Alexis Clairaut (1713-1765)

Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765)

5 juillet 1753 (1) : Richardson écrit à Clairaut :
5 July 1753

I cannot express the pleasure given me by your second letter [cf. 17 juin 1753 (1)]. The first [cf. 6 avril 1753 (2)], I expected from your politeness, and because you were so good as promise me the favour : but the second flatters me the honour of your esteem. « Let you know, if I remember sometimes a man », whom everybody who had the pleasure of knowing him that I know, not only respected, but loved ? – Dear Sir, how could you ask such a question ? Indeed, Sir, Il do every often remember, and speak of you with high delight, and not without some pride, that I had the honour of being known to you. I have even frequently regretted that we are not of one nation, and that time of life, and indispensable avocations, prevent me making you a visit to your Paris. The cultivating of your acquaintance and friendship, Sir, would, where I able to visit France, be the principal inducement.

Mr Onslow, Sir, remembers you, as you are pleased to express yourself, with great pleasure. He commissions me to say the kindest things that you yourself would wish to hear. In truth, he greatly honours your worth, and expressed himself greatly pleased that you remember him, as on of your sincerest friends.

As to my new piece [(Richardson 53-54)], your kind mention of which is very flattering to my vanity, I think to publish it a three several times ; because there are some few surprises in different parts of it, which, where the catastrophe known, would be lessen'd and take off the ardor of such readers as should happen to approve of the piece : but at short distance of time.

As perhaps, in the latter end of October, or beginning of November, the two first volume ; about the middle of December, the 3rd and the 4th ; about the beginning of February, the 5th, 6th, and 7th. (Alas ! There will be seven ; tho' I have scratched out at least two in quantity, at different parts of piece).

I had an application made to me by a gentleman of the name of the Abbé Prévost, for letting him have the sheets as I printed them off, but not being determin'd about the manner of time of publishing, I could not oblige him. My kinsman Leake had mentioned to me a like request of Mr Lormell [de Lormel, libraire de la traduction de (Richardson 48) par l'abbé Prévost NDM] ; and I was sought to on the same subject by M. de Fréval [Jean-Baptiste de Fréval, traducteur pressenti de (Richardson 48), doublé par l'abbé Prévost NDE] from the Hague ; and since the intentions of bookseller at Amsterdam have been made known to me to the same purpose. Mr. Leake being then, as I supposed at Paris, tho' since, he has passed into Italy, I referred the abbé to him : but have heard no more of it from that gentleman.

Dr. Hallar [Haller !] of the University of Goettingen has also desired the same preference, in order to translate it into German ; in Ireland too Faulkner a bookseller at Dublin, is treating with me to the same purpose. I mention not these particulars for ostentations sake. There is no room for that ; since, none of these know a tittle of merits of the work, or whether i has any. But I know not, whether as Mr. Leake is not in France, and possibly the abbé Prévost may have the honour of being known to you, you may inform him of my intentions as to publication.

Indeed, as I may mention to you in confidence, I think the abbé has left out in his translation of Clarissa [(Richardson 51)], some of the most useful and pathetic parts of the piece ; and those among us, who have read both editions, are greatly disgusted with the French one on that account. I knew not, that such mutilations were allowable, except the translation had been called an abridgement.

In the new piece, the article of religion is touched upon ; a young Italian lady, zealous in the catholic faith, in love with my hero, an English protestant, equally stedfast in his. I shall think myself unhappy, and shall be greatly disappointed, if I have not done as much honour to the lady for her zeal and stedfastness, and that from motives that would not be found fault with at Rome, as to the gentleman ; for to both, and to all her friends, I give equal piety and goodness. In short, this part is one of those that I value myself upon, having been as zealous a catholic when I was to personate the lady, and her catholics friends, as a protestant, when I was the gentleman, and have done credit to the clergy of both religions, who are good men. But how I do know, how this may be thought of in Paris, and at Rome ? How happy should I have been, could I have the opportunity of consulting Mr. Clairaut on this subject. I will only add, that a very eminent clergyman told me, on seeing some parts of this management, that I should be thought by some, to be more catholic than a protestant, for that I had made as amiable a confessor, as a protestant divine.

This part, I only give warning of. Yet am told it is needless ; and that no just cause of offence can be taken by candid minds.

Forgive me, Sir, I am ashamed of my length. I have presumed, you see, Sir, on your kind enquiries after my new piece. I cannot myself transcribe ; or I would shorten this letter. I have only room to repeat my thanks for this second kind notice of me, to assure you of the great and sincere respect, and esteem, with which I am, dear Sir, your most faithful and obedient serv[an]t S. Richardson (McKillop 48 ; Richardson 64, pp. 236-238).
La réponse de Clairaut est perdue, ainsi qu'une lettre suivante de Richardson.

Clairaut réécrit à Richardson le 7 octobre (cf. 7 octobre 1753 (1)).
  • NDE : Note de l'éditeur.
  • NDM : Note de moi, Olivier Courcelle.
  • McKillop (Alan D.), « A letter from Samuel Richardson to Alexis Claude Clairaut », Modern Language Note, 63 (1948) 109-113.
  • Richardson (Samuel), Clarissa, or, the History of a young lady, 7 vol., London, 1748 [Prévost] [17 juin 1753 (1)] [Plus].
  • Richardson (Samuel), Lettres angloises, ou Histoire de Miss Clarisse Harlove, Abbé Prévost trad., Londres [Paris], 1751 [Prévost].
  • 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), Selected letters of Samuel Richardson, ed. J. Caroll, Oxford, 1964.
Courcelle (Olivier), « 5 juillet 1753 (1) : Richardson écrit à Clairaut », Chronologie de la vie de Clairaut (1713-1765) [En ligne], [Notice publiée le 16 décembre 2010].