List 8 - 25 18th Century Books                                                                                                      October 2016

Who’s who in Venice

1. [ABIS, Paolo]. LA TEMI VENETA contenente magistrai, reggimenti E Altro Per l’anno 1792. [Venice], Appresso Paolo Colombani, [1792]. £485


8vo, pp. viii, 156; with engraved frontispiece and title included in pagination; some spotting and browning in places, especially to last few leaves; occasional annotations in a neat contemporary hand; in contemporary mottled sheep; spine ruled in gilt, boards with gilt roccoco borders; some wear to extremities and the odd wormhole on upper cover but still an attractive copy.


A good copy of this uncommon Venetian almanac, compiled by Paolo Abis, who signs the dedication. La Temi Veneta appeared annually from 1761 until 1797, the fall of the Republic, and each issue presents a complete calendar of feasts, timings of postal deliveries from different cities and throughout Europe, a list of European princes and living cardinals, patriarchs, and Venetian bishops and churchmen. The rest of the volume contains details of current Venetian officials, including senators, ambassadors, and magistrates; as a whole, this is a useful snapshot of the organisation of Venetian life in the dying days of the Republic.  

OCLC records later issues at Harvard Law, the Getty, Johns Hopkins and the BL, but no copies of this edition.

Not everyone’s an atheist

2. [ALEA, Léonard]. ANTIDOTE DE L’ATHÉISME, ou Examen critique du Dictionnaire des Athées, Anciens et Modernes. A Paris, De l’Imprimerie des Instructions Décadaires sur l’Enregistrement, Vendémiaire an IX (Septembre 1800). £400

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. [iv], 164; some spotting in places, but generally clean and fresh; uncut in contemporary blue wrappers; edges slightly frayed, but a good copy.

First edition of this response to Sylvain Maréchal’s Dictionnaire des Athées anciens et modernes by the French polemicist Léonard Aléa (died 1812).


Maréchal’s project was to label both individuals and whole schools of thought and societies as atheist, in support of his own atheism. For Maréchal, the slightest anecdote, or the merest written line, was enough to allow him to attribute atheist views to someone, and so he identified not only Egyptians and Indians as atheist but also Bayle, Spinoza, Voltaire, and, of course, Napoleon. Aléa, in his response, casts an eye over Maréchal’s work as a whole, before examining Maréchal’s reasons for the attribution of atheism to particular individuals, showing the flimsiness of his evidence. The fact, for instance, that the English refer to Napoleon as “le general des athées” does not, Aléa suggests, prove that he is an atheist himself; the passages of Locke quoted by Maréchal seem to be impossible to find; and Newton is condemned on the basis of inserting into his General Scholium “les preuves bannales de l’existence de Dieu ... dans lequelles on ne reconnaît pas l’auteur immortel des principes mathématiques”, which strikes Aléa as a particularly odd way of proving his atheism.

Aléa’s Antidote proved popular, and a second edition, in two volumes, appeared under the title La religión triomphante des attenants de l'impiété, this time under the author’s name.  

Outside Europe, OCLC records copies at UCLA, Newberry, Boston Public Library, Harvard, Duke, and Princeton.

Voltaire shall not be named

3. [ANTI-ENLIGHTENMENT]. 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.

Not in Melzi; OCLC records one copy, at the Francescani, with SBN noting a further copy at the Marciana in Venice.

Avoid novels and modern philosophy

4. [DUVOISIN, François Samuel]. ESSAI SUR LES ETUDES, et l’exercise du St. Ministère. Tome premier [- second]. A Lausanne,  Chez Durand, Ravanel & Compe Libraires. 1795. £650

FIRST EDITION. Two volumes in one, 8vo, pp. [iv], xvi, 356, [2] errata; [iv], 201, [1] blank, [1] errata, [1] blank; aside from some occasional spotting, clean and fresh throughout; with 19th century ownership inscription on front free endpaper;  in contemporary sheep-backed speckled boards; spine ruled in gilt with skiver lettering-piece; some rubbing and bumping, but still an attractive copy.

First edition of this guide to reading and study for trainee Protestant ministers in Switzerland at the end of the eighteenth century.


