Marie Jacinthe de Botidoux to Martha Jefferson (Randolph)

editorial note

The text that follows is part of what Botidoux referred to as one of her “journal” letters. The Editors have broken this manuscript, which spans nearly three months, into sections dated as Botidoux dated them, and grouped each transcription together with its translation. Unless otherwise noted, Botidoux’s original punctuation and spelling have been retained. Links to navigate from one dated section to another appear below.

To “journal” beginning 4 Nov. 1789To previous “journal” entry 1 Jan. 1790To next “journal” entry 6 Jan. 1790

Samedi 2 janvier 1790=

je vais te dire Comme Mde de sevigné que je te donne en Cent a deviner La Nouvelle que j’ai à t’apprendre. une religieuse s’est enfuie hier—devinerois tu qui encore? Sœur Catherine, elle est sortie par Le tour de La Cuisine qu’elle a brisé à une heure et demie de L’après midi, elle est allée chez Mde Lavoie sa bonne amie qui est aubergiste dans Le faubourg St antoine elle a été d’abord chez mr Marat qui fait un journal nommé L’ami du peuple je t’envoye Celui ou il est question d’elle et je Continuerai a t’envoyer toutes Les feuilles qui en parleront. il y avoit très Longtems quelle menacoit Ces dames de s’enfuir Ce qui Leur faisoit tant de peur qu’elles n’osoient presque Lui rien dire depuis quelque tems. [. . .] tu sais qu’elle aimoit Mde de Virieux à La folie et qu’on pretendoit qu’elle alloit tout Lui rapporter, Ce qu’il y a de Certain C’est que Mde de Virieux La soutenoit beaucoup Contre Ces dames Ce qui Les faisoit fumer elle avoit pretendu que sa mere etoit très Malade et elle en etoit toute Chagrine. on a ecrit au Curé du Lieu qui a repondu que rien n’etoit plus faux, que sa mere se portait à merveille, Cette Lettre est arrivée jeudi dernier et a occasioné Comme tu Le penses1 bien une scene terrible on dit que C’est Cela qui L’a determinée a prendre son parti voyant que Mde Virieux La Connoissoit pour une fourbe elle a dit Le soir à Mde De brugiere qu’elle partiroit Le Lendemain elle en a dit autant à Mde De Virieux, comme C’étoit pour La Centieme fois quelle Les menacoit elles n’en ont rien Cru jusqu’à Ce qu’a deux heures on a trouvé Le tour brisé et qu’après avoir Cherché sœur Catherine dans La Maison on ne L’a trouvée Nulle part, tu peux penser L’effet que Cela a fait, on n’en parloit d’abord que tout bas Mais aujourd’hui on ne Le Cache plus parsceque Cela se sait dans toute La ville, plusieurs personnes L’ont vue Courir dans La rue du bacq avec son habit de religieuse ses Manches et son tablier de Cuisine, on ne savoit Ce que C’etoit, aujourdhui don Frenelay a Conseillé pour se mettre en regle de faire apposer Les scelles sur ses effets, Ce qu’on a fait=

editors’ translation

Saturday 2 January 1790

I am going to say, as Mde de Sévigné would, that you will never guess in a hundred years the news I have for you: a nun ran away yesterday. Can you guess who? Sister Catherine. She got out at half past one in the afternoon through the kitchen turn box, which she broke, and went to the house of her good friend, Mde Lavoie, an innkeeper in the Faubourg Saint Antoine. She first went to mr Marat, who runs a newspaper named L’Ami du Peuple. I send you the one in which she is mentioned, and I will continue to send you all the newspapers that talk about her. For the longest time she had been threatening these ladies to run away, and this scared them so much that for a while they hardly dared say a word to her. You know that she loved Mde de Virieux madly, and the word was that she reported everything to her. Mde de Virieux certainly supported her often against these ladies, which made them fume. She had pretended that her mother was very sick and that she was completely distressed by it. A letter was sent to the local priest, who answered that nothing could be more false, her mother was doing wonderfully. That letter arrived last Thursday and, as you can well imagine, provoked a terrible scene. It is said that this is what made her decide to leave, since Mde de Virieux would realize how deceitful she was. In the evening she told Mde de Brugière that she would leave the next morning. She said as much to Mde de Virieux. Since it was the hundredth time she had threatened them, they did not believe a word of it until, at two o’clock, the turn box was found broken, and after looking for Sister Catherine everywhere in the house, could find her nowhere. You can imagine the effect this had. At first we only spoke of it in whispers, but today nobody tries to hide it, because it is known throughout the whole city. Several people saw her running on du Bac Street in her nun’s habit, cook’s sleeves, and apron. Nobody knew what it was all about. Today, Don Frennelet recommended that, in order to proceed according to the law, her belongings should be packed and sealed, which was done.

To next “journal” entry 6 Jan. 1790

RC (ViCMRL, on deposit, ViU: Botidoux Letters, # 5385-aa). Enclosure not found. Translation by Dr. Roland H. Simon.

tour: a turn-table box in the wall of an abbey through which messages, correspondence, and commodities were passed (Oxford English Dictionary).

1Manuscript: “pense.”