BOILEAU-DESPRÉAUX Nicolas (1636-1711).

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BOILEAU-DESPRÉAUX Nicolas (1636-1711).
L.A.S. "Despreaux", Paris July 30, 1706, [to Adrien-Maurice, duc de NOAILLES]; 3 pages in-4 (inner fold reinforced). Superb letter on his Satire XII on the Equivoque, which will be published only after his death, and on the glorious conduct of the duke at the siege of Barcelona. [Satire XII sur l'Équivoque was composed in 1703-1704 in response to an article in the Journal de Trévoux accusing Boileau of plundering Latin satirical authors. Of Jansenist inspiration, this satire attacks the Jesuits. With the support of Cardinal de Noailles and Chancellor Pontchartrain, Boileau tried several times to publish the Equivoque, but Louis XIV, on the advice of his confessor Father Le Tellier, forbade its printing. It appeared only after Boileau's death in a clandestine edition, and then in 1716 in the edition of the OEuvres complètes]. "I don't know, Monseigneur, on what basis you want there to be some equivocation in the zeal and in the sincere esteem that I have always professed to have for you. Have you therefore forgotten that your dear Poet has never been accused of dissimulation, and that finally his candor, as he himself says in one of his Epistles, alone has made all his vices". If he did not give him news of his last work [his Satire XII], it is because he did not want to importune him during the siege of Barcelona: "believe you that in the middle of the great things of which you were occupied in front of Barcelona among the noise of the guns of the bombs and the carcasses my Muses had to go to ask you for an audience to speak to you about my disproportionate with the Equivoque and to know of you if I should call it cursed or cursed". He says to him that he finished it immediately after his departure; "That I have then recited it to several persons of merit who gave him praises to which I did not expect that Msgr. the Cardinal of Noailles especially appeared satisfied with it and even in some way offered me his approval to make it printed but that ..../... as I am attacking in it the Morals of the evil Casuists in the open, and I have foreseen the clash that this would cause, I have not judged it appropriate for meam senectutem horum sollicitare amentiâ and to attract perhaps with them all the fury of Hell or, what is even worse, all the calumnies of... You hear me well My Lord. Thus I took the party to lock up my work which will probably see the day only after my death. Perhaps that will be good, God willing that it will be very late. However I will not fail as soon as you are at Paris to bring it to you to read it"... Then on the siege of Barcelona: "It is with extreme pleasure that I hear everyone here do you justice on the affair of Barcelona where one pretends that all would have been well if one had finished as well as you had begun. There is no one who does not praise the King for having made you Lieutenant General and even sensible people believe that for the good of business it would not have been bad to raise you to a higher rank. In addition, it is up to the one who will praise the most the audacity with which you have climbed the trench while still recovering from the smallpox and approached the Enemies very closely to communicate your evil which, as you know, is often aroused by fear. All that Monseigneur would almost give me the desire to make here your eulogy in the forms but as I have very little paper left and that the Panegyrique is not too much my talent", he hastens to assure him of his very great respect... OEuvres complètes, Bibl. de la Pléiade, p. 829.
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