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Unveiling the First French Translation of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations

La première traduction française de Wealth of Nations d’Adam Smith dévoilée
Kenneth E. Carpenter et Gabriel Sabbagh
p. 5-20

Résumés

La première traduction française de Wealth of Nations d’Adam Smith fut publiée en 1778-1779 avec une fausse adresse et un traducteur anonyme. Cet article identifie l’imprimerie de l’ouvrage, l’imprimerie ducale de Deux-Ponts (aujourd’hui Zweibrücken, en Allemagne) et le traducteur, Jean-Louis Carra, spécialement connu pour son activité durant la Révolution française. L’article combine des éléments de preuve très variés, notamment les ornements utilisés par l’imprimerie, l’enregistrement d’une confiscation par la douane, une recension (jusqu’ici inconnue) de l’édition originale anglaise du livre de Smith publiée très tôt en français, des aspects de la vie de Carra et sa relation avec l’imprimerie de Deux-Ponts, ainsi qu’une particularité du texte de sa traduction.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 For a precise bibliographical description of this 1778-1779 edition, see (Carpenter, 2002, 20-24).

1When the first volume of Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations appeared in 1778, its title page stated that it was published at “La Haye”. No printer was named, which immediately suggests that the place given on the title page was false. The name of the translator was also hidden, given only as “M***”.1 The three other volumes that appeared in 1778 and 1779 provided no further information. From now on, this first French translation is referred to as RN.

2Such hiddenness about so important a work has made this publication one of the most fascinating bibliographical puzzles in the history of economics. Who did publish it, and who was the translator? The aim of this article is to answer those questions.

3A way of identifying a press and hence a place of printing is via a study of the woodcuts, fleurons, ornaments of various kinds, composite or not, which commonly appear in eighteenth-century books. RN has a plethora of them. Unfortunately, despite the resources of modern technology, there is no census of all eighteenth-century presses and the ornaments they used. To the best of our knowledge there are also no formal rules universally accepted to determine how many ornaments suffice to identify a press. Quite recently, even a single ornament was used in the identification of an eighteenth-century press (Charles and Théré, 2023). We have been able to find eleven ornaments shared by RN and other books printed on the ducal French press of Deux-Ponts (nowadays Zweibrücken). Thanks to the ornaments we establish that five other relevant books with the publisher hidden are also Deux-Ponts books.

4From what we know, the ducal French press of Deux-Ponts was a purely commercial enterprise. There is no evidence that the Imprimerie ducale had an overall publishing program designed to promote certain ideas, but it did bring out some works whose printing in France would have met difficulties with the censorship. The French publisher Jacques Lacombe, whose name is found in the title pages of many of its books, played a major part in its beginning. There are several studies in German of the press, but, since none of them ever mentions RN, we will not list them.

  • 2 There is a good biography of Carra, which does not mention his translation of Smith (Lemny, 2000).

5This article is divided into four sections, as follows. In Section 1, we establish that various books are Deux-Ponts books. In Section 2, we prove, based on Section 1 and through a careful comparison of ornaments, that RN and other books which were seized with it by the French authorities on 2 January 1778 are all Deux-Ponts books. Section 3 establishes the link between a Deux-Ponts journal, the Gazette universelle de littérature, and the translator of RN. Section 4 identifies with great certainty the translator of RN, Jean-Louis Carra (1742-1793), better known for his role during the French Revolution.2

1. Deux-Ponts Books

6A starting point in identifying Deux-Ponts book is a good but not exhaustive bibliography of the press that is part of Schöndorf (1995). We have checked all of the books listed by Schöndorf, and the five listed immediately below are among those we will use to demonstrate that RN is a Deux-Ponts publication:

  • Poinsinet de Sivry, Les muses grecques, 1771, aux Deux-Ponts à l’Imprimerie ducale et se trouve à Paris chez Lacombe;

  • Kevenhüller, Maximes de guerre, 1771, aux Deux-Ponts à l’Imprimerie ducale et Paris, chez Lacombe;

    • 3 We refer to a bilingual edition in Latin and French, dedicated to Charles Theodore, Prince elector (...)

