by MALESHERBES, Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon de.
Engraved frontis. port. of the author in Vol. I. 2 p.l., xcii, 270 pp.; 2 p.l., 320 pp. Large 4to, cont. mottled sheep (corners a trifle worn, extremities a little rubbed), gilt fillets round sides, flat spines richly gilt, red morocco lettering pieces on spines. Paris: C. Pougens, 1798. First edition, one of the few copies printed in large-paper quarto format, bound in an attractive contemporary binding. Malesherbes (1721-94), was one of the most enlightened officials of the ancien régime; he was an influential spokesman for freedom of the press, religious tolerance, and tax reform. He studied botany with Bernard de Jussieu and chemistry with Rouelle. He wrote little for publication and his memoirs on natural history were usually privately circulated. This posthumously issued collection of the writings of Malesherbes is important as it publishes for the first time most of his memoirs on natural history (botany, geology, the problems of classification, tides, oceanography, volcanoes, and meteorology). "Among Malesherbes's earliest works, although published posthumously (1798), was a critique of the first volumes of Buffon's Histoire naturelle (1749). Here he not only disagreed with specific details but also replied effectively to Buffon's attack on naturalists who emphasized the accumulation of data and on botanists who believed it possible to discover a natural system of classification."-D.S.B., IX, pp. 53-54. This edition was edited by L.P. Abeille, who has furnished a foreword and notes. Fine and pretty set with the bookplates of the duc d'Uzès, Chateau de Bonelles and of Pierre Lambert (Lambert's books, dispersed in the late 1970s, are always so attractive). A few signatures lightly browned. . (Inventory #: HillBibl-5364)
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