• <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio!</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio!</b>
  • <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SAINT-EXUPERY, ANTOINE DE. Kodachrome Film (16mm) showing Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Consuelo on a boat, 1942. JOINED: Guestbook for the Boat, signed, with a drawing of the Little Prince. 15 000 to 20 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CANDEE, HELEN CHURCHILL. Autograph manuscript. TITANIC, 40 leaves. Original account of the most famous shipwreck, by a survivor of the ordeal. 300 000 to 400 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> TITANIC. Collection of 7 documents relating to the shipwreck of the Titanic (14 April 1912). 20 000 to<br>30 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> DUPLEIX DE CADIGNAN, JEANBAPTISTE. Signed autograph manuscript. Thirty years of memoirs related to military services and important information on the American War of Independence.<br>40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CURTIUS. Faiz et Conquestes d'Alexandre [Histoire d'Alexandre le Grand]. In French, illuminated manuscript on paper and parchment, 16 large miniatures. 300 000 to<br>500 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> NELSON, HORATIO. Signed autograph letter, ‘Nelson & Bronte,” aboard the Amazon, 14 October 1801, addressed to Sir William Hamilton. 4 000 to 5 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> GIROLAMO FRANCESCO MARIA MAZZUOLI DIT LE PARMESAN. Le couple amoureux. Pen and brown ink. 80 000 to 120 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SADE, DONATIEN-ALPHONSE-FRANÇOIS, MARQUIS DE. Autograph manuscript. The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage, 1785.<br>4 000 000 to 6 000 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> MIRÓ, JOAN. Signed autograph correspondence to Thomas and Diane Bouchard (1949-1976). 50 000 to 60 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> BALZAC, HONORÉ DE. Signed autograph manuscript, Ursule Mirouët, [1841]. One of only two manuscripts of novels by Balzac in private hands. 800 000 to<br>1 200 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> LENOIR, ALEXANDRE. Essai sur l'histoire des arts en Egypte pouvant servir d'appendice au grand ouvrage de la Commission. autograph manuscript with numerous additions and corrections. 40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SCHRÖDINGER, ERWIN. Autograph manuscript [Spring 1946, sent to Albert Einstein]. 1 500 to 2 000 €
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> William Oden Waller studio, <i>Manhattan Mary</i>, gouache and graphite, 1927. Sold for $77,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Missionary archive of Samuel W. and Gideon H. Pond, Minnesota, 1833-93. Sold for $112,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:</b> Richard Hakluyt, <i>Novus Orbis</i>, first printed use of “Virginia” on a map, Paris, 1587. Sold for $80,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17:</b> Aegidius Romanus, <i>Lo libre del regiment dels princeps</i>, first edition in Catalan, Barcelona, 1480. Sold for $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14:</b> William Faulkner, <i>The Marble Faun</i>, first edition, signed & inscribed, Boston, 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5:</b> Henry Ossawa Tanner, <i>Flight into Egypt</i>, oil on canvas, circa 1910. Sold for $341,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Lonely House</i>, etching, 1923. Sold for $317,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7:</b> George Washington, Autograph Letter Signed, to his spymaster Benjamin Tallmadge, New Jersey, 1780. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:</b> Saul Leiter, <i>Waiter, Paris</i>, chromogenic print, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: </b> A. M. Cassandre, <i>Normandie / Maiden Voyage</i>, 1935. Sold for $20,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2017 Issue

Linguet’s Memoirs - In the Belly of la Bastille...

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Linguet's memoirs.

The prison of la Bastille, which once stood in the middle of Paris, is the ultimate symbol of the French Revolution. When an angry mob captured it on July 14th, 1789, it became a landmark in French history. Many books had been written about la Bastille, the tool of the “tyrannical” Ancien Régime, but when M. Linguet published the relation of his two-year imprisonment in 1783*, he did something none of his illustrious predecessors had done: he gave a physical description of the belly of the beast.

 

La Bastille was no ordinary prison; it was a “state prison.” A simple “lettre de cachet”—an order coming directly from the King—could send you there ad vitam aeternam, regardless of your position or condition. These letters had a tremendous power. Simon-Nicolas-Henri Linguet (1736-1794), for instance, remained at la Bastille for 20 months between 1781 and 1782, almost losing his life there, and until the day he died on the guillotine in 1794, he never knew why. Well, he had a slight idea—but without any official act of accusation, there was no way he could defend himself. “On which ground had I been sent to prison?” he asks. “Had someone only told me? Will someone ever tell me?” In an article published in 2007, the historian Michel Biard describes M. Linguet as “a founder of journalism in France, who published “Journal de politique et de littérature”, from 1774 to 1776, and then “Annales politiques, civiles et littéraires du XVIIIe siècle.” He probably had a few enemies, indeed—he was, furthermore, a fiery young man with a contradictory spirit, and his misbehaviour had already cost him his position as a lawyer.