    Voltaire, La Henriade, 1772, aux Deux-Ponts à l’Imprimerie ducale et se trouve à Paris chez Lacombe;3

    • 4 The imprints of the volumes slightly differ. The entire work is digitized by Gallica and is easily (...)

    Bret, Oeuvres, 1772, aux Deux-Ponts à l’Imprimerie ducale et se trouve à Paris chez Lacombe. This is a complex work, in 3 volumes, each with a separate title. The second volume has three parts separately paginated and entitled Le protecteur bourgeois, ou la confiance trahie, L’héritage and Le mariage manqué, conte dramatique; the third volume is entitled Réflexions sur la littérature et sur quelques autres sujets;4

  • Gudin de la Brunellerie, Aux mânes de Louis XV, 1776, aux Deux-Ponts à l’Imprimerie ducale, two parts separately paginated.

  • 5 Probably Imprimerie ducale with false address London.

7Schöndorf (1995, 258) does record four titles as “vermutlich Imprimerie Ducale mit fingiertem Druckort London”.5 Two of the four have been shown to be definite Deux-Ponts publications by Smith (2001). They are:

  • Helvétius, Le bonheur, poème en six chants, 1772, Londres. We refer here to the edition described in Smith (2001, 247) and denoted there by B1. It is easily recognizable by its main text having 116 numbered pages;

  • Helvétius, Le bonheur, Poème en six chants, 1776, Londres. This is the edition described in Smith (2001, 276) and denoted there by B14; it is the only edition of the work dated 1776.

8Also beyond doubt as a Deux-Ponts publication is:

    • 6 The letter is accessible through the digital resource Electronic Enlightenment. See also Voltaire ( (...)

    Pascal, Pensées, 1776, Londres, “nouvelle edition corrigée et augmentée”. It was edited by Condorcet with notes of Voltaire, and Condorcet revealed to Voltaire in his letter of 5 March 1777 the Deux-Ponts printing: “L’auteur a donné le manuscrit aux imprimeurs de Deux-Ponts” (“the author gave the manuscript to the Deux-Ponts printers”).6

9To those eight Deux-Ponts books we add three others whose status as Deux-Ponts books will be established as part of showing that RN is a Deux-Ponts book:

  • Anonymous, Journal de Pierre le Grand, depuis l’année 1698 jusqu’à l’année 1714 inclusivement, 1774, Stockholm;

  • Lacombe de Prezel, Les annales de la bienfaisance, 1772, 3 vols, Lausanne et se trouve à Paris chez Lacombe;

    • 7 This second edition of Gudin de la Brunellerie (1776), whose Deux-Ponts imprint was accurate, had a (...)

    Gudin de la Brunellerie, Aux mânes de Louis XV, 1777, Lausanne.7

  • 8 Cf. Lemny (2000) or the catalogue BN-Opale of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

10We can also add two books written by Carra:8

  • Histoire de la Moldavie et de la Valachie, 1777, à Jassy, aux dépens de la société typographique des Deux-Ponts;

  • Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie, 1777, La Haye.

11The next section will demonstrate that RN and the five books listed, whose place of printing is so far uncertain, i.e. Journal de Pierre le Grand, Les annales de la bienfaisance, Aux mânes de Louis XV (second edition, 1777), Histoire de la Moldavie et de la Valachie, and Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie are all Deux-Ponts books. To limit ourselves now to RN, the next section will exhibit eleven ornaments of all types, each of which is found in RN and in at least one of the eight (“legitimate”) Deux-Ponts books previously listed. This will prove that RN is a Deux-Ponts book, will allow us to add RN to our list of Deux-Ponts books, and will lead to a simple proof that the five books just listed are also Deux-Ponts books.

2. The Proof that RN Is a Deux-Ponts Book

12We start by considering three typographical compositions with borders which we have noticed only in Deux-Ponts books.

Figure 1. Ornament 1

Figure 1. Ornament 1
  • 9 We use capital Roman numbers as I, II, etc., for the different volumes or parts of RN and other wor (...)

