Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER VIII.: To the Count of Guasco, Colonel of Foot. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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LETTER VIII.: To the Count of Guasco, Colonel of Foot. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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To the Count of Guasco, Colonel of Foot.
I WAS charmed, my dear Count, on receiving a proof of your kind remembrance, in the letter which your brother sent to me. Madam de Tencin and other persons to whom I have paid your compliments, have commissioned me to assure you with what acknowledging sensibility they have been accepted. I am sorry that it is not in my power to satisfy your curiosity concerning the letters, of the lady our friend. It is a secret* that I am under a promise of not revealing.
The confidence with which you are pleased to honour me, demands, that I declare frankly my mind on the interesting subject of your letter. I am not to conceal from you that I have communicated it to Commander de Solar, whom you are to look upon as one of your friends. We both concur in opinion, that the offers made by M. de Belle-Isle, in order to attach you and your brother† to the service of France, are by no means acceptable. After the advantageous reports that have been made of you to him in M. de la Chetardie’s letters, it is inconceivable how he could flatter himself with the notion of retaining you, by the proposal of a rank inferior to that you have had under other banners. I do not know upon what is founded the report that in France, the military ranks in other countries are not deemed as equivalent to hers. Such a maxim would be neither just nor polite, and must deprive us of many good officers. I think you have been perfectly right to refuse joining in his expedition, till you should have previous and solid assurances from the court of those conditions, it would not be unseemly in you to comply with. But as you appear to be quite determined on the negative side; it were useless to trouble you with any more reflections upon the subject.
The proposals from the Prussian ambassador about raising a foreign regiment, deserve a more serious attention, so that they may seem fair to jump in amicably with your finances. But one must calculate for futurity, as well as for the present. What assurance have you, that on the conclusion of a peace, the regiment may not be reformed, and in such a case what retribution are you to hope in lieu of the pecuniary advances that you must inevitably have made. Besides, in the point of interest, that court cannot be dealt with too cautiously.
In regard to the insinuated advantages that may accrue to you from passing over to the service of the new emperor; you are a more competent judge than I can pretend to be, for to decide solidly on the affair, and too prudent to let yourself be dazzled by any false glare. For my part, being not as yet thoroughly convinced of the stability of the new political German system, I should not incline to found my hopes on a precarious, or perhaps, transitory fortune. From what I have said, you must perceive that I cannot but approve of the engagements offered to you, from the Austrian service. Moreover your first inclinations were turned that way, and the example held out to you by so many of your countrymen, prove that service to be congenial to your nation. The adverse strokes of fortune with which the court of Vienna is now afflicted, I look upon but as temporary disasters. Because a great and long established power, that has a natural and intrinsic energy to supply it with resources, cannot be overturned and reduced in a hurry. Notwithstanding whatever mishaps may have befallen it, the military service will be always there upon a more solid foundation, than in a newly raised and too rapidly spreading state. It is more than an even bett, that the court of Turin will make one common cause with that of Vienna. Consequently the motives, which in quitting Piedmont hindred you from entering into the Austrian service, are ceased in the present circumstances. Nay, I do not see a better opportunity for your sneering at, and triumphing over the insolent enmity of the Marquis d’Ormea, than by serving a court in alliance with his, and where too, considering what has been formerly transacted, he must have no great credit* . But you are prudent and cautious, therefore I submit entirely to your own judgment those conjectures of mine, which a sincere desire for your welfare, as well as the discussion and candour of reason, have equally given birth to. I shall learn with pleasure your final resolution, and am with every assurance of respect.
[* ]On the day of Madam de Tencin’s death, President Montesquieu on going out of his antichamber, said to the brother of Count de Guasco, who was with him, Now you may write to your brother, that Madam de Tencin is authoress of the Count de Cominges, and of the Siege of Calais; which two works she wrote jointly with her nephew, M. de Pontvel. I believe there were only Mr. Fontenelle and I who knew this secret.
[† ]Actually a lieutenant-general, and heretofore commander of Dresden during the last war.
[* ]Under his ministery, the court of Turin, in the preceding war, had forsaken its alliance with the court of Vienna, to form a new one with that of France. It is pretended that the Marquis d’Ormea upon this occasion, bad proposed a premium for a negotiation with the court of Vienna; that he should pass over to its service, and enjoy a considerable post, of which the emperor Charles the VI. gave notice to the king of Sardinia, by sending to Turin under another pretext;—The Prince of T— who was to inform the king, without the minister forming the least surmise about his real commission.