D'ÊON de BEAUMONT, Chevalier (1728-1810). French diplomat, spy, soldier and transvestite.
Autograph Letter Signed, as a woman ('la Ch[evaliè]re D'Eon'), to [Louis] Dutens, 4 pages 4to (a little soiled, one ink stain), London 8 September 1786.
Thanking him for the gift of two volumes of his works, which she looks forward to reading, announcing that she is leaving London shortly to stay with Lord Tamworth at Ragdale for five or six weeks, but will need to return to London to pursue a debt in the courts, and discussing the provision of wine for Lord Walsingham's embassy in Madrid: she informs Dutens that she has written at length to the Paris wine merchant Jobert about his requirements for burgundy, claret and champagne, and promises also to send the best of her own local red and white burgundy from Tonnerre, which would serve as very good table wines for Lord Walsingham, once she is sure of the safest and shortest route for shipping them to Madrid (bottles may be safer than barrels, which risk being opened en route, part drunk, and filled up with water). She urges Dutens to visit Tonnerre if he is nearby, as it is only seven leagues from Auxerre, and the reputation of its wine is even greater than that of the Maid of Orleans; and closes with lavish praise for both Dutens and Lord Walsingham:
'.. .Je ne puis, Monsieur, que vous souhaiter ainsi que Mylord santé & gaité pendant votre longue et trop longue absence. Votre savoir, votre experience, votre prudence, en compagnie avec l'esprit, l'agrement, les talens & la fortune de Mylord Walsingham assurent d'avance les succès de son ambassade. Je vous attends radieux à votre passage par la Bourgogne lorsque vous reviendrez triomphants en Angleterre. ...' London, 8 September 1786.D'Eon (Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Êon de Beaumont) was living in political exile in London, where he died in 1810. When he had been Minister Plenipotentiary - and royal spy - there some twenty years earlier (as a man), he had made abundant use of the produce of his vineyards to gain the confidence of the English nobility.
Louis Dutens, a Huguenot diplomat and man of letters, had been nominated as secretary to Lord Walsingham [Thomas de Grey, second Baron]'s embassy to Madrid, but in the event he never travelled to Spain, as Walsingham's appointment was cancelled when he accepted appointment as Postmaster-General. Dutens had edited Leibnitz, and also published in French a number of works on literary and philosophical topics.
Together with a printed poster for the appearance of 'The Celebrated Chevaliere D'Eon' in the Great Room at the Bull's Head Inn, Manchester on 28 April 1795 to perform her 'Great Assault D'Armes', i.e. a demonstration of the art of fencing, the admission price being two shillings, endorsed on the reverse in her hand indicating that she was donating all the income from the event to Mr De ?Launay provided that he covered all the expenses of the event; 4to, 27 x 20.5 cms. (11 x 8 inches).
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