Bulletin VI 

Competitive poetry

1. [ACCADEMIA DEGLI ARCADI]. I GIUOCHI OLIMPICI Celebrati in Arcadia nell’Ingresso dell’Olimpiade DCXXXIII. In onore degli Arcadi illustri defunti. In Roma, Presso Venazio Monaldini, per Generoso Salomini, MDCCLIV [1754]. £750


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. xii, 360; with many woodcut vignettes; some gatherings lightly browned, but largely clean and fresh throughout; in contemporary carta rustica; title in pencil on spine, and old shelf-label; some light wear, but still a very appealing copy.

Edited by Giovanni Ughetti, this collection of poems and prose by members of the Accademia degli Arcadi of Rome marks the arrival of the 633rd Olympiad, commemorated in this volume by a set of five “Olympic games”; not athletic, but rather literary competitions on various themes: portraits, transformations, symbols, visions, and crowns. In each case, we have a prose introduction by a different member of the Academy, and a number of poems in a variety of styles, ranging from sonnets to lengthy pastoral dialogues. Among the authors represented are Anna Parisotti Beati, Michele Giuseppe Morei, and Carlo Francesco Tamburini. Of particular interest to students of the Arcadians is the appendix, which gives the identities and Arcadian names of current members.

The Giouchi Olimpici were first celebrated by the Arcadians in 1693. For a survey of their origins and their importance, see Silvia Tatti, ‘I Giuochi Olimpici in Arcadia’, in Atti e Memorie dell’Arcadia 1 (2012), 63-80.  

OCLC records copies at the BL, UCLA, and the Max Planck Institute in Rome.

The laws of Bordeaux

2. [BORDEAUX]. NOUVEAU RECÜEIL de diverses Lettres Patentes, Edits & Déclarations des Rois de France & d’Angleterre. Avec divers Arrets, tant du Conseil d’Etat, que du Parlement de Bordeaux, & autres Titres concernant les principaux Privileges de la Ville de Bordeaux, Bourgeois & Habitans d’icelle. Confirmez par lettres patentes du roy Louis XV heuresement regnant. Imprimé par ordre de messieurs les maire, sous-maire et jurats ... A Bordeaux,  Chez Jean-Baptiste Lacornée, MDCCXXIX [1729]. £175


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. 80, [5] table des matières, [1] blank; some foxing and soiling in places; some leaves somewhat dog-eared; in contemporary marbled wrappers, with later cheap paper reback; worn.

Uncommon collection, printed in Bordeaux, of edicts, royal declarations, and patent letters relating to the city in the reign of Louis XV. The edicts run from the sixteenth century through to the time of printing, and concern the privileges of the city, the administration of criminal and civil justice, and the right of the Bordeaux parliament to impose taxes on the population. A useful resource.  

OCLC records just one copy, at Yale.

A king praises a philosopher


3. [FREDERICK II]. VOLTAIRES ÅRE-MINNE, Uplåst i K. Vetenskaps- och Vitterhets-Academien in Berlin, I en til den åndan hållen allmån Sammankomst, Den 26 November 1778. Översåttning från Fransyskan. Stockholm, Tryckt uti Kongl. Ordens-Truckeriet, 1779. £225

FIRST SWEDISH TRANSLATION. 8vo, pp. 32; some very light foxing throughout; unbound with blue paper backstrip.

Rare Swedish translation of Frederick the Great’s tribute to Voltaire, read to the Berlin Academy of Sciences six months after the philosopher’s death. 

Written between September 14 and October 15, the Éloge makes particular mention of the range of Voltaire’s work, praising his contes (Zadig, Candide and others) as “while seeming frivolous, containing moral allegories or criticisms of modern systems where the useful is inseparably linked to the pleasant”. The Éloge was first published in French but swiftly appeared in translations throughout Europe.  

OCLC records only one copy, at the National Library of Sweden.

Escape the London winter

4. GORDON, Charles Alexander. 'THE FLOWER OF THE OCEAN,' The Island of Madeira: a Resort for the Invalid; a Field for the Naturalist. London: Baillière, Tindall and Cox, 1894. £325

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. xii, 110, [2] blank, 42 [advertisements]; aside from very occasional spotting, clean and crisp throughout; in the original publisher’s red cloth, black lettering on upper cover and pattern in black to head and foot of upper cover and spine; some light wear, but an attractive copy.

A good copy of this surprisingly uncommon survey of Madeira by the military surgeon and sometime Surgeon-General Charles Alexander Gordon (1821-1899).