 

There’s nothing remarkable about his memoirs,” states the stern Dictionnaire historique of Chaudon & Dandeline (Lyon, 1804). As often, this dictionary is wrong. Like a modern Jonas thrown into the belly of the beast, Linguet went through a psychological ordeal—and he renders it with eloquence. In fact, his memoirs are unique, because they give us a description of everyday life inside la Bastille—and no other book of the period does. Furthermore, his memoirs “are essential,” adds Michel Biard, “to whom seek to understand how the myth of la Bastille took on proportions in the 1770s, at a time when the prison was less and less active; as a matter of fact, Louis XVI had approved, in 1784, the project of its demolition—which was never carried out.”

 

My heart and soul

 

The French never liked la Bastille, which was built in the 14th century, and became a state prison 300 years later; but Linguet gave it an even worse name. Several modern historians have recently questioned the fantasized severity of the conditions of detention in this prison. But M. Linguet, who almost perished in his tiny, smelly, dark and uncomfortable cell, would probably have a lot to say about that. Anyway, physical pains came second in this purgatory: “La Bastille will tear your flesh apart, only to reach your soul,” he says. Once swallowed up by the beast, the prisoners were denied their very existence, and were never tried. “My experience proves that many men are there incarcerated, whom the state does not wish to judge—and can not judge.

 

Being state prisoners, they had no right to communicate with the external world, not even with their relatives, who sometimes remained years without knowing whether their prisoned parent was still alive. Isolated, treated like pariahs, the prisoners lived in limbo. When one of them “had the privilege to be heard by some inspector”, he was taken through the corridors of the prison; yet he “found nothing on his way but silence, deserts and darkness.” Worse, life fled from him as he passed like a ghost: “A dull croaking from the warden chases every living thing that the prisoner could have seen—or that could have seen him. The curtains of the kitchen or the blinders of the windows of the staff building (...) are drawn and shut when he arrives.” There was a time when the prisoners were granted the right to freely walk on the terraces of the towers; but these were the good old days. In the time of M. Linguet, there was only one place they could walk around, the inner yard of the castle. “It is a small square, surrounded by walls more than a hundred feet high, with no window. So that it resembles a deep well where cold becomes unbearable in winter, because of the freezing wind hurling into it; in the summer, the heat is terrible—the sun turns the yard into a baking oven.”

 

The Cabinet

 

The prisoners went to the walk one after the other, so that they remained permanently alone. There, sentinels and “a universal silence” surrounded them. Except when someone from the outside—a carpenter, some supplier, etc.—crossed it. “When a stranger arrives,” says Linguet, “we are forced to run to what we call the “Cabinet”: a 12 feet-long and 2 feet large corridor, dug into an old vault. We are required to shut the door behind us, and the slightest suspicion of curiosity leads to the suppression of the walk. These intrusions are frequent.” And most of them had nothing to do with state secrets—including when it regarded the bath of the Governor’s wife. “The bathroom of Madam being inside the castle, she needs to cross the yard to get to it—so do her lackeys, who carry the buckets of water; as well as her “femmes de chambres”, who carry the shirts, the towels and the slippers of Madam; everything would be lost, indeed, should a prisoner take a look at all these state secrets! Here comes Madam herself! She isn’t light; she walks slowly, she has quite a way to go; the zealous sentinel shouts “To the Cabinet!” as soon as he sees her; we have to run until Madam reaches her bathroom.” One day, the sentinel forgot to give the signal and Linguet caught a glimpse of “Diane in her negligee”; the sentinel was sent to jail for eight days. State secrets were no plaything.

 

Sartine’s clock

 

There was also a clock, overlooking the yard. Linguet hated it: “Guess what is the ornament of this clock?” he asks. “Some finely carved irons!” A man and a woman, both chained, thus look at the unfortunate prisoner, and “a huge inscription in golden letters engraved in black marble, tells him that he owes this clock to Mr. Raymond Gualbert de Sartines.” Sartines (1729-1801) was the lieutenant general of police.**

 

Linguet gives interesting details of everyday life in la Bastille. Only a few could assist to the mass—in a Chapel, located under the dovecote of the Lieutenant of the King, some tiny alcoves awaited the prisoners, who could watch the celebration through a wire netting. “I felt so ashamed and miserable that I never wished to go back.” The prisoners could confess, too. “This is but a trap, a joke! shouts Linguet. How dare they suggest you to open your soul to a coward and corrupt preacher, who is prostituting his office.” And when a prisoner died in la Bastille, his body seemed to vanish. “One thing is for sure, it is never returned to his family.”