Ornament 1 appears in RN (I, 15),9 in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 4)—and in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777, 297).

Figure 2. Ornament 2

Figure 2. Ornament 2

Ornament 2 appears in RN (II, 269) and in Henriade (1772, 100).

Figure 3. Ornament 3

Figure 3. Ornament 3

Ornament 3 appears in RN (II, 1) and at head of the “Epitre dédicatoire” in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777), in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 14)—, in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777, 1), and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 274).

13We now consider fleurons.

Figure 4. Fleuron 1

Figure 4. Fleuron 1

Fleuron 1 appears on the title pages of the first three volumes of RN, in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 161), in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 12)—, in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1776, I, xvi), in Pensées (1776, 308), and on the title page of Journal de Pierre le Grand (1774).

Figure 5. Fleuron 2

Figure 5. Fleuron 2

Fleuron 2 appears in RN (III, 64), in Maximes de guerre (1771, 84), in Bret, Oeuvres, (1772, II), in Le mariage manqué (18), and in Les annales de la bienfaisance (1772, II, 120).

Figure 6. Fleuron 3

Figure 6. Fleuron 3

Fleuron 3 appears in RN (I, 37 and 169), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 171), in Le Bonheur (1772)—cf. Smith (2001, 394, ornament 8)—, in Henriade (1772, 33), and in Pensées (1776, 234).

Figure 7. Fleuron 4

Figure 7. Fleuron 4

Fleuron 4 appears in RN (II, 225), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 171), and in Pensées (1776, 234).

Figure 8. Fleuron 5

Figure 8. Fleuron 5

Fleuron 5 appears in RN (I, 60), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 60), on the title page of Le bonheur (1776), in Bret, Œuvres (1772, II, in Protecteur, 12), on the title pages of both parts of Aux mânes de Louis XV (1776), on the title page of Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777), on the title page of Henriade (1772), in Pensées (1776, 271), in Les annales de la bienfaisance (1772, I, x) and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 360).

Figure 9. Fleuron 6

Figure 9. Fleuron 6

Fleuron 6 appears in RN (I, 48), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, xxx), in Bret, Oeuvres (1772, II, L’héritage, 32), and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 347).

Figure 10. Fleuron 7

Figure 10. Fleuron 7

Fleuron 7 appears in RN (I, 78), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 167), in Maximes de guerre (1771, 74), and in Pensées (1776, 146).

Figure 11. Fleuron 8

Figure 11. Fleuron 8

Fleuron 8 appears in RN (II, 10), in Les muses grecques (1771, 189), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 5), and on the title page of Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777).

14It is now easy to check that each of the three typographic compositions and each of the eight fleurons displayed of RN has been found in at least one Deux-Ponts book. Eight Deux-Ponts books appeared in these comparisons, namely Les muses grecques (1771), Le bonheur (1772), Le bonheur (1776), Maximes de guerre (1771), Bret, Œuvres (1772), Henriade (1772), Pensées (1776), Aux mânes de Louis XV (1776). This is more than enough to establish that RN is a Deux-Ponts book.

  • 10 See Ms. FRANÇAIS 21983, Archives de la chambre syndicale de la librairie et de l’imprimerie, regist (...)
  • 11 This is undoubtedly the third volume of Bret’s Oeuvres.

15The main aim of this section has been accomplished, but a document, preserved at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (department of manuscripts, Paris Richelieu),10 confirms that RN and a number of the books considered above are Deux-Ponts books. It lists eight books seized on a man named Cantini on 2 January 1778. The eight books are: Journal de Pierre Le Grand, Annales de la Bienfaisance, Henriade de Voltaire, Les muses grecques, Réflexions sur la littérature,11 Le bonheur Poeme, Recherches sur la Richesse, and Histoire de la Moldavie.

  • 12 Henriade, Les muses grecques, Réflexions sur la littérature and Le bonheur.
  • 13 The manuscript does not specify how many volumes of RN were seized.
  • 14 Cf. Dictionnaire des journalistes, articles “Beaumarchais” and “Le Tellier”.