The author, who was a minister in the Vaud town of Provence, divides his work into three parts. The first is devoted to the literary, philosophical, and theological studies necessary for a seminarian; Duvoisin emphasises the importance of the study of Latin and Greek and the reading of the classics, and compares biblical study with classical study; he also engages with modern writers who used classical forms, including Tasso and Milton. sketching also the links between classical dramatists and the likes of Corneille and Racine. He goes on to recommend the study of Hebrew, mathematics, physics, and astronomy; he advises the reading of Locke, and suggests the avoidance of Voltaire, Rousseau, and novels. There is no intrinsic opposition between reason and religion; “it isn’t the modern Socrates, the Bacons, Boyles, Descartes, Lockes, Newtons, and Leibnitzes, who have rejected divine revelation”. Rather, it is the likes of Bolingbroke and Shaftesbury who have “seduced and led honest souls into irreligion”.

The second part discusses the aims and practice of preaching. Duvoisin describes the structure of sermons, the use of rhetorical devices, and the importance of style, drawing heavily on Boileau, while also showing how the preacher should use gesture and motion. He then gives a number of examples of preaching styles and models, including English, Scottish, and German examples as well as French. 

The third section offers a guide to the practical and sacramental role of the minister, discussing ordination, the minister’s moral role, and the difficulties surrounding the education of youth, and advising on catechisis and the admission to communion. 

 Outside Switzerland, OCLC records copies at Harvard, Yale, Munich, Leiden, Strasbourg, and Caen.

The purpose of schooling

5. [EDUCATION]. AHLEMANN, Georg Ludwig. REDE VON DER BEFÖRDERUNG DER RECHTSCHAFFENHEIT als dem Hauptzweck alles Unterrichts in Gymnasien und gelehrten Schulen, bey der Einführung der neuen Lehrer des Altonaischen Gymnasii, in dem großen Hörsaal desselben am 13ten November 1771 gehalten… Altona Gedruckt bey den Gebr. Burmester [1771]. £250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 48; aside from some occasional spotting, clean throughout; in contemporary pink boards, title in gilt on spine; boards somewhat faded.


A good copy of this speech by the Altona pastor and civil servant Georg Ludwig Ahlemann (c.1720-1787) on the central purpose of high school education, given at the induction of a new teacher at the Gymnasium in Altona. While Ahlemann’s principal aim is to emphasise the centrality of moral education (the development of righteousness, as in the title), the speech also gives a clear picture of the structure of the school, the arrangement of the curriculum, and the diverse roles of the schoolmasters.

Ahlemann, in addition to his clerical duties, which took him to several cities in Denmark and Northern Germany, also published in 1777 a biography of the Danish statesman Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff. 

OCLC records one copy outside Continental Europe, at the National Library of Scotland.

Rhetorical display

6. [EDUCATION - JESUITS]. SAGGIO LETTERARIO  dato in Fermo nell’Anno MDCCLXVII, Dagli Studenti Rettorici del Collegio della Compagnia di Gesu’.  Fermo, Nella Stamperia del Bolis Stampatore Priorale, Arcivescovile, del S. Uffizio, Camerale, e dell’Accademia, [1767]. £300


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. 12; some light staining throughout, and paper repair to final leaf; in later blue wrappers.

A fascinating insight into the education of boys at the Jesuit college in Fermo, less than a decade before the Papal suppression of the Jesuits in 1773. Every month, the college held a public session where the students of rhetoric were given the opportunity to speak on various subjects, in Latin and Italian, and display their rhetorical skills. This volume gives the names of the students, and the topics they are given, ranging from ancient orthography to the value of silver in the reign of Diocletian; the students first speak about, and then are questioned about, each subject.  

Not recorded by SBN or OCLC.

Habsburg exams

7. [EDUCATION - OUDENAARDE]. MOECENATIBUS MARIA THERESIA AUGUSTA nec non providis ac nobilissimis dominis agri Aldenardensis moderatoribus programmata a studiosa juventute Collegii Regii Aldenarensis pro tentamine publico proposita. Aldenardae, die 28. Augusti MDCCLXXX. Aldenardae [Oudenaarde], Typis P.J. Vereecken, [1780]. £325

4to, pp. [14], [2] blank; title within decorative border, text in double columns, printed in Latin and French, with decorative column dividers; one gathering detached, but otherwise a good, clean copy; in contemporary marbled wrappers; slight wear to extremities.

A good copy of this programme of school examinations held at the Royal College in Oudenaarde, now in Belgium but at the time part of Habsburg-controlled Austrian Netherlands, on August 28, 1780.

