“Ce Trésor d’Erudition”–Peignot
“Exécutée avec Beaucoup d’Exactitude”–Barbier

Autograph manuscript on paper, written throughout in one neat hand, entitled “Catalogue raisonné des Livres de la Bibliotheque de M. l’abbé Goujet, Chanoine de Saint Jacques de l’Hopital, Associe des Académies de Marseille, d’Anger, de Roüen, & l’un des honoraires de la Société des Sciences, Arts & Belles-Lettres d’Auxerre. Tome I[-VI].”

Manuscript title-pages within decorative ruled borders. Each leaf of text ruled in red on rectos & versos. 4 p.l., 935, [5] pp.; 1 p.l., 953, [5] pp.; 1 p.l., 783 pp.; 1 p.l., 674 pp.; 1 p.l., 514 pp.; 259, [392] pp. Six vols. Small folio (312 x 202 mm.), cont. vellum over boards (minor binding wear, upper joint of Vol. III a little split), red morocco titling labels on spines, spines gilt. [Paris: 1759-67].

The long-lost autograph manuscript catalogue of the 10,000-volume library of Claude Pierre Goujet (1697-1767), French abbé, man of letters, controversialist, and prominent book collector. His library was formed over a 50-year period, and Peignot (p. 101) considered Goujet’s autograph manuscript catalogue of the collection to be a “trésor d’érudition.” Goujet’s description of each book is very extensive, with a complete bibliographical record, full accounts of the contents, details on the authorship of anonymous and controversial works, and discussions of literary and religious arguments of the time and each book’s role or place in these debates. Especially important is the thorough author index at the end of Vol. VI, which renders our catalogue extremely easy to use.

Goujet was born in Paris on 9 October 1697. He studied at the College of the Jesuits, and at the Collège Mazarin, but he nevertheless became a strong Jansenist. In 1705 he assumed the ecclesiastical habit, in 1719 entered the order of Oratorians, and soon afterwards was named canon of St Jacques l’Hopital. On account of his extreme Jansenist opinions he suffered considerable persecution from the Jesuits, and several of his works were suppressed at their instigation. In his latter years his health began to fail. Poverty compelled him to sell his library, a sacrifice that hastened his death, which took place at Paris on 1 February 1767.

He was the author of many works. A few of them include the Supplément to Moreri’s Dictionnaire (1735), and a Nouveau Supplément to a subsequent edition of the work. He also collaborated on the Bibliothèque française, ou Histoire litteraire de la France (18 vols., Paris: 1740-1759); and on the Vies des Saints (7 vols., 1730). Goujet wrote the Mémoires historiques et litteraires sur le College royal de France (1758); Histoire des Inquisitions (Paris: 1752); and supervised an edition of Richelet’s Dictionnaire, of which he has also given an abridgment. Goujet helped the abbé Fabre in his continuation of Fleury’s Histoire ecclesiastique.

Antoine Alexandre Barbier (1765-1825), Napoleon’s librarian and third owner of this catalogue, wrote an undated 38-page “Notice du Catalogue raisonné des Livres de la Bibliothéque de l’Abbé Goujet,” which was published in 1803 in a journal (see below). Peignot describes Barbier’s “Notice” as “fort intéressante.” We learn that Goujet began to collect bibliographies and catalogues at the very beginning of his literary career, realizing they would be essential tools for his literary and historical researches. As Barbier writes: “Son érudition et ses liaisons avec les hommes les plus instruits de son temps, lui ont fait donner sur ces objets des détails précieux pour l’histoire littéraire” (p. 4). Goujet was very much in the center of the literary and scholarly activities of Paris for many decades. He knew everyone and had an intimate knowledge of the authorship of anonymous and pseudonymous controversial and scandalous works, which he recorded in the preliminary leaves of the copies in his collection and later transferred to this manuscript catalogue. By 1750, his library numbered about 10,000 volumes, and he began to prepare the present manuscript catalogue, in his highly legible hand, recording all the information he had gathered and noted in his books. This great labor continued for another ten years and, in fact, he continued to add to our manuscript volumes until a few days before his death.

