• <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT. Autograph Manuscript Initialed ("E.B.B."), being the working notebook for the poems contained in <i>The Seraphim and Other Poems</i>. $400,000 to 600,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> WILDE, OSCAR. Two leaves, pp 31-34, from the first appearance of <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine for July, 1890</i>, with Wilde's autograph revisions. $40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies; Published according to the true Originall Copies. Second Impression. [THE SECOND FOLIO.]</i> $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD. Photograph Signed ("John F. Kennedy") and Inscribed, 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver print, of Senator Kennedy and Miss Barelli, at the swearing of the secretarial oath for Miss Barelli. $1,200 to 1,800
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> COOPER, JAMES FENIMORE. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter XXVII of <i>Afloat and Ashore</i>. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> IRVING, WASHINGTON. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter 20 from Volume IV of <i>The Life of George Washington</i>. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> VERNE, JULES. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Jules Verne"), being the complete short story "<i>Une fantaisie de docteur Ox</i>". $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> ALCHEMY. <i>[The Crowning of Nature, or Coronatio Naturae.]</i> Original alchemical manuscript on paper, ruled in red, with watermark of the arms of Schieland. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> DE JODE, CORNELUS. 1568 - 1600. <i>Quivirae Regnu, Cum Alija Versus Borea</i>. [Antwerp: Arnoldum Coninx, 1593]. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> HOOKER, JOSEPH DALTON. <i>The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya</i>… $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> CATLIN, GEORGE. <i>North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America. From drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years' travel.</i> $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. HESLER, ALEXANDER. Platinum print, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in, of a beardless Lincoln, 1860.<br>$2,000 to 3,000
  • <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 37. Anonymous, <i>[Untitled - Ancient World]</i>, 1553. Est. $20,000 - $23,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 45. Cellarius, <i>Haemisphaerium Stellatum Australe</i>, 1708. Est. $2,400 - $3,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 51. Kircher, <i>Systema Ideale quo Exprimitur</i>, 1665. Est. $1,600 - $1,900
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 152. David H. Vance, <i>Map of the United States of North America</i>, 1825. Est. $8,000 - $10,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 309. Mark Storm, <i>Official Texas Brags Map of North America</i>, 1948. Est. $350 - $425
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 426. B. Crété, <i>Carte Symbolique de l'Europe / Europe en 1914</i>, 1915. Est. $2,000 - $2,300
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 636. Hartmann Schedel, <i>Folio LXIIII - Destruccio Iherosolime</i>, 1493. Est. $1,100 - $1,400
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 649. Heinrich Bunting, <i>Asia Secunda pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi</i>, 1581. Est. $3,000 - $3,750
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 747. Theodore de Bry, <i> [Lot of 22 - Complete Set of De Bry's Virginia Natives]</i>, 1590. Est. $6,000 - $7,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 769. Lotter/Lobeck, <i>Atlas Geographicus Portatilis</i>, 1760. Est. $1,900 - $2,200
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 772. Henry Teesdale, <i>A New General Atlas of the World</i>, 1835. Est. $1,200 - $1,500
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 777. Marco Coltellini, <i>[3 Volumes] Il Gazzettiere Americano</i>, 1763. Est. $5,500 - $7,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2016 Issue

Daillant de la Touche... Do You Have What It Takes?

1d6bd8e0-f6bd-4359-aeb7-546540dce5da

Caprices Poétiques

There are men whose silhouettes vanish in time,” writes Cristina Trinchero in the collective study La ricerca della verità. Jean_Daillant_de_La_Touche “That’s what happened to François-Jean Daillant de la Touche, who is totally forgotten today.” Well, not totally. First, some people like Miss Trinchero do remember him. Then, a few old books are still going around that testify of the tribulations of this “bel esprit” from the 18th century.

 

The French “bel esprit”

 

The guy from whom I bought my copy of Daillant de la Touche’s Caprices Poétiques1, or Poetical Fancies (Londres, 1784), was somewhat amused. “How did you get to hear about this author?” he asked. Well, I had never heard about him. But I read a few of his poems, and I was seduced.

 

The Woman Child

 

The old Hébert was talking to her daughter Eliante,

When you were 8—between you and me—,

You were nippy, quite mean,

And you would break all your toys.”

The husband, with an indolent voice,

Answered: “To her early tastes Madam has

Remained quite faithful.”

 

Daillant de la Touche’s poems are typical of the French “bel esprit”, a very hard notion to define—I know of no authoritative definition. It is a sort of ferocious wit covered with a layer of good manners and courtesy—a sort of word of iron in silky verses. They gave birth, in the 17th century, to many short and witty poems that embody the good taste of the day, and ridicule social blunders. The notion of “bel esprit” evolved during the 18th century, but remained at the heart of the French spirit until the Révolution of 1789 put an end to it. Thus, according to the date of publication of his poems, not only was Daillant de la Touche a “bel esprit”, but he was also one of the last.

 

To My Book

 

So you want to see the light,

My little one, and know Paris?

Well, then—to the haughty Duchess you go!