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The programme gives an unusual insight into the life of a Habsburg Gymnasium. The entire syllabus on which the pupils are examined is described, in both Latin and French. Most of the candidates are examined on geography (which includes astronomy and cosmography), arithmetic, geometry, and Christian doctrine. The two candidates from the rhetoric class, Ludovicus de Mulié and Ferdninandus Feyerick, are examined on rhetoric, Cicero, the origins of Rome, while three others, from the poetry class, are examined on prose, metre, Ovid, Virgil, and Homer. Six further pupils face examination on syntax and Euclid, while the grammar class is divided into a middle class and a beginners’ class, each of which have to answer appropriate questions on the Latin language, arithmetic, the Old Testament, and the catechism. The final group of pupils, surprisingly, is examined on the Flemish language.

By the late 18th century, Oudenaarde had become a bit of a backwater, certainly in printing terms; OCLC does not record a single item printed in the town.  

Not in OCLC or KVK; the University of Ghent has a similar item from the previous year, with somewhat different contents.

How to use hemp

8. FIASCHETTI, Giuseppe. LETTERA ... A SUA ECCELLENZA IL SIGNOR MARIO FALCONIERI Sul Metodo di curare, e ridurre a Filo la Canape nell’ Elvezia. In Roma,  Presso il Cracas,  nel 1795. £450


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. vii, [i] blank, one hand-coloured engraved plate; clean and crisp throughout; in recent boards, bordered in gilt with spine ruled in gilt.

A lovely copy of this uncommon letter on the production of treating and making thread from the hemp plant, illustrated with a fine hand-coloured plate depicting the use of a water mill for the purpose. The author, a Roman priest who also published a life of the Dominican nun Claudia de Angelis, draws on his observations of the practice in Switzerland to describe the best time for picking hemp, the method of stripping its bark, and the ways to convert the oakum into thread.  

OCLC records just one copy, at Harvard Business School, with SBN noting a further copy at Grottaferrata.

Black endpapers!

9. FRAGANESCHI, Ignazio-Maria. DESCRIZIONE DE’ SOLENNI FUNERALI fatti celebrare in Cremona alla Sacra Cesarea Reale Apostolica Maesta di Maria-Teresa Imperatrice Regina d’Ungheria, e di Boemia Archiduchessa d’Austria Dall’ Illmo, e Revmo Monsignore Ignazio-Maria Fraganeschi, vescovo di detta città, conte Colla Orazione Funebre recitata dal Sigr. Ab. D. Antonio Torregiani ... Il di’ XXII Dicembre nell’anno MDCCLXXX. Cremona per Lorenzo Manini, [1780]. £400


ONLY EDITION. 4to, pp. 34, [2] blank; printed border around text, several engraved vignettes, and funereal black endpapers and paste-downs; the occasional bit of spotting, but generally very clean and crisp; in contemporary mottled calf; spine ruled in gilt, and boards with gilt borders; some slight wear.

A lovely copy, resplendent in mournful black endpapers, of this account of the memorial services held in Cremona, at the time under Austrian rule, to mark the death of the Empress Maria Theresa in December 1820. The bulk of the volume is taken up with the eulogy preached by Antonio Torregiani, who muses on the character of ‘anime grandi’, and the many ways in which the Empress embodied these qualities. The volume also describes the procession through the city, the bells, the decoration of the cathedral, and the service.  

OCLC records just one copy, at the Getty Research Institute, with ICCU recording three copies, at Ancona, Cremona, and Varese.

Celebrated by a king

10. [FREDERIC II]. THE PANEGYRIC OF VOLTAIRE written by the King of Prussia, and Read at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Academy of Sciences and Belles Lettres of Berlin, 26th November, 1778. London, Printed for J. Murray, MDCCLXXIX [1779]. £450

FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION. 8vo, pp. [iv], viii, 5-56; clean and fresh thoughout; in recent marbled wrappers.

First English edition of Frederick the Great’s tribute to Voltaire, read to the Berlin Academy of Sciences six months after the philosopher’s death. 


