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YOUNG, Arthur

Travels during the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789

Bury St. Edmund, Printed by J. Rackham for W. Richardson 1792

AT THE SOURCES OF MODERN FRANCE.

REMARKABLE PRESENTATION COPY : LONG INSCRIPTION BY ARTHUR YOUNG TO THE DUC DE LIANCOURT, GREAT PHYSIOCRAT AND ENLIGHTENED POLITICIAN FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION, WHO RESPONDED TO LOUIS XVI ON JULY 14TH, 1789 : “NO, MAJESTY, IT IS A REVOLUTION”.

FIRST EDITON

Large 4to (275 x 210mm). Errata on the back of the last leaf
ILLUSTRATION : 3 engraved and folding maps including one hand-colored : “A new map of the author route”, “A new map of the soil of France”, “A new map of the climate and navigation of France”

INSCRIBED :

To My Excellent friend the Duke of Liancourt, to whose kindness I owe the pleasure,
and to whose knowledge, the instruction I received in France. Arth : Young

FRENCH BINDING around 1830. citron morocco, double gilt fillet border, gilt flat spine, gilt edges
PROVENANCE : Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (inscription ; 1747-1827)

Small loss on the inscription leaf. Small tear in a fold of the first map. Some scratches on the binding

François-Alexandre-Frédéric de La Rochefoucauld (1747-1827), Duc de Liancourt then Duc de La Rochefoucauld at the death of his cousin who was assassinated at Gisors (September 1792), is one of the most endearing figures of the late 18th century and the promising start of the Revolution. At the age of twenty-seven he was admitted as Grand-Master of the King's Wardrobe, one of the most important appointments of the Court, a legacy of his father, the Duc d’Estissac. Faithful to Choiseul, frankly hostile to Madame du Barry, Louis XV looked upon the young Liancourt with distrust ; he rarely frequented the Court. Volume III of the Portraits littéraires by Sainte-Beuve draws from the best source, Lacretelle, who was his private secretary and to whom we owe through his personal work, Dix années d’épreuves,, the best description of the Château de Liancourt en Beauvaisis “this kind of earthly paradise, and which kinds of rural, beneficent or literary occupations varied the hours”. Sainte-Beuve presented Liancourt as a “man of 89, as was prepared in all ranks at this time, and particularly in the young, enlightened and generous nobility”. For Liancourt had made the journey from England and put into practice the precepts of physiocracy. Liancourt was a close friend of Louis XVI and in 1786, accompanied him on his trip to Normandy, which at that time should have opened the sovereign's eyes to the needs and the moods of France. He was deputy for his order for the bailiwick of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis, and voted in the Constituent Assembly all the liberal measures that a personal friend of the King could admit. On July 18, the Duc de Liancourt was elected President of the National Assembly.

Liancourt allowed the remarkable theoretician of economics and politics, Arthur Young, to write his magnificent Voyage en France. He thanked him with the inscription. We know the direct influence of this “painting of France” on Tocqueville who quotes Young several times inL’Ancien régime et la révolution or on Mathus who would draw many statistics from it ; the central question always being that of pauperism. The Young-Liancourt relationship was therefore seminal in the gestation of a work essential to the understanding of modern France and its founding event (the Revolution).

My last day in Paris, and, therefore, employed in waiting on my friends to take leave ; amongst whom, the Duke of Liancourt holds the first place ; a nobleman, to whose uninterrupted, polite, and friendly offices I owe the argeable and happy hours which I have passed at Paris, and whose kindness continued so much, to the last, as to require a promise, that if I should return to France, his house, either in town or country, should be my home. I shall not omit observing, that his conduct in the revolution has been direct and manly from the beginnin : his rank, family, fortune, and situation at court, all united to make him one of the first subjects of the kingdom…

Liancourt had received Young in Paris and on his estate and traveled with him to the Pyrenees. In return, Arthur Young welcomed the Duc de Liancourt in exile at Bury-Saint-Edmunds, where this book was printed. From England, the Duc de La Rochefoucauld (he had taken this title since the death of his cousin) went to the United States which he traveled through as a serious observer : his Voyage, that he published in 1800, contains an interesting painting of the American Republic and Canada at the end of the 18th century.

REFERENCES : J.-C. Brunet, Manuel du libraire, V, col. 1509-1510