Precis elementaire de Morale. / Elements of Morality, or Ethics epitomized.

Chelsea: Printed by D[ennett] Jaques, at the Neat Houses. Sold by the Author, No. 28, Robinson’s

12mo., pp. [7], 3-88 (beginning on a verso), [3], with facing French and English title-pages and facing French and English text throughout; a little dusty, but a good copy, uncut, restitched in the original paper wrappers, rebacked.


US $1805€1530

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First edition, rare, a parallel-text guide to ethics in prose and verse, by an émigré aristocrat. A version of the text was apparently ‘first printed at Boulogne in 1789 for the use of his own children’, though no copies have survived. In any case the present edition was much expanded, adding ‘historical facts after each precept … as also several distichs and stanzas analogous to the subjects … which the author composed subsequent to his emigration from France’ – these are 32 in number and cover topics from revenge and friendship to ‘the passion of gaming’ and a touching poem to his son at age 12:

In me, dear child, you ever shall behold,
What I at least will strive to blend,
The loving father, whether young or old,
The tutor, confidant, and friend.

Having left France during the terror, Antoine-Marie D’Ordre (1751-1832) and his children remained in Chelsea until the worst had passed. His literary talents were perhaps surpassed by that of his son T. J. du Wicquet, later Baron D’Ordre, whose precocious Épitre à mon père (1797) and Opuscules poëtiques (1797) were published from the same address, as well as the unrecorded Journal of a French Emigrant mentioned on the title-page here. The present attribution is not known to ESTC but is recorded in the Biographie Universelle.

ESTC shows three copies: BL, Newberry, and Alexander Turnbull Library (imperf.)

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