• <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Black Sun Press] Proust, Marcel, 47 Unpublished Letters from Marcel Proust to Walter Berry, Paris: The Black Sun Press, 1930. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Williams, William Carlos (1883-1963), <i>Spring and All,</i> first edition, Paris: Contact Publishing Co., 1923. $400 to $600.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Washington, George (1732-1799), Autograph Letter Signed. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849), Autograph Letter Signed. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862), Autograph Manuscript. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Paris Commnue], Photograph album. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Fleming, Ian (1908-1964), <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, London: Jonathan Cape, 1953. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Audubon, John James and the Rev. John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America,</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1849, 1851, 1854. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Lewis, C.S. (1898-1963), <i>The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,</i> first edition, London: Geoffrey Bles Ltd, 1952. $600 to $800.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> [Bhagavad Gita] Wilkins, Charles, trans., <i>The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon…,</i> first edition, London: Printed for C. Nourse, 1785. $700 to $1,000.
    <b>Bonhams Skinner, Jan. 23 – Feb. 2:</b> Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, <i>Faust: Eine Tragodie von Goethe,</i> Hammersmith: Printed by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson & Emery Walker at the Doves Press, 1906-1910. $800 to $1,200.
  • <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Thomas Paine ALS Confirming Christmas Eve Attack Likely Based on Anti-Christianity, “The account you heard of a man firing into my house is true.” $24,000 to $35,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Washington Gives a Horse and Guns to His Loyal Guard 10 Days Before Resigning as Commander-in-Chief. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> John Hancock ALS, “General Howe is bent on coming here” - Troops, Martha Washington, & 1777 Continental Congress, to Wife Dolly! $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Abraham Lincoln Boldly and Fully Signs Appointment of Consul Who Would Facilitate Bond Sales in Europe Financing Civil War. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> The Rarest of Dual Signed Kennedy Items! 1963 Christmas Card with "Blessed Christmas" Removed at the Last Minute for Kennedy's Jewish Friends. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> George Gershwin Signed Contract for 1st Production of <i>Porgy and Bess,</i> Also Signed by Dubose Heyward & Ira Gershwin, Historic! $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Einstein Signed, “Two years after the fall of the German Goyim” 1st Ed. of <i>Mein Weltbild.</i> $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Walt Disney <i>Fantasia</i>-Era Boldly Signed TLS Re: "Special Effects Department," PSA Certified Authentic & With Phil Sears COA. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> 1996-97 Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls Home Game-Worn Jersey Showcasing "Light" Evident Use, MEARS A5. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>University Archives<br>Rare Manuscripts, Books & Sports Memorabilia<br>February 1, 2023</b>
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Wayne Gretzky’s 1994 All-Star Used Game Jersey, Inscribed to Former MLB Player! $4,500 to $5,500.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> <i>The Astronauts</i> Signed by All 7 Mercury Astronauts! $4,000 to $5,000.
    <b>University Archives, Feb. 1:</b> Fabulous Edison, Firestone, Burroughs Signed Journal With 44 Original Photos, Very Rare. $4,000 to $5,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> BLAEU, Joannes and Martinus MARTINI - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive Novus Atlas. Pars sexta. Novus Altas Sinensis.</i> Amsterdam: Blaeu, 1655. €8.000 to €12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> ORTELIUS, Abraham - <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum.. Nomenclator ptolemaicus.</i> Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1579. €10.000 to €15.000.
    <b>Il Ponte, Jan. 31:</b> PIRANESI, Giovanni Battista - <i>Carceri d'invenzione.</i> [Rome: G.B. Piranesi, second half of the 18th century]. €20.000 to €30.000.
  • <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair
    <center><b>California International Antiquarian Book Fair<br>February 10-12, 2023<br>Pasadena Convention Center<br> abaa.org/cabookfair

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2018 Issue

Robert Chevalier de Beauchêne - The Real Fake Story of a Buccaneer

B6453e44-44a2-43ca-bf8f-e56a31affc46

Robert Chevalier de Beauchêne was a bold and bloodthirsty buccaneer from New France (Canada). No wonder his memoirs were highly attractive in 1732, especially since they were put together by the popular writer Alain-René Le Sage (1668-1747); but are they authentic? Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, yet some writers still find the need to rearrange it. Not all pirates use swords, some use pens.