The translator’s preface describes Frederick’s work thus: “Voltaire, who celebrated many kings, is himself celebrated by a king. It is the province of poets to write the panegyric of princes, but Voltaire is perhaps the first poet whose panegyric is professedly (!) written by a sovereign. The following piece was composed after the king of Prussia had begun to withdraw his troops from Silesia, and before he returned to take up his winter-quarters in that country. If it is remarkable that the king of Prussia should write the panegyric of Voltaire, it is still more remarkable that he should undertake this task amidst the cares, the fatigues, and the disappointments of the field. But the singular character of that philosophical hero renders what would appear most extraordinary in the conduct of other men, natural and familiar with him” (pp. i-ii).  

OCLC records five copies in North America, at Cornell, NYPL, Yale, Penn State, and the Library of Congress.

All your rights

2016-10-10 11.21.33

11. [FRENCH REVOLUTION]. ALMANACH NATIONAL, Contenant tous les Décrets, depuis celui concernant les droits de l’homme, jusques & compris l’organisation & l’instructuction des Municipalités; le départ des Couriers, Diligences & Messageries; une liste exacte des Foires qui se tiennes dans les Duché & Comté de Bourgogne, dans la Bresse, le Charolois & la Lorraine. Pour l’année 1790. A Dijon, de l’imprimerie de P. Cause. [1790]. £385

16mo, pp. 146; some occasional spotting and browning, but largely clean and fresh throughout; uncut in later red cloth-backed marbled boards; title in gilt on spine.

2016-10-10 11.22.43

Very uncommon Revolutionary-era Burgundian almanac, printed in Dijon and containing, as usual, the fairs and festivals for the year in Burgundy, Bresse, the Charolais, and Lorraine. So soon after the Revolution, there is no hint of the Revolutionary calendar, but we do find instead a wide collection of the various statements, decrees and instructions of the Assemblé nationale since the Revolution, including the text of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, the articles of the 1789 Constitution, and numerous decrees dating from August 1789, on political, religious, and economic matters; on the reform of the criminal law and the establishment of martial law in October 1789; and on the new regulations governing the establishment and governance of municipalities. These texts, which take up all but the last 22 pages, will have given the provincial owner of this almanac a full understanding of the ways in which citizens were now expected to exercise their civic duty, in a convenient pocket form.  

OCLC records just the copy at the BNF.

Hatred and freedom

12. [FRENCH REVOLUTION]. BILLAUD-VARENNES, Jacques-Nicolas. RAPPORT FAIT A LA CONVENTION NATIONALE au nom du Comité de Salut Public ... Dans la Séance du Premier Floréal, L’An II de la République Une et Indivisble; Sur la théorie du gouvernement démocratique, et sa vigeur utile pour contenir l’ambition, et pour tempérer l’essor de l’esprit militaire; sur le but politique de la guerre actuelle, et sur la nécessité d’inspirer l’amour des vertus civiles par des fêtes publiques et des institutions morales. Imprimé par ordre de la Convention Nationale.  [Paris], de l’Imprimerie Nationale Des Rédacteurs-Traducteurs des Séances de la Convention, [1794]. £225

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 24; some light browning and the odd marginal dampstain; in sheets, uncut and unbound.

First issue, here uncut in sheets, of Billaud-Varenne’s astonishing report to the Convention on 20 April 1794, in which he argues forcibly for the improvement of revolutionary institutions, most notably through public instruction; this is necessary, he claims, not only for children but for every citizen, in order to renew and regenerate France, a country that should be united in hatred of tyranny. He also argues that Republican (re)education might be encouraged not only with with institutions and public festivals, but also through a greater use of the guillotine: “Haine naturelle, juste, et inséparable de l’amour de la liberté”.


Billaud-Varenne (1756-1819) was one of the central players in the Terror, as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, before turning against the “moderate” Robespierre. Along with two others, he was the first to be deported to French Guiana after his arrest in 1795. 

OCLC records three copies of this issue, at UCLA, University of Southern California, and Emory.

Learn in Romansch

13. FRIZZONI, Giovanni. ARTICHELS DAVART CHOSSAS FONDAMENTÆLAS Amussædas dalla S. Scrittüra, ed in uso dels chærs infauts, propostas da Giovanni Frizzoni V.D.M.  Coira, Stampo træs Bernard Otto, MDCCLXXVI [1776]. £385

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 88; aside from some occasional spotting, clean and fresh throughout; in contemporary yellow wrappers; some slight wear.


An attractive copy of this uncommon catechism, by the Swiss preacher and hymn writer Giovanni (or Gian Battista) Frizzoni (1727-1800).

