[JHRB News] Newsletter for June 8th, 2004
Joslin Hall Rare Books, ABAA
office at joslinhall.com
Tue Jun 8 10:43:13 EDT 2004
The Book Elves are certainly glad it's finally June, as it was a long,
cold, wet May in Massachusetts. But with June has come Farmer's Market
time every Monday, with fresh Hadley asparagus, and just this week the
first strawberries of the season. Combine that with the imminent return
of Nomar to the Red Sox lineup and the fact that the sun is shining, and
they can hardly contain themselves.
But before they overdosed on strawberries and staggered out of the
Cataloging Cave with berry-stained faces and hands to lie, bloated and
immobile in their beach chairs in the warm sunshine, waiting for the
baseball game to start on the radio, they finished putting together a new
"Just Catalogued" page which we have now posted on the website-
This time we have a large selection of art and antique-related books,
including furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, and design, as well a some
other surprising material. Highlights include-
-An 1865 full-scale attack on Burke's Peerage by a professional
-An 1854 pamphlet on the adulteration of oils, including Sperm whale oil...
-Frederick Arthur Crisp's lovely catalog of ceramics in his collection
bearing Arms of the Livery Companies. The catalog was limited to 150
-A scarce 1786 pamphlet issued by Maitre Doillot, Jeanne de Saint-Remy de
Valois' counsel at the famous Diamond Necklace Trial. Of Doillot and his
wholehearted defense of the Countess, a friend wrote- "The man has either
gone stark raving mad or Madame de la Motte has bewitched him as she did
-An interesting 1820 guide to Taxidermy, including instructions for
travelers on what animal specimens to collect (when in Madagascar, think
-A catalog of a 1949 exhibition of Limoges porcelain, written by Henri
-Alfred Coxe Prime's copy of Crosby's "Ninety Five Per Cent Perfect"
(Nantucket silver and architecture) with Prime's bookplate...
-A scarce 1804 study of the effects of spoiled hay on the horses of the
-A copy of Halsey's famous "Pictures of Early New York on Dark Blue
Staffordshire Pottery", one of thirty copies printed on Imperial Japan
-A nicely printed 1927 edition of the famous 1596 book "The Metamorphosis
of Ajax, about which someone wrote- "I defy any great poet to write a
better book on privies than this..."
-An Advance Reading Copy of Thomas Hoving's delightful "False Impressions.
The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes", with a nice inscription by Hoving...
-An interesting 1888 study of certain aspects of submarines...
-A nice ca. 1880 hearse catalog
-a good set of Pearson's important books on cut glass design...
-A nice copy of Augustus Welby Pugin's rather scarce 1837 pamphlet
defending his blockbuster panagyric "Contrasts, A Parallel between the
Noble Edifices of the 14th and 15th centuries and Similar buildings of the
Present Day. Showing a Decay of Taste"...
-a scarce 1831 report on water-power experiments carried out by the
Franklin Institute of Philadelphia...
and a *lot* more...
OUR CURRENT PRINTED CATALOG-
Don't forget that we still have a few copies of our current printed
catalog- "(Almost) Ready for Spring" available. If you would like a free
copy, please send us your mailing address.
OUR UPCOMING PRINTED CATALOG-
Our Summer catalog is going to press later this week and will be mailed
before July 4th -email us your mailing address to be sure you don't miss
your free copy!
"THE MAN HAS EITHER GONE STARK RAVING MAD OR MADAME DE LA MOTTE HAS
BEWITCHED HIM AS SHE DID THE CARDINAL".
One of my favorite items in our new "Just Catalogued" page is a little
pamphlet issued by Jeanna de Valois' lawyer, Doillot, in 1786. I include
here our note on this interesting item, with a description of the
background of Jeanne and the infamous Diamond Necklace Trial-
Doillot. "Memoire fait par M. l'Avocat Doillot, [p]our [M]me. Jeanne de
Saint-Remy, de Valois, epouse du Comte de la Motte, pour l'affaire du
Fameux Collier" Paris; 1786.
