Lot n° 9
400 - 500
ÉON (Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste Timothée... - Lot 9 - Osenat
ÉON (Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste Timothée de Beaumont, chevalier d'). Autograph note. 1 p. in-8, mounted at the head of a folio manuscript volume.
"Although my sacrifice is not voluntary, I am getting used to this sacrifice which delivers me from so many pains, troubles, cares, worries, and crossings, & makes me participate in a tranquility & a happiness which will be susceptible neither of end nor of change. What, O my God, is not sweetened by such a hope? Should we not without hesitation sacrifice to our salvation goods, fortune, honors, pleasures, and all that we have that is most precious? There you have my present and future conduct absolutely regulated by the order of the law. How many considerations together take me away from the world, force me to change my life, and to get me out of the tumult and the clatter where it is so difficult to recognize oneself.
TRAVESTI AND DIPLOMATE OF LOUIS XV, THE EXTRAVAGANT CHEVALIER D'ÉON (1728-1810), was first employed in St. Petersburg, in 1755 as an agent of the King's Secret and then in 1756 as secretary to the ambassador, Duke of Nivernais. He followed the latter to London in 1762, still as an embassy secretary, to assist him in the peace talks with England, and it was he who reported to Louis XV the ratification of the peace treaty - the king rewarded him with the title of minister plenipotentiary. In the same year, the Chevalier d'Éon became angry with the Duke's successor, Count de Guerchy, to whom he refused to hand over secret diplomatic papers that could compromise France in the eyes of England. On the one hand, he accused the count of having wanted to have him assassinated, hence a huge public scandal, on the other hand he asked for money from Versailles to return these papers. At the same time, from 1769 on, he began to be known for his eccentric behavior, in particular, for dressing up and calling himself the "Chevalière d'Éon". After negotiations with Beaumarchais, who had been appointed to him, he agreed in 1777 to give back the papers he kept, and was allowed to return to France but presented himself to the Court dressed as a woman. Ruined by the Revolution, he survived by giving lessons in female fencing, and ended his life in emigration to London in great financial difficulty.
THE CHEVALIER D'ÉON SERVED AS A MODEL FOR BEAUMARCHAIS FOR THE CHARACTER OF CHERUBIN IN THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO.
The manuscript at the head of which the autograph leaf has been mounted, is a copy of the 28 FIRST "MEDITATIONS" OF THE DUKE OF MAINE, Louis-Auguste de Bourbon (1670-1736), devoted to the Sermon on the Mount (192 pp., ivory vellum bradel, spotting). An early handwritten note erroneously attributes the entire bound manuscript to the Chevalier d'Éon: "Extract from the meditations drawn from the brain of the Chevalière d'Éon, in retreat at the royal abbey of the Ladies Hautes-Bruyères, near Saint-Hubert four leagues from Versailles in 1778." During his monastic retreats, the Chevalier d'Éon had works of piety copied for his reflection: perhaps this manuscript was one of them.
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