Title: Mémoires du Comte de Grammont
Publisher: Chez Edwards , London
Publication Date: 1793
Book Condition: Very Good
4to (298 x 241mm). 313, 77pp.  index. Double-page engraved frontispieces, to left, portrait of Antoine Hamilton and right, building of Somer Hill House in Turnbridge Wells. 78 engraved plates from portraits in the royal collections at Windsor and elsewhere. Contemporary red straight-grain morocco, ruled in gilt, gilt doublures, gilt edges; (occasionally foxed, slight offsetting from plates; very slight edgewear). Ex-libris of the Earl of Minto, his arms and motto Credunt quod vident (seeing is believing) to plate on front pastedown. Large paper-copy of this edition of a popular account containing amorous intrigue at the English court of Charles II. The work was written between 1704 and 1710 by Antoine Hamilton; Irish author and brother-in-law to the Comte de Gramont. It was first published anonymously in 1713 (apparently without Hamilton’s knowledge) under the rubric of Cologne, although it was really printed in the Netherlands. Upwards of thirty editions and translations have since appeared, the best of the French being Renouard’s (1812). The Mémoires du Comte de Grammont have been acknowledged to be a masterpiece of French literature; Voltaire went so far as to say that Hamilton was the first to discover the essential genius of the French language. The memoir was said to have been written at Gramont’s dictation, but it is very evident that Hamilton’s influence is the most considerable. Even so, at the end of the first chapter, Hamilton wrote "To himself we owe these Memoirs since I only hold the pen." When the Mémoires were finished it is said that Gramont sold the manuscript for 1500 francs; and kept most of the money himself. Fontenelle, then censor of the press, refused to license the book for it contained some ruthless expositions of court-life. But Gramont himself appealed to the chancellor and the prohibition was removed. Gramont died on 10 January 1707, and the Mémoires appeared six years later. The work remains a masterpiece of style and of witty portraiture. Cohen-de Ricci 472; Gay-Lemonnyer III, 128 ("la plus belle édition et la plus curieuse par ses notes"); Tchemerzine (1977) III, 657. Bookseller Inventory # D2435
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