[JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826)]. SULLY, Maximilien de Béthune, duc de (1560 - 1641). Mémoires de Maximilien de Bethune, Duc de Sully, Principal Ministre de Henri Le Grand...Nouvelle Edition. À Londres [but Paris?], 1767.
8 vols., 12o (6½ x 3¾ in.) Half-titles, engraved portrait frontispieces in vols.1 and 2, titles printed in read and black. (Vol. 1 with clean tear to f5, slight dampstains and back endpaper missing; vol. 2 with leaves 2v2 and 2v3 loose in binding, occasional minor spotting but generally a sound, clean set.) Contemporary French mottled calf, spines gilt in 6 compartments, gilt-lettered red morocco spine labels. (Worn, a few joints cracked, corners chipped, 1-inch piece at top of vol.1 spine defective.) Each volume with mailing wrappings with 1941 "Gimbel Bros" labels.
THOMAS JEFFERSON'S SET OF SULLY'S MEMOIRS. Each volume is discreetly marked with Jefferson's personal "T.I" initials at the beginning of the "I" (substituting for "J") and "T" signature marks on the appropriate pages (without the "T" in vol.8). WITH PENCILLED NOTES BY JEFFERSON on two pages in vol.1. In the lower margin of p.63, where Sully tells of his famous escape from the St. Bartholomew Day's Massacre by carrying catholic devotional material, Jefferson has specified "* a pair of prayer books." On page 111, where the King uses the metaphorical expression "étourdi comme de hanneton," Jefferson notes that hanneton is the French term for an insect or "may bug." Jefferson's 1815 catalogue, p.13, lists "Memoires de Sully. 8v. 12mo." without supplying details. Sowerby, vol. 1, p. 88, no.199 describing an edition of 1778 no longer in the LC Jefferson collection. The present set is probably one purchased after the sale of his library to the nation in 1815.
As Sowerby notes, Sully's Memoires feature in Jefferson's lists of "recommended historical reading." The Duke de Sully served King Henri II in the capacity of army officer, engineer, superintendent of finance and confidential political advisor. He reformed and centralized the customs system, greatly strengthening the nation's finances. His domestic policies dovetail interestingly with Jefferon's: both strongly favored agriculture over industry and encouraged its expansion. To facilitate trade and exports, Sully sponsored public works including canals, highways and bridges. The nation's burgeoning revenue made possible the expansion of the Navy, the construction of forts and harbors and funded France's colonial ventures. Sully even proposed a federation of 15 European nations, governed by a council and defended by a common army. The first portion of these remarkable memoirs was printed in 1638, under the title Mémoires des sages et royales oeconomies d'état, domestiques, politiques...de Henry le Grand; additions were published posthumously. Translated into several and frequently reprinted, it proved extremely popular with readers interested in the internal workings of the monarchy and the and the political, financial and governmental affairs of France.
Provenance: Thomas Jefferson -- Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), grandson of the preceding, penciled signature "Th:J Edge Hill Virginia," on blank flyleaf of vol. 3 -- Sarah N. Randolph, pencilled signatures on a small slip inserted in vol. 3 (also bearing a sketch of a floor-plan of an unidentified building -- William Randolph Hearst (sale, Gimbel Bros. Hammer Galleries, February 1941, p.226, item 750-1052) -- Dr. Alice Watson, 1941 -- The present owner, by descent. (8)