A plea by her lawyer on behalf of Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois, Comtesse
de la Motte, author of the "Affair of the Diamond Necklace", the scandal
which raised French hatred of Marie Antoinette to a fever pitch. As
Napoleon once commented- "The Queen's death must be dated from the Diamond
The trial, and the subsequent Memoirs of its chief feminine player, is
also credited by many historians with being the gust of foul wind which
finally fanned the long smoldering fire of popular discontent into the
uncontrollable conflagration of the French Revolution. The tale is long,
complex and not just a little sordid; it has several different versions
(depending on whose memoirs you read), and has been told many times, most
recently in a beautifully costumed Hollywood version starring Hilary
Swank. The movie, which includes a stirring performance by Miss Swank as
the Countess, takes some (but not all) of the Countess's claims at face
value, which is another way of saying that it takes extreme liberties with
what most historians regard as the actual truth.
Although she claimed to be descended from royalty, it is now generally
agreed that Jeanne de Saint-Remy de Valois, Comtesse de la Motte, came of
what might be termed "humble origins" and basically talked, schemed and
slept herself almost all the way to the Royal Chambers at Versailles.
Jeanne carried on an affair with the Cardinal Louis Rene Edouard, Prince
de Rohan, a man more attuned to matters earthly than spiritual, who had
fallen out of favor with Marie Antoinette. Jeanne also borrowed money from
the Cardinal, and was soon deep in his debt. For his part the Cardinal was
anxious to get into the Queen's good graces, if not her bed, and Jeanne
persuaded him that she had the Queen's ear and could arrange
The gullible and perhaps somewhat oversexed Cardinal agreed and the
Countess arranged a correspondence between him and the Queen. His letters
to Marie Antoinette real enough, but were never delivered; the Queen's
return letters were forgeries produced by Jeanne herself, or possibly her
husband, or perhaps her "secretary" and lover, the gallant former-cavalier
Retaux de Vilette. The diabolical farce had seemed to reach its climax
with a midnight rendezvous in the Grove of Venus at the Palais-Royal
Gardens, between the Cardinal and Marie Antoinette -actually an actress
(or prostitute, or perhaps both, who could keep track at this point?) who
bore a remarkable resemblance to the Queen... but then the extravagant and
fabulously costly diamond necklace entered the scene. Ah, the necklace...
The Diamond Necklace came into being courtesy of a firm of Parisian
jewelers who had, several years earlier, made it (so they had unwisely
speculated) to sell to Madame du Barry. They had tried to interest Marie
Antoinette in the necklace several times, and although she had been
tempted, she considered it too extravagant and had refused to purchase it.
Now the jewelers, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy with interest
payments on the money they had borrowed to buy the stones, approached the
Countess, who openly boasted about how close she was to the Queen, and
asked her to persuade Antoinette to buy the overwrought bauble which was
worth as much as a full-rigged warship.
Jeanne shrewdly took the matter to the Cardinal, who was only too eager to
negotiate a purchase he thought would endear him further to Marie. More
outrageous lies, forgeries and deception ensued, and in the end the Queen
agreed to purchase the necklace, or so the lovesick Cardinal and desperate
jewellers thought. The jewelers delivered it to the Cardinal, and by the
Cardinal to a trusted servant of the Queen... and then it disappeared. Go
figure. The first Marie Antoinette knew of all this was when the jewelers
(most humbly and very, very anxiously) sent her a dunning letter for the
gigantic unpaid bill. Then, as they say, all Hell broke loose. The scandal
became public; the Cardinal was denounced, and Jeanne was arrested along
with just about everybody else who had ever as much as shaken hands with
the Cardinal. Acting against some very good advice, Marie Antoinette
insisted on a trial for the Cardinal on the charge that he was guilty
simply because he had believed that she was capable of having the sort of
"relationship" with him he had thought she had. This, of course, played
right into the hands of the Queen's numerous enemies who were only too
happy to have publicly broadcast the exact nature of what the Cardinal had
thought were the Queen's morals, or lack thereof.