16It was known thanks to Schöndorf (1995) and Smith (2001) that four of these books are Deux-Ponts books,12 and we have proved the same for the four others; but this could be reasonably inferred from the seizure. One may assume that Cantini was coming from the town where these books had been printed, which would supply more than a hint that RN is a Deux-Ponts book. The date of 2 January 1778 is quite revealing. It tells us that the first volume of RN (at least)13 was in France on 2 January 1778, which guarantees that its printing was finished in 1777 in Deux-Ponts before the Christmas holiday. The name of Cantini is equally interesting. This Cantini is most probably the cashier of Beaumarchais (Loménie, 1858, II, 207), who had for many years a close relationship with Le Tellier, the director of the Deux-Ponts French ducal press.14 One may surmise that Cantini was bringing the seized books to Beaumarchais and that RN (as well as the other books) was seized because permission to enter France had not been obtained.

3. The Wealth of Nations in the Gazette universelle de littérature

17Our initial suspicion that Carra was the translator of RN rested on flimsy grounds: the similarity between the title pages of RN and the title page of Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie, and the common “M***”. We can now add that the latter book is also a Deux-Ponts book, but there is a far stronger link between the translator of RN and the Deux-Ponts publishing enterprise.

  • 15 The issues of the journal were not dated but the Gazette universelle de littérature published every (...)

18The main journal of the ducal press was the Gazette universelle de littérature. This journal published in 1776, in its issue 56, on pages 442-443, an early review of the first edition in English of Smith’s book.15 To the best of our knowledge, this review was previously never mentioned. The second paragraph of the review is quite important to us and therefore is entirely reproduced below:

M. Smith pose pour principe que le travail annuel d’une nation, est le fonds qui fournit originairement les choses de nécessité & de luxe qui s’y consomment annuellement; lequel fonds consiste dans le produit immédiat du travail, ou dans ce qu’on se procure par l’échange de ce produit avec les autres nations. Qu’en conséquence comme ce produit est plus ou moins proportionné au [n]ombre des consommateurs, la nation sera plus ou moins bien fournie des choses de nécessité & de luxe. Mais cette proportion, remarque M. Smith, dépend de deux différentes circonstances; la première de l’habilité, de l’adresse & du jugement avec lesquels on appliquera ce travail; & la seconde, de la proportion que l’on mettra entre le nombre de ceux qui sont employés à des travaux utiles & de ceux qui ne le sont pas; mais quel que soit le sol, le climat ou l’étendue du territoire d’une nation, l’abondance ou sa disette de ses secours annuels dépendront toujours de ces deux circonstances.

19This text can be compared with the beginning of RN (I, 5-6) which is transcribed below:

  • 16 Smith had used the word “fund”, cf. Smith (1776, I, 1).

Le travail annuel de la Société est le fonds16 qui lui procure originairement toutes les nécessités & les commodités de la vie, qu’elle consomme annuellement, & qui consiste toujours ou dans le produit immédiat de ce travail, ou dans ce qu’elle achète des autres nations avec ce produit.

Aussi, selon que ce produit ou ce qui est acheté avec ce produit, a plus ou moins de proportion avec le nombre des consommateurs, la Nation sera plus ou moins abondamment pourvue des nécessités ou commodités dont elle a besoin.

Or, cette proportion est nécessairement déterminée dans chaque nation par deux causes différentes : 1° par le talent, l’habileté & l’art de diriger généralement le travail, 2° par le rapport du nombre de ceux qui sont employés à un travail utile avec le nombre de ceux qui ne le sont pas. Quels que soient le sol, le climat, ou l’étendue du territoire d’une nation quelconque, l’abondance ou la rareté de ses approvisionnements annuels dépend essentiellement de ces deux causes.

  • 17 E.g. Blavet has “source” where RN had “fonds” and “provisions” where RN had “approvisionnements”. T (...)
  • 18 This conclusion is not surprising in any way. One might observe that the review of Wealth of Nation (...)

