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I. Newssheets et feuilles volantes : Influences et transferts culturels dans les presses ‎anglaise et française, 1600-1830

The Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe and Anglo-French Cultural Diplomacy

Jonathan Conlin


Au lendemain de la défaite française de la Guerre de Sept Ans (1756-63), les ministres de Louis XV tentèrent des réformes dont le but était de promouvoir la nation comme quelque chose dans quoi les citoyens pouvaient s’investir financièrement, politiquement et même émotionnellement. Stimulé par le Premier Ministre Choiseul, le régime encouragea les débats portant sur la politique gouvernementale et en particulier sur les leçons à tirer des antagonismes avec son vieil ennemi. Sous l’égide du cousin de Choiseul, le ministre des affaires étrangères Praslin, deux journalistes reconnus et érudits, l’Abbé (François) Arnaud et J.-B.-A. Suard lancèrent une revue hebdomadaire pour participer à l’effort de publicité du régime. Publiée avec l’aval des autorités de 1764 à 1766, La Gazette Littéraire de l’Europe se donne pour mission de servir de centre d’informations pour l’intellingentsia européenne et de réaffirmer la place du français comme langue des savants. Une étude de la manière dont elle couvre les arts et les lettres britanniques, ainsi qu’une analyse de la correspondence privée de ses rédacteurs, révèlent les conflits internes qui caractérisent les échanges franco-britanniques conçus à la fois comme un projet politique et comme une émanation des Lumières.

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1On the 9 April 1764 Horace Walpole wrote to one of his closest friends, Horace Mann, the British Resident in Florence. Youngest son of Britain's first ‘prime minister,’ the notorious Robert Walpole, Horace was a man of parts: gardener, designer, antiquarian, connoisseur, politician, historian. He was also a Francophile, who numbered Madame du Deffand as another of his closest friends. His cousin, Francis Seymour-Conway, Earl of Hertford, served as British ambassador to France from 1763 to 1765. One would be hard pressed to find a keener observer of the complex relationship between British and French culture in the eighteenth century. It would be downright impossible to find a wittier. In the 1750s Walpole had himself edited a periodical with the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. The World ran from 1753 to 1757, and saw these two arbiters of politeness regularly compare and contrast manners and moeurs.

2Let nobody start at my calling this a polite nation,’ Walpole had written in a 1754 number of The World. It shall be the business of this paper to prove that we are the most polite nation in Europe; and that France must yield to us in the extreme delicacy of our refinements.’ He cited the impertinent’ remonstrances of the Parisian parlement to Louis XV in support of this claim. Two years later The World perspicaciously noted the lack of an English equivalent for the French word police, and discussed what was lost in translation between French and English notions of liberty and public order. Walpole’s eye for Anglo-French contrasts also noted contrasts in crime, noting, for example, how rude French highwaymen were compared to their English equivalents:

  • 1 The World, 103, 19 December 175, p. 620-621.

A highwayman would be reckoned a BRUTE, a MONSTER, if he had not all manner of attention not to frighten the ladies; and none of the great Mr. Nash’s laws are more sacred, than that of restoring any favourite bawble to which a robbed lady has a particular proclivity. Now turn your eyes to France. No people upon earth have less of the scavoir vivre than their banditti. No Tartar has less douceur in his manner than a French highwayman. He takes your money without making you a bow, and your life without making you an apology. This obliges their government to keep up a numerous guet, a severe police, racks, gibbets, and twenty troublesome things, which might all be avoided, if they would only reckon and breed up their thieves to be good company.1

  • 2 For the Chevalier d’Éon see Gary Kates, Monsieur D’Éon is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intrigue and (...)
  • 3 The Chevalier d’Éon, Lettres, mémoires et négociations particulières du Chevalier d’Eon, Paris, Jac (...)
  • 4 Horace Walpole to Horace Mann, 9 April 1764. Wilmarth S. Lewis (ed.), Horace Walpole’s Corresponden (...)

