Morale Philosophique  ca. 1800
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The unidentified author of this commonplace book extracted quotations on moral topics from some of the most popular, widely read French authors of the later 18th century, including Voltaire, Corneille, Rousseau, LaFontaine, Sédaine, and Béranger. While there is no indication of when the book was assembled, the handwriting appears consistent with a late 18th century origin, though the inclusion of a work by Béranger (1780-1857) and a work by Chemin-Dupontès published in 1798 suggests that it must have been at the very end of the period.

An unusually elegant piece, great care was lavished on the preparation of this commonplace book, suggesting that it was valued as an object, as much as for its literary worth. Bound in leather with gold tooling at the edges, 16mo, the book is written in a meticulous hand, with red borders around the text on each page, presenting a highly attractive, even impressive appearance.

The first section, the longest devoted to a single writer, is taken from Jean-Baptiste Chemin-Dupontès' Morale des sages de tous les pays et de tous les siècles, ou collection épurée des moralistes anciens et modernes (Paris, 1798). This is followed by selections of poetry in various genres, songs, and a section of riddle-like word games.

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