Fénelon states in the preface of Télémaque: “Should Man stand the naked truth, she wouldn’t need the finery she borrows from imagination to make herself known and lovable; but her delicate and pure light doesn’t always flatter man’s sensibility. (...) Here lies the weakness of Man: showing him the truth is not enough, it must be done in a pleasant way.” Robert Beverley’s preface of The History and Present State of Virginia (London, 1705) seems a direct answer to Fénelon: “Truth desires only to be understood, and never affects the Reputation of being finely equipp'd. It depends upon its own intrinsick Value, and, like Beauty, is rather conceal'd, than set off, by Ornament.” Regarding false accounts, he adds: “The French Travels are commonly more infamous on this Account, than any other, which must be imputed to the strong Genius of that Nation to Hyperbole, and Romance. They are fond of dressing up every thing in their gay Fashion, from a happy Opinion, that their own Fopperies make any Subject more entertaining.” This is probably what happened when French novelist Alain-René Le Sage decided to put out Robert Chevalier de Beauchêne’s memoirs in 1732. The author of Gil Blasde Santillane couldn’t resist adding some picaresque dimension to a manuscript he had obtained from Beauchêne’s widow. The first edition came out in 1732 (Paris, chez Etienne Ganeau); yet, in his Essai de Bibliographie Canadienne (Québec, 1895), Philéas Gagnon writes: “This edition, although said to be the first, is yet the second one; indeed, one was previously published in Amsterdam in 1730 by Jean-Edme Dufour, 2 vols. in-12 with plates not signed.” What makes it unlikely is the fact that Beauchêne died in Tours, France, in December 1731. Furthermore, the privilege of the 1732 edition is dated July 22, 1732. Was Gagnon referring to an “avant la lettre/before letters” edition (with the engravings coming without any written indication)? Anyway, the 1732 edition came as a 2 in-12 volumes* with 6 full-page engravings “drawn by Bonnard and engraved by Scotion.” (Gagnon).

* Tome 1: half-title page / title page / 14 leaves / 390 pages / 3 plates. Tome 2: half-title page / Title page / 6 leaves / 363 pages / 3 plates.

 

Beauchêne’s True Colours

 

Although introduced by its author as genuine, Beauchêne’s story soon came under suspicion. “Charles de La Roncière and A.-Léo Leymarie believed they were genuine. Gilbert Chinard, Aegidius Fauteux and Gustave Lanctot made thorough researches, and rejected a great part of them,” René Baudry writes. Yet, “our buccaneer is no myth,” Gagnon states, “he was born near Montréal, Canada, where he lived a devil’s life.” Baudry gives more details: “It is now certain that Beauchêne truly existed, and that he left a manuscript; but his account has been considerably reworked by Le Sage. He was born at Pointe-aux-Trembles, in Montréal, Canada, on April 23, 1686, son of Jacques Chevalier and Jeanne Vilain.”

 

Le Sage’s narrative abruptly stops after Beauchêne looting Antigua, in 1712: “The rest of Beauchêne’s memoirs is in Tours, with his wife,” the author concludes. “If she sends it to me, then I’ll give it to the public.” But she apparently never did. According to Le Sage, Beauchêne, now a rich man, went to France, at an unknown date. There, he lost a part of his fortune through gambling, before going to Saint-Malo and then Brest. Le Sage writes: “While in Brest, he quarrelled with an Englishman on December 11, 1731, and found in this fight a death he had defied with impunity during many bold boarding actions.” Baudry adds: “We have a death certificate for him, dated December 1731, and recorded in the parochial registers of Brest.”

 

Half the Truth

 

At one point, Beauchêne takes an English ship on the Gambia River, Africa, and rescues two French prisoners, including one Count Monneville. The latter is compelled to tell his story—in a strict picaresque fashion (Gil Blas is considered as a typical picaresque novel). Monneville’s story occupies half the book, and is obviously fictitious. It yet contains a few interesting passages regarding New France, as noted by Gagnon: “Beauchêne gives some surprising details about the way people were married in Canada in the late 17th century.” The said passage reads: “Celibacy is a crime of lease-Majesty in the colonies, so every newcomer must find a companion upon arrival. Here is how we proceed: Miss Boubon, who runs the house where women fresh from Paris are sheltered, builds up couples at random. Happy is the one who receives a healthy and sane wife!” Every couple was granted £50 in the name of the King, and was sent into the wilderness. This scene, Baudry notes, was inspired by another relation: Voyages du Baron Lahontan dans l’Amérique Septentrionale (see Letter II, Tome 1—La Haye, 1703).

 

The book is divided into 6 chapters (3 for each volume). Beauchêne’s own story occupies the first two ones and the last two ones. They represent the most interesting part of the book, describing a terrible and revengeful boy fascinated by death: “I wasn’t even seven yet, and there was already not a dog, a cat or a hog left alive in the village”—the typical profile of a psychopath. As a matter of fact, when some Iroquoians raid his village, our boy runs to them to be taken hostage, even helping them to carry their booty away. After several years among the “Savages”, he abandons his troop to join the buccaneers, longing to quench his thirst for blood and violence—and he does. From New France to Saint-Domingue to Jamaica to Africa, we follow him in his adventures. Robbing, killing, looting and kidnapping, Beauchêne goes through misery and fortune, loses friends and kills many enemies. This is a typical buccaneer’s life, senseless and brutal, far from any romantic vision, and probably much more relevant.

