Garrett Scott, Bookseller, has issued a new selection of uncommon writings entitled, Catalogue 35 (A miscellany of non-U.S. Books and pamphlets). This is an atypical catalogue for the Ann Arbor bookseller who specializes in the atypical. His catalogues are usually filled with very strange American works, from eccentric writers whose minds worked in very strange ways. This collection of primarily European (including English) pamphlets includes much that is uncommon, though not so crazy as its American counterparts. One can't help but conclude that while Europe has its eccentrics, Europeans aren't quite so far out as their American cousins, a conclusion that Europeans undoubtedly share. And, they are probably right. Nonetheless, there are a few American-style oddballs in here to complement the more rational works of most authors from the Old World.
Item 8 is a satirical attack on the sexual morés of, The Duke of York. A Letter to His Royal Highness, or, A Delicate Inquiry into the Doubt Whether he be More Favoured by Mars or Venus, with Hints About Dunkirk – Holland – The Army... You remember the Grand Old Duke of York. He was the guy who marched his 10,000 men up the hill and then down again (“And when they were up, they were up. And when they were down, they were down.”). Obviously, as this old children's rhyme attests, this was not the first time Prince Frederick, Duke of York, was mocked. The Duke was the second son of King George III (the King George remembered most unfavorably by Americans). Though only second in line of succession, he was said to be his father's favorite. He was sent to military school and placed in charge of troops in the Low Countries during the French Revolution to protect England's interests. The young commander was routed, hence leading to the mocking nursery rhyme about his battlefield command. A later mission to the area under his command would be almost as unsuccessful, whereafter the Duke became more of a desk commander. In that role, he became commander-in-chief of British forces. It was during this period, 1807 specifically, that this satirical account of his sex and military life was published. The Duke, not alone among royalty, had his share of mistresses, and probably several illegitimate children. He was married, but it was not a happy one and the pair were separated early. In 1809, one of his mistresses claimed that she was able to sell military commissions as a result of their relationship. He was forced to resign his post for two years. However, for all the ridicule of his personal life and battlefield command, the Duke proved to be a master at reforming, reorganizing, and supplying the military, and the moves he made have since been recognized as a major factor in England's success defeating Napoleon. When George III died in 1820, and his brother succeeded their father, the Duke became first in line for the British throne, but he predeceased his older brother, dying in 1827. Priced at $85.
It is generally not a good idea to assassinate a king, even more so a popular one. Henry of Navarre was the natural successor to Henry III of France when the latter died in 1589. This was a problem, as Henry of Navarre was a Huguenot, while Henry III and most of France were Catholic. Navarre gained control over the south of France, but despite repeated attempts, was unable to secure Paris. It was from this situation that he supposedly made the comment, “Paris is well worth a Mass.” He converted to Catholicism, resolving the problem. However, despite his conversion, in 1598, he issued the Edict of Nantes, which provided civil rights to the country's Protestants. As King Henry IV, he also looked after the regular (i.e. poor) folks of France, becoming perhaps the most popular king France ever saw. Still, you can never please all of the people, and a few attempts were made on Henry's life. In 1610, one succeeded. François Ravaillac, a Catholic fanatic given to visions, concluded that Henry's attack on the Spanish Netherlands was really an attack on the Pope, and managed to enter the King's coach and assassinate him. Ravaillac was immediately captured, and, as one might expect under the circumstances, not treated kindly. Item 106 is Bibliotheca Curiosa. The Trial of Francis Ravaillac for the Murder of King Henry the Great, Together with an Account of his Torture and Execution... This account was edited by Edmund Goldsmid and published in 1885. Ravaillac had molten sulphur, lead, and boiling oil dumped on him, his skin pulled off with pincers, and finally, each of his limbs were roped to four horses, which pulled him apart. There was little mercy for regicides in those days. $50.
Felice Orsini did not get the message from Ravaillac's fate. A couple of centuries later, he would attempt the same with the French Emperor, Napoleon III. In January of 1858, Orsini and a couple of accomplices lay in wait as the Emperor and his wife rode their carriage to the theater. The would-be assassins threw three bombs at the carriage. Eight people were killed and scores wounded, neither the Emperor or Empress being among them. Orsini was captured the next day and sentenced to death a few weeks later. Fortunately for Orsini, France had become more merciful in its punishments by then, and he was executed by guillotine, the most humane form of execution available, rather than the more gruesome means of the 17th century. Item 159 is The Life, Trial, and Death of Felice Orsini; with his Letter to the Emperor. Orsini, in his letter, encouraged Napoleon III to support the cause of Italian independence, and this pamphlet is sympathetic to Orsini and his cause. $75.