Histoire de M. le Marquis de Cressy, Traduite de l’Anglois par Madame de ***. Amsterdam, 1758.
First Edition. 12mo in eights and fours, (162 x 92mm), pp. [ii], 176, 3 errata, text a little browned and creased in part, in contemporary mottled calf, slightly rubbed, head and tail of spine slightly chipped, marbled endpapers, red edges, with the contemporary ownership inscription of Ernest d’Aumont.
First edition of one of Riccoboni’s scarcer early novels. Written in the third person, as against the epistolary form that came to be her preferred genre (although some ten letters are given in the body of the text and those mostly in the first half), Histoire de M. le Marquis de Cressy is an analytical sentimental novel in which the egotistical and ambitious Cressy seeks, Valmont-like, to forward his career and his fortune through a series of well-placed seductions. Riccoboni’s interest, as always, lies in the collateral damage done to the female characters through their involvement with the hero and it is in the subtlety and astuteness of Riccoboni’s psychological analysis that the strength of the novel lies.
‘The best [of Riccoboni’s novels] is her Histoire de M. le marquis de Cressy (1758), in which the conflict of motive happens to be in the mind of a man. The middle-aged marquis has engaged the affections of a young girl, and for a moment hesitates between the charm of her youth and the worldly advantages of marriage with a beautiful widow who will second his ambitions. He writes one of those sophistical letters in which Madame Riccoboni excelled, explaining to the unfortunate girl that although his heart burns for her he must sacrifice his dreams of happiness. She feels that life for her is over, and takes the veil, bidding her perfidious lover adieu. She loves him yet, though she knows now that she has loved an illusion: it is not the lover that is most regretted, but the sentiment, the enchantment that has flown, the bliss of loving. That is the consolation of the sentimentalist’ (Ernest Albert Baker, The History of the English Novel, v.1 p. 137).
This was a very popular novel, with several other editions of the French text following in 1758 and subsequent years. An English translation was published in 1765 under the title The History of the Marquis of Cressy. Translated from the French (Block p. 197).
OCLC lists BN, BL, Göttingen, London Library, British Columbia, UCLA, Yale and Williams College.
MMF 58:17; Cioranescu 53041.