WITH A MANUSCRIPT DOCUMENT ENDORSED BY NAPOLEON: THREE CLASSIC NAPOLEONIC SOURCES, HAZLITT, BOURRIENNE AND JUNOT—ONE OF ONLY TEN NUMBERED SETS, HANDSOMELY BOUND
(NAPOLEON) HAZLITT, William. The Life of Napoleon. Twelve volumes. WITH: BOURRIENNE, Louis Antoine Fauvelet. Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte. Eight volumes. WITH: JUNOT, Duchesse D'Abrantes. Memoirs of Madame Junot. Twelve volumes. London and New York: The Society of Napoleonic Literature, 1902. Thirty-two volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter green morocco, gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut and partially unopened. $23,000.
Limited "Imperial Edition," number 3 of only 10 numbered sets, this set with an interesting manuscript document proposing that the Legion of Honor-winning General Philippe Ménard be relieved of his command—boldly endorsed by Napoleon with his characteristic "Nap" signature—bound into Volume 3, and with an autograph letter signed by one of Napoleon's most loyal generals, Marshal de Grouchy, tipped into Volume 9. Illustrated with hand-colored frontispiece engravings and numerous photo-engraved portraits throughout, many in double-suite, and a number hand-colored. Handsomely bound in 32 volumes by Schleuning and Adams.
This beautifully illustrated collection contains three of the great works related to Napoleon: Hazlitt's Life, Bourrienne's Memoirs and Madame Junot's Memoirs. Hazlitt, in his Life, originally published in 1828, "cherished an idolatry for his hero, singular in one who boasted of an uncompromising love of political liberty; but he regarded Napoleon as representing antagonism to the doctrine of the divine right of kings" (DNB). "Bourrienne, a French statesman, studied at the military school of Brienne, where he was on friendly terms with the young Napoleon. In 1797 he became Napoleon's secretary," an appointment which "continued during all the most brilliant part of Napoleon's career" and afforded him the intimacy upon which the Memoirs, which first appeared in English in 1830, are based (CBD). Madame Junot knew the Bonaparte family almost from childhood. After her husband's death, she took to writing for a living. Her 1831 Memoirs give an excellent, if not always wholly reliable, picture of court, military, diplomatic, and literary society of the period.
The manuscript document is handwritten on the recto of a single sheet that measures 8 by 13 inches, folded twice and bound into Volume 3. Dated 6 mars 1806, the document is summarized on the margin as: "Proposition de l'éloignes du Dept. du Jura qu'il commande, et de le mettre en non-actionité" [Proposal to remove him from the Jura department he commands, and to put him on non-active duty]. The document contains the recommendation of the General de Brigade Desperrieres, of the Sixth Division, that General Ménard be relieved of his duties in Jura due to his excessive spending and that he be reassigned to a department "où il n'est ni aimé ni estimé et où il ne peut faire le bien" [where he is neither loved nor esteemed and where he cannot do good]. General Philippe Romain Ménard (1750-1810) was a lifelong military officer with a storied career, serving with distinction in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. "As the war [in Italy] was concluded, Ménard was named commander at Genoa and then in 1801 he was named commander of the Sixth Division at Besançon. In 1804 he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor but in 1805 he was considered insane and therefore he was retired in 1806" (frenchempire.net). This document, if not directly responsible for Ménard's retirement, certainly played a part, suggesting that he had long since worn out his welcome in the Sixth Division. The document is signed by Jean-François-Aimé Dejean, Ministère de l'Administration de la Guerre, and boldly endorsed in the margin by Napoleon, with his characteristic "Nap."
Tipped into Volume 9 is an autograph letter signed by one of Napoleon's most loyal generals, Emmanuel de Grouchy, Second Marquis of Grouchy (1766-1847). Dated 17 Mars, 1836, the letter is addressed "a mettre sous les yeux de la Reine" [to put before the eyes of the Queen], in which he solicits financial aid from the Queen after "three unfortunate fires" have afflicted his properties. While he notes that the King had already deigned to grant de Grouchy 100 francs, apparently he was hoping that the Queen might "ajouter quelque chose, a ce premier gage de la munificence royale" [add something else to this first pledge of royal munificence]. Beginning in 1801, de Grouchy was employed by Napoleon in military and political positions of importance, serving in Austria in 1805, in Prussia in 1806, Poland in 1807, Spain in 1808, Italy in 1809. In 1812 he was made commander of the III Cavalry Corps. He led the corps at Smolensk and Borodino and during the retreat from Moscow Napoleon appointed him to command the escort squadron, which was composed entirely of picked officers. In 1815, he joined Napoleon on his return from Elba, and Napoleon named him Marshal and peer of France. After Napoleon's final defeat, an attempt to have de Grouchy condemned to death by a court-martial failed; instead he was exiled and lived in the United States until amnestied in 1821 (the year of Napoleon's death on St. Helena). On his return to France he was reinstated as general, but not as marshal nor as peer of France, though this did not prevent him from signing this letter Mal (Marshal) Mis (Marquis) de Grouchy.
Interiors generally clean, tiny tape repair to verso of upper corner of manuscript document; only the occasional minor rub or scuff to a few bindings. A handsome, about-fine set, most desirable with a military document boldly signed by Napoleon.