20The two texts are extremely similar and differ in several instances from the Blavet translation, which came later.17 The inescapable conclusion from the comparison of the two extracts of the Deux-Ponts review and of RN is that the review in the Gazette universelle de littérature was written by the translator of RN.18 This confirms that the translator had a strong connection with the ducal press. One may remember that Carra published in 1777 two books with it, Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie and Histoire de la Moldavie et de la Valachie.

4. The Translator of RN, Jean-Louis Carra

21We will now make free use of Lemny (2000) and of the Carra entry of the Dictionnaire des journalistes to show that Carra had the profile expected from the translator.

22First, he had learned English well before the publication of RN, and he had made translations from English into French (Carra, 1772, 102-104). Later on, he translated the History of Ancient Greece of Gillies (Gillies, Histoire de l’ancienne Grèce, [1786] 1787-1788).

23A second characteristic to be expected of the translator of RN is that he struggled to make a living with his pen. Such was the case with Carra, and the translation RN was simply a straightforward, workmanlike job. It had no additions of any sort, whereas translators often wrote a preface and added notes. Germain Garnier’s translation (Smith, [1776] 1802) was extraordinary in the history of translations by having an entire volume of notes, but translators at that period commonly made some additions if they were engaged with the subject.

24A third characteristic most likely possessed by the translator is that he had ties with the Imprimerie ducale of Deux-Ponts; and a fourth characteristic to be looked for is prior use of an initial and asterisks to identify himself, particularly M***. Both exist. Carra was the author of Histoire de la Moldavie et de la Valachie. Par M. C.; Carra also used “M. ***” on the title page of Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie, divisé en quatre parties, which has the imprint “A La Haye. M. DCC. LXXVII”. We have shown that each of these works was a Deux-Ponts book.

25A fifth, and necessary, characteristic of the translator is evidence of having had enough time to translate a large work. Carra is not known to have published any other work in 1778-1779, which indicates he was devoting his time to RN.

  • 19 No copy is recorded by Dawson (2006), which is not surprising: Poinçot’s list of books transferred (...)

26A further suggestive piece of evidence is that Carra might have been responsible for a reissue in 1789. One copy of RN exists—in the Kress Collection at the Harvard Business School— with a new title: Recherches très-utiles sur les affaires présentes, et les causes de las richesse des nations, dédiées aux États-généraux, and with the imprint: Amsterdam, 1789. Carra was in 1789 in a position to reissue the 1778-1779 RN, for in 1784, he became an employee of the Bibliothèque du roi and so was one of the few persons who, after the fall of the Bastille, had access to the confiscated books that had been stored there. It is possible that Carra, seeing an old friend, had new title pages produced for copies of a book relevant in 1789. The scenario is, of course, fanciful, though plausible.19

  • 20 Cf. Dictionnaire de Trévoux (1771, tome 8, 147) which gives for the French word transaction the fol (...)

27Definitely indicative that Carra is the translator is a singular textual feature of the RN translation: in several cases the English word “transaction” is translated in French by the same word, “transaction”. This is despite the French word having a far narrower meaning than the English word, that of an agreement, in some cases of a legal nature, between opposed parties.20 In the second volume of the first edition of Wealth of Nations, the English word ‘transaction’ means a business operation, a very different meaning from the French word. In four instances the translator elected to keep “transaction” in the French version. The English, on pages 467-468, reads:

The transference of all sorts of properties from the dead to the living, and that of immoveable property, of land and houses, from the living to the living, are transactions which are in their nature either public or notorious, or such as cannot be long concealed.

Such transactions, therefore, may be taxed directly. The transference of stock or immoveable property from the living to the living by the lending of money is frequently a secret transaction … Stamp-duties and duties of registration have frequently been imposed likewise upon the deeds transferring property of all kinds from the dead to the living … transactions which might easily have been taxed directly.

28In RN (IV, 283-284), the sentence “Such transactions, therefore, may be taxed directly” became “Ainsi ces transports peuvent être taxés directement” while the first, third, and fourth instances of “transactions” (or “transaction”) was translated by the same word, which modified the meaning of the French word “transaction” considerably.

