12mo (161 x 99 mm). , 56 (recte 65) ff. Woodcut title vignette (harvesting scene with lion at top), woodcut headpiece and initial. Publisher’s binding? of 18th-century French olive morocco, triple gilt fillet on sides, flat spine gold-tooled and -lettered, gilt edges (joints and extremities scuffed, spine a trifle faded).***
Counterfeit edition of a meditation on suicide by one of the founders of Jansenism. Reputedly inspired by musings of Henri IV, reported to the author by a friend at court, this work is an apology for the morality of suicide under special circumstances, namely to save the life of one’s sovereign. Du Vergier’s arguments include over 30 examples of justifiable suicide. Considered by most a youthful jeu d’esprit, for the Jesuits the essay was pure casuistry and a “horror.” This counterfeit edition, deliberately intended to deceive, repeats the foliation errors of the original edition and contains the Privilege du Roy; but it is embellished with a title woodcut which distinguishes it easily from the first edition (which instead bears Du Bray’s device, a hand holding a sheaf of grain), and is printed on mid-eighteenth-century Limousin paper (carré raisin fin). The counterfeit may have been published by the Jesuits as ammunition against Duvergier de Hauranne (cf. F. Martin, Angélique Arnauld abbess of Port Royal, 1873, pp. 185-6).
Of the dozen N. American libraries holding this title, all except Houghton (which holds a copy of the true first edition) take the imprint at its face value.
The binding may be a “publisher’s binding” (the publisher being of course anonymous): I have seen another privately owned copy of the book in a nearly identical binding. Barbier III, 1155; Brunet IV, 1014; Arbour, Un éditeur d'oeuvres littéraires au XVIIe siècle: Toussaint Du Bray (Geneva, 1992), pp. 37, 195 (not mentioning the counterfeit, conflating it with the first edition). Item #2399