventy miles from the Spanish border. His father was a huissier, a local court official whose duties roughly corresponded to those of an English bailiff. As the méridional is said to be, Delcassé was an emotional man. ‘Yet, with all the fire and passion of a son of the Midi’, Poincaré said of him, ‘he had nonetheless grown more accustomed than most to exercise self-control and had such a mastery of himself that a casual observer might have been deceived by his apparent detachment.’1 Delcassé’s power of self-control was learned in his early years. His mother died when he was five, and his father remarried seven months later. The remainder of his childhood, spent in the care of a stepmother who showed little affection for her small and rather ugly stepson, was often lonely and unhappy. Delcassé’s happiest memories were of holidays spent away from his stepmother, staying with a grandmother on the slopes of the Pyrenees, where as a deputy he was to build his own summer home. Perhaps because of the lack of affection he received in his early years, he found it difficult to show open affection in his later life.
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- 2.For an assessment of Gambetta’s influence on Delcassé’s generation see J. P. T. Bury, ‘Le Gambettisme depuis Gambetta’, in Mélanges offerts à G. Jacquemyns (Brussels, 1968).Google Scholar
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