"FIRST FULL-LENGTH ENGLISH BIOGRAPHY OF WASHINGTON": FIRST EDITION OF CORRY'S LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1800, A MEMORABLE ASSOCIATION COPY IN ONE VOLUME WITH FIRST EDITION OF FONTANES' ÉLOGE FUNEBRE DE WASHINGTON, 1800, WITH THE BOOKPLATE OF REVOLUTION-ERA FRENCH STATESMAN MARQUIS DE BOUILLE
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) CORRY, John. The Life of George Washington… BOUND WITH: FONTANE, Louis. Eloge Funebre de Washington. London: J.W. Myers… and J. Ogle, Edinburgh / Paris: Chez Henri Agasse, 1800. Two works in one volume. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7 inches), contemporary full brown tree calf, red morocco spine label; pp. viii, (9) 10-228 (4); (3) 4-29. $6000.
First edition of Corry's biography of Washington, preceded only by Weems' American biography issued the same year, with Corry's landmark work praising the military leadership and presidency of Americas's founding father, featuring extensive excerpts from his speeches and core Revolutionary works, bound with the first edition of Louis Fontanes' Éloge Funebre de Washington, commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, this distinctive association copy containing the bookplate of prominent French statesman Marques de Bouille, famously cited in the French anthem, La Marseillaise, for his opposition to the French Revolution. A beautiful copy in contemporary tree calf.
Irish-born historian Corry spent much of his life in London where he was "an author of astonishing versatility" (ODNB). This "first full-length English biography of Washington" (Howes C790) won praise on publication for its sympathetic chronicle of Washington, as well as its extensive excerpts from his speeches and other major Revolutionary works. Corry clearly embraces America's cause when he attacks, for example, the "unconstitutional manner in which Parliament had acted" and quotes at length from America's 1775 Declaration… [on] the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms, which he hails as a "remarkable… bold and explicit manifesto." He particularly praises Washington's military leadership, stating: "It is impossible to contemplate the progress of this little army of patriots without emotion… On the success of their enterprise depends the freedom and happiness of innumerable millions yet unborn." At Washington's death, Corry writes: "We may say of him as Augustus did of Cicero: 'he was an honest man, and loved his country.'"
Life of Washington is bound in one volume with the first edition of French statesman Louis Fontanes' Éloge Funebre de Washington (Funeral Elegy). Published in Paris in 1800, with text in French, it was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to be "delivered at the commemorative services held by the French government upon receipt of the news of Washington's death" (Hough's Washingtoniana). Life of Washington without half title; Éloge bound at rear without half title and rear advertisement leaves. The first appearance of a biography of Washington is Humphreys' Life of General Washington (first American printing issued anonymously in part in the "Notes" section of Morse's American Geography, 1789: not printed in its entirety until 1991). The first complete biography is Weems' History of the Life, and Death… of General George Washington (first American edition, published in Georgetown, D.C., 1800). (Life) ESTC T144444; "The London edition is scarce" (Sabin 16912). (Éloge) Sabin 24992. This association copy contains the armorial bookplate of Francois Claude Amour, Marquis de Bouille, who fought for France in the Seven Years' War, and led forces against England in the American Revolution. On his return to France he was awarded for his leadership but as a dedicated royalist was strongly opposed to the French Revolution. Forced into exile, he moved to England where he died in November 1800, the year Corry's Life of Washington and Fontanes' were both published. The Marquis is also famed (and infamous) for being singled out by name in the French revolutionary anthem, La Marseillaise. Éloge title page with "le 8 fevrier 1800" in an unidentified hand.
Interior very fresh, mere trace of edge-wear to contemporary calf. A fascinating association copy in about-fine condition.