De Achttiende Eeuw 34 (2002) nr.1
Suzan van Dijk and Alicia C. Montoya, Madame Leprince de Beaumont, Mademoiselle Bonne and their Dutch readers
The work of Jeanne Leprince de Beaumont (1711-1780) was known throughout Europe, and research has long established that in many countries her readers included people outside her specific target group. This article makes use of a source hitherto not used for this author to prove that the Netherlands was no exception.
We focus on de Beaumont’s success in this country and on the question of who her fans were exactly. After sketching her oeuvre we give a survey of those titles present in Dutch collections, partly on the basis of auction catalogues. Although interpreting these data is not an easy matter, our findings make one wonder what exactly it was that these and other book collectors admired in the de Beaumont’s work, the more so since – because of some of her prefaces – her writings are now often regarded as somewhat subversive. Thus, another important question could be whether the contemporary admiration was connected to de Beaumont’s supposed intentions.
Answering such questions is another matter, and we will have to restrict ourselves to hypotheses here. We will place the book-historical data in a wider, reception-historical context. Such data, derived from newspapers and accounts by ‘ordinary’ readers, cannot be seen apart from the contents of the works in question. It is our aim to address in this article the specific problems associated with correctly assessing a female author’s success, in particular if she targeted a female reading public. Literary history has dealt with many such authors in highly clichéd terms, which makes it doubtful whether justice has been done to their intentions.
Simon Vuyk, Two women on providence and patriots: Lucretia Wilhelmina van Merken (1721-1789) en Margareta Geertruid van der Werken (1734-after 1796)
Lucretia Wilhelmina van Winter-van Merken (1721-1789) en Margareta Geertruida de Cambon-van der Werken (1734-after 1796) were both members of the Remonstrant Brotherhood’s inner circle. Lucretia was held in high regard for her plays, her book of consolatory religious texts (Het nut der tegenspoeden) and her contribution to a psalmbook published by the society Laus Deo, Salus Populo. Margareta’s reputation seems to have been marred by her father being dismissed for drunkenness in a long drawn-out procedure, but especially because in these predominantly Patriot circles she became an enthusiastic defender of the House of Orange. In her plays Lucretia explored Dutch historical themes in terms of the ‘Batavian myth’, while Margareta in her plays and rhymed pamphlets focused on the election of the Oranges. A striking aspect of Lucretia’s plays is the way she consistently used women’s roles to accentuate the course of history. Margareta presented Wilhelmina van Pruisen, wife of Willem V, as her heroine. For her translations for Martin Corver she liked to choose plays about the relationship between fathers and daughters. Lucretia’s Her nut der tegenspoeden was still read in the nineteenth century, while Margareta’s children’s books, translated into French and English, continued to be read even longer. Lucretia died a celebrated woman in Leiden in the year of the French Revolution. Margareta probably left for England after the flight of Willem V in 1795, without leaving a trace.
Paul Pelckmans, Mme de Graffigny: profile of an eighteenth-century reader
Mme de Graffigny’s correspondence contains literally hundreds of references to her reading: quotations and allusions, details of the purchase of newly published works, remarks on recently read literature, etc. Together these provide an extremely lively and detailed picture of an early eighteenth-century attitude to books. Her letters of 1738 to 1743, which this article focuses on, give evidence of remarkably modern preferences, with Antiquity and the Bible being referred to only marginally and usually disapprovingly. They also show typically modern reading habits: Mme de Graffigny prefers to read alone, picks up new books all the time, and reads for relaxation and amusement. Well-known recent analyses of an eighteenth-century Leserevolution, which have come under attack lately, seem to be supported by Mme de Graffigny’s – perhaps a-typical case.
Arjan van Leuvensteijn, From ‘Wel Edele Gestrenge Heer’ to ‘Hooggeachte Veelgeliefde Vriendinne’: forms of address in the correspondence of Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken
This paper presents an inventory of forms of address used by Betje (Elizabeth) Wolff and Aagje (Agatha Deken), famous Dutch writers of epistolary novels, in their correspondence with acquaintances and friends.
