|In addition to developing inventories of Boulliau's various archives and a comprehensive calendar of his complete correspondence, I have also transcribed and translated substantial segments of his correspondence. The problem of where to begin was defined by my earliest research interests. To that end, I began with the letters exchanged between Boulliau and his principal scientific correspondents, most notably Pierre Gassendi, Johannes Hevelius, Prince Leopold, Stanislas Lubienietzki, and Pierre Desnoyers. These exchanges are virtually complete, as are translations of the exchanges between Boulliau and his better known correspondents, Galileo, Huygens, Mersenne, Oldenburg, Luillier, Bigot, and such figures as Mazarin, Colbert and others. As a sample of Boulliau's style (arguably at his best with friends) a well-known letter sent by Boulliau to Mersenne is translated below. Far from perfect, the translation is in draft form and demonstrates the difficulties of Boulliau's style. The reader will detect subtexts working between the lines, a consistent difficulty and common delight in Boulliau's writings.|
Paris, 16 December 1644
Original: BN Paris, N.a.f. 6205, 228-231 [f 112r-113r, ad.v];
MC 13: 267-274
|Paris, 16 December 1644.
The Reverend Father of our Lord
You took time to write me from Toulon last month - I am grateful for the favor. It is true your letter excited a spirit of compassion, knowing you were burdened with the fatigue of travel, subject to the inconstancy and fury of the winds. I had and still retain great concern for you which persisted until I was advised that you arrived at Rome in good health. We must hear upon your return how one should undertake such a voyage, and in what manner it is necessary to conduct oneself, and you must leave out no reflections regarding your encounters and chance happenings. I must tell you I have had the same desire as you to see Rome and Italy, and if the state of affairs of M. de Gremonville and his partner had permitted, I would have made the voyage with him. He diverted me saying Madame, his wife, was going to undertake a voyage to Rome or Venice next spring. If you and I could meet it would be great consolation.
The Philolaic Astronomy is finally complete, but I have a quarrel on my hands, as Jean-Baptiste Morin, the Prince - according to his own views - of the whole of Astronomy, has come across something not to his advantage or liking. The simple suggestion I put to him should make him wiser and more reserved in making injurious statements against someone who has never made such cruel remarks, and who has never offended him. You can see, it seems to me, how I turned the crab on his back, at the first opportunity you give him some respectable advice to follow, should he not wish for anything worse to follow. However, I was careful with him because, notwithstanding my character and profession, I am upset by the very sight of him. If he approached me in attack I would defend myself as necessary.
If I had the means I would give you one of my books, with great pleasure, so I might have your opinion and that of the men among whom you now live. I beg you to inform me of any opinions you hear concerning my Philolaïca. I think few people have seen my Theon, as only a few copies were taken to Italy. The Dutch and Polish received several.
I have seen the Aristarchus of M. de Roberval. He divines in his own way, as M. Descartes in his, how the world was created, the nous of Anaxagorus, the eros of Empedocles, and the heat of the Sun. They also explain, one as much the other, the coordination and arrangements of all the parts of the world. Since I am as coarse and base in spirit as these Messieurs are subtle and elevated in matters of mind, I deem I have achieved more when I have assured myself that that thing is, and I lose myself in this abyss where these great brains plunge fearlessly in order to grasp at the sand of the because and the a priori demonstration, which in truth is a treasure greater than the mine of Potassi, or its precursor, that of Porca. And the fishers [sinners] of pearls in the harbor of Goa will never retrieve an oyster which bears a pearl more orientalized, or from water more beautiful than these Messieurs who, swimming in the vast expanse of their own beautiful thoughts, bring us such clear and wondrous truths. Do not betray me, however, for these delicate minds would believe the praises I bestow are illusions, and would say that [in showering them with praise I drown them with flattery.]
In the book of Scipione Chiaramonti entitled de Universo, which was published there, is a very appropriate inscription in the beginning where the victories obtained by this hero against Galileo, and Philolaus are not forgotten. I do not, however, find myself pleased with him as I was with Sr. Morin, for he deals with me only as astutus [cunning] and subdolus [sly]. I was surprised by what he alleges of me about a bull that has never been heard of in France, which the men of the Holy See, the Nonces, had never signified to any of our Prelates, nor to the faculty of Theology. I do not know what this is. Perhaps it is something invoked only in Italy and not throughout Christendom, as no one has been notified by the Holy See; without doubt they have judged it inappropriate.
The latter of Sr. Barnaby was published in Greek and in Latin, but the beginning of the Greek text was lost and there are gaps here and there. The notes of Father Mainard the reformed Benedictine are added to it; they are useful and full of learning; also this gentleman was very knowledgeable, and from his conversation I always recognize as learned. I am only angry at what he wrote against Father Sirmond de Duobus Dionysiis, for which he must be excused. Everyone seeks to validate the antiquity and pedigree of their own house and the Abbey of St. Denis is not in the minority, as you have seen.
We have seen the letter of M. Saumaise de Coma. Do not imagine a letter of one, two, or four sheets of paper; it is a good book in octavo. The Ministers of Holland, following their pedantic and haughty humor, wanted all men of the country to trim and wear their hair short and neatly combed. In their sermons they truly intimidated the consciences of these Batavians, each bowing his head to hide his hair. The Muslims kept low tufts of hair, by which their Mohammed could lead them into paradise provided they had properly understood the sermons of their ministers. M. Saumaise showed them they understood nothing, and after his treatise had been translated into Flemish many repented for having believed those pedants.
The Minister of Croius, which is a city in Languedoc, made several exertions about the New Testament against Heinsius, and against the dreams of the Hellenists and their elusive dialectic. It is knowledgeable and exact.
I saw something in a book entitled Geographia sacra by St. Bochard, a minister of Caen in Normandy, and parent to the Champigni men, as well as to M. Desnoyers. His plan is to prove that all the pagan fables are the truths of the Sacred Gospel depraved by idolatry of the descendants of Sem, Cham, and of Japhet. He also proves quite clearly that Saturn and her three children, is nothing more than Noah and his three sons Sem, Cham, and Japhet. Cham is Jupiter, which is called Amus and also Amon by the Egyptians: Japhet is Neptune, Sem is Pluto. Although there are no demonstrations, the subject is nevertheless well treated, and I have given you only this small fragment to judge the whole. This man is well versed in Hebrew and Arabic. There are a great number of etymologies in his work, as he seeks to show our ancient Celtic language borrowed many words from Syrian and Arabic in order to show all men came from the Orient and Syria and spread themselves across the face of the Earth.
I know of nothing
further to add. This is why I end here begging you to include me
in your prayers and remember me at the alter. Both Messrs. Dupuys
send their greetings. I implore you to convey humble greetings to
the venerable Father Dupuy, M. Valeran, Sr. Leone Allatio, and also to
Sr. Holstenius if he is in Rome. I beg you also to send regards to
P. Athanase Kircher and assure my service. I humbly bow to kiss your
hands and I remain
Your very humble and affectionate servant