BOURRIENNE, Louis Antoine Fauvelet de.


sur Napoléon, le Directoire, le Consulat, l'Empire et la Restauration.

Paris: Ladvocat, 1829 Stock Code: 122617

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First edition. Bourrienne (1769-1834), diplomat and one-time secretary to Napoleon, "claimed to have been a friend of the future emperor at the military school of Brienne. In the early 1790s he served the Revolutionary government as a diplomat in Germany. He was called to Italy by Napoleon in the negotiations with Austria (MayOctober 1797) and helped with the drafting of the Treaty of Campo Formio. In 1804 Bourrienne was sent to Hamburg in order to conduct French commercial war measures against Britain. He amassed a considerable fortune in his questionable trade dealings in that post and was recalled in disgrace (1813). During Napoleon's return from exile (March 1815), Bourrienne supported the Bourbon cause and the restoration of Louis XVIII (July 1815)" (Britannica). In his acclaimed biography of Napoleon, Vincent Cronin is rather more colourful, "Bourrienne embezzled half a million francs from Napoleon, had to be posted abroad, where he embezzled a further million, and finally had to be dismissed the service... In order to help pay his debts he decided to publish his Memoirs. Bourrienne did not write them, though; he only supplied notes for part of them, and these were then 'ghosted' by a journalist favourable to the Bourbons. Shortly after publication Bourrienne had to be shut up in a lunatic asylum. Immediately after his Memoirs appeared a group of men in a position to know published a book of 720 pages entirely devoted to correcting Bourrienne's errors of fact". Napoleon's physician on Saint Helena, Barry O'Meara, joined this chorus of disapproval with Observations upon the Authenticity of Bourrienne's Memoirs (1831).

With an amusing, irreverent and chatty autograph letter signed "A. Méliot", in French, to an unnamed correspondent, discussing Bourrienne's Mémoires and offering an interesting insight into the work's genesis, mentioning the historian Arthur Chuquet - whose Jeunesse de Napoléon had begun publication in 1897 - and the fact that Méliot believes the Mémoires to be the work of an unnamed member of the circle of Émile Deschamps and Alfred de Musset, and a friend of Charles-Maxime de Villemarest, the latter often cited as having been Bourrienne's ghost-writer (letter dated Paris, 14 November 1897, 4 pp., octavo). The author is almost certainly one of the Méliot frères, anonymous co-editor of the Memoires of Napoleon's valet de chambre, Constant (Paris: Ladvocat, 1845). A full transcription and translation are available on request.

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10 volumes, octavo (203 x 125 mm). Contemporary greyish-brown calf, spines with decorative blind stamped centre tools, olive green labels, sides with gilt two-line frame enclosing concentric blind panels of interlocking scrolls and anthemion roll, gilt edge roll, French Shell pattern marbled edges and endpaper, gilt foliate roll to turn-ins.


Publisher's woodcut device to titles.


Bindings a little worn at extremities, vol. I foot of spine chipped with loss, a few joints partially split but sound, general foxing. An attractive set.


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