Three important ALSs from the 1820s
LAURAGUAIS, Louis-Léon-Félicité de Brancas, comte de
Price: 4,250.00 AUD
[Paris]: 1823. Three autograph letters, 260 x 195 mm. Three interesting and witty letters written by an elderly Comte de Lauraguais, providing a revealing glimpse of the exalted scientific circles in which he still moved. This small cache of letters represents a rare opportunity to gain a better understanding of the enigmatic Count, and includes a particularly good letter to Prince Pierre d'Arenberg, his grandson. Louis Léon Félicité, comte de Lauraguais, duc de Brancas (1733-1824) was a French aristocrat and accomplished chemist, now remembered for his friendship with Sir Joseph Banks. In early 1772 Lauraguais had angered his friend by attempting to publish an account of the Endeavour voyage based on a letter written by Banks, only for Banks to personally seize it from the printer and have all but one copy burnt (that single copy is now one of the treasures of the State Library of New South Wales). Lauraguais had a lifelong interest in the sciences and in voyages of discovery particularly, making the present letters, written when he was almost 90 years of age, a moving testament to his reputation. Hordern House have only once previously handled any manuscript material relating to Lauraguais. The three letters are as follows: Single page to the Chevalier de Rébourguil, 6 May 1822. Lauraguais reflects disarmingly on his long life and his old age, mentioning his old friend Voltaire, and the "spirits coming out of their tombs" as he reflects on former times. The letter was sent to his "good and old" friend the Chevalier de Rébourgil, undoubtedly connected to the town of that name in the Midi-Pyrénées. One-and-a-half pages to M. Bouillon-Lagrange, 3 July 1822. Edme-Jean Baptiste Bouillon-Lagrange (1764-1844) was a professor and later the director of the Ecole de pharmacie in Paris. He had evidently written to the Comte to discuss news relating to chemistry, as he has replied in a witty and self-deprecating way, thanking Bouillon-Lagrange for his kind words and the indulgence with which he has discussed his work, but that he now not only doesn't have a laboratory but in fact barely a kitchen. Lauraguais nonetheless looks forward to meeting him as an old colleague in chemistry. Four pages to his grandson Prince Pierre d'Arenberg, 26 May 1823. Easily the most substantial and personal of the three letters, it is written to the Prince in Marseille, and makes mention of the "Princesse de Poix" (presumably Anne Louise Marie de Beauvau-Craon, the dowager of Philippe-Louis de Noailles, duc de Poix). The letter shows Lauraguais still moving effortlessly through the beau monde - including a reference to his old friend Rébourgil, the recipient of the earlier letter in this group, as an old "ultra" who is still enjoying his health after some 60 years - and concluding with the hope that the Prince will come and see him soon. Pierre d'Arenberg (1790-1877) was the son of Lauraguais' daughter, Pauline Louise Antoinette Candide Felicite de Brancas-Villars de Lauraguais (1755-1820). Some browning, very good.