29Another use of “transactions”, on page 470 of the English, is again about a taxation matter, on the sale of land. Smith asserts that “Such transactions may be taxed indirectly”. RN (IV, 288) gave: “Ces transactions peuvent se taxer indirectement”.

  • 21 Cf. Gillies ([1786] 1787-1788, I, 2, footnote a): “Comme ce mot n’a point d’équivalent en françois, (...)

30Let us take note of two facts. First, in his non-anonymous translation of the History of Ancient Greece of Gillies, Carra pointed out that the English meaning of the word “transactions” had no French equivalent, so he had been forced to adopt it on several occasions.21 Second, we were unable to find other instances of “transaction” in French similar to those appearing in RN. In particular, neither “transaction” nor “transactions” appears in the Blavet translation of Wealth of Nations (Smith, 1781).

31One may therefore assert that the use in French of ‘transaction’ as an equivalent of the English word, independently of its narrow meaning in French, was characteristic of Carra. Its appearance in RN, when it was not at all justified by its meaning in the French language of the eighteenth century, concludes the proof that Carra is the translator of RN.

5. Conclusion and Suggestions for Further Research

32Our work shows that the first French-language edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was published at the French periphery. We also identify the translator. We do not see our research as a model for identifying other anonymous works, since the usual method is direct contemporaneous evidence. Our investigations do, however, suggest other avenues of research. It would be desirable to make further efforts to supplement the work of Schöndorf. His book was published in 1995, and today’s electronic access to journals and books can surely reveal more about the role of the Deux-Ponts press. A fuller understanding of its history would have an impact on the history of the book in France and on cultural history more generally. That press has been neglected.

33We have also shown that copies of a part of RN were seized by French censorship authorities in January 1778. Today, a copy of RN is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the Catalogue collectif de France records copies in Metz-BM and in Nancy Bibliothèque Stanislas. Of course, there may be more, but four-volume works do tend to be recorded in library catalogues. Outside of the English-speaking world, copies are in Berlin, Bern, Halle, Tilburg, and Vienna. A census of copies acquired around the year of publication would require extensive work, and it may well be that this French-language translation was more available to readers outside France than within. That is a new angle on the dissemination of the Adam Smith’s landmark work and suggests the desirability of further research on the impact of RN.

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Bibliographie

Anonymous. 1774. Journal de Pierre le Grand, depuis l’année 1698 jusqu’à l’année 1714 inclusivement. Stockholm.

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Carra, Jean-Louis. 1772. Le faux philosophe démasqué. Bouillon: Société typographique.

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Charles, Loïc and Christine Théré. 2023. A Note on the Early Versions of the Tableau Économique. History of Political Economy, 55(1): 145-172.

Dawson, Robert L. 2006. Poinçot’s Catalogue of Books Transferred from the Bastille. In Robert Dawson (ed.), Confiscations at Customs: Banned Books and the French Booktrade during the Last Years of the Ancien Régime. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 243-276.

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Gazette universelle de littérature. 1776. Deux-Ponts: Imprimerie ducale.

Gillies, John. 1786. The History of Ancient Greece. London: Strahan.

Gillies, John. [1786] 1787-1788. Histoire de l’ancienne Grèce. Paris: Buisson.

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Helvétius, Claude-Adrien. 1776. Le bonheur, poème en six chants. Londres

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Kevenhüller, Ludwig Andreas. 1771. Maximes de guerre. Deux-Ponts: Imprimerie ducale and Paris: Lacombe.

Lacombe de Prezel, Honoré. 1772. Les annales de la bienfaisance. Lausanne and Paris: Lacombe.

Lemny, Stefan. 2000. Jean-Louis Carra, 1742-1793, parcours d’un révolutionnaire. Paris: L’Harmattan.

L’Esprit des journaux. 1776. Tome VI, juin 1776.

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Pascal, Blaise. 1776. Pensées. Londres.

