Alexis Clairaut (1713-1765)

Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765)

12 septembre 1755 (1) : Richardson écrit à Clairaut :
Mr Richardson, to Mons[ieur] Clairaut

London, Sept. 12 1755

Greatly do I […] my dear M. Clairaut, those public conventions and national misunderstandings, which divide lovers and friends of different countries from one another. But we will be friends to the end of our lives, whatever may be the national enmities.

I am very glad that the volume you have seen of the translated Grandison [(Richardson 55-56), traduction de (Richardson 53-54)] pleased you. And think myself much honoured in the approbation of so fine a judge of this kind of writing as M. Duclos is known to be. Such a translator of the piece, as M. Prevost, and such an approver as M. Duclos, and a friend so kindly partial to my writings as M. Clairaut, surely I have reason to think myself very happy !

Ought I not have to acquaint you, Sir, that a French edition of Grandison is actually in the Press in Holland [(Richardson 56)] ? The undertaker (who act by direction of the [...] man family at Leipsick, who had given a German translation of it) has written to me to suggest to him subjects for copper plates, 3 of which are intended for each volume. His letter bears date June 17 aft. I answered it July 9 and gave him some hints. Indeed I thought the abbé had [...] his design of proceedings with his translation. No wonder if such a fine genius for original writings had, and so much engaged as he must be. M. Luzac, junior, of Leiden, is the gentleman who wrote to me on this subject. I hope I am not blameable with regard to him in this communication. The case is nice. Yet I think the hint should be given to the abbé in confidence, that if he proceeds, he may regulate the number he would print, in expectation of a French edition in Holland, which, no doubt, will interfere with his, and especially, if it come out first. Do you, my dear M. Clairaut, act for me in this affair according to your usual delicacy.

I have not intended to pursue further the history of Sir Ch. Grandison. I thought it best, to leave undecided the fate of Clementina, and other particulars which could not be taken in, in the time of the story. Readers were so divided, and so very earnest in relation to her, some putting an end to her life, some marrying her to the count of Belvedere, others destining her to the single life, that I thought it was best to leave the reader to make it out as they pleased; and the rather, as I have new engagements in the building way, added of those of business, which engross my attention. ; and then I have received so much [...] and vexation from the Irish pyrrates that I am quite sick of my pen : and have I not been a profuse scribbler ? But do you, my dear Sir, give me your opinion, should the humour return, as to proceedings or closing, as at present.

I speak of you with love and pleasure to all my friends, who either know you, or have heard me mention you, and I have always done with delight. I did myself the honour of dining with the speaker [Arthur Onslow] the 2d of Sept. instant. I told him, how sollicito[...] you were of preferring his esteem. He spoke most kindly of you, and taking a glass, toasted your health, and commanded me to tell you how cordially he did it.

And now, what a grievous thing would it be to me if the events of war and hostility, between our two nations would make it [...] to pursue a correspondence so innocent as ours ! Be this as it may, continue to love me, as (I repeat) I will you to the end of my life. To what narrow bounds do those confine their love, their humanity, let me say, who make it merely national. An universal philanthropy (a ray of the divine nature !) can be only worthy of an enlarged mind. Adieu, and adieu, my dear M. Clairaut ! Believe that I will be ever your faithful and affectionate humble servant S. Richardson.

All mine [...] their kindest compliment to you. Excuse bad writing, interlineations, etc. (Liverpool Public Library, Hornby Autograph Collection) (Tom Keymer, CP, 4 avril 2006 ; Nicole Joy, CP, 19 avril 2006).
Richardson répond à une lettre perdue de Clairaut.

Clairaut avait écrit à Richardson le 4 novembre [1754].

C'est la dernière pièce connue de la correspondance entre les deux hommes, peut-être interrompue en raison de la guerre de sept ans qui se profile.

La traduction de l'abbé Prévost paraîtra avec la précision suivante :
Les deux premiers tomes, qu’on donne en quatre parties, perdent peut-être quelque chose à paraître sans ceux qui doivent les suivre : mais on n’a pu se dispenser de cette division, pour se hâter d’avertir le public que je n’ai aucune part à l’édition allemande [(Richardson 56)]. Les quatre dernière parties seront publiées, dans le cours du mois de janvier prochain (Richardson 55-56, vol. 1, pp. v-vi).
  • CP : Communication personnelle.
  • Richardson (Samuel), The History of Sir Charles Grandison in a series of letters, London, 1753-1754 [18 novembre 1752 (1)] [6 avril 1753 (2)] [Plus].
  • Richardson (Samuel), Nouvelles lettres angloises, ou Histoire du chevalier Grandisson, Abbé Prévost, trad., 4 vol., Amsterdam, 1755-1756 [Prévost].
  • Richardson (Samuel), Histoire de Sir Charles Grandison, 7 vol., Gottingue-Leide, 1756 [Prévost].
Courcelle (Olivier), « 12 septembre 1755 (1) : Richardson écrit à Clairaut », Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765) [En ligne], [Notice publiée le 26 janvier 2011].