8vo (157 x 105 mm).  pages. Calligraphic title, signed and dated by the scribe. Text in a neat italic script in dark brown ink, 14-15 lines, first lines of headings and initials in red ink (faded), thick and thin rule page borders throughout. A few additions or corrections. Some dust-soiling, small stains in gutters of first 4 leaves. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt edges (broken, defective). Provenance: Jean de St. Haond, signature on title; given in 1759 to a female relative when she took her vows: inscription on front flyleaf, “Ce livre est a l’usage de la Soeur Saint Haon [qui] est entrer [sic] aux [sic] Couvent pour etre religieuse le 6 mars mille sept cent cinq quante neuf âgée de dix neuf ans” (This book is for the use of Sister Saint Haon who entered the Convent to become a nun on March 6 1759 at the age of 19).***
A gift for taking the veil: this manuscript copy of Pascal’s prayer for the sick to accept their fate as the will of god was written by a young boy or adolescent for his father, and given to a female relative of the same name, no doubt his sister, upon her entry into a convent.
Following his youthful achievements in mathematics and physics, Pascal turned his energies exclusively to philosophy and theology. He suffered from poor health throughout his short life, and died aged 39 in 1662. This prayer for the right attitude toward illness was probably written in 1660. By then seriously ill, Pascal had begun rejecting the prescriptions of his doctors, affirming that “sickness is the natural state of the Christian.” The piece was first published posthumously, in Divers traitez de pieté, Cologne [i.e., Paris?], 1666.
Jean de Saint Haond (or Sainthaond) wrote this manuscript for his father, probably as a devoir or assignment. In the three-page dedicatory epistle the scribe writes of his filial duty and joy at being able to fulfill his father’s request for a transcription of the prayer. While the handwriting is neat, he not yet mastered the spacing: many line endings run into or overlap the right-hand page border, and in seven instances words or word endings had to be inserted at the bottom of the page (in the position usually occupied by catchwords). Saint Haond added at the end a nine-page “General prayer regarding salvation” (Oraison universelle pour tout ce qui regarde le salut).
Five years later Mlle, now Sister, Saint Haond came into possession of the manuscript upon taking her vows. She clearly lacked her brother’s education: assuming that the inscription to that effect is in her hand, her orthography and grammar were a bit shaky. While I have not succeeded in identifying the individuals, the family name of Saint Haond or Sainthaond is associated with the upper Loire region (where there remains a hamlet of that name). Item #2414