Poinsinet de Sivry, Louis. 1771. Les muses grecques. Deux-Ponts: Imprimerie ducale and Paris: Lacombe.

Schöndorf, Johannes. 1995: Zweibrücken Buchdruck zur Fürstenzeit, das Buch und Zeitungswesen einer Wittelsbacher Residenz 1488-1794. Zweibrücken: Conrad-Bothner.

Smith, Adam. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. 2 volumes in-quarto. London: Strahan and Cadell.

Smith, Adam. [1776] 1778-1779. Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations. 4 volumes. La Haye.

Smith, Adam. [1776] 1781. Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations. Translation by Jean-Louis Blavet. Yverdon.

Smith, Adam. [1776] 1789. Recherches très-utiles sur les affaires présentes, et les causes de la richesse des nations. Amsterdam.

Smith, Adam. [1776] 1802. Recherches sur la nature et le causes de la richesse des nations. Translation and notes by Germain Garnier. Paris: chez H. Agasse.

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Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet, dit. 1772. La Henriade. Deux-Ponts: Imprimerie ducale and Paris: Lacombe.

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Notes

1 For a precise bibliographical description of this 1778-1779 edition, see (Carpenter, 2002, 20-24).

2 There is a good biography of Carra, which does not mention his translation of Smith (Lemny, 2000).

3 We refer to a bilingual edition in Latin and French, dedicated to Charles Theodore, Prince elector of the Palatine.

4 The imprints of the volumes slightly differ. The entire work is digitized by Gallica and is easily accessible through the catalogue of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

5 Probably Imprimerie ducale with false address London.

6 The letter is accessible through the digital resource Electronic Enlightenment. See also Voltaire ([1777] 1976).

7 This second edition of Gudin de la Brunellerie (1776), whose Deux-Ponts imprint was accurate, had a modified imprint, probably because the criticism to which the first edition was subject (cf. the introduction of the second edition) was too much for the Deux-Ponts authorities. It consists of a single volume; the two parts are consecutively paginated.

8 Cf. Lemny (2000) or the catalogue BN-Opale of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

9 We use capital Roman numbers as I, II, etc., for the different volumes or parts of RN and other works with more than one volume or part. We have written (15) to designate the unnumbered page of RN which is preceded by a page numbered 14 but from now on we will leave out the parentheses to simplify the notations.

10 See Ms. FRANÇAIS 21983, Archives de la chambre syndicale de la librairie et de l’imprimerie, registre des permissions tacites 1772-1782. Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, Richelieu), p. 399, n° 244.

11 This is undoubtedly the third volume of Bret’s Oeuvres.

12 Henriade, Les muses grecques, Réflexions sur la littérature and Le bonheur.

13 The manuscript does not specify how many volumes of RN were seized.

14 Cf. Dictionnaire des journalistes, articles “Beaumarchais” and “Le Tellier”.

15 The issues of the journal were not dated but the Gazette universelle de littérature published every year 104 issues, two per week, each of eight pages, so, unless the journal suffered some delay, the review was published in early July 1776, approximately four months after the original publication.

16 Smith had used the word “fund”, cf. Smith (1776, I, 1).

17 E.g. Blavet has “source” where RN had “fonds” and “provisions” where RN had “approvisionnements”. The Blavet translation (Smith, [1776] 1781) was available in book form in 1781. All details of the Blavet translation are found in Carpenter (2002).

18 This conclusion is not surprising in any way. One might observe that the review of Wealth of Nations published in Journal des sçavans (1777, 81-84) is very similar to the introduction and first lines of text of Blavet’s own translation (cf. Smith, [1776] 1781, I, 1-2), and conclude that Blavet wrote the review that appeared in Journal des sçavans, as suggested in Carpenter (2002, 13). The topic of reviews of original works written by translators of these works does not seem to have been explored.

19 No copy is recorded by Dawson (2006), which is not surprising: Poinçot’s list of books transferred from the Bastille was compiled between June and September of 1790, and the absence of copies may indicate that they had earlier been removed.