To male members of an older generation with the title of Master of Law, Wolff uses the third-person system with UwelEdGestr if she is not close to them. For more personal contacts this is replaced by the gy-subsystem in the second person.
The gy-subsystem is the unmarked system in letters to acquaintances and friends who are either younger or of the same generation as Wolff and Deken. In these letters the use of the je-subsystem expresses cordial friendship.
De Achttiende Eeuw 34 (2002) nr.2
Willem Frijhoff, Prince Henry of Prussia in the Republic, 1768
In the summer of 1768 prince Henry of Prussia, general, art collector and the brother of king Frederick the Great, undertook a journey to the Northern and Southern Netherlands. Although there is no journal, the trip is very well documented in the prince’s French correspondence and in the society press of the day. While prince Henry’s incognito journey to the Southern Netherlands was made for mainly personal reasons, including tourism and enhancement of his strategic understanding of past battlefields, his journey to the Republic had a threefold aim: his status of high-ranking nobility required such a Bildungsreise, he wished to explore a country still regarded as prominent in Europe, and he was to make a dynastic visit to his niece Wilhelmina of Prussia who had just been married to Stadholder William V. In spite of protocol problems, the prince remained in the Republic for a couple of months, acquainting himself with the sea, court culture, country houses and garden architecture, art and natural history collections, and visiting new tourist attractions like Zaandam and Broek in Waterland. All in all, prince Henry’s journey is a good example of the way in which the personal position of an important visitor affected the customary itinerary.
Gerrit Verhoeven, Les délices de la Suisse: the influence of Dutch travel guides on the early 18th-century image of Switzerland
Early modern travel guides, such as the Délices de la Suisse, provide rich sources for gaining a better understanding of image transformations in the past. In the early eighteenth-century Dutch guides the traditional, negative image of Switzerland was discarded. The old stereotypes of monsters, ugly panoramas and hazardous roads were entirely rescinded. The author of the Délices, A. Ruchat, also put paid to the image of the wild, uncivilised and uncultured people of the mountains. These negative depictions were replaced with more constructive views. Mythical stories about werewolves and dragons were countered by focusing on the legend of Wilhelm Tell, thus emphasising the freedom and political sovereignty of the Swiss.
The apparent, physical inaccessibility of the mountain country was qualified by the description of relatively safe routes that would take the traveller far into the Swiss interior. Ruchat also tried to counteract the deeply felt aesthetic distaste for mountain scenery. For this purpose he sketched a picture of a very fertile country, an image which, in the light of the classical ideal of beauty, would lead to a positive assessment. But Ruchat also transcended this traditional framework by pointing out to his readers the specific, rugged beauties of a number of valleys and mountain tops.
The transformations are most striking, however, in relation to the general cultural image. Here again, Ruchat made creative use of elements from the traditional standards of appreciation. He emphasised the regular layout of the cities, the beauty of the houses and the presence of art collections. Remains from antiquity, which attracted large groups of travellers in Italy and France, were highlighted by the Swiss author. In this way Délices de la Suisse opened the road to a more positive image that was to enjoy great popularity from the middle of the eighteenth century.
Louis Ph. Sloos, Innocent readers then and now: A ghostwriter for Frederick the Great in the Netherlands and the dissemination of canards of Mes rêveries by Maurice de Saxe
A lack of attention to bibliographical and book historical research can have far reaching effects on the results of a historical research project. The history of the origin, first publication and dissemination of the Rêveries by Hermann Moritz von Sachsen (1696-1750), otherwise known as Maurice de Saxe,maréchal général of France, is a case in point.
The first publication of this important military handbook, which never saw an édition originale, was made by the well-known publisher Pieter Gosse junior of The Hague in 1756. The title of this edition is: Les rêveries ou mémoires sur l’art de la guerre de Maurice comte de Saxe, duc de Courlande et de Semigalle, maréchal-général des armées de S. M. T. C. &c. &c. &c. dediés à messieurs les officiers généraux …. This edition was edited by the army officer C. de Bonneville (Lyon 1710-?), a charlatan who used an inadequate copy of De Saxe’s Rêveries for the purpose.
