Important acquisitions

The penitent lady, or reflections on the mercy of God. The third edition, corrected.

Author La Baume le Blanc, Louise Francoise de, Duchesse de la Valliere.
Title The penitent lady, or reflections on the mercy of God. The third edition, corrected.
Imprint London: printed for H. N. and sold by W. Davis,
Date of Publication 1703
Language English
Notes The author of this work, Louise Francoise de la Baume le Blanc, Duchesse de la Valliere (1644-1710), was a French noblewoman who made her debut at court in 1661. A woman of considerable charm and learning, Madame de la Valliere was soon the object of King Louis XIV's affection. She became his mistress, bearing him four children. However, by 1670 she had lost her places as Louis' principal mistress, and, after recovering from a serious illness and suffering a crisis of conscience, she decided to turn to God and renounce her former sinful existence. In 1671 she wrote a theological work "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu [Reflections on the mercy of God]" from the perspective of a repentant sinner who had experienced the pleasures and hypocrisies of court life and found them to be unsatisfactory. In 1674 she entered a Carmelite convent in Paris and became a nun, remaining there for the rest of her life. "The penitent lady" an English version of "Reflexions sur la misericorde de Dieu", translated by a Church of England clergyman Lewis Atterbury, was first published in 1684. This third edition from 1703 is rare; only two other copies are recorded in ESTC. Moreover, this particular copy also has an interesting provenance. On the front free endpaper there is an inscription by a former owner, Maurice Paterson (1836-1917), the rector of Moray House (then a Free Church of Scotland teacher training college). Paterson notes that the book had once belonged to Mrs Scott, the mother of Sir Walter Scott, and had passed into his hands via a step-cousin who had formerly lived with his aunt Esther, the latter having been a companion of Mrs Scott. The role Esther Paterson played in the Scott family is revealed in Sir Herbert Grierson's edition of Sir Walter Scott's letters. 'Miss Paterson' nursed Scott's older brother John through his final illness and then became his mother's companion for the final years of her life. During, or shortly after, her time spent looking after Anne Scott (d. 1819), Esther Paterson presumably received this book as a token of gratitude for her work; it is tempting to think that she may have read aloud from it to the dying old lady who was preparing to meet her maker. Walter Scott was certainly grateful to Esther Paterson, describing her a person of 'uncommon good sense and civility', who was of 'inestimable comfort' to his dear mother. In 1826 he considered employing her to look after his wife, who was by then seriously ill, writing that, 'she is familarly know[n] to all of us and that sort of person who can take charge of keys or read aloud or make herself an assistant in many ways[,] uncommonly well bred besides[,] in short a useful and agreeable inmate".
Shelfmark AB.1.211.014
Reference Sources The letters of Sir Walter Scott edited by H.J.C. Grierson, London, 1932-37. vols 6,7 and 9.
Acquired on 15/01/11
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