20 Cf. Dictionnaire de Trévoux (1771, tome 8, 147) which gives for the French word transaction the following meaning: “Convention, accord qui se fait entre deux ou plusieurs personnes, pour accommoder un procès ou terminer un différend …”.

21 Cf. Gillies ([1786] 1787-1788, I, 2, footnote a): “Comme ce mot n’a point d’équivalent en françois, j’ai été forcé de l’adopter en plusieurs occasions”.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Ornament 1
Légende Ornament 1 appears in RN (I, 15),9 in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 4)—and in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777, 297).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 40k
Titre Figure 2. Ornament 2
Légende Ornament 2 appears in RN (II, 269) and in Henriade (1772, 100).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 70k
Titre Figure 3. Ornament 3
Légende Ornament 3 appears in RN (II, 1) and at head of the “Epitre dédicatoire” in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777), in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 14)—, in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777, 1), and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 274).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 49k
Titre Figure 4. Fleuron 1
Légende Fleuron 1 appears on the title pages of the first three volumes of RN, in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 161), in Le bonheur (1776)—cf. Smith (2001, 397, ornament 12)—, in Aux mânes de Louis XV (1776, I, xvi), in Pensées (1776, 308), and on the title page of Journal de Pierre le Grand (1774).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 6,2k
Titre Figure 5. Fleuron 2
Légende Fleuron 2 appears in RN (III, 64), in Maximes de guerre (1771, 84), in Bret, Oeuvres, (1772, II), in Le mariage manqué (18), and in Les annales de la bienfaisance (1772, II, 120).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-5.png
Fichier image/png, 5,3k
Titre Figure 6. Fleuron 3
Légende Fleuron 3 appears in RN (I, 37 and 169), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 171), in Le Bonheur (1772)—cf. Smith (2001, 394, ornament 8)—, in Henriade (1772, 33), and in Pensées (1776, 234).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 7,6k
Titre Figure 7. Fleuron 4
Légende Fleuron 4 appears in RN (II, 225), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 171), and in Pensées (1776, 234).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 7,7k
Titre Figure 8. Fleuron 5
Légende Fleuron 5 appears in RN (I, 60), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 60), on the title page of Le bonheur (1776), in Bret, Œuvres (1772, II, in Protecteur, 12), on the title pages of both parts of Aux mânes de Louis XV (1776), on the title page of Aux mânes de Louis XV (1777), on the title page of Henriade (1772), in Pensées (1776, 271), in Les annales de la bienfaisance (1772, I, x) and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 360).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-8.png
Fichier image/png, 6,3k
Titre Figure 9. Fleuron 6
Légende Fleuron 6 appears in RN (I, 48), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, xxx), in Bret, Oeuvres (1772, II, L’héritage, 32), and in Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777, 347).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-9.png
Fichier image/png, 7,3k
Titre Figure 10. Fleuron 7
Légende Fleuron 7 appears in RN (I, 78), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 167), in Maximes de guerre (1771, 74), and in Pensées (1776, 146).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-10.png
Fichier image/png, 8,5k
Titre Figure 11. Fleuron 8
Légende Fleuron 8 appears in RN (II, 10), in Les muses grecques (1771, 189), in Histoire de la Moldavie (1777, 5), and on the title page of Esprit de la morale et de la philosophie (1777).
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/docannexe/image/16895/img-11.png
Fichier image/png, 3,7k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Kenneth E. Carpenter et Gabriel Sabbagh, « Unveiling the First French Translation of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations »Œconomia, 14-1 | 2024, 5-20.

Référence électronique

Kenneth E. Carpenter et Gabriel Sabbagh, « Unveiling the First French Translation of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations »Œconomia [En ligne], 14-1 | 2024, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2024, consulté le 23 mai 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/oeconomia/16895 ; DOI : https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/oeconomia.16895

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Auteurs

Kenneth E. Carpenter

Harvard University Library, retired. kencarpenter@comcast.net

Gabriel Sabbagh

University Paris Cité (previously Paris Diderot), retired. gabrsabbagh@gmail.com

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Droits d’auteur

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