“Son érudition et ses liaisons avec les hommes les plus instruits de son temps, lui ont fait donner sur ces objets des détails précieux pour l’histoire littéraire…il se mit, en 1750, à transcrire, dans le plus grand détail, les titres de tous les ouvrages qu’il possédoit, et les notes qu’il avoit placées dans l’intérieur de chacun d’eux. Il termina ce travail vers le mois de décembre 1759, et le perfectionna jusqu’à la fin de ses jours.”–Barbier, pp. 4-5.

The catalogue is classed by the standard divisions of the time: the first two volumes contain theology; Vol. III is devoted to belles-lettres (in its widest sense, including the sciences); the fourth volume to jurisprudence; the fifth to history; and Vol. VI to more history, eloges that appeared in journals, his remarkable collection of book catalogues, and a masterful and useful author index. Barbier describes it as “exécutée avec beaucoup d’exactitude.”

The main text of the manuscript is written on rectos but Goujet frequently made later additions of titles and further notes on the versos as well as additions to the rectos. The bibliographical detail is precise. Goujet also often attributes authors to anonymous and pseudonymous works, explains the literary and religious contexts in which these books appeared, and adds bibliographical information regarding other editions and translations. Much of this information was known only to Goujet and is uniquely recorded here. For journals, Goujet provides notes on each article and contributor.

Goujet has described and indexed all the dissertations and memoirs in such important series as the Mémoires of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.

As mentioned earlier, Goujet began his collection by purchasing library catalogues. In the second part of the sixth volume we find a list on 22 densely written pages of his collection of library and sale catalogues. Many rarities and all the famous catalogues are present.

Towards the end of Goujet’s life, he suffered great poverty. He was rescued by the enormously wealthy Armand Joseph de Béthune, fifth duc de Charost (1738-1800), who bought Goujet’s library. Béthune de Charost was equally famous as an economist, philanthropist, and bibliophile. Well before the Revolution, he had established many charitable organizations and made notable and profound improvements for his agricultural workers on his vast estates. In spite of his considerable wealth, Béthune de Charost adopted the ideas of the Revolution and did not emigrate, narrowly escaping the Terror. In 1799 Bonaparte made him mayor of the Tenth Arrondissement of Paris, where he died in 1800.

Béthune de Charost agreed to buy the entirety of Goujet’s library at the owner’s suggested price. As the books were being packed and removed, Goujet suffered what seems to have been a heart attack (“apoplexie”) and died a few days later.

The books and this catalogue remained in the library of Béthune de Charost until his widow sold his library at auction in 1802. Our catalogue appears as lot 2453 and sold for the large sum of 72 francs 50, to Barbier, Napoleon’s librarian and a distinguished bibliographer, who considered it a most precious acquisition. Following a study of the present manuscript catalogue, Barbier prepared the above-mentioned “Notice,” in which he fully describes Goujet’s collecting career, the preparation of the catalogue, the nature of the unique information Goujet recorded, and its provenance. Following his death, Barbier’s library was sold in 1828, and our manuscript appears again, as lot 1490, selling for 706 francs. After that, the whereabouts of the catalogue remained unknown until its recent reappearance in a small auction in a small town in the middle of nowhere in France.

Five of the volumes have the characteristic “G” ownership mark of Goujet on a free front endpaper. The first four volumes contain the ownership inscription of the duc de Charost on titles. The BnF owns what appears to be an incomplete copy (NAF 1009-1013, five volumes only), which, according to Peignot, was transcribed by Goujet’s nephew.

Pasted-in on the front paste-down of Vol. I is a note in Barbier’s hand stating that his “Notice” appeared in the eighth year of the Magasin Encyclopedique and was separately printed in 200 copies. Several other of Barbier’s notes appear here and there in the catalogue. An engraved portrait of Goujet is tipped-in on the free front endpaper of Vol. I.

In fine condition. A few minor defects, occasional browning.

❧ Guigard, II, pp. 240-41. Michaud, Biographie universelle, Vol. 18, pp. 176-79–”ce précieux manuscrit.” N.B.G., Vol. XXI, cols. 392-97–with an excellent list of Goujet’s numerous writings over a 35-year period. Peignot, p. 101–one of the longer notes in this section of the book.

Price: $45,000.00

Item ID: 7005

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