To the insipid businessman,

To the bourgeois and the “beaux esprits”,

The upstarts and their servants.

Have some fun with the satirists,

The imposters, the lawyers,

The abbots, and the politicians.

Better you than me.

 

There is also a lot of romance in his “poetical fancies”, as expected; but always with a flavour of derision, or causticity.

 

The Way of the World

 

Lise had just married Dorans,

And I dared not showing up.

I had pluck her flower when she was 15,

And I feared I might embarrass her.

She was so young! At last, I meet her.

She is full of wit, self-assured, and graceful.

She laughs, chatters, she irritates me,

And I am the one who is embarrassed.

 

Daillant de la Touche was 40 when these poems came out. At the back of the title page, the printer mentioned that a second edition of his Tales in verse was in the process of being printed. In fact, Daillant de la Touche had already a long and chaotic career behind him. Fortunately, he left many letters—they are gathered in the Pierre-Louis Ginguené Funds at the National Library of France. In 1808, he wrote: “I should say that it is now 40 years since I first came to Paris, being young, rich, and the happy owner of 900 pounds, free from debts and with a lot of ambition.” He soon found his way to the literary society of Paris, working for Fréron’s famous publication, L’Anné Littéraire. A conservative at heart, he wrote an anonymous eulogy of Molière (Eloge de Molière, Paris 1771) and various essays between 1768 and 1780. “He was among those many ambitious young men who, having left their native countryside, made good use of the good education they had received by turning preceptors in Paris,” says Trinchero. Of course, at the bottom of his heart, he was hoping for some aristocrat to grant him a pension as a writer. But it never happened, and by 1780, he was a ruined man—and he had to run from his creditors, seeking refuge in the North of France. “Paris,” he then wrote to a friend, “is the city of good fortune. But will you find it? Do you have what it takes to find it?

 

Paris and the countryside

 

Paris, this “chaos of wonders”, was the centre of social life. The courtesans had no respect for those who lived in the countryside, and regarded them as mere peasants. Whether you existed in Paris—and Versailles, of course—or you did not exist. But Paris was a demanding mistress, who favoured only a few of her numerous suitors. And no matter how rudely she treated the others, once they had fallen in love with her, there was no way out. “My happiness is to be my own master / I love calm above everything, the shadow of the woods / The banks of a lake, claims Daillant de la Touche in his poem entitled About Me. Yet, he felt like an exile while forced to work as a preceptor in the countryside. “There are no games, here; no friends, no conversations, no walks, nothing. I’ve ended up in a cruel family. These people are more bourgeois than Mr Jourdain (the famous character in Molière—editor’s note), ignorant, old and dull; I take care of five boys, who are noisy, mean and vicious.”

 

At the time, poetry saved him from despair. He wrote his first verses, and hope sprung again. “Daillant put all his heart and ambition in his Caprices Poétiques,” underlines Trinchero. She quotes one of his letters: “With a touch of sensibility, a touch of taste, I could have become a poet. Unfortunately, I thought it too difficult. My laziness convinced me of it; but forced to write some verses, as I tried to escape death by boredom, I found what I had been after! What a joy to read a few good verses in my works—because I dare say that some of them are well-written.” Daillant was ready to ride the merry-go-round of Paris again! “He then had to contact the King’s censor, to look for a bookseller, to collect the necessary money for the printing, and to find some journalists willing to give him some publicity,” writes Trinchero. His collection of tales in verses came out first, and got a good review in Le Mercure—but it was a poor seller. Notwithstanding, Daillant de la Touche decided to print his poems, and they were very well received. The famous Almanach des Muses described them as “natural, graceful and light.” Yet, nothing happened for him. Consequently, he gave up poetry to focus on novels. He wrote Kerfolin (Amsterdam, 1785), inspired by Voltaire’s Candid. In fact, it was a satire, designed to fight the Philosopher’s influence—Daillant de la Touche was a close friend to Fréron, one of Voltaire’s deadly enemies. “The novel came out anonymously,” says Tricheron, “and met with no success. The author stopped writing for two years.” Do you have what it takes?

 

Philosophy

 

In 1788, Daillant de la Touche grew fascinated with the Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, and he eventually put out an abridged version of his works in French, Abrégé des Ouvrages d’Em. Swédenborg (Stockholm, 1788). “It is the only piece of work that was really successful, and which brought him some financial reward thanks to several reprints,” underlines Tricheron. But the Révolution found him on the wrong side of the fence and nothing is heard from him until 1808, when he is seen roaming the streets of Paris in want, begging for bread and work. This is the sad part of the story. Getting old, disillusioned and probably quite lonely, Daillant de la Touche was exhausted. His fight for survival and recognition had driven him to a dead-end, yet he remained “proud” (Tricheron) and refused for many years to enter an auspice—“until he gladly accepted a room at Bicêtre, in 1816, where he met his death eleven years later. Daillant’s silhouette disappears in this sinister building that sheltered the crippled and the wretches, who died from hunger in the streets of Paris.”

