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MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443
Etteilla's "Piémontois" in the 2nd Cahier

Now I have something else to revise in my timeline. Here is what I wrote:
Fortunately, DDD have information that fills in some blanks. They find no hard data before 1760. However they do report some hearsay about the 1757 meeting with the elderly Piedmontese. An 1859 biography by Millet-Saint-Pierre says that Etteilla met him in Lamballe, Brittany, and his name was Alexis. Even that is suspect, DDD say (p. 272, note 16), because "Alexis Piemontois" was the French pseudonym of a 16th century Italian author, who might have been confused with Atteilla's Piedmontese.
I have been perusing the end of the 2nd Cahier. Near the end, starting p. 134, Etteilla goes through seven ways of dividing the 78 cards (for the second time, I think). Of the fourth, he says he got it from "un sage Piémontois très-agé" in 1857. In a footnote, marked (1), he gives reminiscences of this wise, very aged Piedmontese, and in a footnote to the footnote, marked (a), he tells how he happened to meet the man. From this last footnote, it is clear where Atteilla’s biographer got the idea that the Piedmontese’s name was Alexis and that Etteilla met him in Lamballe. It is also clear that there was no confusion between this Alexis and the “Alexis Piémontois” of two centuries earlier, as Decker et al speculate, because Etteilla’s Alexis is said to be the grandson (“petit fils”) of the earlier one. Since the earlier one lived 1520-1566, per Decker et al, the later one must have been "très-agé" indeed; well, presumably he had the "universal medicine," of which Etteilla says much, of a general nature, in the 2nd Cahier.

Below is my translation of the 1785 French text, including the footnotes. Besides the footnotes to the way of dividing the tarot "in four books," there is also a footnote to the third way of dividing the tarot, the one “in three books.” That one is not as interesting as the ones to the tarot “in four books,” but I include it, too. I of course would welcome any comments to improve my understanding of this text. Then at the end of the post I give my transcription of the original French, from a photocopy of the 2nd Cahier.

2nd Cahier, pp. 134-136 (footnotes extending to 139), my translation, as literal as possible, followed by 2 explanatory comments by me, on the terms “harmonic,” and “magpie,” and then my transcription of the original:
Numerical tableau of the division of the seven Books, and part of what has been omitted, for more instruction.

In one Book.
(1 to and including 78,) presents the Universe, in the form and the government of the three Worlds, upper, harmonic, and lower.

In two Books.
(1 to 21,) grace, permission and divine order. (The zero 0, 22 to and including 77,) human, sense-related [Fr. “sensible”] power and false order.

In three Books.
Verb, principle, agreement, agent, uniting, patient. (1 to 12.) God speaking to Men. (13 to zero 0,) human weakness. (22 to 77,) all the Sciences, History, the vulgar Physics, Medicine (1), and finally all the Sciences and liberal and mechanical Arts I say the principles of all the Sciences and all the Arts which are useful for the life of Man, in his happiness, and even in his honest enjoyment, his plans there. See what is said about it by Mr. de Gébelin.

(1) Doctors generally embrace the regime which appears to them the most appropriate for the cure; nevertheless, be it by particular study of one of the regimes, or be it by inclination, they choose by sentiment the one or the other, as I say, by taste; but contrary to the ancient, the Modern does not depart from the regime once adopted, and on this side I admit that if study is the basis of these different sentiments, that the Medicine of today is preferable; I have explained the reason on page 100.

In four Books.
(1 to 12,). God created, sanctified and rested. (13 to 17.) (18 to 21 and zero.) (22 to 77.) (1)

(1) I avow that it was under this division that I sought to learn in my first studies of this Book, helped by the wise opinions of a wise, very aged Piedmontese (a) who said he was the grandson of Alexis said the Piedmontese. He was singularly educated, and discoursed on his ideas with wisdom and clear precision. If, for example, he spoke of the Creator, he knew to feel rapport with physical Nature, the necessity that existed at all times, either by the links in Nature, or by the divine Workman who made and bound the ones with the others, in such a manner that one could not discover in it the weld.

He made appear the lie as the magpie of the truth, by an anthill of metaphors, of which one only, taken at random, might give us some easy notion of his love for this truth.

Some body (supposed a stone) presented itself to his attention; let us presuppose what weight it might have. Continuing, he said: I cannot require that you say its exact weight, because you are not in the habit of judging the weight of a body without scales; so I ask only that you approach as near as you can to it, to make you feel that the lie also always puts itself closer to the truth, because it can only be by hinting at it that one can school Ignorance. Let us weigh everything with the scales of Science and Wisdom, and we shall have Justice.

