Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XXXVII.: To Abbé Venuti. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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LETTER XXXVII.: To Abbé Venuti. - 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 Abbé Venuti.
MY dear Abbé, do not flatter yourself with the vain hope of receiving a letter from the triumphant pen of Abbé de Guasco. If you were indeed a discarded minister of foreign affairs‡ , he might repair to your house with the kind intention of comforting you. The good man’s occupation now is to run his eye over all the new pamphlets, and other fugitive publications—or with a most obliging prodigality to accommodate his bad stomach to all the invitations which he receives from foreign ambassadors. He nevertheless ruins his breast in the service of his Cantimir, and of his Clement the Fifth. For notwithstanding all the trouble he takes to animate Cantimir, it will always be deemed a cold, and uninteresting work. But the fault was in his late Excellence, not in our friend —.
There is now no likelihood of my going to England; there is a much stronger probability of my retiring to La Brede. I am now writing a letter of congratulation to president De la Lane on his reception at the academy. Bonardi, who is president of that academy, has been to visit and give me a detail of all the dinners he has been at since his return among all the fashionable wits who give dinners, with the genealogy of each invited to dinner* . He tells me that he has addressed his first letter to the newly adopted associate. And I am of opinion that you will think this was quite according to rule. I observe that our academy is converting itself into a society of Free Masons, with this difference that there is neither drinking nor singing, but there is much building. Mr. de Tourni is our King Hiram; he will furnish us with workmen, but I doubt that he will supply us with cedar.
I believe the Prince de Craon is actually at Vienna, but he will soon be in Lorraine, and if you will send me your letter, I will forward it to him. I must now tell you some news from Italy concerning The Spirit of Laws. The Duke de Nivernois wrote about three weeks ago to Mr. de Forqualquier, in such a commendatory manner, as that it would be impossible for me to repeat without blushing. About two days ago he received another from him, wherein he is informed that as soon as the work appeared at Turin, the king of Sardinia read it; I cannot even dare to repeat what he has said on the subject. Let the following fact be sufficient; he gave it to his son the Duke de Savoi to peruse, and that prince has read it twice—Mr. de Breille informs me that his royal pupil has declared he will study it during life.—There must, to be sure, appear a great deal of coxcombry in me to tell you this anecdote. But as it is of public notoriety, why may you not learn it from me as well as from any body else. You must now naturally conclude, that I have the most implicit reliance in the judgment of Italian princes.—Marquis de Breille assures me that his Royal Highness the Duke de Sovoi is blessed with an exalted genius, lively conception, and solid judgement to a wonderful degree.
Huart, the bookseller, is very desirous of having the translation of the beginning of the Temple of Gnidus into Latin verse by Doctor Clancy* to join with the Italian translation* , and theoriginal. Now try which you can get for me, either an amanuensis copy of those verses, or a consent from the academy to oblige me with a printed one, which I shall speedily return.
But a-propos the Portrait of Madame de Mirepoix is extolled to the highest degree both at Paris and Versailles. I have no way contributed towards its good fortune in the city of Bourdeaux, so far on the contrary, that I had dispatched thither Abbé de Guasco to malignly criticise it. Now you who are the wit of all wits, ought to translate it, which translation I would send to Madame de Mirepoix actually in London. I have not a copy of it, but either the President Barbot, or M. du Pin has. You know very well it was but a stroke of fancy hit out at Luneville, as a momentary amusement for the king of Poland.
I had forgotten to observe to you, that there is a compensation of all things in this world. I have already informed you of the favourable judgments in Italy relative to The Spirit of Laws. There is soon to appear in Paris a large and formidable criticism on that work, written by M. Dupin, a farmer general; so I am now to be summoned before the tribunal of tax-gatherers, and excisemen, as I had been sometime ago before the journalists of Trevoux. Farewell, my dear Abbé, this letter is in the Bonardi manner† . I salute and I embrace you with all my heart.
Do not however be the dupe of the translation which I desire; for if your mind does not impel you kindly; it is not worth the while that you should mispend a quarter of an hour’s time in thinking about it.
[‡ ]Marquis d’Argenson, the former minister of foreign affairs, after his dismission, gave a dinner to his brother members on all the meeting days of the academy, thus to indemnify himself with the company of literary men for the want of employment; and Abbé de Guasco, lately admitted into the Academy of Inscriptions, was enlisted in the number of this convivial band.
[* ]This is an humorous allusion to the very singular study of a gentleman in Languedoc, whose favourite object was to know the genealogy of all the families, which he had any knowledge of, and this was the common subject of his conversation with literary men. Abbé Benardi in a late tour through that part of France, paid a visit to this gentleman in his patrimonial castle, and enriched his mind with a very extensive genealogical erudition, which he never failed to display on his return to Paris. He was wont to go sometimes, and, as he thought, to favour M. de Montesquieu with a discharge of it; which unwisned-for communication was very unwelcome, and made him often lose precious hours.
[* ]A learned English gentleman, through sickness become quite blind; was an excellent Latin poet, and during his sojournment at Paris, undertook to translate the Temple of Gnidus into Latin verse; but there hat not appeared more than the first canto.
[* ]The work of Abbé Venuti. Mr. Vespasiano gave a new translation of Mr. de Montesquieu’s Temple of Gnidus in the Italian language in the year 1766, in twelves.
[† ]Mention has been already made of this writer, who was very conversant in the history of the modern literature of France, but very prolix in his own writings, and in his letters. Dying, he left a great number of manuscripts upon anonymous, and pseudonimous authors.