Frizzoni was one of the leading religious writers in Romansch of the time, and is best known for his two collections of hymns (Canzuns spirituaelas of 1765 and Testimoniaunza of 1789). The present catechism is designed for the use of children, and is divided into six articles, dealing in turn with the Bible, the Trinity (in four articles), and, in the final article, faith, penitence, justification and sanctification; the work concludes with a translation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Frizzoni studied in Geneva and Zurich, and was associated with the pietists. This led to his dismissal in 1758 from his post as minister of Bondo, whereafter he served as minister in his home town of Celerina until his death.  

Outside Switzerland, OCLC records copies at the British Library, Cornell, the Newberry, and the BNF.

After Babouc

14. [GIRAUD, Claude-Marie]. TEMPLE DE MÉMOIRE, ou visions d’un solitaire. A Londres, Et se trouve à Paris, Chez Ruault, MDCCLXXV [1775]. £550


FIRST EDITION UNDER THIS TITLE. 8vo, pp. [iv], 174; some very light foxing in places, but still a clean, crisp copy in contemporary calf-backed speckled boards; spine tooled in gilt with morocco lettering-piece; with stamp of the library of Schloß Eferding in Austria on front paste-down.

First published under the title Vision de Sylvius Graphalètes in 1767, this pastiche of Voltaire’s Le Temple du Goût proved a great success for its author, the surgeon and poet Claude Marie Giraud (1711-1780). Sabatier, quoted by Quérard, seems unsure why: ‘L’auteur ... eut mérité y avoir une place distinguée, s’il eût construit avec un peu plus de suin et plus de goût : on y trouve quelques traits agréables : mais ses jugements sont durs et parfois injstes, et l’ouvrage n’est réellement qu’une tres-faible imitation du “Temple du goût” de Voltaire’.  

Quérard, vol.3, p.370; of this edition, OCLC records only three copies outside the Continent, at Cambridge, the NLS, and the BL.

Expelled from Portugal

15. [JESUITS]. RISPOSTA AD ALCUNE LETTERE scritte alcuni giorni addietro e sparse per l’Italia. In Genova,  1759. £450

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. [ii], 52; with 17 blank leaves; aside from some very occasional light foxing, clean and crisp throughout; in contemporary vellum, title in ink in spine, patterned endpapers; some slight wear, but a good copy.


First edition, likely printed in Venice, of this collection of letters relating to the suppression of the Jesuits in the Portuguese Empire in 1759. 

The volume opens with two letters sent by Jesuits from Lisbon in the aftermath of the attempted assassination of José I in September 1758; this had been plotted by a number of nobles who, crucially, employed Jesuits as their spiritual advisors. This gave the king a pretext for a clampdown on the Society, initially through the placing of members under house arrest and then, on the first anniversary of the foiled assassination, by the expulsion of the Society from Portugal. The bulk of the volume contains responses to these letters, written from Rome, Genoa, Cesena, and Paris, which deal in more detail both with the Jesuit involvement in Portugal, and with the immediate predicament in which the Society’s members now found themselves in the months before their expulsion.  

Bravetti & Granzotto, False Date, 349c; Outside Continental Europe, OCLC records copies at the Newberry Library and the Catholic University of America.

Wedding poetry

16. [MANZONI, Francesca, et al]. RIME PER LE NOZZE  del Signor Conte Nicola Ferdinando di Sesso di Casteldaldo Con la Signora Contessa Chiara da Schio nobb: Vincentini, Dedicate alli Signori Co: Co: Almerico Padre, e Luigi Zio della sposa. In Vicenza, per Pietro Antonio Berno, [1748]. £450


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. 76, [1] colophon, [1] blank; various woodcut vignettes on title and throughout work, title printed in red and black; some light dampstaining to head of first few leaves, but otherwise largely clean and crisp; in contemporary speckled wrappers; extremities and spine slightly worn.

This volume contains fifty poems of various lengths written to commemorate the wedding of two Vicenza nobles. It is reasonable to assume that most of the poets were guests at the wedding; the vast majority are by members of the Vicenza aristocracy, although we also find a sonnet by the Milanese poet Francesca Manzoni, who cannot have been present, dying as she did some five years earlier, as well as one by a Florentine noblewoman whose Arcadian name was Aurinda Elfeba (whom we have been unable to identify). Although most are in Italian, there are also examples in French, Spanish, and Greek.