3Writing to Mann in April 1764, Horace's attention was, he said, entirely taken up with the scandal unleashed in London by a French diplomat, the Chevalier d'Éon, whose querelle with his superiors in the French foreign ministry had escalated to the point of open breach. In February 1763 d'Éon had enjoyed the signal honour of carrying the ratified Treaty of Paris to Paris from London, officially bringing the Seven Years War to an end. An agent of the famed Secret du Roi, he also carried secret instructions from King Louis XV ordering him to reconnoitre Britain for a future French invasion. Within a few months, however, this trusted diplomat and secret agent had begun pursuing a personal grudge based on back pay owed him for previous service in Russia.2 In 1764 d'Éon brought out a book in which he published French diplomatic correspondence between French foreign minister Praslin and himself3. Walpole was an enthusiastic reader, gleefully observing to Mann that the letters threatened to make all involved look contemptible.’ The Court of France indeed appears to be so – and for Monsieur de Praslin, it will suffice to give you the measure of his genius, by telling you of one of his plans – it was to make the French language universal, by publishing a monthly review!’4

  • 5 The only published accounts of the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe are the short entry by Rémy Landy (...)

4It is this project that forms the focus of this essay. The Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe was launched by Praslin in 1764; a sixteen-page review which the foreign ministry published each Wednesday (not, as Walpole claimed, monthly) at the Louvre alongside other official periodicals of long standing, the venerable Gazette (established 1631, renamed Gazette de France in January 1762) and the Mercure.5 Printed in quarto with two columns per page, the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe looked and felt very much like the Gazette de France. Although it became a fortnightly from May 1765, a monthly Supplément to the Gazette Littéraire appeared from April 1764 to April 1765, with longer reviews and serializations of foreign publications.

  • 6 In what follows I shall refer to the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe as ‘the Gazette’, giving its fu (...)
  • 7 The Journal Étranger had originally been established by Ignace Hugary de La Marche-Courmont in 1754 (...)

5Whereas the Gazette de France and Mercure restricted themselves to heavily bowdlerized coverage of foreign affairs and the court, the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe was intended to serve as a sort of European intellectual clearing house.6 All the latest books and discoveries in the fields of natural and political science, literature, arts and antiquities would be gathered from every corner of polite Europe, digested and broadcast back to a grateful public in brief reviews and short notices arranged by country. It was edited by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard and the Abbé Arnaud, who had previously edited the Journal Étranger (1760-62).7 Suard also edited the Gazette de France, and would continue to do so until the fall of premier ministre Choiseul in 1770. The Gazette littéraire de l'Europe appeared from March 1764 until March 1766, when it was re-established as a private venture, which continued until Arnaud's death in 1784.

6A study of the genesis and brief life of the Gazette as an organ of the French state is of interest to scholars of Anglo-French relations on three counts. First and most obviously, a consideration of its articles on England and English literature and art allows us to see what aspects of England a learned French public found novel in the 1760s, a crucial decade in which Anglo-French relations underwent dramatic change. As Robert and Isabelle Tombs note in their masterful survey of those relations, That Sweet Enemy:

  • 8 Robert and Isabelle Tombs, That Sweet Enemy: the French and the British from the Sun King to the Pr (...)

At least until the 1760s, Britain represented liberty and modernity in Europe – relative religious freedom, representative government, political tumult, social fluidity and 'commercial society'. Thereafter – at least in the eyes of its many enemies – it stood for conquest and economic exploitation […].8

  • 9 Simon Burrows, ‘The cosmopolitan press, 1759-1815’, in Hannah Barker and Simon Burrows (ed.), Press (...)
  • 10 The leading Gazette de Leyde’s highest circulation figures was 4,200, and came at the height of the (...)
  • 11 Jeremy Popkin, ‘La presse et la politique étrangère, de l’Ancien Régime à la Révolution,’ in Henri (...)

