Lot n° 91
1200 - 1500
HUET Pierre-Daniel (1630-1721) prélat, érudit et écrivain, ami et collaborateur de Mme de Lafayette ; sous-précepteur du Dauphin et évêque d'Avranches [AF 1674, 21e f].
L.A., [Aunay August 27, 1689, to the Duchess of MONTPENSIER]; 3 1/2 pages large in-8.
Very nice banter letter to the Grande Mademoiselle, full of gallantry for the ladies of Saint-Cyr where Racine's Esther had been performed.
[In January and February 1689, six performances of Racine's tragedy were given at Saint-Cyr; many people were invited to attend, and the absence of Huet, a great connoisseur of the Bible, was regretted].
The duchess sent him a collective letter of "pieces rapportées", where he found "almost all the actresses of Esther, & in reading it I thought I was at a new comedy"... He pays his compliments to Madame la Gouvernante, to the "beautiful Princess", to Madame l'Abbesse, etc. He assures us that by refusing to leave her room to receive his farewell, Mlle de Tonnay-Charente pierced his heart, and he is amused to read the unknown hand "which complains of the hard necessity that one imposes on her to speak to me about the sorrow that my absence causes"... He likes this frankness and would like to change the language of this one...
"For Mademoiselle de Maure, faithful guide, for I would not dare to say companion of my adventurous journeys, she is probably not so hard-hearted as to miss me only through obedience. She has seen me climb the rocks of Fessardiere, cross the precipices of Chavigny, cross the torrents of Lerné, and traverse the torrid zone of Malardiere. And I saw her fall down at my feet, casting sad glances, and saying to me with a languid voice, "Oh, I am dying. I was not insensitive to this spectacle, she knew it well, and I am not insensitive to this memory. I die myself much more truly when I think of it, and I do not want to resurrect it until I find myself at her feet in the same state as I have seen her at mine"...
He has a word for the "ungrateful" Madame de Saint-Just, and deplores the fact that Mlle des Mazis' occupations have deprived him of the pleasure of maintaining her as often as he would have liked: "It is a pity to be so necessary, especially to a mistress of a lively and humid temperament. She needs all her lightness to satisfy such frequent and pressing needs. I wish her heart had less than her body"...
He wonders about the author of the last page of the letter - Mme de L'Hospital? Mardochée? Assuérus? - and thanks her under the name of "la belle Inconnue", praising her for hiding herself by doing good... Finally he acknowledges the hand of the illustrious Abbot, "who wanted to conclude the whole piece with very obliging terms, & very worthy of his honesty", and he ends with sincere thanks "for regrets of which the most part are hardly. You would not be offended by this reply if you granted me the permissions that you did not refuse to some abbots. If that were the case, after having seen me often like them waiting for you at the end of the alleys in the time of your walks, & telling you a thousand things with languid eyes & a radiant face, now leaving you you would see in what terms I would speak to you of the very deep respect with which I am yours "...
L'Académie française au fil des lettres, p. 76-79.
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