A year later, when in Amsterdam and Leipzig the firm of Arkstée and Merkus published a second French edition B the best B by abbé Pérau, Gosse marketed his edition with a new frontispiece and a supplement containing corrections and additions amounting to fifty-four major improvements, based on Pérau’s work.
Meanwhile, the first edition from 1756, however, had already caused much confusion. In 1757 a further three inadequate French publications were based on it, two in Dresden and one in Mannheim, and finally one in Berlin/Potsdam in 1763. The first German edition appeared in Leipzig in 1757, followed by a second one in Frankfurt/Liegnitz in 1767. Rêveries for the English-speaking world were produced consecutively in London (1757) and Edinburgh (1759 and 1776). Out of a total of twelve editions between 1756 and 1776 only two were reliable, Pérau’s 1757 edition and the supplemented one by Gosse from 1758.
Jan Schillings, Nouvelle Bibliothèque germanique (1746-1760): An untypical scholarly journal
Originally, both management and editing of the Bibliothèque germanique were in the hands of ministers of the Huguenot refuge in Berlin. In 1733 the young theologian and assistant preacher J. H. S. Formey was taken on to the editorial staff. He was to develop into the central figure of the magazine. From 1738 the editors were almost entirely dependent on the numerous contributions by his hand. This situation remained unchanged, even when the periodical had to be continued under the name of Journal littéraire d’Allemagne between 1741 and 1743.
In 1746, when the magazine again rose from its own ashes under another name, Nouvelle Bibliothèque germanique, Formey was almost at the apex of his career. He had taught rhetoric and philosophy at the French College in Berlin and he had made a name for himself in the Republic of Letters as a writer and a journalist. Because of all these activities he had been forced to relinquish his religious duties as early as 1739. In 1744, at the reorganisation of the Berlin Academy of Science he was immediately made a member and he functioned as the secretary of the philosophy class and historiographer of the Academy. His appointment to secrétaire perpétuel in 1748 was the crown to his career.
After J. de Pérard, the director, retired in 1749, Formey held sole and full responsibility for the publication of the scholarly journal to which he was also the only contributor and single editor. In contrast to preceding editorial boards, for years he succeeded in publishing the periodical in accordance with the agreed time scheme. This was not only due to his surprisingly rapid way of working. In his position as secretary to the academy he had early and full access to all the scientific activities and developments of his time. The focus there was radically different than that of the more introverted circles of Berlin preachers. But also in comparison with the rest of the French language scholarly press published in the Republic until that time, the Nouvelle Bibliothèque germaniqueproved to be an interesting exception to the rule.
Fred van Lieburg, The life of Jacob Abas (1748-1787). A triptych of Judaism, Christianity and Enlightenment
Jacob Abas was a Jewish merchant and a reader in the synagogue of the Asjkenazic funeral college in Amsterdam. After a serious illness he began to have religious doubts by reading some philosophical writings of Naphtaly Herz Ulman (1731-1787), pioneer of Jewish Enlightenment, whose work had been translated from German and was published in Dutch in 1769. Abas received moral and material support from Gerrit Willem van Oosten de Bruyn (1727-1797), a Reformed merchant in Haarlem and a philosopher in his own right. Several letters from Abas to De Bruyn are still extant. Having secretly adopted the Christian faith, Abas fled to London. He later returned home, only to leave his wife and daughter once again. In 1780 he even spent time in jail. After travelling through Germany, he finally arrived in the town of Zutphen. There he was baptised on 26 March 1782, after a public interrogation by the Rev. Joannes Florentius Martinet (1729-1795) on the main topics of the Jewish-Christian debate and on Calvinist doctrine. Martinet, representing the typical Dutch Christian Enlightenment as a physico-theologian, had Abas=s confession printed in Amsterdam, possibly as a conversion model of a rational, reasonable or anti-Pietist nature. Two Hebrew letters of Abas, written to Sebaldus Ravius (1725-1818), Professor of Oriental Languages in Utrecht, reveal his interest in classical Jewish philosophy and his search for a better life. He was employed as a lay pastor (comforter of the sick) by the Dutch East Indian Company in 1785, but died shortly after arrival in Batavia, not yet 40 years old.