 

The size of the gun

 

Linguet was eventually released, on condition: “Despotism, which turns silence into a torment inside la Bastille, wants to turn it into a religious duty outside; all the “Jonas” are forced to swear they will never reveal, directly or indirectly, anything they learnt or suffered during their imprisonment.” That’s why he went to London to publish his memoirs. The first edition, dated 1783, comes with a striking frontispiece: some freed prisoners kneel at the feet of a statue of Louis XVI, which kindly stretches his hand towards these grateful creatures—a somewhat obsequious scene as Linguet was careful never to blame the King for his turpitudes, but the “ill-intentioned” people around him instead—he had learnt to be suspicious. In the background, we can see Sartine’s clock, hit by a bolt of lightning.

 

Six years later, la Bastille was indeed destroyed by “a bolt of lightning”: the French Revolution. Linguet’s book played its part in this historical event. La Bastille had become the symbol of a rogue regime, using the institutions for the sake of a few privileged rather than to protect the citizens. “If the Bastilles of France are not filled with guilty people, then who are these prisoners?” asks our author. “Do we have to tell? All this tyranny falls upon peaceful fathers and irreproachable citizens.” Linguet’s book, laying on a shelf in 2017, may look quite insignificant. But in its time, it came out of the press like a bullet from a musket, aiming at the belly of the Ancien Régime—and it hits its target. “Reading these memoirs,” confirms Michel Biard, “will help to understand how the 14th of July 1789 (the day la Bastille was taken—editor’s note) (...) became a key event in the summer of 1789—a symbolic one, which has been holding a special place in the collective imagination of the French for the past 200 years.”

 

Linguet—who was born on a 14th of July—came back to France, where he was eventually beheaded on June 27th, 1794. Our author, a discreet and modest architect of the fall of the Ancien Régime was convicted of... treason! By a revolutionary court. Regardless of the regime, reasons of state prevail.

 

 

* Mémoires sur la Bastille et sur la détention de M. Linguet (Londres, 1783). In-8°, frontispiece, title page, 157 pages.

** This clock, placed on the main wall of the inside building in 1764, was spared on July 14th. It was sold to the foundry of Romilly-sur-Andelle, where it was saved from destruction. After many tribulations, the French government bought the bell in 1989. It is now displayed in a Parisian museum. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 95. Turing. <i>Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals</i>. Offprint. London, 1939. Robin Gandy's Copy. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 98. Zernike, Fritz. The 1953 Nobel Prize for Physics: The Invention of the Phase-Contrast Microscope. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 111. Apple 1 Computer, operational, with exceptional provenance. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1074. Bruce, Lenny. An unreleased 16 mm film by "Count" Lewis DePasquale featuring Lenny Bruce. $7,000 to $10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1254. Hirohito. Manuscript in Japanese, "The Emperor's Monologue," transcribed by Terasaki Hidenari. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1095. Goldman. Emma. Large archive of correspondence, much of it to Warren Starr Van Valkenburgh. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 109. Wozniak and Jobs. The First Digital "Blue Box", Berkeley, 1972. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 46. Newton, Isaac. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. 1st issue. London, 1687. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 49. Newton. Autograph Manuscript in English, a portion of a draft of Newton's study on revelation. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1027. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1st edition, 1st issue. Scribners, 1925. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1042. Hemingway., Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Presentation copy, one of 15 copies. Scribners, 1940. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1215. A 48-star American Flag, flown from LCT-703, sunk on Omaha Beach, December 1944. $15,000 to $20,000
  • <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Unique Association Copy of Signed Limited Roosevelt, African Game Trails, Extra-Illustrated. $5,000 - 7,500
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 24 Volumes Henry James in 1/2 Morocco - Alvin Langdon Coburn Frontis Illustrations. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> French Surrealism by Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, 1930 Limited Edition in Lovely Condition. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Unique and Beautifully Written Manuscript of 650 Quarto Pages - Unpublished History of Belle-Isle-En-Mer, 1754. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> William Beebe's Classic 4 Volume Work on "The Pheasants," Signed and Inscribed in 1919. $2,000 - $3,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Three Volumes of Washington's War Era Letters Published in New York in 1796. $1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 19th C. Vintage Album with 48 Sepia Toned Albumen Prints by Fratelli Alinari et. al.<br>$1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Report of Phipps' Voyage in 1773 In Search of a Passage to India Via the North Pole. $1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 17 Volumes of Wallace's American Trotting Register, 1874-1891. $1,500 - $2,500
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Rare First English Edition of Monardes, Joyfull Newes, 1577, Woodcut Illustrations.<br>$1,500 - $3,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 6 Volume Shakespeare Presented to Virginia Congressman Involved in the "Trent Affair". $1,200 - $1,500
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Classic Lothar Meggendorfer Movable Book Complete with 8 Chromolithograph Plates, Ca. 1890. $750 - $1,000

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