(a) Being in Rouen, in 1757, I made the acquaintance of one named Lecomte, a Parisian, nicknamed the Traveler; and when he saw me occupied with French Cartonomancy, he said to me that he knew a Man who did as much as I, with big Cards [i.e. a large deck]; and by the fact that I showed him the greatest desire to see and speak to this Man, he says to me that I could maybe find him in the East, where he had gone to embark. I left the same day for this City; but having looked for him there, I learned that he was going to Lamballe, where I found him; and judging my curiosity by this more than hundred and twenty leagues of road, he satisfied me as much as was in his power, giving me Notes in writing on the Game of Tarots, which he named Egyptian Book, which Notes are still in my hands. Finally Alexis suggested taking me overseas; and since I did not want to consent to it, we parted from each other, after a week of company, etc.
My explanatory comments:

Upper, harmonic, and lower worlds. I think Etteilla means the archetypal world, the world of the stars and planets, and the world inhabited by humans. There was a Pythagorean theory about “music of the spheres” in which the planets moved. The relationships among orbits in fact approximate musical intervals, which Kepler used in theorizing about them (

Magpies: known for their ability to imitate other birds and even human speech. (

2nd Cahier pp. 134-136 (footnotes extending to p. 139), original:
Tableau numérique de la division de sept Livres, & partie de ce qui a eté omis, pour plus d’instruction.

En un Livre.
(1 jusques & y compris 78,) est un entretien sur l’Univers, dans la forme & le gouvernement des trois Mondes, supérieur, harmonique & inférieur.

En deux Livres.
(1 jusqu’à 21,) bonté, permission & ordre divin. (Le zéro 0, 22 jusques & y compris 77,) puissance humaine, sensible, & faux ordre.

En trois Livres.
Verbe, principe, accord, agent, unissant, patient. (1 jusqu'à 12.) Dieu parlant aux Hommes. (13 jusqu'à zéro 0,) foiblesse humaine. (22 jusqu'à 77,) toutes les Sciences, l'Histoire, la Physique vulgaire, la Médecine (1), & enfin toutes les Sciences & les Arts libéraux & méchaniques je dis que les principes de toutes les Sciences & de toutes les Arts qui sont utiles à la vie de l’Homme, à son bonheur, & même à son honnète agrément, y son tracés. Voyez ce qu'en a dit seu M. de Gébelin.

(1) Les Médecins embrassent assez gènèralement le regne qui leur paroît le plus propre à la guérison; neanmoins, soit étude particuliere de l'un des regnes, ou soit inclination, ils portent assez vollontiers leur sentiment sur l'un ou l'autre, mais, comme je dis, par goût; au contraire les anciens Modernes ne se déparvient point du regne qu'ils avoient une fois adopté, & de ce côte j'avoue que si l'étude est la base de ces différens sentimens, que la Médecine d'aujourd'hui est préferable; j'en ai assez fais entendre la raison page 100.

En quatre Livres.
(1 jusqu'à 12,). Dieu, créa, sanctifia & le reposa. (13 jusqu'à 17. (18 jusqu'à 21 & zéro.) (22 jusqu'à 77.) (1)

(1) J'avoue que c'est sous cette division que j'ai, dans mes premieres études de ce Livre, cherché à l'apprendir, aidé des sages avis d'un sage Piémontois (a) très-agé, & se disant petit fils d'Alexis dit le Piémontois. (Il étoit singulierement instruit, & discouroit avec une sagesse & une précision net ses idées. Si, par exemple, il parloit du Créator, il saisait sentir, rapport à la Nature physique, la nécessité qu'il fût de tous les tems, soit par les anneaux de la Nature même, soit par le divin Ouvrier qui les avoit fabriqués & liés les uns dans les autres, de maniere que l'on n'en découvroit aucune soudure.

It saisoit comparoître le mensonge au pie de la vérité, par une fourmiliere de métaphores, dont une seule, prise sans choix, pouurra nous donner quelques lègeres notions de son amour pour cette vérité.

Un corps quelconque (supposé une pierre) s'offroit il à ses regards, il laissoit présupposer quel poids il pourroit avoir; & continuant, il disoit: Je ne puis pas exiger que vous disiez juste son poids, parce que vous n'êtes pas dans l'habitude de juger du poids d'un corps sans les balances; ainsi je demande seulement que vous en approchiez le plus près qu'il vous sera possible, afin de vous faire sentir que le mensonge se met toujours de même le plus près de la vérité, parce que ce ne peut être qu'en lui faisant allusion qu'il peut entraîner les Ignorans. Pesons tout avec les balances de la Science & de la Sagesse, & nous aurons pour nous la Justice.

(a) Erant à Rouen, en 1757, je fis la connoissance d'un nommé Lecomte, Parisien, surnommé le Voyageur; & sur ce qui'il me vis occupé à la Cartonomancie Francoise, il me dis qu'il connoissoit un Homme qui en faisoit autant que moi, avec de grandes Cartes; et sur ce que je lui témoignai le plus grand desir de le voir & de parler à cet Homme, il me dit que je pourrois peut-être le trouver à l'Orient, où il étoit allé pour s'embarquer. Je partis dés le même jour pour cette Ville; mais l'y ayant cherché, j'appris qu'il étoit allé à Lamballe, où je le trouvai; & jugeant de ma curiosité par plus de cent vingt lieues de chemin, il me satisfit autant qu'il fut en son pouvoir, me donnant des Notes par écrit sur le Jeu de Tarots, qui'il nomma Livre Egyptien, lesquelles Notes sont encore en mes mains. Enfin Alexis me proposa de m'emmener outre-mer; & sur ce que je ne voulus pas y consentir, nous nous quittâmes, après huit jours de société, &c.
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