L'Espion François à Londres; ou Observations Critiques sur l’Angleterre et sur les Anglois. Par Mr. le Chevalier de Goudar. Ouvrage destiné à servir de Suite à l’Espion Chinois du même Auteur. Premier [-Second] Volume. ‘Londres, aux dépens de l’Auteur’, 1780.
Second Edition. Two volumes in one, 12mo, (166 x 98 mm), pp. xii, 286; xii, 314, with half titles and table of contents to each volume, in contemporary calf, gilt tooled border to covers, spine elaborately gilt in continuous pattern with black morocco label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers and edges.
A scarce satirical portrait of England by Ange Goudar, adventurer, government agent, writer, gambler, swindler and friend of Casanova. Intended as a sequel to his successful L’Espion chinois: ou, l’envoyé secret de la cour de Pékin, 1764, which exposed the corruption at the heart of the ancien régime in France, Goudar’s L’Espion françois à Londres, subjects English society, commerce and government to ruthless scrutiny. Alongside the biting satire comes a grudging admiration of some things English, in particular the promotion of industry, the recognition of the importance of America and the English Constitution, which he describes as ‘un superbe édifice’ (I, 47).
L’Espion françois à Londres first appeared in London, where it was published in instalments between 1778 and 1779, but no copies of this original periodical appear to have survived. The first book edition followed in 1779, printed in France under a false ‘Londres’ imprint, as here. It is very rare, with only a handful of known copies in institutions and no copies of either that or the present edition in auction records for the past thirty years. Mars describes the present edition as a Paris piracy, but suggests the possibility that Goudar himself may have had something to do with the printing of one or other of these editions. A contemporary account of the original London printing, which talks of Goudar’s ‘goût de terroir’, shows that the extant editions vary considerably from the original English printing.
Mars, Ange Goudar, Cet Inconnu, Nice 1966, no. 138; see also Darnton, The Corpus of Clandestine Literature in France 1769-1789, no. 207; Cioranescu 31501.
ESTC t97973, at BL, Cambridge, Bodleian, Taylorian, Rylands; several copies in Poland and two in France; Harvard, Queen’s University, Stanford and Clark.