Concerned by the impact of London December weather on officers and others who were more used to tropical climes, Gordon recommends a relocation for the winter to Madeira. He describes the geography, climate, and townscapes of the island, sketches its history, and provides details of the people, with population statistics, notes on occupations, crime rates and a description of the hammock men. An economic survey of the island follows, as well as a guide to the leper hospitals, asylums, prisons, and monasteries. Gordon goes on to describe the water supply and its chemical analysis, the occurance of diseases including rabies, leprosy, and tberculosis, and the local life expectancy, noting that ‘for invalids and ordinary visitors it may be comforting to know that British medicine is well represented in the persons of two deservedly well-known practitioners’.

Further chapters discuss the fauna of the island, Madeiran agriculture and land tenure, viticulture, and the island’s medicinal plants.   

OCLC records copies at University of Miami, Trinity College Dublin, Cambridge, Oxford, Aberdeen, the National Library of Scotland, and the British Library.

Ought to be banned

5. [GRIFFET, Henri]. LETTRE A MR D***, sur le livre intitulé: ÉMILE, ou de l’Éducation , Par Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Citoyen de Genève. A Amsterdam, Et se trouve à Paris, Chez Grangé. MDCCLXII [1762]. £450

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 84; largely clean and crisp, with stamp of a lawyer, Bechaux, on verso of title;  uncut in contemporary carta rustica; a very attractive copy.

First edition of this attack on Rousseau’s Émile by the French Jesuit Henri Griffet (1698-1771).


Griffet emphasies that Rousseau does not even attempt to hide the defects of his ideas, but rather “il use, en écrivant, de la même liberté dont il est si jaloux dans sa maniere de vivre”. He criticises Rousseau’s comparisons with algebra and geometry (”des énigmes impénétrables”), attacks the disorder and confusion of his style, and notes that Rousseau’s admiration for Robinson Crusoe speaks volumes about his character. Émile, he concludes, is “one of the most pernicious works to have recently appeared ... If the detestable principles and dangerous paradoxes of which it is full should come to sdeucede and intoxicate the multitude, spreading with a kind of contagion, one fears that they could cause revolutions as devastating to republican states as to monarchies. Geneva has realised this very well; the book is banned there”.

Outside the continent, OCLC records copies at Cambridge, Cornell, Delaware, Harvard, and Wisconsin.

Not quite in praise of Napoleon


6. HENKE, Heinrich Philipp Konrad. PREDIGT, AM KRÖNUNGS FESTE NAPOLEONS DES GROßEN, Kaisers der Franzosen und Königs von Italien, den 2ten December 1806 in der Universitätskirche zu Helmstädt gehalten. Helmstädt,  1806. £295

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 38; clean and crisp throughout, with the cancelled library stamp of the USB Sachsen-Anhalt on verso of title; in the original turquoise boards; some wear to extremities, but still a good copy.

An attractive copy of this sermon preached in the University Church at Helmstedt by the Church historian and theologian Heinrich Henke (1752-1809), on the occasion of Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor of the French.


Henke reminds his audience that they are living in times which are very different from those that have gone before, both in terms of the relation between rulers and their subjects, but is careful not to present his sermon as a work praising Napoleon, who had only weeks before defeated the Prussian forces at Jena. Rather, the sermon expresses the hope the Napoleon would be the bringer of peace and urges the congretation to wait and see what might come of his anticipated rule, while acknowledging that the newly crowned emperor exhibited ‘Geist und Kraft von der seltensten Größe’. 

The sermon was swiftly translated into Latin and French, and it was suggested that Henke had himself sent a copy to Napoleon; this was denied in an apology in the Allgemeine Zeitung München by Henke’s son some thirty years later, who defends his father against charges of disloyalty to the Prussian cause.  

OCLC records just one copy, at the Staatsbibliothek Braunschweig.

Dealing with disease

7. MONTBEL, Guillaume-Isadore, Baron de. OBSERVATIONS SUR LE CHOLÉRA, faites a Vienne, et adressées a l’Académie des Sciences de Toulouse. A Toulouse,  chez Julien Bonnefoi, et a Paris, Chez G.A. Dentu,  1832. £250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 45, [3] blank; clean and crisp throughout; uncut in the original printed wrappers; light worming to lower cover, and marking to upper cover, but still a very good copy.


Uncommon report on the situation in Vienna during the 1831-2 cholera pandemic, by the French politican and sometime minister Guillaume-Isadore de Montbel (1787-1861).

With the proceeds from the sale of this pamphlet going to the ‘pauvres de Toulouse qui seraient atteints du choléra’, Montbel describes the arrival of cholera in Vienna, the attempts to isolate the royal parts of the city, the establishment of hospices, and the various measures put in place by the government to limit its spread. Montbel is not deaf to the political machinations and disputes underlying the government response; he also observes the popularity of homeopathy, despite the many accounts of its ‘funestes résultats’, and the initial efforts of the police to prevent the spread, not of the disease, but of knowledge of its arrival, lest the population panic.   

