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A Short Reply

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 65, Number 2, April 2004
pp. 343-344 | 10.1353/jhi.2004.0031

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

A Short Reply

While thanking Thomas Lennon for the interest he has shown in my work—and without going into details of interpretation which cannot bear discussion in this context—I would like to make a few remarks on factual questions raised by his response.

1) Lennon's text (p. 338): "The text that Bayle and Mori erroneously take to be Saint-Evremond's is in fact from Jean-François Sarasin."

While it is not certain that Bayle and I "erroneously" take this text to be Saint-Evremond's, it is certain that Lennon erroneously takes it to be Sarasin's. In fact, the text quoted by Bayle is not taken from Sarasin's Discours sur Epicure, but, as Bayle explicitly points out ("Xénophanes," K, note 124), from a "Discours des ennuis et des déplaisirs." This "Discours" is chapter 5 of De l'usage de la vie, a text published in many editions of Saint-Evremond's works (see the Barbin 1692 in-4° ed., Seconde Partie, p. 326). The paternity of De l'usage de la vie is doubtful and controversial, but it possibly contains some passages taken from Saint-Evremond's unpublished manuscripts, especially in chapters 3-6, as reported by an important source quoted by Ternois in Saint-Evremond, Œuvres en prose, IV, 3-4, note 1.

2) Lennon's text (pp. 338-39): "The significance of two of the other texts advanced by Mori is fully vitiated, for in them Bayle makes the same mistake."

In my article, I did not fail to state that these texts (OD I, 158 and Dict., "Epicure," M) are taken from an apocryphal source. On page 329 I wrote: "[Bayle] mistakenly attributes to [Saint-Evremond] a text on Epicurus's morals [i.e., Sarasin's Discours] included in that volume." However, it was absolutely impossible, for seventeenth-century readers, to distinguish between Saint-Evremond's original and apocryphal texts: the author himself—as is widely known—did not want to clarify this point (with a few exceptions, including the Saint-Evremoniana, which, as we have seen, Bayle never attributed to Saint-Evremond). [End Page 343] And this is true for all editions: there is no significant difference between genuine and pirated editions, since no official edition, authorized and revised by the author, existed before Des Maizeaux's posthumous one. From this point of view, virtually nobody (before 1705) could "study" Saint-Evremond's texts. (On this connection it should be added that I never claimed that Bayle "studied" Saint-Evremond, but only that he read his available works and made up his mind on them, and particularly on the Conversation du Maréchal d'Hocquincourt—which should be at the core of the present debate—long before reading Cotolendi).

3) Lennon's text (p. 336): "As Mori acknowledges elsewhere, Labrousse thinks Le Vassor was a left-wing Anglican who failed to understand Bayle's calvinist perspective."

Concerning Le Vassor, I "acknowledge" Labrousse's opinion only to reject it with a detailed argument (Bayle philosophe, 262, note 341).

Gianluca Mori
Università del Piemonte Orientale