 

Thus vanish our dreams and aspirations under the sun, crushed by the wheel of Fortune. Nothing remains of them—or of Daillant de la Touche, but a few books, including a beautiful copy of his Caprices Poétiques bound in full morocco, the reminder of better times, when we were young and strong. Daillant’s story is a sad one. But it is also quite inspiring. People of a certain age know that success is not only a matter of “having it” or not; Fortune is whimsical, and life is like a river that continuously runs through our fingers—catch it if you can! Daillant de la Touche did not take it all, all right—but he did his best. And, faithful to the “bel esprit”—a derisory rampart against the nakedness of man—, he did it with style.

 

No, no, you could not die, Amante,

And you would still be alive,

Had you ever been.

(...) Your charm and my passion,

Were nothing but lies,

A flattering illusion.

Nothing exists down here,

Life is but a dream.

 

 1Caprices PoétiquesÁ Londres et se trouve à Paris (1784). One in-18° volume, 123 pages, title page included. According to the National Library of Australia, this is a fake location of printing, like almost all Daillant’s books, and it was printed in Paris—which is quite likely.

 

Thibault Ehrengardt

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Ernest Hemingway, Autograph Letter Signed "Love / Mr. Papa," to Marlene Dietrich, Cuba, 1952. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Alexis de Tocqueville, Autograph Letter Signed, on the publication of <i> Democracy in America </i>, 1837. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Hart Benton, Autograph Manuscript, draft of <i>The Mechanics of Form Organization in Painting</i>, with sketches, 1926. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Elliot Erwitt, photograph of Kennedy & Eisenhower, signed by both,<br>c. 1960. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> John Adams, Partly-printed Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, 1798. $4,000 to $6,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Graphite drawing of Albert Einstein, signed by him & the artist, S.N. Swamy, 1950. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, London, 1888. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Partly-printed vellum Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State James Madison, 1809. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Agatha Christie, Autograph Manuscript notebook with early drafts for numerous novels, Baghdad, circa 1948. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Claude Monet, Autograph Letter Signed to Desmond Fitzgerald, in French, 1889. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Photograph of Fidel Castro, Signed & Inscribed, in Spanish, 1955. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Frederick Stuart Church, archive of 17 illustrated Autograph Letters Signed to Evander Schley, 1905-11. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Clemens, Samuel L. <i>The Writings Of Mark Twain.</i> New York And London: Harper & Brothers, 1904to1906. $80,000 to 120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Biggers, Earl Derr. <i>The House Without a Key</i>. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1925. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Bukowski, Charles. Extensively revised typescript of his novel <i>Factotum</i>. [Los Angeles, c. 1973 to 75]. $50,000 to 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Dickens, Charles. Autograph quotation from <i>A Christmas Carol</i> signed ("Charles Dickens" With Paraph). $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Fitzgerald, Zelda. A group of paper dolls with costumes, circa 1927. $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. <i>Men Without Women</i>. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928. $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Lawrence, T. E. Autograph letter signed ("TE Shaw") completing the order for George VII — The Brough Superior motorcycle on which he was killed. $5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Steadman, Ralph. "Somewhere Around Barstow". $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Jones, Robert Tyre ("Bobby"), and O. B. Keeler. <i>Down The Fairway: The Golf Life And Play Of Robert T. Jones, Jr.</i> New York: Minton, Balch, 1927. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Ruth, George Herman ("Babe"). <i>Babe Ruth's Own Book Of Baseball</i>. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1928. $8,000 to 12,000
  • <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b>  Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, The Moon, From a Negative taken at the Observatory of Mr. L. M. Rutherfurd...May 19, 1874. Est: $5,000-8,000 (Lot 3)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Alvin Langdon Coburn. London. With 20 photogravures by Coburn and text by Hilaire Belloc, London and New York: 1909. First edition. Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 32)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Lee Friedlander, Newark, New Jersey, 1962 and Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1972.<br>Est: $7,000-9,000 (Lot 50)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> The  papers of Brevet Major General John Gross Barnard (1815-1882), Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac. Est: $75,000-100,000 (Lot 160)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> James Joyce, Dubliners, London: Grant Richards, 1914. First edition. Est: $5,000-8,000 (Lot 362)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> George Sand, Group of five volumes inscribed to Henry Harrisse. Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 405)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Thomas More, Sir, Saint [Utopia]: De optimo reip. statu deque nova insula utopia libellus vere aureus… Basel: Froben, March 1518. First Basel edition. Est: $15,000-25,000 (Lot 308)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Johannes Brahms, Autograph letter in German signed "Joh. Brahms.” Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 285)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Kelmscott Press, [Guilelmus, of Tyre, Archbishop]. The History of Godefrey of Boloyne. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1893. Est: $2,000-3,000 (Lot 270)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, Gilles Didier, Atlas universel...Paris: the author and Boudet, 1757[-58]. Est: $10,000 - $15,000  (Lot 222)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> John Keats, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of Saint Agnes and Other Poems. London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820. First edition. Est: $5,000-7,000 (Lot 399)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Specimen book of Schumacher & Ettlinge, between 1870-1895. Original roan-backed boards.. Est: $2,000-3,000 (Lot 195)
  • <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions