A four-page letter hand-written and signed by the top player of the 18th century, François-André Danican Philidor.
Philidor's treatise on chess, first published in 1749, is one of the most important chess books in history.
Here is the translation of Philidor's letter:
Replied on [5?] Messidor Caen, [29?] Prairial
Fifteen [Cotte ?]
I have received, my dear friend, the two drafts which you have sent to me and which have done me much good. I intend to come out of this devilish matter with honor – and it is to you that I shall be obliged if I do, but I must have the rest of the drafts that I had sent you, and I give you my word that you shall be covered for them. You have given me a [count? account?] which the [?] has done or which it pleased him to do. In ten days from now, you will be able to see for yourself whether it is correct, it is only based upon documents that my account can be established and you shall see, clearly and plainly, that these gentlemen – are mistaken.
Now the month has ended, and I shall put myself at the service of [Mr?] or by providing expense documents plus an inventory which shall state that I am leaving in stock what I had found there, my account is clear. You tease me by saying that the administration is right to withhold and that it is better to hold onto something than to run after it, but no matter. I shall send you, for Auguste Lesage who is going to Paris, my deed of partition and my letter of attorney for what I may be entitled to from the legacy. On your side, please do not fail to send me with Rouvre my final balance for here, which you likely have not found
in Paris. I shall then be obliged to send it back to you, but I shall find a way so that it does not cost any [days?], although [I’m] sending you the last large payment. I did, of course, understand that you would place it on my account.
However, I beg you not to refuse me this last favor that I ask of you, because I am [portion of page cut out] of [?] the letter of [cut out] and you shall see that there is no need for you to regret having lent me your good name. Today is Monday. You shall receive this on Wednesday. Please reply to me by the Thursday post and, if at all possible, by stagecoach. I would receive your letter a day earlier. I have had trouble and I owe it to the
[Ord…? Commissioners?] to have me keep my position for [Mr?] but [illegible] as handler and I like it better because these gentlemen offer far too much to lose and little to gain. Good day, my dear friend. My wife and I join together to wish you everything you may desire, a beautiful child.
To Citizen Lefebvre Boulevard Montmartre No. [9119?] [probably 949]