Autograph Manuscript Transcription: The Third Canto of Voltaire's Guerre Civile De Geneve

[VOLTAIRE] / GRAY, Thomas

THOMAS GRAY TRANSCRIBES VOLTAIRE

GRAY, Thomas Autograph Manuscript Transcription: The Third Canto of Voltaire's Guerre Civile De Geneve

1767.

Folio quire and separate cover sheet. 5pp. 122 autograph lines in Gray's hand, with the cover sheet titled by Gray "Guerre de Geneve Chant 3me". In very good, clean condition, both sheets sometime remargined with a central fold to the cover sheet.

Thomas Gray's own transcription of Voltaire's scandalous burlesque satire of Jean Jacques Rousseau.
Gray's transcription, which comprises the bulk of the third canto, appropriately covers the part of the poem that deals with Rousseau most severely, himself having come to think little of him, particularly after reading Nouvelle Heloise (1760). Gray seems to relish the satire when he first mentions it in a 1767 letter to his dear friend the Reverend James Brown: "Rousseau you see is gone too... There is a most bitter satire on him and his Maddle. le Vasseur, written by Voltaire, and called Guerre De Geneve."
Renwick notes that manuscript copies of the first and third cantos of Voltaire's satire were in circulation from at least as early as 1767. These gave birth to a pirated edition, not authorised by Voltaire, printed in Paris later that year. Gray's transcription, differing from the first authorised edition of 1768 only in the occasional point of style, likely dates from this period. The poem was then translated into English by T. Teres and published in London in 1769.
Six transcriptions of short poems in French in Gray's hand are noted in the Index Of English Literary Manuscripts (a seventh poem is also noted, though it is partly in Horace Walpole's hand). Poetic manuscripts of any length by Gray are uncommon in modern commerce, with this example being particularly unusual for its cross-cultural relevance and for linking Gray to two of the great thinkers of the eighteenth century.

PROVENANCE: Thomas Gray; William Mason (inherited Gray's library); Richard Stonehewer (inherited from Mason); John Bright, Prebendary of Salisbury (heir of Stonehewer); Sold by Messrs Evans in 1845 to Granville Penn of Stoke Poges; Sale of Penn's portion of Gray's library by Sotheby & Wilkinson, 4th August 1854 (lot 238), sold for 10/6 to "Walton"; W.H. Smith family, Viscounts of Hambleden.

Renwick 67-68. Index Of English Literary Manuscripts, Volume III Part ii.

Stock ID: 39404

£4,500.00

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