Early French Translation of an Important Document of the Enlightenment Catherine II [1762-1796], Empress of Russia. [Balthasar, Joseph Anton Felix von, (1737-1810), Translator]. Instruction Donnee par Catherine II., Imperatrice et Legislatrice de Toutes les Russies, a la Commission Etablie par cette Souveraine, pour Travailler ala Redaction d'un Nouveau Code de Loix, Telle Qu'elle e ete Imprimee en Russe & en Allemand, Dans l'Imprimerie Imperiale de Moscow. Nouvelle Edition, Augmentee. Lausanne: Chez Francois Grasset & Comp., 1769. xiv, 160 (i.e. 204) pp. Lacking dedication leaf and copperplate portrait frontispiece. Quarto (7" x 4-3/4"). Recent period-style three-quarter calf over marbled boards, raised bands and red and black lettering pieces to spine, marbled endpapers, untrimmed edges. Light rubbing to extremities, light fading to spine. Moderate toning, light foxing in a few places. $1,250. * Third French-language edition. An important document of the Enlightenment, the Nakaz, or Instruction, composed by Catherine the Great served to guide the assembly summoned in 1766 to draft a new code of laws for the Russian Empire. Drawn primarily from Montesquieu, as well as Rousseau, Beccaria and other Enlightenment thinkers, the Nakaz condemned torture and capital punishment and endorsed such principles as the equality of all before the law. Published in the principal European tongues between 1767 and 1769, it proved to be a statement to the world as much as a practical legal text. Three editions in French were published in 1769, first in Moscow, then in Yverdon (with a false St. Petersburg imprint) and Lausanne. In 1769 Duc de Choiseul added the "libertine" Nakaz to the list of books prohibited in France. Balthasar, the translator of our edition, was a Swiss historian and member of the Enlightenment's international "Republic of Letters." His introduction, pp. iii-iv, is a notable document of the early reception of the Nakaz in Western Europe. Graesse, Tresor de Livres Rares et Precieux II:80.
Book number 71984