Non, Monsieur, nous ne tirons jamais les premiers. According to
tradition, this was said by the Count D'Auteroches to Lord Charles Hay
at the battle of Fontenoy, 30th April, 1745 (old style).
“On c'était de tradition dans l'armée; on laissait toujours par
courtoisie, l'avantage du premier feu à l'ennemi.” (See Notes and
Queries, 29th October, 1892, p. 345.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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