Deluxe and first illustrated edition of La Henriade by Voltaire.
Bengesco, n˚365 ; Cohen, 1025; Le Petit, Bibliographie des éditions originales, pp. 534-535.
It contains Voltaire’s dedication, “To the Queen” and the edition has been revised by Voltaire compared to the first one in 1723.
This edition from London 1728 is the first one to bear the title ‘La Henriade’ and the first one to be complete, that is in ten odes.
On the other hand it is the first one which has been entirely made under Voltaire’s watch, carefully corrected and revised by him.
“The first one that has been carefully corrected and revised by Voltaire, this deluxe edition presents a text sometimes different from the one in the 1723 edition and the followings, and everywhere this text is much more correct. This beautiful edition can then be considered as the first one to be really authentic.” (Le Petit).
“Copies on Dutch paper are rare.” (Cohen, 1025).
It contains a frontispiece by de Troy, engraved by Surugue, a fleuron on the title drawn by Michaux, engraved by C. (Cochin), 10 large figures by de Troy, Lemoine, Vleughels, engraved by Desplaces, Dupuis, Tardieu, Jeaurat, Cochin, 10 vignettes drawn by Michaux, engraved by Dupuis, Poilly, Fletcher, Lépicié, and 10 tail-pieces by the same ones.
“The vignette at the head of the ‘Chant troisième’ (Third Ode) contains the portrait, in medallion, of the queen Elizabeth of England.” (Le Petit)
Voltaire wrote La Henriade in honor of Henry IV king of France and of tolerance.
The main topic of the work is the siege of Paris, started by Henry III and pursued by Henry of Navarre, future Henry IV.
La Henriade is a poem made of two parts; from real and fictional events, all taken from the marvelous system, such as the prediction of Henry IV’s conversion, the protection given to him by king Saint Louis IX of France, ancestor of the Royal House of France, his apparition, etc.
Censors had noticed in the poem more than one place containing propositions sensing heresy and they demanded suppressions the author felt he couldn’t agree to. Voltaire had to publish outside of France a poem he couldn’t hope to publish with the assent of the authority, since the dedication had been refused by the regent in the name of the king.
Thus he decided to make it print secretly in Rouen by Viret. It is the edition that was published in 1723 under the title La Ligue ou Henry le grand, poème épique, in Geneva, at Jean Mokpap’s (Rouen, Viret), 8vo. This poem counts only 9 odes and suffers from considerable omissions.
In 1728, Voltaire was in England and had just endured a terrible bankruptcy.
Louis XV had him sent two thousand crowns and the entire city of London was in hurry to have an edition of La Henriade printed by subscription, which was done and thanks to the generosity of the English nation, gave the author his fortune back.
Since Louis XV had refused the dedication, Voltaire honored queen Elizabeth with it whose country and liberal institutions we was impressed of.
“La Henriade remains important by the deep feelings of religious and civil tolerance which animates it. France’s favorite hero also personifies the kind of enlightened sovereign educated people of the time were waiting for and of which the “Age of Enlightenment” will definitely set the characteristics.”
A precious untrimmed and very widely margined copy (height 300 mm), one of the few printed on thick Ducth paper, covered with a beautiful 19th century morocco by Chambolle-Duru.