SBN records one copy, at the Biblioteca civica bertoliana in Vicenza; not in OCLC.

No quackery here

17. [MARIE, Charles Louis Jean]. AVIS AU PUBLIC. Sur l’efficacité d’une Eau anti-vénérienne ... [Paris,  1788]. £165

1298 Marie

8vo, pp. 4; pages (mis)numbered in ink in a contemporary hand; unbound as issued.

Uncommon pamphlet by the French physician Charles Marie, advertising the benefits of a new formula for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhoea.

Marie, who claims to act as consultant physician to the Comte d’Artois, suggests the abandonment of mercury-based treatments in favour of one that is completely soluble in water, has no metalic or vitriolic taste, is pleasant to take, and which does not require the patient to stay at home or submit to an austere health regime. Marie does not, of course, reveal how to make the eau anti-vénérienne oneself; it is a ‘découverte précieuse pour l’humanité’, but one that was the result of his hard work. Any interested party, however, can of course write to the doctor (making sure to frank any correspondence).  

OCLC records copies at the British Library and the University of Augsburg only.

Geometry as a route to God

18. MOSCA BARZI, Carlo. LA MATHEMATICA fatta guida per credere. Lettera scritta ad un amico... In Roma per Benedetto Francesi, MDCCLXXII [1772]. £850

FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. [viii], cxii; slight worming to upper margin of first few leaves, not affecting text, but otherwise, aside from some occasional browning , clean and fresh throughout; in contemporary carta rustica; some light rubbing but still a good copy.

First edition of this very uncommon work by the Italian nobleman, amateur scientist, and philosopher Carlo Mosca Barzi, in which he explains the ways in which mathematics can be used to reinforce religious belief.


The ability to construct abstract systems, Mosca Barzi argues, is what sets us apart from the animals, but it is the assertion of thinkers from Euclid through to Newton and Leibniz that it is the very existence of such systems that leads us to a religious faith that occupies the greater part of the book. Citing authorities including Locke (repeatedly), Boskovich, and Descartes, Mosca Barzi presents not so much an argument from design as an argument that the very fact that we practice geometry, that we can, as though in a dream, identify lines, circles, and points, leads us to the immortality of the soul.

Carlo Mosca Barzi wrote a number of works on scientific matters, including Pensieri Filosofici of 1769, in which he examined tides, biomechanics, and the actions of drugs.  

OCLC records two copies outside continental Europe, at Toronto and the National Library of Scotland.

Paying for the French

19. [PADUA]. IN NOME DELLA REPUBBLICA FRANCESE una ed indivisibile la municipalitá di Padova... Padova, 28. Pratile Anno V della Rep. Francese, e I. della Libertà Italiana.    16. Giugno 1797. £285


4to, pp. 12; clean and fresh throughout; unbound as issued.

The arrival of Napoleonic troops in Italy in 1797 put financial strains on the cities in which they based themselves, which had to be met by emergency measures. This volume announces the ways in which extraordinary taxes were to be raised in order to support the French army based in Padua; not only was payment of regular taxes to be brought forward, but an extra tax was also also imposed. Details are given of tariffs, the methods and times of collection, and the various rebates to which certain classes of business, as well as the poor and the clergy, are entitled.

Not in OCLC or SBN.

Virtuosa and vice

20. [PIAZZA, Antonio]. LA VIRTUOSA ovvero La cantatrice fiamminga. Avventure scritte per suo trattenimento da lei medesima. In Venezia,  dalle stampe di Modesto Fenzo, MDCCLXX [1770]. £385


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. [viii], 94; with engraved frontispiece; some light spotting in places, but generally clean and fresh throughout; in contemporary carta rustica; subtitle in ink on spine; slight dustsoiling, but still a nice copy.

First edition (a second appeared in 1783) of this imitation of Chiari’s La ballerina onorata, by the Venetian writer and librettist Antonio Piazza (1742-1825). 

Piazza was the author of several stories after Chiari, many of which, including the present one, were sometimes attributed to the older man by his publisher, for commercial reasons. La Virtuosa is typical of his work, changing the ballerina of Chiari’s model into a virtuoso (if far from virtuous) singer, and filled with scandals involving affairs and death. 

In addition to his romances and librettos, Piazza was also the editor of the Gazzetta urbana veneta (1787-1798).  

Marchesi, Romanzieri e romanzi del settecento, p. 161; OCLC records just one copy, at Harvard.

