8vo, pp. vii, [1 (blank)], 129,  blank,  contents,  blank; some light spotting and foxing, largely marginal otherwise a good, broad-margined copy uncut in publisher’s printed wrappers; provenance: – upper wrapper inscribed ‘Monsieur Chatelain, de la part de l’auteur’; – 19th-century ink stamp to title (‘In Deo spes’ with initials ‘ACH’, with anchor and star within a serpent).
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Réflexions sur la punition des grands crimes, considérée dans ses rapports avec la morale, extraites d’un ouvrage inédit dont l’auteur s’était proposé d’examiner quelques idées de M. le comte de Maistre (Joseph).
First and only edition, inscribed from the author. An extensive essay against the death penalty, and especially against public executions by Jean-Baptiste-Marie Nolhac (1770-1878) using arguments derived from ‘la digité de la nature humaine et du danger des spectacles sanglants’, written in response to an unpublished work by the prominent Counter-Enlightenment thinker Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821). The text includes a discussion of prisons, proposing reform with progressive objectives: ‘Punir le coupable, pour retenir ceux qui n’ont d’autre frein que la crainte. Le rendre meilleur, pour que son changement soit, pour lui comme pour les autres, la plus grande réprobation du vice, et une réparation éclatante de l’outrage fait à l’image de Dieu’.
Nolhac, a native of Lyon, was the author of many works on various topics, ranging from local church history to ancient festivals, by way of taxation, commentaries on the psalms, and monetary theory. He returned to the present theme in a lecture of 1839, published as M. le comte Joseph de Maistre et le bourreau (Lyon, Perrin, 1839).
We have been unable to trace any copies in US or UK institutions, and the work is not recorded in the BnF checklist of Nolhac’s publications; none could be traced at auction.
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