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a316; The oldest biography of Toussaint Louverture?????
>From Bob Corbett
While in Vienna I continued to purchase books for my library
via used book dealers on line and ebay. However, I never
saw any of them, I had them all mailed to the home of one of
my sons. Then, just two days after arriving home from an entire
year away, and mess all over the house, he pulls up with a truck
and brings in 230 books which I had purchased, all still in their
boxes from the dealers.
Thus began a task that was obviously delightful, but no end of
work, and I'm still slowly getting them entered into my library
program and shelved them with order.
Today I found a special gem, and I had no memory of purchasing
it at all. My records show that I paid $360 for it, but I'm convinced
now that I really got my money's worth.
This is a 93 page history of Toussaint Louverture. My edition is
from 1814 and in remarkably good shape, but the book, as you
will read below was originally published in 1803. This was
published in English by one M.D. Stephens. However, I ask: is
this the earliest book of any language which is exclusively a biography
of Toussaint? I know Madison Bell and C. Richard Gillespie have both
done a great deal of research on Toussaint for their novels. Do either
of you, or do other subscribers know about this book or about any
earlier books on Toussaint.
Below I have scanned the two pages of the "Advertisement" (a cute
thing to put in a book), and I am specially impressed by the positive
attitude toward Toussaint, but even more at the unabashed manner
in which journalism is described as a way of dealing with current
political realities more than in reporting true data. This seems useful
in light of some of our recent discussions.
Scanning is slow work on this book, but if I can get the energy and
time, I would love to mount the entire 93 pages of text to my web
site, but that may take some doing. I think it will go faster if I were
to xerox the book first and then scan the xerox copies. They would
be less delicate to work with.
The book is: THE HISTORY OF TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE
By M.D. Stephens.
London: J. Butterworth and Son, 1814.
The History of Toussaint Louverture was published in 1803, soon after the
recommencement of the war with France, with a view chiefly to its probable
influence on the minds of the lower classes of the English readers.
It was designed to counteract the false impressions which many of them had
received of the character of Buonaparte; to exhibit him, not as friendly,
but irreconcileably hostile, to the freedom of the labouring poor, and to
enlist their best feelings against that dangerous enemy of their country,
as a monster of perfidy, cruelty, and baseness.
The style was therefore accommodated, as much as possible, to their
understanding and taste; but nothing was asserted in it as fact, which the
Author did not believe to be substantially true.
Subsequent information has indeed induced him to doubt the correctness of
a few subordinate circumstances stated in this little narrative: such as
the place in which the illustrious African was seized by the order of
Leclerc, and the manner of the crime; but with these exceptions, the
relation is, as he believes, strictly consonant to fact; and its truth can
be in a great measure demonstrated by a careful comparison of the French
official accounts with each other, or by more authentic documents.
He has, therefore, thought it expedient not to alter the original form of
the work, except by omitting many familiar expressions and allusions which
might offend the taste of his polite readers, and some passages and terms,
which, in the altered state Of our relations with France, could not now be
used without impropriety.
With these corrections, the Author has been induced again to offer this
work to the notice of the public, under a persuasion that its subject will
excite new interest when the obdurate resolution of France to renew her
Slave Trade excites the afflicting expectation of another attempt to
reduce St. Domingo to its former state of slavery. That in this attempt,
the amiable and respectable Monarch who now fills the throne of France has
not contemplated a renewal of the horrors by which the former expedition
was characterized, it is but justice to his character to suppose. There
is, however, too much reason to fear, that by whatever delusion it may
have been prompted, that odious enterprise has been resolved on: and in
assisting the public to judge of the probable consequences, the present
publication may perhaps not be without its use.
If any of you know more about this book or the author I would love
Thanks, Bob Corbett