 

The first edition came out under the title Les Avantures (sic) de Monsieur Robert Chevalier, dit de Beauchêne, Capitaine de Flibustiers dans la Nouvelle France. It was later changed in a few editions into Les Aventures du Chevalier de Beauchêne. Baudry lists several editions known to him: 1733 (Amsterdam, Aux dépends de la Compagnie), 1780 (Maestricht, chez Dufour & Roux—apparently not in Sabin’s), 1794 (Lille, chez FJ Lehoucq). The copies taken from the complete, or chosen works of Le Sage (Paris, 1783—for example), featuring two engravings only, are less valued.

 

Conclusion

 

The fictitious parts do not really alter the value of the book, probably because Le Sage is a recognized writer today. A very nice copy of the 1783 edition bound by Antoine Chatelin (early 19th century), was sold for 800€ in Paris in 2007 (vente Jean-Paul Morin—Pierre Bergé & Associés). In fact, Lesage’s rearrangements have given another dimension to the book: “They form a new frame, the frame of travel literature,” writes Emmanuel Bouchard in the preface of the 2018 critical edition of Beauchêne’s adventures (Paris, H. Champion). Somewhere in between truth and fiction, literature and fraud, the life of this bold and scary buccaneer... lies.



Thibault Ehrengardt


Posted On: 2018-11-07 22:28
User Name: mairin111

Thank you for this interesting article, Thibault. You've introduced me and the Rare Book Hub community to a fairly new topic, I gather, one meriting fresh investigation and assessment. And I admire your many historical contexts & sources. Nice job! Keep in touch,

Maureen E. Mulvihill, Collector.
Rare Book Hub Member & Guest Writer, 2016, 2018.
7 November 2018.
___________________


Posted On: 2018-11-08 09:41
User Name: EHRENGARDT

Thank you for your very kind words, Maureen! Glad you enjoyed it.
Thibault


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 817. Bellin's complete five-volume maritime atlas with 581 maps & plates (1764). $24,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 325. An early and important map of the Republic of Texas (1837). $11,000 to $14,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 45. De Bry's early map of North Pole depicting Willem Barentsz' expedition (1601). $3,500 to $4,250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 154. Poignant map of the United States documenting lynchings (1931). $250 to $325.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 457. Extremely rare matching set of pro-German propaganda from WWI (1914). $2,000 to $2,400.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 815. Homann's world atlas featuring 110 maps in contemporary color (1751). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 60. Miniature pocket globe based on Herman Moll (1785). $3,500 to $4,500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 8. Visscher's rare carte-a-figures world map (1652). $14,000 to $16,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 158. Matching satirical maps of the US by McCandlish: "Ration Map" & "Bootlegger's Map" (1944). $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 820. One of the finest English atlases of the early 19th century (1808). $4,750 to $6,000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 59. Important milestone in preparation for 1969 moon landing (1963). $750 to $900.
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 8):</b> Lot 805. Superb bible leaf with image of crucifixion of Jesus with gilt highlights (1518). $800 to $950.
  • <center><b>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts,<br>including Americana<br>February 16, 2023</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works…now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $100,000 to $125,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> [EINSTEIN, Albert (1879–1955)]. –– ORLIK, Emil (1870–1932), artist. Lithograph signed (“Albert Einstein”). N.p., 1928. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. <i>[The Lord of the Rings trilogy:] The Fellowship of the Ring.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Two Towers.</i> 1954. –– <i>The Return of the King.</i> 1955. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain") and Charles Dudley WARNER. <i>The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.</i> Hartford and Chicago, 1873. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 16:</b> LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. <i>Beyond the Wall of Sleep.</i> Collected by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1943. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Gideon Welles, <i>Extensive archive of personal and family papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy,</i> 1791-1914. Sold September 29 — $281,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Rock Climbers,</i> cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> watercolor, ink and gouache, 1954. Sold December 15 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Brontë, <i>Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. Edited by Currer Bell,</i> three volumes, first edition, 1847. Sold June 16, 2022 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Geoffrey Chaucer, <i>The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newlye Printed,</i> London, 1542. Sold October 13 — $106,250.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Dorothea Lange, <i>Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32),</i> silver print, 1936. Sold October 20 — $305,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> George Washington, Autograph Document Signed, with two manuscript plat maps in holograph, 1751. Sold October 27 — $37,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Winfred Rembert, <i>Winfred Rembert and Class of 1959,</i> dye on carved & tooled leather, 1999. Sold October 6 — $233,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> M.C. Escher, <i>Relativity,</i> lithograph, 1953. Sold November 3 — $81,250.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Original Film Posters<br>27 January - 10 February 2023</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Vertigo (1958), poster, US. The ultimate poster on this classic Hitchcock title, one of three known examples. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Lawrence of Arabia (1962), roadshow poster, US. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Star Wars (1977), style C poster, printer's proof, US. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> The Navigator/ La Croisiere du Navigator (1924), re-release poster (1931), French. £5,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27-Feb. 10:</b> Bullitt (1968), special test poster, US. £3,000 to £5,000.

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