3 July 2007
RICHARDSON, Samuel (1689-1761) Autograph letter signed to Alexis Claude Clairaut, London, 8 August 1754, a draft, half page, 4to, at foot of a letter from Clairant to Richardson dated at Hampton Court the previous day; with two other autograph letters signed from Clairant to Richardson, Montigny and Paris, 7 October and 25 December 1753, together 6½ pages, 4to, integral address leaves (some splits along folds and a few paper repairs).
Richardson expresses his disappointment at 'the unfortunate accident which has deprived me of the happiness you intended me at my little Place of Retirement [his new house in Parson's Green]', adding 'In this last Visit to England I did hope to have been favoured by your Company. Your absence and your sickness I have greatly regretted. And must I now receive only a written farewell?' Clairaut's letters express his warm appreciation of Sir Charles Grandison, he writes 'the anxieties of Miss Byron ... have acted upon me as if I were a young girl, and discuss the proposed French translators (with abridgements) by the Abbé Prevost. The last letter, to which Richardson replies, sends news of a riding accident which will prevent him from seing Richarson.
Clairaut's warm praise for Richardson's heroine, Harriet Byron, and the other female characters in Sir Charles Grandison, is indicative of the admiration that was to be widely felt for Richardson in 18th-century France. The novelist had disliked Prévost's alterations to Clarissa, and probably did not particularly want him to translate Sir Charles Grandison; Clairaut was in the odd position of emphasising the need for cuts to suit French taste yet doubting the chosen translator's ability to make the right choices.
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