Demonic possession?

21. [PORÉE, Abbé Charles-Gabriel]. EXAMEN DE LA PRÉTENDUE POSSESSION DES FILLES de la Paroisse de Landes, Diocèse de Bayeux. Caen  1737. £285

FIRST EDITION THUS. 4to, pp. [ii], x, 27, [1] blank; lacking title-page (long since removed); crude paper repair to first leaf, marginal dampstaining in places and some spotting; numerous underlinings and annotations to prelims in a contemporary hand;  in later drab wrappers.

First edition of this report by the Caen priest and lawyer Charles-Gabriel Porée on what was the last great case of suspected demonic possession in Normandy. This is one of three works he wrote on the subject; it was preceded in 1733 by a Mémoire sur sur la prétendue Possession, and the two works were brought together along with a number of other texts in the 1738 Le Pour et Contre de la possession des filles.

Eight girls, including three sisters, were found to be able to speak and translate Latin, despite never having studied the language; to describe people and places they had never seen; to put themselves in danger without any fear, including running backwards along the top of a high wall; and to find themselves, having jumped from the second floor of a building, suspended in mid-air. Holy water burned them, and prayer made them violent.

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Porée was a creature of the enlightenment, and consequently sceptical about any claims of possession; he describes the case and offers a number of hypotheses to account both for their behaviour and for the credulity of observers (whom he uncharitably labels ‘possessionistes’), drawing parallels with other similar cases throughout France. The problem is that ‘Les Hommes ont une inclination naturelle pour le merveilleux; mais ils en connoissent peu la nature & les causes. Presque tous le cherchent dans l’extraordinaire; & plus ils sont ignorans, plus ils voient de prodiges; ce qui est commun, semble avoir perdu le droid de les toucher’ (p. 1).

The present copy alas lacks the title page.  

OCLC records copies at UCLA, the BNF, and the Mazarine.

How to live

22. [PYRARD, Henri-François]. CATECHISME DE L’HOMME SOCIAL en deux parties par M. l’Abbé Duval-Pyrau. À Francfort sur le Main, chez les heritiers de J.L. Eichenberg, 1776.                £1250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. [xxvi], 385, [1] blank; aside from some occasional spotting, clean and crisp throughout; in contemporary German half calf over sprinkled boards, yellow morocco label on spine, lettered in gilt; upper board slightly warped, repair to foot of spine, and slight worming to gutter of last two leaves; still a very attractive copy.

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First edition of this uncommon guide to moral and political philosophy, in the form of a catechism, by the Belgian priest Henri-François Pyrard (1737-1800), sometimes, as here, known as Duval-Pyrau.

Dedicating his work to Catherine the Great, Pyrard’s aim is to give a clear guide to the duties of man, both qua human being and qua citizen. The second part, while shorter, is clearly the part that is closest to Pyrard’s heart: “This is neither a satire nor a critique; it is a lesson for every state and for every person. Above all, if there is a nation where customs are corrupted by the debasement of souls, where laws are corrupted by abuse, and people by idleness, it is for this that I am writing”. His approach is an interesting one, and can be seen from the very first articles of the catechism:

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Q. What is man?

A. A being whose nature is to be feeble and whose duty is not to fall.

Q. What do you mean by feebleness?

A. The ability to forget order.

Q. And by falling?

A. Actually to forget it.

This informs the whole work, which describes, in the first part, the nature of the soul, virtues and vices, happiness, religion, atheism, fanaticism, justice, love, and the enemies of society. In the second part, the definition of a citizen (a man placed under the laws of a State, and living under their direction) again is the basis for what follows; we find examinations of sovereignty, law, officers of the State, magistrates, criminality, and the role of military forces, merchants, and artisans in a functioning society. The work concludes with a statement of the Citizen’s Creed, opening ‘La nature m’a créé libre, & la société me crée dépendant’. Although certainly not a thoroughgoingly Rousseauesque work, the influence of Emile and the Nouvelle Héloîse is clearly to be found in Pyrard’s approach to ethical questions.

Pyrard’s catechism was translated in the same year into German.  

OCLC records copies at Linkoping, Cambridge, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Mazarine, and Queen’s University, Ontario.