There followed a sensational trial, which was ostensibly about the
Cardinal's actions but was really about the Queen's reputation; after much
scandal-mongering in both the courtroom and the streets the Queen's
enemies won and the Cardinal was acquitted. Jeanne was convicted and
whipped, branded, and thrown into the Bastille at which point she may (or
may not) have had a fling with its Governor, the poor Launay, who would
lose his head at the hands of the mob when they stormed the ancient
fortress a few months later. Jeanne was now a favorite of the
anti-Antoinette faction which was growing quickly in France, and she was
able to intrigue to escape the country and made her way, with her husband,
Once there she immediately set out on a plan of revenge against the Queen
which took the form of her famous "Memoires Justificatifs de la Comtesse
de Valois de la Motte", which contained her own highly-slanted version of
her life and the Diamond Necklace Affair. The readers of England and
France could not get enough of the Countess's memoirs, although what you
thought of them depended on which side of the Royal table you sat on- "a
cesspool of calumny" was the verdict of the Abbe Georgel, friend and
secretary of Cardinal Rohan. Mirabeau said of the Countess- "Madame de La
Motte's voice alone brought on the horrors of July 14 and of October 5"
(the storming of Versailles and the slaughter of the troops there by the
In 1791 the Countess's two volume "Story of My Life" came off the presses,
but Jeanne would not live to enjoy its fruits. In early June the London
newspapers reported that a London bailiff had appeared at her lodgings to
serve an order for her mounting debts. Others said that the men were
actually secret agents sent by the Duke of Orleans; that was what Jeanne
believed, and to get away from them she barricaded herself in and then
climbed out a third floor window, falling to the street below. Badly
injured, she lingered in extreme pain through the hot weeks of July and
into August, when, on August 23rd, 1791, she died. She was buried a few
days later in the churchyard of St. Mary's, in Lambeth. The Queen against
whom Jeanne had intrigued for so long survived her by just two years, one
month, and 23 days, before mounting the steps to the guillotine in Paris
to the howling delight of the mob.
This volume is one of several pleas issued by her lawyer, Maitre Doillot,
at the time of her trial, and printed for a public anxious to read
anything they could about the famous case. It must be said that Doillot, a
respected advocate, was in somewhat over his head in dealing with Jeanne.
He was the family lawyer of the Paris Police Lieutenant General, and had
been recommended to Jeanne by that worthy as a favor -for what we will not
speculate, though many others did at the time. The Count Beugnot, himself
a lawyer (and another one of Jeanne's former lovers) had turned down her
plea that he defend her, and had this to say about Maitre Doillot-
"Doillot had been in practice before the Paris bar for many, many years,
and not without renown. Deep in his sixties or beyond, he had retired to
his study, where he was still consulted as an eminent jurist. Even a sage
old gentleman such as this could not with impunity survive close contact
with the Countess de la Motte. She completely turned his head. He believed
implicitly all the tales she spun him, became emotionally involved with
his client and put up an impassioned defense of her innocence, making his
debut in the case with the publication of a trial brief, the most
extravagant defense plea ever to flow from the pen of an attorney in all
the years since attorneys first began composing defense pleas. Fantastic
as a tale out of 'The Arabian Nights', it enjoyed, nonetheless, a
sensational success. And to think that it was the composition of a
venerable white-wig of seventy summers!".
The Abbe Georgel called Doillot's first plea "a tissue of lies, of
striking improbabilities, contradictions and anachronisms". According to
Mossiker, Doillot's own brother agreed-
"The man has either gone stark raving mad or Madame de la Motte has
bewitched him as she did the Cardinal".
Although thousands of copies of the pamphlets were printed, their
ephemeral nature makes them considerably less common today. OCLC locates
only 2 copies of this one.
That's all for today. Have a look at our Just Catalogued page
<http://www.joslinhall.com/justcat.htm> when you have a moment, and have fun!
JOSLIN HALL RARE BOOKS, ABAA
Fine books of the 16th-20th centuries
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