Sur la Liberté de la Presse, Imitée de l’Anglois, de Milton…

66 pp. 8vo (220 x 140 mm.), stitched as issued, uncut. London [i.e., Paris]: 1788.

First edition of this important tract by Mirabeau (1749-91), famed orator and Revolutionary leader, on the necessity of a free press in France. Greatly influenced by Milton and English republicanism, Mirabeau criticized the restrictions placed on the press by the king. On page 44, he writes (in trans.): “That we examine books provided with approbations, one will see that they contain only the most common ideas, and as such often the most false. In fact, according to his mission, the censor can allow to circulate only trivial truths, which were not even worth writing, or favored truths…”

“Mirabeau found in Milton a kindred spirit; he found in him that flaming love of liberty, that passion for essential freedoms, that lofty and unselfish devotion to country to which he himself aspired. Milton’s influence on Mirabeau, many times suggested but never evaluated, is one of significant interest to students of Milton’s politics… De la Liberté de la Presse is a product of Mirabeau’s pen conceived in the last tumultuous months of 1788. On the eighth of August Lomenie had announced that the Estates-General would meet on May 1, 1789, and that the thinkers were invited to discuss in the public press a plan for holding and forming this body. Bitter controversy about the status of the Third Estate in the Estates-General filled the months that followed. Called by Necker, the Assembly of Notables met on November 6 to determine the constitution of the Estates-General. All France awaited their decision. It was at this moment of popular ferment, amid ‘the snowing of pamphlets,’ that Mirabeau wrote his plea for liberty of the press.”–Don M. Wolfe, “Milton and Mirabeau” in PMLA, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Dec. 1934), p. 1116.

Very good copy of an influential work on press freedom and journalism, in original state. A second edition was posthumously published in 1792.

Price: $500.00

Item ID: 6696

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