La Noblesse Commerçante. by COYER, Abbé Gabriel-François (1707-1782).

COYER, Abbé Gabriel-François (1707-1782).

La Noblesse Commerçante. ‘Londres’ ie Paris, Duchesne, 1756.

Early Edition; Early Edition; Early Edition; First Edition. Together four works in two volumes, 12mo, (158 x 90 mm), pp. 141, ship ornament on the title-page; v, [i], 210; 40, last two gatherings of Arcq slightly dampstained running to fairly heavy dampstaining in the top corner of the Seras; volume II: pp. 152, 206, [2] advertisements, in contemporary speckled calf, some light wear to extremities and one tiny wormhole of spine, otherwise a very good copy, spines gilt in compartments with morocco label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, all edges red, with an unmarked contemporary armorial bookplate in each volume.

A very scarce early edition of Coyer's famous work, one of several published the same year as the first edition, bound together with three other related works. Coyer’s argument that the French nobility should take charge of commercial enterprises provoked widespread debate and numerous printed responses. The present copy is bound with two attacks on Coyer’s work and Coyer’s subsequent defence of his position. The first attack is the chevalier d’Arcq’s La Noblesse Militaire, a refutation of Coyer’s work, in which he argues that the natural profession of nobility is military. 'Ne pas écarter la noblesse de sa vocation propore qui est l'art militaire. Par ailleurs, le développement de notre commerce a des limites.' (JNED). The second attack is the less well-known Le Commerce Ennobli by an obscure writer called Seras, the crux of whose argument is the indigence of the nobility: ‘La Noblesse, comme les corps organisés, perd sans cesse par la dissipation; il lui faut de même un suc nourricier qui répare ses pertes. Si elle dissipe & ne répare pas, elle deviendra un corps fantastique & sans force’ (pp. 16-17).
The final work in this collection is the first edition of Coyer’s Développement et Défence du Systeme de la Noblesse Commerçante, the defense that he wrote against the many criticisms of his system and particularly against the Chevalier d'Arcq's La Noblesse Militaire. ‘Plus littéraire qu'économique. Ce 'système' peut parfaitement exister dans le royaume ; il y va du plus grand intérêt de la France, tant au point de vue du commerce et de l'agriculture que de la population’ (INED, 1227).

Coyer: Higgs 1205; Kress 5503.
Arcq: Higgs 1209; Goldsmiths 9138.
Seras: Higgs 1207; Kress 5568.
Coyer: Higgs 1478; Goldsmiths 9241; Kress 5597.

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