Lot n° 98
4 000 - 5 000 EUR
[REGNAUD (Pierre-Étienne)]. Speech on the...
[REGNAUD (Pierre-Étienne)]. Speech on the ancient government of the French monarchy. In Paris, at all booksellers, 1798. In-8, xxvii-(1)-335-(1 white) pp. in fawn granite calf, back to smooth, partitioned and floral with red title piece, thin frieze framing the dishes, golden castor adorning the cups and hunts, golden slices, autograph label of the author stuck on the upper plate to warn to keep this copy (original binding). FIRST EDITION. Pierre-Étienne Regnaud (1736-1820), a royalist journalist, first pursued a career as a lawyer and attorney of Parliament. From 1790 to 1792, he was a regular contributor to the press hostile to the revolutionary movement, Gazette de Paris, L'Ami du roi, etc. He withdrew to the countryside under terror, but offered himself in the press in defence of Louis XVI and, having been unsuccessful, courageously published his pleading, a copy of the author, abundantly corrected and increased by his hand in 1801, for a second edition that never saw the light of day. An autographed "Announcement of the work in 1801", on one of the first guards, justifies this work of amendments by the fact that the work had been written under the Directory in 1796-1797. The volume therefore includes about 160 autograph sheets and spoilers bound or marginally mounted, and many corrections in the text, on almost all pages, some of which refer to the added sheets. Several additions and corrections have in fact restored the original text truncated or altered in the original edition, which Pierre-Étienne Regnaud was unable to proofread because of the printers' imprisonment for six months during the printing process (as he informs the reader here in a new autograph warning). Many of the additions are of much greater importance, particularly those made in the notes, many of which are small autonomous treaties dealing with particular issues: regencies, emigrants, clergy, nobility, the constitutions of other European powers, notably Russia and England, etc. Thus note n° 19 (autograph additions transcribed below in italics): "It is an idea of times of unrest to believe that because subjects obey legitimate sovereigns, they are slaves for that purpose [...] Obedience to legitimate authority is a deprivation of freedom, necessary for the one who puts himself in society [...]. Although the sovereign was not subject to any divine power, whose kings, says Appian, are the lieutenants on earth, and the laws that the prince guarantees and protects [... with his hand:] France is building in Europe the kingdom where sovereign power shines in its true majesty, while at the same time being tempered by the laws... It is only a palliative with an innovative system to say, as Mr. de Montyon does[Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Robert Auget de Montyon, in his Examen de la Constitution de France de 1799, and comparison with the monarchical constitution of this State, published in 1800]... "that where the interest of the peoples ends, there ends the power of kings", who doubts that? Greater legislators who told him long ago, Salus populi suprema lex esto[soit, in Latin: "May the salvation of the people be the supreme law]. It is much better said... this few words leave no other ideas, the dangerous one of pretending to set limits. Who will set these limits for the good of the people? Listen to Lafayette, he only uses insurrection, Bailli will tell you that you must take the king out of his castle, this crazy Assembly will pretend that the good lies in human rights, the virgin Target will want to give France a Constitution, & each of these fools will make the good of the people consist in his crazy ideas. Let us leave the gigantic, philosophical maxims, the twisted sentences & let us simply say that kings are established by Providence to be the fathers of the great family... "Pierre-Étienne Regnaud also added an autographed dedicatory epistle signed, dated July 2, 1798, "to the chief, kings, princes & princesses of the Bourbon family" (at the top), and a quotation from the "letter from the Princes" he would have received in 1800 to thank him and congratulate him for sending the original edition, with mention of his anoblissement by Louis XVIII (on one of the last guards).
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