8vo, pp. viii, 153, ; woodcut printer’s device and tail-piece; one or two very light spots, but a very good copy in contemporary sprinkled calf, flat spine with the remains of gilt fleurons (gilding mostly worn off), red morocco lettering-piece; spine rubbed and chipped at head, small hole at foot, corners a little worn, a few scratches to sides, extremities rubbed; contemporary ink initials M. D. on the title-page.
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L’ami du peuple Français, ou mémoire adressé à M. Turgot, contrôleur des finances, par le fils d’un laboureur.
First edition thus, rare, of an attack on the French tax system published on the eve of Turgot’s demise. Set out as a narrative, this work outlines the family history of the author as a tale of hard work, of strife against the injustice and abuse of tax collectors, progressive failure to meet impossible demands from thriving tax farmers, jail and confiscation, and ultimately ruin. Through his exemplary story the author calls out to Turgot for a radical reform. He details the French fiscal set-up describing taxes, the severely uneven distribution of their impact, and the cruelty of a system which appears solely to serve the interest of the tax collectors, to the detriment of both crown and people. This appears to be the reprint of a part of a work sometimes attributed to Turgot (Quérard): Sur les finances, ouvrage posthume de Pierre André ****** fils d’un bon laboureur.
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SUPERBISSIMUM AURIS JUDICIUM RAMEAU, Jean-Philippe.
Nouvelles réflexions de M. Rameau sur sa demonstration du principe de l’harmonie, servant de base à tout l’art musical théorique et pratique.
First edition; rare. ‘This short treatise, which appeared in 1752, is ostensibly a postscript to Rameau’s Démonstration [du principe de l’harmonie], published two years earlier. It nevertheless marks a radical shift in Rameau’s thinking about the corps sonore [Rameau’s term for any vibrating system which emitted harmonic partials above its fundamental frequency]. In that same year, the architect Charles Briseux (c. 1680–1754) published a Traité du beau essential dans les arts in which he used the evidence of Rameau’s discoveries to demonstrate that architecture was based on the principles of harmony. Rameau seized on this corroboration of his theories, which confirmed his growing belief that the principles derived from the corps sonore were “common to all those arts of taste that have our senses for object and proportions for rules”. By now, too, he had discovered the “sensationalist” psychology of John Locke . . . which held that all knowledge is acquired primarily through the senses. Rameau could thus validate the corps sonore by empirical means, in showing that it was “drawn from nature and perceptible to three of our senses” (hearing, sight, touch). This elevation of experience over reason prompted Rameau to adopt as his watchword the aphorism superbissimum auris judicium (“the judgement of the ear is best”), which appears for the first time in these Nouvelles réflexions. He set great store by this publication, sending copies to the Swiss mathematicians Jean II Bernoulli and Leonhard Euler and the Italian philosopher Francesco Maria Zanotti . . . with a request for their opinions of it’ (Graham Sadler, The Rameau compendium, 2014, pp. 141–2).
BAUDEAU, Nicolas, Abbé.
Eclaircissements demandés à M. N**, sur les Principes Economiques, & sur ses projets de législation; au nom des Propriétaires fonciers & des Cultivateurs François.
I: Rare first separate edition, first published in the Nouvelles Ephémérides, volume V, 1775, ‘extrait des nouvelles éphémérides économiques’ printed on verso of the cancel title. Daire considers this work to be the finest polemic of the Physiocratic school. Written following the publication of Necker’s Sur la législation et le commerce des grains (1775), Baudeau here presents, in magnificent style, the arguments of the Physiocrats against Necker’s theories.