Letter from St. Évremond to Count d’Olonne ("I know not why you shou’d admire my Verses…")


I know not why you shou’d admire my Verses, since I don’t admire them my self; for I must inform you, that in the opinion of a celebrated master in Poetry1, a Poet is always the most affected with his own Compositions. As for my self, I acknowledge abundance of Faults in mine, which I might correct, if exactness were not extremely troublesome to my humour, and did not take up more time than a person of my Age can spare. Besides, I have another excuse, which, if I am not mistaken, you will allow of : Essays are seldom Master-pieces; and the Praises I bestow upon the King, being the first true and sincere I ever writ, it can be no wonder I had no better success. As for those you bestow upon me, they are an ingenious Irony, of which rhetorical Figure, I was formerly so great a Master, that the Mareschal of Clerembaut thought no body but my self capable to vie with you in it. You ought not to have employ’d it against a man who has lost the use of it; and who is so entirely your humble servant as I am. You see I am pretty well upon my guard against Ridicule; and yet in spite of all my precautions, I cannot forbear to indulge my self in the praises you give me upon the score of my Taste. ’Tis your interest it shou’d be good, true, and delicate; for the idea of yours, which I always preserve by me, is the rule of mine.

That miracle of Beauty2 which I formerly saw at Bourbon, is the same miracle of Beauty which I daily see at London. Some additional years have given her more wit, and taken away none of her charms.

Fair Eyes so sweetly charming and divine,
That cause such transports where you shine,
Oh! ne’er to grief your chrystal treasures pay,
Your pearls on grief are thrown away.
Tears from those orbs let no misfortunes move;
So rich a tribute’s only due to Love.

As for the wicked expedients you advise me to, I am not in a condition to practise them, neither is she in humour to suffer them. If I must sit up all night, they tell me I have not yet seen forty. If I am to take a long journey in the wind and rain, what a noble constitution has M. de St. Evremond! But if I lay my head close to hers, smell to her hair, or kiss the tip of her ear, I am presently asked, whether I knew Madam Gabrielle3, and if I made my court to Mary de Medicis? But my Paper fails me. Place me, I pray, among your solid Friends, immediately after M. de Canaples4. The miracle of love presents her service to you.


1. Aristotle.

2. The Dutchess of Mazarin.

3. Gabrielle d’Estrées, Mistress to Henry IV of France.

4. Alphonse de Créqui, Marquis de Canaples, since duke of Lesdiguieres.