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Clelia. An Excellent New Romance Dedicated to Mademoisselle de Longueville. Written in French by the Exquisite Pen of Monsieur de Scudery…

  • Author: DE SCUDERY, Madeleine
  • Publisher: Humphrey Moseley & Thomas Dring, London
  • Date: 1655
  • Dimensions: Small folio


Vol I of English translation of de Scudéry’s “Clélie”, first published in Paris in 1654, illustrated by famous “Carte du Tendre”

About this piece:

[CLELIA. / AN / EXCELLENT / NEW / ROMANCE / DEDICATED TO / MADEMOISSELLE DE LONGUEVEILLE /Written in FRENCH by the Exquisite Pen of / MONSIEUR DE SCUDERY / Governor of NOSTRE-DAME de la GARDE. / LONDON, / Printed for Humphrey Moseley and Thomas Dring, / and are to be sold at their shops, at the Prince’s Armes / in St.Paule’s Church-yard and at the George in Fleet-Street. 1655]

[The First Part only, comprising 3 Books]. Small folio, old sheep, a little worn and scratched, the spine re-backed in matching calf with gilt lettering. New endpapers. Pp. (v), 104, 127 (ii) with engraved frontispiece portrait of Georges de Scudéry, title, 3 leaves dedications and rear advertisement leaf, engraved head & tail pieces. One double-page map (in English) of the imaginary Pays du Tendre (between pp.70-71), a nice crisp printing of map. Manuscript ownership inscription on title page. Small repaired tear to one page, otherwise a nicely preserved copy, though quite tightly bound.

This is the first English translation of Madeleine de Scudéry’s enormously influential and important historic novel, Clélie, first published in the complete French edition in 1654 and here in an early English translation of the First Part only, comprising the first three books. Originally published in five Parts, the first three Parts were translated by John Davies, the final two by George Havers. The collected English edition of de Scudery’s Clelia appears to have been published in five separate volumes, printed between 1655 and 1661. It would seem to be the case that this volume is the initial first volume, first printing, of that original five volume set.

Most allegorical and imaginary maps of love and matrimony can trace their underlying stylistic and intellectual roots back to the milestone map of the Pays de Tendre first created by French intellectual and authoress, Mlle Madeleine de Scudéry [1607-1701], to illustrate her galant historical novel, Clélie.

Interestingly all of the English editions of de Scudery attributed the work not to Mlle de Scudéry herself but to her elder brother, dramatist and writer Georges de Scudéry [1601-1667]. Only one of his many works has escaped obscurity – L’Amour tyrannique [1640]. He had been favoured by Richelieu during the 1630’s and 1640’s, and was appointed Governor of Notre Dame de la Garde near Marseilles in 1643 and appointed to the Académie Francaise in 1650.

The story of Clélie has its roots in the quasi-mythology of early Rome, the figure of Clélie or Cloelia being one of Roman hostages taken by the Etruscan leader Lars Porsena as part of the final peace treaty that brought the Etruscan War with Rome to an end in 508 B.C. Cloelia escaped her Etruscan captors and fled back to Rome with a group of young Roman girls, initially on horseback then finally swimming the Tiber. As the Roman historian Livy noted :

“A young lady called Cloelia, one of the hostages, evaded the vigilance of the guards, and, at the head of a band of her companions, swam across the Tiber, through a shower of darts discharged at them by the enemy, and restored them all, in safety, to their friends at Rome.”

– Livy, Ab Urbe Condita

Of course Porsena demanded Cloelia’s restitution to him, which duly took place, but he was so impressed by her bravery that he allowed her to offer freedom to half of the remaining Roman hostages still held in the Etruscan camp. Cloelia selected all of the young Roman men, those fit and able to continue the fight against the Etruscans. For her actions, Cloelia was commemorated by the Roman authorities with a special equestrian statue positioned at the top of the Roman Via Sacra.

In de Scudéry’s account, the map was a device by which, through the interactions of the characters within the novel (in which Cloelia becomes the object of the rival affections of two male heroes, Aronces and Horatius) she sought to delineate & define diagrammatically, the landscape and topography of mid-17th Century “galanterie”, that is a platonic friendship between the sexes where natural passions and emotions were to be moderated and checked by a clearly codified set of social conventions and established moral virtues.

So it is that Cloelia draws up speedily, in just half an hour, the survey depicted here, “a Map effectually designed with her hand, which taught us how we might go from New Amity to Tender, and which so resembled a true Map, that there was Seas, Rivers, Mountains, a Lake, Cities and Villages,…” [Clelia, 1655 edition, p.70]

In an appeal well ahead of its time, de Scudéry’s aim was to justify her own status as an independent single woman, emancipated from the social and cultural constraints of matrimony. The map was also an attempt to reference the contemporary social order in France and the intellectual world of the Parisian salon, in which a highly educated & literate single woman, such as de Scudéry, might interact and ally herself to influential and powerful men of the political and cultural elite, without any implicit expectation of amorous liaisons that might equally compromise her independence, social position or reputation.

