PROPHECY AND WINE-MAKING
Prophéties perpetuelles depuis 1521 jusquà la fin du monde.
Manuscript, on paper, France, 1680 [but early 1700s].
Small 4to. 75 unnumbered ll. French MS, in black ink, ronde hand, approx. 15 lines per page, Garden of Holland Pro Patria watermark, initials with pen flourishing. T-p minimally toned, remargined at foot, slight yellowing. An excellent copy, on thick high-quality paper, in c.1700 mottled calf, spine gilt, gilt-lettered morocco label, a.e.g., two worm holes to upper joint and label, spine a little rubbed with small loss at head and foot, corners a bit bumped, upper hinge starting. C18 ms. shelfmark ‘n.1644 F. Tab. 1er D. Tab. 4’, C19 c.1800 printed ownership stamp ‘Huzard de l’Institut’ to t-p, C18 ms. ‘ad libitum’ and ‘a eté vendu 10 a linventaire de Mr Delajonchère’ to rear fep.
An excellent ms., on thick high-quality paper, of this fascinating work—a meteorological perpetual calendar from 1521 to the end of the world, and an agricultural almanac, with numerous observations on wine. It was prepared in 1680 by the Académie des Sciences for François-Michel Le Tellier (1641-91), Marquis de Louvois, Secretary of War under Louis XIV. In the preliminaries, the work is attributed to the mysterious Neapolitan philosopher Joseph le Juste, frequently listed, in C18 French prophetic collections, alongside Pythagoras and Nostradamus. ‘The figure of Joseph Le Juste was already present in prophetic literature and almanacs. […] the biblical Joseph, who interpreted dreams, who had received a revelation from an angel concerning the prediction of good and bad days’ (Halbron, ‘Vaticinations’, 2014). The Académie had allegedly collected the prophecies which had passed their tests, hence were deemed ‘infallible and truthful’—a witty fiction (‘Journal de
Paris’, 1807, 445). After a brief introduction on seasonal time, the work provides a meteorological perpetual calendar, in 28-year cycles, suggesting best practices in agriculture, fishing and cloth manufacture in relation to the weather. Great attention is paid to wine-making, with St Jean, Rochelle, Soitou, Auxerre and Champagne being the most profitable, resistant and tasty wines, and to the wine trade, with observations on the fluctuations of prices according to the quality of the harvest, the supply of specific wines and the effect of the surrounding economic situation on good or bad harvests. Fodder, rye, grain, cattle and wool are also discussed, with suggestions on how to avoid losing money by foreseeing demand and supply thanks to the almanac. Louvois himself owned numerous estates, with complex gardens and water pipes.
A contemporary reviewer of the 1807 printed edition doubted whether the Académie ever offered the ms. to Louvois. In fact, the only recorded institutional copy in the US may even be the presentation copy, with Louvois’s illuminated coat of arms on the t-p, now at UC Davis. The few others recorded (e.g., Cochran, ‘Catalogue’, 1837, n.237; Uni Strasbourg, Ms.0.556) were copied from this, probably upon request of members of the Académie. The watermark of this copy dates it probably to the early C18 (Churchill, ‘Watermarks’, n.130), like the Strasbourg copy. A ms. note suggests that it was sold from the inventory of M. De la Jonchère, arguably M. Lescuyer de la Jonchère, academician, topographer and hydrographer in the 1710s (‘Le journal des sçavans’, 192; ‘Histoire De L’Academie’, 555). It was later in the library of Jean-Baptiste Huzard (1755-1838), a French veterinary doctor, himself a member of the Académie and later the Institut. His large library comprised over 40,000 volumes, many on natural science; the present was lot 5507 in the catalogue ‘Bibliothèque Huzard’ (Part I) (1843).
Only UC Davis copy recorded in the US.