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loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Saturday, June 14, 2014

madame de sevigne gets a new dog

Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, better known as the Marquise de Sevigne (1626-96) is revered in French literature as one of the great letter-writers.  Remember that in all the centuries when there was no other way to communicate, the skill and wit of a letter was a art to cultivate.  Here's an excerpt of a letter to her daughter in which she admits she's been presented a little dog, and a lovely one at that:
* * *
You are surprised at my having a little dog; the history is this. One day I was calling a little dog that belongs to a lady, who lives at the end of my park; madame de Tarente said, "What! are you fond of dogs? I will send you one of the prettiest creatures that ever was seen." I thanked her, but told her that I had made a resolution never again to indulge myself in a folly of that kind: so the subject was dropped, and I thought no more of it. A few days after, I saw a footman bringing a little dog-house in his arms, decorated with ribbons, and out of this house jumped a little sylphlike dog, all perfumed, of uncommon beauty, with fine large ears, breath as sweet as a rose, and a coat white as snow, and soft as silk. I never was more surprised; I would have returned it, but the servant would not take it back: the poor chamber-maid who had brought it up, was, it seems, ready to die with grief for the loss of it. It is Maria (one of the servants - curator) who is so fond of the little dog; he sleeps in his house, or in Beaulieu's room, and eats nothing but bread. I do not give way to my fondness for it, but it begins to love and make much of me, and I am afraid of yielding at last. This is the history, with which I desire you will not acquaint Marphise (her favorite dog - curator) . . .
Letters of Madame de Sévigné to her daughter and her friends, Volume 3 (London: 1811) p. 225

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