Title: Histoire Secrette de la cour de Berlin ou ...
Publication Date: 1789
Binding: Soft cover
Book Condition: Good
8vo, 2 volumes (203 x 125mm). Vol. 1: 239pp.; Vol. 2: 282 pp. Original marbled wrappers; (some pages loose but present, edges somewhat brittle, some browning, light dampstains). One of the most sensational and damaging books ever published; it aimed to expose Prince Henry of Prussia as a narrow, vain, incapable and foolish monarch. Mirabeau, was a French revolutionary, as well as a writer, diplomat, freemason, journalist and French politician. During the French Revolution, he was a moderate, favoring a constitutional monarchy built on the model of Great Britain. He unsuccessfully conducted secret negotiations with the French monarchy in an effort to reconcile it with the Revolution. After a trip to Berlin in early 1786, he was dispatched that July on a mission to the royal court of Prussia. Upon his return in January, Mirabeau anonymously published a full account of his experiences at the Prussian Court in his Secret History of the Court of Berlin. The original edition was published by Malassis at AlenÁon in I789 along with two other publications of the same date, one by Blasdon (Pater-noster Row), the other by P. Byrne (Dublin). In the Histoire Secrette, Mirabeau unmercifully painted the Prussian court in lurid and outrageous colors; he used wit and irony to capture the attention of a scandal-loving public. The resulting uproar was an extreme embarrassment for the French government which quickly censored the book but could not prevent its widespread infamy. By order of the Parliament of Paris, all copies were to be seized and burned. The unanimous outcry that greeted the bookís appearance is not difficult to understand. Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the illustrious Frederick, was at the time the guest of the French court, and here was a semi-official agent of that court (Mirabeau) informing the world that the Prince was boorish and feeble-minded. War had recently been avoided and this was a perilous move on Mirabeauís part. Throughout the turmoil, Mirabeau denied all authorship, and later editors are responsible for his attribution as in this copy (his attribution ìPar Mirabeauî penned onto the title in a contemporary hand). Mirabeauís episode provided inspiration to many more radical publishers who came to regard him as a leader of the coming revolution. Among the prominent figures of the French Revolution, that of Mirabeau is perhaps the most typical of that violent social upheaval. Although disfigured as a child, Mirabeauís physical distortion concealed an immense common sense and a constructive genius that placed him far in front of most of his contemporaries. An Original Edition of 1789. Two volumes, Rare and important survival of a controversial text published in Revolutionary France. Bookseller Inventory # 6579
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