Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Octavie Guichard Durey de Meinières, 23 April 1780

To Octavie Guichard Durey de Meinières9

AL: American Philosophical Society

Passy, April 23. 80

It is certain that Mr. Franklin has promised Madame Helvetius that he will accompany her on Wednesday next to the Pavillions de Chaillot.1 He has long desired to pay his Duty there, but was afraid to encounter the keen and fine Reproaches of Made de Meinieres, which he had before experienc’d, and which his Conscience told him he deserved. He resolved, however, to venture sous la Protection de Notre Dame d’Auteuil, which he hoped might obtain for him some Clemency. And he is very happy to find, by their very kind and elegant little Billet, that this Arrangement will not be disagreeable to M. & Made. de Meinieres, for whom he has (in common with all that know them) the greatest Esteem & Respect imaginable.

Addressed: A Madame / Madame la Presidente de Meinieres / à Chaillot

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Octavie Guichard (1719–1804) was a femme de lettres of some repute. Well versed in English, she translated Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas, David Hume’s History of England, and several other works. After the death of her first husband, Bellot (or Belot), a lawyer, she married in 1765 Jean-Baptiste-François Durey de Meinières (1703–1787), president of the seconde chambre des enquêtes du parlement de Paris, himself a writer on legal matters. The couple belonged to Mme du Deffand’s circle and to that of the Helvétius family. DBF (under Durey); Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, III, 351n; IV, 124, 130. Bachaumont has some biting comments about her love life: Mémoires secrets, II, 238, 271–2.

1At the time of her death, Mme de Meinières still lived in Chaillot, then on the outskirts of Paris, near the Couvent de la Visitation Ste. Marie. Minutier Central of the Archives Nationales, MC, VIII, 1345.

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