Find a husband

23. [TRAMONTANI, Luigi]. METODO PER UNA FANCIULLA ONDE PROCURARSI UNO SPOSO A sui piacimento in qualunque circostanza; Esposto in varie lettere da Mi. Worsten a Mi. Sutterland Tradotte dall’Inglese. a Trayques  MDCCLXV [1765]. £400

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FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 68; light browning throughout; in contemporary patterned wrappers.

First edition of this set of letters advising women on the best methods of securing a husband, by the Florentine lawyer, playwright, and scientist Luigi Tramontani (1733-1809). 

Despite the suggestion on the title, this appears to be an original work rather than a translation, although it is happy to speculate about the ‘facoltosi, gentili, e onesti giovani di Londra’. Over the course of 17 letters, Tramontani attempts to explain the ways in which circumstance can dictate the suitability or otherwise of potential spouses, describes the criteria one should use in choosing (one should prefer physical robustness to delicate beauty), discusses the different approaches one should take according to the size of one’s dowry. Some of the advice, though, resonates through the ages: ‘Allorchè dunque un giovane di simil carattere divien l'oggetto della vostra ricerca, dovete usare il solito vostro contegno brillante, vivace, e nell'istesso tempo conveniente, e giusto, con voltare qualche volta la maniere anco più indifferenti verso la sua persona’.  

Author from Melzi II, 193; OCLC records just one copy, at UCLA.

Take a balloon to the moon

24. [VOLTAIRE]. [UTOPIA]. LA LUNE COMME ELLE VA. Ou Anecdotes Intéressantes pour les Habitans des Contrées Profondes. Ouvrage fort courru dans la Lune, & nouvellement apporté sur notre globe par un Aëronaute. A Trivia [Paris?] chez la veuve Quinteuse, rue Phâses. MDCCLXXXV [1785].                £1650


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. iiii, 36; first and last leaves washed, gutters reenforced, but otherwise, aside from occasional spotting and dustsoiling, clean and fresh; in later half green morocco, marbled boards; spine ruled and lettered in gilt; some light rubbing.

First edition of this satire in imitation of Voltaire’s Le monde comme il va, notable for being one of the first works to use ballooning imagery in political commentary, less than two years after Montgolfier’s first flight.  

The work tells the story of an aeronaut who takes a balloon to the moon and finds it remarkably similar to Earth. Not only are there seas, islands, continents, and mountains, but there are despots, monarchs, aristocrats, and democrats, of all races, speaking all languages. Likewise, there is much stupidity and little wisdom, just as might be found on Earth. In conclusion, our balloonist returns ‘sans avoir rien pu décider, sinon que la lune, comme elle va, n’offre ainsi que notre monde, rie n’autre que les visions de Babouc’.

In the years after Voltaire’s death, a number of imitations and parodies of Babouc appeared, including Retour de Babouc à Persépolis (1789) and Nouvelle vision de Babouc, ou la Perse comme elle va (1796).

OCLC records copies at the BNF, the University of Amsterdam, and the Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek

Statues on the Charles Bridge


25. [WUSSIN, Kaspar Zacharias]. BESCHREIBUNG DE STEINERNEN BRÜCKE in der königlichen haubt Stadt Prag in königreich Böheimb sambt denen darauf stehenden Statuen. Pragae, apud Casparu Wussin prostant exsculptae [before 1747?]. £850

FIRST EDITION. 4to, ff. 28; with engraved title-page and 32 engraved plates; numerous mispaginations; single wormhole throughout the work, not affecting plates and only occasionally touching text; aside from some very occasional light spotting, clean and crisp throughout; in contemporary calf-backed speckled boards, spine gilt with morocco label lettered in gilt; some rubbing to corners; with the book-plates of Waldemar Schwalbe and the Bibliotheca Raschkiana on front free endpaper and front paste-down.


This splendid and uncommon work, by the Prague artist and publisher Kaspar Zacharias Wussin (1664-1747), depicts each of the baroque statues which run the length of the Charles Bridge, most of which had been designed and erected in the first two decades of the 18th century. In some ways a souvenir volume, each statue has its own plate, and each saint portrayed has a biography of one or two pages, sometimes but not always accompanied by a short note about the statue. The volume is valuable as a record of some of the statues that no longer exist, such as that of St Joseph, which was replaced after damage from cannon fire during the revolution of 1848.

OCLC records copies at the BNF (with 31 plates) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (giving 62 unnumbered pages and 28 plates.

© Edmund Brumfitt Rare Books 2017