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Signed book, First edition

La République universelle ou adresse aux tyrannicides

Jean-Baptiste de dit Anacharsis CLOOTS

La République universelle ou adresse aux tyrannicides

Chez les marchands de nouveautés, Paris An IV de la rédemption (1792), in-8 (12,5x20,5cm), (2 p.) 196 pp., relié.

La République universelle ou Adresse aux tyrannicides

Chez les marchands de nouveautés | Paris An IV de la rédemption (1792) | in-8 (12,5 x 20,5 cm) | (2 p.) 196 pp. | half calf

An Anacharsis Clootz deputation from all the isles of the sea, and all the ends of the earth, accompanying Old Ahab in the Pequod to lay the world's grievances before that bar from which not very many of them ever come back.” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)

Very rare first edition.
Bound in half tan calf, spine decorated with fleurons and gilt double fillets, some rubbing on the joints, mustard coloured paper boards, marbled endpapers, edges speckled. Missing top spine end (as it should be), rubbed joints and some chafed patches.
Annotation regarding the author handwritten in ink by a former owner on the page facing the half-title page: condamné à mort le 24 mars 1794.” “executed on 24 March 1794.”
Extremely rare handwritten presentation by Anacharsis Cloots to the revolutionary Nicolas Joseph Pâris, "Pour NJ Pâris de la part de l'auteur.” “For NJ Pâris from the author.”.  This friend of Danton and Cloots, court clerk of the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal, was well known under his pseudonym Fabricius, which he took, as did his friend Cloots, from the history of the Ancient Republics.
The original edition of this essential work by Anacharsis Cloots, of which the “various other writings are only detached parts” (Léonard Gallois, Histoire des Journaux et des journalistes de la Révolution française, 1846), is one of exceptional rarity, and we have not been able to find any other copy enriched with a handwritten presentation.
Our copy is addressed to another revolutionary witness to the great trials of terror who became famous for warning Danton of the plot of Robespierre and Marat, as told by Victor Hugo in Quatre-vingt-treize: “It was at the time when the copying clerk, Fabricius Pâris, watched through the key-hole the proceedings of the Commitee of Public Safety; not an act of supererogation, be it observed, for it was this very Pâris who notified Danton on the night of the 31st of March 1794.”  A revolutionary thinker, Cloots is firstly a philosopher of the Revolution. This German Baron, whose political, social and economic condition did not naturally bring him to take part in a working-class and bourgeoise revolution, was however the most ardent defender of the universalism brought about by the Declaration of Human Rights. “No one [among exiled Germans] felt more invested with a universal philanthropic mission than Johann Baptist Cloots who dreamed of a Republican International, thus paving the way for the great socialist theoreticians of the next generation, the tailor Wilhelm Weitling, the teacher Friedrich Mäurer, and of course, Karl Marx who also experienced exile in Paris.”  (Thierry Feral, Plaidoyer pour une rénovation du discours historique sur l'Allemagne).
However, as Albert Soboul notes, “the great visionary who was this cosmopolitan banker, remains misunderstood in history. Only Jaurès, carried by his human warmth and this broad vision of historic evolution, understood in his Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française, that Anacharsis Cloots' anticipations could have been realistic: this great visionary was not a dreamer.” (Soboul Albert. Anacharsis Cloots, l'Orateur du genre humain. In Annales historiques de la Révolution française, n°239, 1980. pp. 29-58.)
In reality, the gradual suppression of Cloots in the History of the Revolution is rather late. In 1792, the Prussian aristocrat who stood up for the France of the Sans-culottes was one of the greatest celebrities of his time: “All the booksellers' shops in Paris are covered with what some call Anacharsis' whims, and what many others admire as the prophecies of a sage, of a true friend of humanity.” The newspapers snap up his articles:  “It was even good fortune that a letter or a speech from Cloots, almost all remarkable for the originality of the ideas they contained, for the style, and above all for his relentless pursual of the object of all his desires, which was the Universal Republic” Gallois, ibid).
In his famous Précis historique de la Révolution françoise followed by his Réflexions politiques sur les circonstances, published in 1792, Rabaut Saint-Étienne writes a portrait of Cloots which sheds light on the aura of this unique man:
“He appeared in France one of those men who know how to launch themselves from the present to the future: he announced that the time would come when all people would be one, and when national hatreds would end; he predicted the Republic of men and the single nation; he proudly called himself the Orator of mankind and said that all the people of the earth were his principals; he foresaw that the Declaration of Rights, passed from America to France, would one day be the social theology of men and the morality of human families, commonly called nations. He was Prussian and noble, and he became man. Some told him he was a visionary, and he responded with these words of a philosopher writer (Soméri): “One would make a volume of the false maxims accredited in the world; we live there on a small basis of principles very few people dare to push the boundaries of. Does anyone dare to take flight and see beyond, it frightens; it is a dangerous spirit, it is at least a bizarre one. [epigraph quotation from République Universelle]”
Cloots, forever French at heart, wanted in 1786, to link the left bank of the Rhine to France. (cf. Cloots, Vœux d'un Gallophile, 1786). He was also made an honorary citizen of France on 26 June 1792, along with George Washington, Jeremy Bentham, James Madison, Joseph Priestley, William Wilberforce, James Macintosh, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Paine (the only other foreigner, with Cloots to have been elected representative of the people at the Convention).
