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ALS to Princess de Salm-Dyck regarding his work on a Malay dictionary and articles relating to the Baudin voyage
Paris: October, 1811. 3 pp. autograph letter signed Léschenault, 24.5 x 18 cm., neat and legible; very good. Chasing sheep in the wilds of France. The third substantial letter in this group from Leschenault, continuing his correspondence with the Princess. Leschenault comments at length on his travails in his continuing pursuit of some Merino sheeps, which had seen him travel into the wilds of France, where the roads and villages are more horrid than those in the Indies (no doubt a reference to his time in Timor).The letter opens with his rather scathing assessment of a place called Murat in the Mountains of the department of Cantal (where it is foggy most of the time). Well he has travelled into this place, worse than anything he has seen in the Indies, all in the hope of finding out more about the best kinds of pasturage for sheep. Thank goodness he was able to retreat to a pleasant chateaux run - God save him - by a Parisian woman, where he ate well and enjoyed a walk to see the waterfall at St. Priest (near St. Etienne). At the waterfall he had the leisure to be able to inspect the rocks with some care, and found them to be composed chiefly of quartz and granite, and probably with some other elements of which he is ignorant (a rather grand conceit on his behalf, as he goes on to list in even more detail the geologic formation of the region).A significant section of the letter deals with a discussion they had obviously had about the folly of requiring dogs to protect flocks of sheep, but in his travels Leschenault has had a long conversion with a gentleman from Limousin who has shown up the error in his thinking, because of the very real - and dramatic - danger they face from wolves, and Leschenault tells an involved anecdote regarding one particular incident.He does not know where he will travel next, but he still plans to visit several more regions on his fact-finding tour, notwithstanding the constant fog and the cold très vifs. The letter concludes with his regards to her husband and daughter Clémentine.Taken together, the three letters give an immediate and often humourous insight into the social expectations of one of the more important Baudin voyage scientists, and see him continuing work that can be seen to relate to his time in the Southern Hemisphere: the Malay dictionary, his articles on the science of the voyage, and his new fascination with the Merino, which has taken him far from the comforts of his beloved Paris.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-11-21           Check availability:      Biblio    

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