Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave was born on April 13, 1762 in Saint-Félix de Caraman, France. He was a lawyer, journalist, and book and autograph collector. Villenave wrote a review of Alina d'Eldir's Méditations en prose, par une dame indienne in Revue encyclopédique in 1828, claiming it was "le premier ouvrage qui était composé en français, et publié à Paris, par une princesse de l'Hindoustan." Villenave also compiled and edited a book of d'Eldir's papers La vérité du magnétisme, published in 1829. Villenave was a member of the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, which d'Eldir founded. He died in Nantes, France on March 16, 1846.
This collection consists primarily of materials created, received, and collected by Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave regarding Alina d'Eldir (?-1851), also known as La Sultane, an author, founder of the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, and advocate of magnetism as a cure for illness.
Many of the materials are handwritten copies of Alina d'Eldir's own papers, some in Villenave's handwriting and some in unknown handwriting. Also included are letters to Villenave written on behalf of Alina d'Eldir by her husband, Charles Mercier, who served as secretary of the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle; Villenave's handwritten materials related to La vérité du magnétisme; handwritten copies of a letter from Le Comte de Montalivet to d'Eldir; materials related to d'Eldir's life and background in India; handwritten copies of testimonials of people who witnessed or underwent magnetism treatment with d'Eldir; and materials related to the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle (formerly Le Cercle de la Noble Porte de l'Elysée), a religious organization founded by Alina d'Eldir in 1832.
The collection also includes documents and materials that post-date Villenave's death and/or include unidentified handwritten notes, which indicates that it likely passed through several hands. One such item is Hans Fellner's (possibly Hans Fellner, the book dealer) book plate, which could serve as evidence of the collection's provenance.
As materials were not received in original order, materials were arranged by creator and topic.
d'Eldir, Alina. Méditations en prose , par une dame indienne. Paris: Imprimerie de Mme. V. Porthmann, 1828. Gence, Jean-Baptiste-Modeste. Sur l'Institution de l'ordre moral asiatique universel, fondée en 1832 sous le nom de la Noble porte de l'Élysée par la sultane indienne Alina d'Eldir. Paris: Imprimerie de L. Thomassin, 1839. Titres constatant la naissance dans l'Inde de la Sultane Alina d'Eldir. Paris: Imprimerie de J.-B. Gros, 1846. Villenave, Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse. "Méditations en prose, par une dame indienne (La Sultane d'Eldir)." Revue encyclopedique ou analyse raisonnée des productions les plus remarquables dans la littérature, les sciences et les arts, par une réunion de membres de l'institut et d'autres hommes de lettres 38 (1828): 676-682.
This collection was initially formed by Mathieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave. However, the collection includes materials that post-date Villenave's death, which indicates that it likely passed through several hands. One such item is Hans Fellner's (possibly Hans Fellner, the book dealer) book plate, which could serve as evidence of the collection's provenance.
Purchased from Gerald W. Cloud, Rare Books, Manuscripts, Archives in 2019. AM 2019-94.
For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.
This collection was processed by Alice Griffin in July 2019. Finding aid written by Alice Griffin in July 2019.
No materials were removed from the collection during 2019 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.
- Alletz, Édouard 1798-1850
- Deldir, Alina
- Fortia d'Urban, Agricol Joseph François, marquis de, 1756-
- Gence, Jean-Baptiste-Modeste, 1755-1840
- Mercier, Charles
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Alice Griffin
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
Includes a portrait of Alina d'Eldir; a handwritten, short biographical statement in Italian; and handwritten copies of correspondence from the early 1820s regarding Alina d'Eldir's background in India. Identified correspondents include the Governor in Council at Bombay, James Pattison at the East India House, Edouard Alletz, A. Passchiers-Bisson, and Charles Mercier d'Eldir. An unidentified correspondent writing in Persian could be Gulam Mushi-ud-din. Some letters are in English and Persian; English letters have translations into French and some parts of the Persian letters are romanized. There are notes in pencil on the portrait and in some of the margins. These copies are undated.Physical Description
Includes letters addressed to Matthieu-Guillaume-Thérèse Villenave in Paris, written on Alina d'Eldir's behalf by her husband, Charles Mercier. The letters relate to the publication of La vérité du magnétisme, the activities of the Ordre Asiatique de Morale Universelle, her colleagues, and her patients and remedies. Also included here is a note in Mercier's handwriting about d'Eldir's treatment of the Duchess of Bourbon.Physical Description
Includes handwritten copies of a letter regarding an article by Villenave about d'Eldir in Revue Encyclopédique from Le Comte de Montalivet in 1831. One of the copies is in Villenave's handwriting.Physical Description
Copies of testimonials, poetry about d'Eldir and magnetism by Edouard Alletz, a short biography of d'Eldir, and an essay "Qu'est-ce que le magnétisme?" all handwritten by Villenave. The testimonials are signed by Villenave "Pour copie conforme à l'original."Physical Description
Includes handwritten copies of testimonials of witnesses to or receivers of Alina d'Eldir's treatment from 1814 to 1825. Many of these testimonials are also represented in La vérité du magnétisme. These copies are undated.Physical Description
Includes a typewritten statement and bibliography regarding d'Eldir and Ordre Asiatique contemporaries, J. B. M. Gence and Agricol-Joseph Fortia d'Urban; original certificates and a handwritten copy of a certificate from the Cercle de la Noble Porte and the Ordre Asiatique to Villenave and le Baron de Saint-Mexant, Armand-Charles; printed and handwritten copies of speeches by Alina d'Eldir; a handwritten copy of the statutes of the organization; a handwritten timeline of the founding of the organization; and on the verso of the timeline a handwritten inventory of letters from Fortia d'Urban and Villenave. The copies are undated.Physical Description
Includes a piece of paper that was pasted to the binder in which the materials were received with "La Sultane Ch. Mercier d'Eldir, femme auteur" written in script; and a book plate with the name Hans Fellner.Physical Description