7It is therefore unsurprising to find the Gazette presenting a mixed or even confused impression of England. Suard's England nonetheless differed little from that of fellow Parisian observers like Voltaire (himself a contributor), the Abbé Coyer, Ange Goudar or others. While Suard did, as we shall see, discover some important English poets and authors, otherwise his periodical was unremarkable. Although it steered clear of politics and current affairs, it is a typical, if little-studied, example of the cosmopolitan press in the latter half of the eighteenth century, one of a number of Francophone periodicals (most of them published outside France) which Simon Burrows has characterized as addressing a European public, and even a pan-European public sphere, albeit a narrow and largely aristocratic one, which transcended national publics.9 Although we lack any figures, it probably didn’t have a run of much more than a thousand copies.10 It is its representativeness that makes it significant. It suggests that Jeremy Popkin’s comparison of the history of the eighteenth-century press to ‘un jeu de miroirs’ is apt, but not only due to the web of relations that complicate any attempt to distinguish ‘state-controlled’ from ‘free’ gazettes, but also by challenging the tendency to see Britain and France as defined by means of a similarly schematic opposition.11

  • 12 Julian Swann, Politics and the Parlement of Paris under Louis XV, 1754-1774, Cambridge, Cambridge U (...)
  • 13 Hertford to Walpole, 30 November 1763. Walpole’s Correspondence, vol. 38, p. 245.

8The Gazette was announced in May 1763, as the French state began to count the cost of the disastrous defeats of the Seven Years War – the cost in territories lost (in Canada, India, west Africa, the Caribbean), in debt, but also in terms of prestige abroad and political consensus at home. The doubling of the vingtième and other attempts to raise revenue to service war debts sparked a renewal of those earlier conflicts that Walpole had noted in the 1750s. This time, however, the Paris parlement was backed up by other parlements in the provinces, and a new language of fundamental law and even representation was creeping into their remontrances to the King.12 As Hertford noted, the parlements were growing Whigs apace and are obtaining powers which may make great alterations in this constitution.’13 It would soon become possible for some to repeat Walpole's facetious comments of 1754 in earnest; the French parlements seemed to be standing up to royal power better than the corrupt parliament in Westminster was.

  • 14 Louis Petit de Bachaumont, Mémoires secrets pour servir à l'histoire de la république des lettres e (...)
  • 15 Michel Antoine, ‘La monarchie absolue,’ in Keith M. Baker (ed.), The Political Culture of the Old R (...)
  • 16 Jonathan C. Riley, The Seven Years War and the Old Regime in France. The Economic and Financial Tol (...)
  • 17 These included the author Jean-Baptiste Vielia, author of Le secret des finances divulgué, which ha (...)

9The French court's response was to make a show of consulting parlementaire and even public opinion. Louis XV chose his contrôleurs des finances from the Paris parlement. In 1764 the Gazette de France began discussing politics, rather than simply reporting the orbit of royals around their palaces, eliciting a surprised reaction from that otherwise jaded observer, the bookseller Bachaumont.14 The King invited the publication of proposals to reform the fisc, starting a flurry of pamphlets that ran from May 1763 to March 1764. Whereas his regime had originally sought to ban the publication of parlementaire remonstrances, by 1766 his ministers were ensuring that copies of his speech at the séance de la flagellation were ready for immediate distribution.15 The creation of the Gazette has to be seen in the context of the transformation in the regime's propaganda strategy,’ as Edmond Dziembowski has called it. This publicity campaign created a temporary space for public debate that has, for all its limitations, been justly represented by Jonathan Riley, Edmund Dziembowski and others as an important step in undermining the absolutist regime.16 While one or two authors of financial reform pamphlets like Richesse de l'État could be and were embastillé in June 1764 to signal the end of this particular consultation exercise, the public's appetite for debate would prove harder to quell.17

  • 18 Tombs, op. cit., p. 55, p. 149.

10Finally we have the aspect which most amused Walpole: the idea that the Gazette could establish French as the language of European savants. Louis XIV is recorded as having asked his Ambassador if the English had any writers or men of learning. Yet his grandson Louis XV was able to point to the success of Shakespeare in France and claim that the English had corrupted the mind of my kingdom,’ arguing that lessons in English would expose the next generation to the danger of being perverted by their language.’18 The use of state-sponsored media to promote the rayonnement of a particular state's language and culture has a long history in France; longer, perhaps, than that of any other country in the world. What is striking about this motivation for the Gazette is not that it should have struck Walpole as amusing, but rather that it was seen as necessary at all. As a language of polite correspondence and intellectual exchange, French appears unrivalled in the eighteenth century. Though it may be hard to reach any firm conclusions, the question of when and how English replaced French as the international language of scientific, literary and intellectual communication is one well worth considering.

