LOVELY PRO-ROYALIST FRENCH ALMANAC BOUND FOR LOUIS XVIII
(LOUIS XVIII) (FRENCH ALMANAC). Étrennes des Bons Français Pour l’Année 1798. Paris: Fidele-Prospere, 1798. 12mo, contemporary full crimson morocco, covers gilt-stamped with the arms of Louis XVIII, all edges gilt. $2500.
Delightful 1798 French almanac with engraved frontispiece in lovely contemporary morocco-gilt binding stamped on the covers with the crest of Louis XVIII.
Louis XVIII was the brother of Louis XVI, succeeding to the throne after Louis XVI was guillotined during the French Revoluition and his son, Louis XVII—Louis XVIII’s nephew—died in prison. Of course, during the Revolution and the Napoleonic era, the monarchy was abolished, and Louis XVIII lived in exile in Prussia, the United Kingdom and Russia. From 1798 to 1801, the exiled king lived in Jelgava Palace in present-day Latvia, at the invitation of Emperor Paul I of Russia. Only when Napoleon was defeated in 1814 was Louis XVIII restored to what he and the Royalists considered his rightful place.
On the title page is the phrase “Aimer son Roi, c’est aimer sa Patrie” [“To love one’s King is to love one’s Country”]. The engraved frontispiece contains a Declaration attributed to Louis XVIII, dated May 10, 1797: “Ramenez notre Peuple a la Sainte Religion de ses peres, Garantissez de nouveau l’oubli des erreurs, des torts, même des crimes, et étouffez dans les Coeurs jusqu’au moindre désir des vengeances particulieres” [“Bring our people to the holy religion of their fathers, ensure the forgiveness of errors, faults, even crimes, and smother in their hearts the slightest desire for revenge”]. And while the book contains the usual calendars with Saints’ days and royal lineages, the bulk of its 155 pages are devoted to poetry, much of it with political (pro-Royalist) overtones. So either there was a Royalist printer still active in Paris under the decidedly anti-monarchical Directoire, or the book was printed abroad while claiming to be published in Paris to give the appearance of popular support in the capital for the restoration of the monarchy. Only two copies located in OCLC, in European libraries. Text in French. Six lines of verse in French, penned in ink in a neat contemporary hand, on page 138, beginning “dans un certain palais est une loterie/ qui en l’an trois fut etablie” [“in a certain palace is a lottery/ that was established in the year three”] likely referring to the French Constitution of Year III, or 1795. Old ink notation on recto of frontispiece leaf.
Two signatures standing proud, last leaf loosening; binding sound, with only slight wear to extremities. A near-fine copy of this remarkable item from the most turbulent period in French history, most scarce and desirable with the arms of Louis XVIII.