Sevigne', Mary De Rabutin, Lady De Chantal And Bourbilly, And Marchioness De

was the only daughter of Celse Benigne de Rabutin, baron de Chantal, &c head of the elder branch of Rabutin, and Mary de Coulanges. She was born February 5, 1626, and lost her father the year following, who commanded the squadron of gentlemen volunteers in the isle of Rhe, when the English made a descent there. In August 1644, at the age of eighteen, she married Henry, marquis de Sevigne, descended of a very ancient family of Bretagne. He was a major-general and governor of Fougeres. She had by him a son and a daughter. It is said that her husband was not so much attached to her as she deserved, which, however, did not prevent madam de Sevigne" from sincerely lamenting his death, which happened in 1651, in a duel.

Her tenderness for her children appeared, not only by the care which she took of their education, but also by her attention in re-establishing the affairs of the house of Sevigne. Charles, marquis of Sevigne, her son, acquired a laudable reputation in the world; and Frances Margaret, her daughter, appeared in it with great advantages. The fame of her wit, beauty, and discretion, had already been announced at court, when her mother brought her thither for the first time in 1663, and in 1669, this young lady was married to Francis Adhemar de Monteil, count da Grignan. The mother being now necessarily separated from her daughter, for whom she had an uncommon degree^ of affection, it is to this circumstance we owe the celebrated “Letters” so often published, and so much admired, particularly in France, as models of epistolary correspondence. They turn indeed very much upon trifles, the | incidents of the day, and the news of the town; and they are overloaded with extravagant compliments, and expressions of fondness, to her favourite daughter; but withal, they show such perpetual sprightliness, they contain such easy and varied narration, and so many strokes of the most lively and beautiful painting, perfectly free from any affectation, that they are justly entitled to high praise.

Madam Sevigne often visited her daughter, and in her last journey to Grignan, after having gone through incredible fatigue during a long illness of this darling child, she was herself seized with a fever, of which she died in 1696. The best edition of madame de Sevigne’s “Letters,” published by the chevalier Perrin, is Paris, 1775, 8 vols. 12mo. This contains the “Select Letters” of her society, but not those from madame de Sevign6 to M. de Pompone, on M. Fouquet’s disgrace; nor those that are in the “Collection, of Bussy Rabutin’s Letters,” which may be met with separately. A collection of “Ingenious thoughts; literary, historical, and moral anecdotes,” which are dispersed through these letters, were published, 1756, 12mo, under the title “Sevigniana.” Her Letters have long been known in this country, by a translation published about 1758 60. 1


Dict. Hit. Blair’s Lectures.