La Constitution en Vaudevilles, Suivie des Droits de l’Homme, de la Femme, et de plusieurs autres vaudevilles constitutionnels. François MARCHANT.
La Constitution en Vaudevilles, Suivie des Droits de l’Homme, de la Femme, et de plusieurs autres vaudevilles constitutionnels.
La Constitution en Vaudevilles, Suivie des Droits de l’Homme, de la Femme, et de plusieurs autres vaudevilles constitutionnels.
La Constitution en Vaudevilles, Suivie des Droits de l’Homme, de la Femme, et de plusieurs autres vaudevilles constitutionnels.
Odd Couple

La Constitution en Vaudevilles, Suivie des Droits de l’Homme, de la Femme, et de plusieurs autres vaudevilles constitutionnels. Paris: chez les Libraires Royalistes, 1792.

[With:] Manuel du Républicain. Paris: de l’Imprimerie Nationale Exécutive du Louvre, l’an II [probably 1794, after 24 November 1793].

2 works in 2 volumes, 24mo (95 x 58 mm). Marchant: [33] 34-160 pages. Half-title, engraved frontispiece printed in bistre avant la lettre, calendar [pp. 8-31] with typographic lunar symbols. Small stain to frontispiece, occasional minor spotting. Manuel: [4], 115 pp., woodcut revolutionary emblem on title-page, text in double rule borders throughout. Fold-out table (concordance of Revolutionary and Gregorian calendars). Wove paper. Folding table slightly creased, else fine. Uniformly bound in early nineteenth-century green morocco gilt, covers with roll border, smooth spines gold-tooled and paneled in five compartments of which four with a “mille points” stamp, the second compartment gilt-lettered, gilt edges, turn-ins gold-tooled, pink pastepaper endleaves (slight scuffing to spine extremities). Provenance: from the libraries of Lord Auckland, and Carlo de Poortere, with their bookplates.***

Two diametrically opposed Revolutionary-era publications, containing different views of the first two French Constitutions, both in small format for convenient pocket consultation, uniformly bound (with a touch of tacit humor) for an early 19th-century amateur.

1) First Edition of a celebrated Royalist spoof of the first constitution of France, adopted in September 1791. The body of the work consists of clause by clause parodies of the Constitution, each set to the tune of a different popular song. In his dedication to “Monsieurs les Emigrés,” Marchant supposes that the reader will prefer “la constitution qui fait rire à celle qui fait fuir” (which makes one laugh rather than one that makes one flee), and his mock Constitution, which is preceded by a (genuine, Gregorian) calendar, is indeed replete with bons mots. It is followed by a poetic satire of the rights of woman (whose right should be to enchant and enchain men), and a series of political parodies, on the “exploits” of the Jacobins and on well-known revolutionary personalities, such as the journalist or hack writer Jean-Louis Carra, the publicist Antoine-Joseph Gorsas, and Jean-Georges-Charles Voidel, the deputy who had introduced the notorious oath of fidelity that was imposed on the clergy, triggering the first great societal schism of the Revolution. Also satirized, in the song “l’Expedition de Vincennes,” is the mob of “twenty thousand brigands” who descended on Vincennes on 28 February 1791 (the Journée des poignards), before the Marquis de Lafayette arrived with the National Guard and calmed them.

The frontispiece shows a man playing with a large yo-yo, a pastime that caught on among emigrés in England, and was thereafter known as an “émigrette.”

The work or portions of it appeared with variations and under different titles (e.g., Étrennes au beau sexe, ou la Constitution française mise en chansons, 1792), and it spawned a vogue for “Constitution songs, [which] found their way into theatre pieces, and especially into scenes enacted at festivals. They were also disseminated outside France in German reprints” (Boyd, p. 238). François Marchant, the author of this original Constitution en chansons, was forced to flee to his native town of Cambrai, where he died in December 1793 (Boyd, p. 238, citing Pierre, Hymnes et chansons).

The Newberry library holds an undated 8vo edition of the text; and a bibliophilic reprint appeared in 1872. Grand-Carteret, Les almanachs français 1053; Cohen-de Ricci, Guide de l’Amateur des livres à gravures du XVIIIe siècle 677; Gay-Lemonnyer, Bibliographie des ouvrages relatifs à l'amour, aux femmes, au mariage I:672; Tourneux, Bibliographie de l'histoire de Paris pendant la Révolution II:11744; Welschinger, Les Almanachs de la Révolution (1884), 228; Constant Pierre, Les hymnes et chansons de la Révolution, p. 154, no. 5; cf.  M. Boyd, Music and the French Revolution, 238-39.

2) Uniformly bound with this satire is a serious Revolutionary’s pocket manual: weighty material in a palm-sized volume. The first part contains the text of the “Jacobin” Constitution, ratified on June 24, 1793, which swept away the constitutional monarchy, outlining a plan for the equalization of French citizens and a radical redistribution of wealth, and containing a fundamental statement of the rights of man. The constitution was never implemented (though portions were resuscitated after 1870 for the Third Republic), being swept away by the emergency war powers enacted by the Committee of Public Safety and the ensuing Terror.

The second and longest part of the book is devoted to the new Republican calendar and to one permanent legacy of the Revolution: the metric system. Included are the decrees relating to the establishment of the calendar on 4 frimaire An II (24 November 1793), the calendar itself, in 24 pages, a fold-out concordance of the old and new calendars, and an account of the new system of weights and measures. OCLC locates one copy, at the BnF.
Item #2689u

Price: $2,500.00