OCLC records three copies in France and one in the US, at Rochester.

A wedding poem

8. [SCHILLER, Friedrich] [RUSCONI, Luigia]. PER LE FAUSTE NOZZE  del marchese Giovanni Salvatico colla contessa Laura Contarini. Padova, coi tipi della Minerva, 1834. £265

FIRST EDITION THUS. 8vo, pp. [ii], 8; slight stain to gutter at foot, but otherwise clean and crisp; in contemporary pink boards; some marking and wear, but still an attractive copy.


Printed for a Paduan society wedding, this is a translation by the Italian noblewoman Luigia Rusconi (1811-1873) of Schiller’s Würde der Frauen (Dignity of Women).

Rusconi addresses the bride and groom: “Anyone will say that to publish, on the occasion of a wedding, a version of a Schiller poem that so highly praises women to the disadvantage of men, is to offend convention with regard to the groom. But the one who publishes it does not think so; Schiller spoke of men abandoned to their own devices, who never understood love, and the kindness of the fair sex...”.  

Not recorded by OCLC; SBN records one copy, at the Biblioteca Cameriniana in Piazzola sul Brenta.

Thoughts on natural law

9. SIMONINI, Paolo. ALCUNE RIFLESSIONI SUL DIRITTO NATURALE nel compimento de’ studi.  In Milano, Appresso Gio: Batista Bianchi, MDCCLXXI [1771]. £425

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 24; woodcut vignette on title; some light browning in places; cropped at head with slight loss to top of title, and loss of the odd page number, but no loss of text; unbound, stitched as issued.


Very rare essay on natural law theory by the Milanese priest, lawyer, and writer Paolo Simonini.

Simonini was a pupil of Beccaria’s, and had hoped to succeed him in the chair of law and economics at the Palatine College in Milan. He was the author of several works on the philosophy of law, of which this appears to be the earliest. Simonini aims his reflexions at students, arguing that all the moral and political sciences ultimately derive their authority from natural law, in a way that might not be recognizable to his teacher. He maintains that hereditary monarchy is the best form of government, but also that the happiness of the people also depends on the administration of civil law based on a principle of natural equality, ‘della quale se è priva non obbliga alcuna Legge’. 

Among Simonini’s later works are Compendio filosofico per la connessione dei diritti (1780) and Del diritto (1777)  

Not in OCLC; SBN records one copy, at the Brera in Milan.

Philosophes not philosophers

10. [ZATTA, Antonio Printer]. LETTERE DIRETTE ALLI MODERNI INCREDULI intorno alla pretesa filosofia esaminata e discussa pei suoi caratteri. Tomo I [-II]. In Venezia, presso Antonio Zatta, MDCCXCVIII [1798]. £650

FIRST EDITION. Two volumes in one, 8vo, pp. xxiv, 298, [2] blank; xii, 292; woodcut vignette on title and on p. xxiv; some light foxing and spotting throughout, but otherwise clean; uncut in contemporary carta rustica; slightly worn and dustsoiled.

First edition of this anonymous anti-enlightenment work, consisting of 41 letters on the irreligion of modern philosophy, all signed P.M.D.M and dated 1766-7.


In his printer’s preface, Antonio Zatta states that the work’s aim is to ‘impugn the incredulity of certain people who, under the false guise of Philosophy, attempt to beat down the truth of our sacrosanct religion’. The principal targets of the work are Voltaire, never referred to by name but always as the ‘Autore dell’Henriade’, and Rousseau, who is regarded both as a genius and a hypocrite. The author observes the excessive praise given by Voltaire (and the other Increduli) to natural scientists, and Newton in particular, in contrast with the lack of attention (oddly) given to the study of history; he identifies various characteristics of enlightenment philosophy, criticising its spirit of doubt as being far removed from the (constructive) doubt of Descartes. We also find a criticism of the philosophes’ understanding of toleration; it is not a bad thing in itself, but their motivations are incorrect. Other letters address Rousseau’s views on miracles and genuflection, Voltaire’s deism, and even the causes of depopulation (citing Hume in defence of the argument that it was not the result of priestly celibacy).

We have been unable to discover the author of the letters, nor why they remained unpublished until three decades after their imprimatur was granted.  

OCLC records one copy, at the Francescani, with SBN noting a further copy at the Marciana in Venice.

© Edmund Brumfitt Rare Books 2017