Alexis Clairaut (1713-1765)

Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765)

4 novembre [1754] : Clairaut (Paris) écrit à Richardson :
Dear Sir,

The number and consequence of your engagements would naturally require an apology from whomsoever that writes to you, but one who, like me, knows by experience the goodness of your heart, and what a tender concern you have for your friends, should be inexcusable not to let you hear of him after so many favours received at your hand. Thus, far from apologising for this letter, I should rather plead guilty of neglect, if some reasons I am to tell you had not detained me 'till now.

I came over here about the end of August [cf. 21 août 1754 (1)], being still very lame, and instead of injoying the rest I wanted, I was obliged to pay several visits out of Paris to some great folks I am in some mesure depending upon by the nature of my employments, and those visits have taken up my time till this very week, that I at last fixed in Paris, and, thank god, in full health. My first care in this town has been to call upon the abbé Prévost, whose slackness in the performance of a translation advantageous for him, as I confess it, given me a sort of uneasiness which hitherto has been the cause of my delays, as putting me extremely at a loss how to speak about the business.

In the last visit I have found him involved, as usual, in many arrangements, undertaking any sorts of work for which the booksellers advance him money, and putting on the account of the necessity of those works his slowness in the others, altho' more honourable and flattering to execute, as certainly is your translation.

He as protested me that half of his curtailed translation is done, and that the whole, consisting of 4 vol., will be finished and printed about Easter. I wish his abridgment may not disgrace so precious a book. But how difficult a task is such an enterprise ? On the other hand, who in France would be a translator to a Richardson but a Prévost ?

I hope, dear Sir, that if any other thing in France did concern you, you would not choose another agent for your business than me, altho' my success in this has not yet answered my wishes, for nobody in the world has a truer regard, greater esteem, and more sincere gratitude than, dear Sir, your most humble and obedient servant [Clairaut]

[Paris, rue du Coq Saint-Jean, November 4th]

My best respect to all your dear family, and remember me to every one of our common acquaintances, especially the worthie Speaker [Arthur Onslow], Mr Spence, Mr Garrick whenever you see him, Mr Dodsley. The accident I met as I was near my departure has deprived me of paying my respects to all my acquaintances, and that has aggravated by much the pain I felt and the sorrows I had to leave England (Morrison 95, pp. 209-210).
Richardson avait écrit à Clairaut le 8 août (cf. 8 août 1754 (1)).

La réponse de Richardson est perdue.

Les catalogues de manuscrits mentionnent une « superbe lettre relative à la traduction de Sir Charles Grandison [(Richardson 53-54)] par l'abbé Prévost (l'auteur de Manon Lescaut) » de Clairaut à Richardson datée du 11 novembre [1754] (Boncompagni 94a).

Richardson écrit à Clairaut le 12 septembre 1755 (cf. 12 septembre 1755 (1)).
  • Boncompagni (prince Baldassarre de), « Intorno alle lettere edite ed inedite di Alessio Claudio Clairaut », Atti dell'Accademia Pontifica dei Nuovi Lincei, 45 (1894) 157-232 [9 juin 1740 (1)] [4 janvier [1741]] [Plus].
  • Morrison (Alfred), The collection of autograph letters and historical documents formed by Alfred Morrison (second series, 1882-1893), vol. 2, 1895, pp. 209-210.
  • 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].
Courcelle (Olivier), « 4 novembre [1754] : Clairaut (Paris) écrit à Richardson », Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765) [En ligne], [Notice publiée le 14 janvier 2011].