But it is paradoxically as a foreigner that he contributed to transforming a National Revolution into a universal principle.
The establishment of the Republic in France, although preceded by the English Commonwealth and the American Constitution, was of immediate international importance and remains still today the model of all democratic revolutions throughout the world; it is thanks to this universality in which philosophers such as Cloots are recognised, as Jules Michelet points out:  “This necessary revolution of the eighteenth century produces, in metaphysics, Kant and the Pure Reason; in practice, the religious attempt of [Gilbert] Romme and Anacharsis Clootz, the cult of Reason.” (Michelet, Histoire de la Révolution française, 1847)
In La République universelle, he who proclaims himself “the Orator of Mankind”, operates like Brissot and his fight against the slave trade, or Olympe de Gouges and her defence of women's rights, a real rationalisation of the revolutionary movement to extract the universalist essence, in line with Enlightenment thinking.
“It is in this perspective that he came up with the idea at the Embassy on 19 June 1790: he presented himself at the assembly bar as the spokesman for a Committee of foreigners representing all people in the universe suffering from arbitrariness, and asked for the authorisation for them to participate as such in the Fête de la Fédération the following 14 July.
The delegation did not fail to surprise and enthuse the majority of the deputies with its composition and picturesque look: political exiles were recognised and some of the participants had donned their sometimes exotic national dress. But it was of course Jean Baptiste Clootz's Harangue that brought the emotion to its height, explains the monitor. Indeed, in his speech, the native Clèvois and cosmopolitan Parisian that he is, requests that the Fête de la Fédération be also that of mankind because “The trumpet that sounds the resurrection of a great people,” he proclaims, “has sounded in the four corners of the world. And the songs of joy from the hearts of twenty-five million free men has awakened the people buried in a long slavery.” To this end, he calls for his committee to have the right to appear officially on 14 July: “Never was the Embassy more sacred; our letters of credence are not written on parchment, but our mission is engraved in indelible figures in the hearts of all men.” And above all, supreme justification: “What lessons for the despots! What consolation for the unfortunate people...” The president of the De Menou Assembly gave his agreement to the “Orator”. At the height of emotion, the deputy Fermont proposed that the delegation be acclaimed and Pétion demanded that the harangue be printed and distributed, a proposal which was accepted unanimously. If the conservatives tried to ruin it by ridicule, the fact remains that the operation made Fête de la Fédération a celebration of universal human rights!” (François Labbé, Anacharsis Cloots le Prussien francophile Un philosophe au service de la Révolution française et universelle, 2000)
La République universelle lays the philosophical foundations for this internationalist utopia and will feed the thinking of great philosophers such as Jean Jaurès, Karl Marx, Engels and artists and writers from all nations, including Joseph Beuys (for whom Anacharsis is “another himself who preceded him in his revolt, his quest and his non-conformism”), Italo Calvino (Le Baron perché being an allegory of the philosopher) and, especially, Herman Melville.
It is in Moby Dick that we discover the first occurrence of Cloots, under the pen of the American author, to describe the composition of the crew of the famous whaler, described as, “Anacharsis Clootz deputation from all the isles of the sea, and all the ends of the earth, accompanying Old Ahab in the Pequod to lay the world's grievances before that bar from which not very many of them ever come back.”. The reference is not trivial as the philosopher Cyril Lionel Robert James will show: “His candidates for the Universal Republic are bound by the fact that they work together on the same whaler. They form a world federation of modern industrial workers”. François Labbé also considers this reference as “a key to the 'Mobydickian' metaphor; Ahab's quest and Anacharsis' action magnified by each other.”
The author of one of the most beautiful humanist utopias, Anacharsis “engages his pen and his life in the struggles of ideas of the last quarter of the century [and] illustrates the passage from Enlightenment thinking to revolutionary activism(..). His political line is clear: to achieve the Universal Republic, the only possible framework of his philosophical ambition, and to indicate to man the ways of his freedom.”
This unique dedication on his major work by Anacharsis to Fabricius Pâris, the future court clerk at the trail of Marie-Antoinette, constitutes a priceless testimony to the short life of this revolutionary humanist, guillotined at the age of 34, and the emergence of global thinking:
“Let us insist eternally on perfect fusion, on the confederation of individuals, otherwise the bodies will reappear with the esprit de corps. And why are corporations dangerous? It is because it is more difficult to contain them under legal power than simple individuals. Individual ambition is as intense as collective ambition; but the weakness of one turns particular disputes into mere trials, while the strength of the other enables it to undertake bloody and seldom interrupted wars. Provincial bodies and national bodies are the greatest plagues to mankind. What ignorance, what barbarity to park ourselves into different rival corporations, while we have the advantage of inhabiting one of the lesser planets of the celestial sphere! We multiply our jealousies, our quarrels, dividing the common interest, the common force. A body does not declare war on itself, and mankind will live in peace, when it forms one body, the United Nation”
Provenance: Nicolas-Joseph Pâris, known as Fabricius (national commissioner in Lille and court clerk of the Revolutionary Tribunal in Paris), then the Henri Joliet library with his ex-libris with the motto “plus penser que dire” (“think more than say”) glued to the first endpaper.

8 000 €

Réf : 81438



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