So it is that de Scudéry provides a plan of the various routes by which the would-be traveller might journey from the settlement of New Friendship to the three settlements of Tender : Tender-upon-Recognizance (where Recognizance equates to something akin to its older meaning of “Recognition”) upper left, Tender-upon-Inclination upper centre and Tender-upon-Esteem upper right, each situated on those three eponymous rivers.

As the author notes, “Tenderness which is produced by Inclination, hath not need of any conformation, so that no villages or settlements appear along this route, the river running with such a rapid course, that there can be no lodging along the shore”, in other words Tenderness arising from Inclination springs forth and progresses rapidly without any intermediary staging posts from the starting point of New Friendship.

By contrast to reach Tender-upon-Esteem, progress is made by means of the small and great things which contribute to the protection of it by esteem of this Tenderness.

 “…Beginning with Great Spirit, in pursuit you see those agreeable villages of Pleasing Verses, Amorous & Gallant Letters, which are the ordinary productions of the greatest spirits in the beginning of Friendship, and for to make a greater progress in that way, you see Sincerity, Great H(e)art, Honesty, Generosity, Exactness, Respect and Goodness, which are all against (i.e near) Tender. This is to make it evident that there cannot be true Esteem without Goodness, and that we cannot hope to reach that destination without being “endowed with that precious quality”.

To reach Tender-upon-Recognizance the route is via Complaisance (Complacency) and from thence to that village named Submission, and which is almost joined to another called Small Cares and thence by Assiduity, to show “that it is not sufficient to have that small obliging care which give so much Recognizance if we have them not assiduously”. The route leads onward via Empressment (to show that we should not do “as those slow people which will not hasten a moment what entreaty soever is made of them”) and thence to Great Services (where it is noted that there are few men which render such). Thence the route leads via Sensibility (“to make us know that we must be lively touched with the least afflictions of those we love”) and onwards via Obedience and Constant Friendship, for its is only in constant mutual friendship that one can hope arrive at Tender-upon-Recognizance.

For those who err from the allotted path, the consequences can be disastrous. If, en route to Tender-upon-Esteem, we deviate to the right, after Great Spirit, we go to Neglect, “and if we continue this deviation, we go to Inequality, Lukewarmness, Lightness and Oblivion (Forgetfulness) and instead to find ourselves at Tender on Esteem we are at the Lake of Indifferency”…..Equally, those who deviate to the left from the allotted route to Tender-by-Recognizance, will take the path to Indiscretion, Perfidiousness, Pride, Mischief and Obloguy, reaching the shores of the Sea of Emnity, “where all vessels are shipwrackt” .

The moral message of the map is expounded ever more clearly to the reader (Clelia, 1655 English edition, p.71 ) :

She (Clelia) likewise makes us see by these different wayes, that we must have many noble qualities to oblige her to have a tender friendship; that those which have bad ones can only acquire her hatred or indifferency, and she willing to describe to us in this map that she never had love, nor would have anything but tenderness in her heart, makes the River of Inclination cast itself into the Sea which is called the dangerous Sea, because ’tis dangerous for a woman to exceed the limits of friendship, and she makes in pursuit that beyond this Sea is that we call Unknown Lands, because in effect we know not what they are and we believe that no person can go further than Hercules his pillars, so that in this manner she hath moralized friendship by a pastime of her fancy, to make us understand in a peculiar manner, that she never yet loved not could ever receive any.

It is interesting that de Scudéry’s work proved popular in England, being first translated into English in the five volume set, 1655/61, with another single volume edition in 1678. Indeed some authorities have suggested that de Scudéry’s model of galanterie may have heavily influenced the young Stuart Prince, the future Charles II, during his exile in France in the 1650’s, to the extent that it became a template for social interraction between the sexes at the new English Restoration Court post 1660, perhaps thereby explaining the rapid rise of several high profile independently-minded & influential women within King Charles II’s gilded inner circle. The galant argument perhaps falls a little flat when it transpires that many of these same women would also, in time, become mistresses of the new King!

Certainly marriage does not feature anywhere on de Scudéry’s map, its absence being part of the latter’s argument that women should be entirely emancipated from the bonds of matrimony. Such a position personified her heroine Clelia in the novel and was reflected in her own determined reservation of the title “Mademoiselle” throughout her long life and in all of her published works.

Refs: Franz Reitinger: Mapping Relationships: Allegory, Gender and the Cartographical Image in Eighteenth Century France and England, in: Imago Mundi 51 [1999], pp.106-130, esp. pp.111-112.