Un Journal Universel’

  • 19 Prospectus de la Gazette Littéraire de L'Europe (n.d.). B[ritish] L[ibrary],, p. 1.
  • 20 Ibid., p. 4.

11As the Prospectus published in 1763 made clear, the Gazette was to realize the long-held project of a journal universel,’ to overcome the geographical and linguistic barriers that had hitherto isolated intellectuals and publics, preventing them from perceiving ‘la marche universelle de l'esprit humain.19 It would cover ‘tout ce que l'Europe fournira d'intéressant relativement aux différens objects des connoissances humaines, drawing on a private network of savants but above all the resources of the French foreign ministry. ‘Les personnes employées pour le service du Roi dans les Pays Étrangers sont chargées par le Ministere même de faire parvenir aux Auteurs les Livres, les Journaux, les Nouvelles et toutes les Instructions qui leur seront nécessaires.20 Ministerial backing would, the Prospectus promised, give this new periodical the edge over other periodicals.

  • 21 Cited in Françoise Weil, ‘Un épisode de la “guerre” entre la Gazette de France et les gazettes holl (...)
  • 22 Jeremy Popkin, News and Politics in the Age of Revolution: Jean Luzacs Gazette de Leyde, Ithaca, C (...)
  • 23 For details, see Gilles Feyel, ‘La diffusion des gazettes étrangères et la révolution postale des a (...)

12This was somewhat hopeful rhetoric, however. In August 1761 the foreign ministry had sent all Intendants a similar circular announcing their intention to make the Gazette de France ‘plus authentique, plus intéressante et de lui donner toute la supériorité dont elle est susceptible,’ and instructing them to pass on news from their area, and in particular any items relating to trade, manufacturing and agriculture.21 The Duc de Choiseul was then foreign minister, and this project as well as the establishment by his successor in that office (his cousin, the Comte de Choiseul, who was made Duc de Praslin in November 1762) of the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe can both be seen as part of his ministry’s efforts to compete for new media markets with the Gazette de Leyde and other more popular periodicals printed in the Netherlands.22 In what has come to be called ‘the postal revolution,’ postal charges imposed on such periodicals had been dramatically reduced in 1759. The cost of a subscription came down from 120 livres to 36 livres, opening up a new market and a wider audience. The new, lower fees imposed by the Ferme générale des postes (like most French taxes, the postal service was ‘farmed’ to contractors) were also flat – those living close to the Dutch border paid the same price as someone living in Bordeaux.23

  • 24 For the full text of this ‘Mémoire sur la gazette d”Hollande’, see Duranton, Labrosse and Rétat (ed (...)
  • 25 Weil, op. cit., p. 103.

13The decision to admit such papers on generous terms had been influenced by a memorandum drawn up by Directeur de la Librairie Malesherbes in 1757. Malesherbes argued that by showing them the profits to be made inside France’s borders the new policy would also encourage their editors to write more circumspectly, or else find their gazette banned or simply subjected to the previous tariff regime.24 Unfortunately for the Gazette de France, Louis XV’s Intendants and the latter's Sous-délégués largely refused to follow instructions and send their news to its editor, Remond de Sainte Albine. In October 1762 Sainte Albine retired and was replaced by Arnaud.25 Carefully avoiding any allusion to this unhappy precedent, in introducing Suard and Arnaud the Prospectus for the Gazette Littéraire de l’Europe instead referred their rather more successful previous periodical, the Journal Étranger, whose last issue appeared on 31 March 1763.

  • 26 Éric Francalanza, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard: journaliste des Lumières, Paris, Honoré Champion, 20 (...)
  • 27 ‘Geschichte der Kunst’, Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe [hereafter GLE], 6 vols., Paris, Galeries du (...)
  • 28 ‘Du beau et du sublime’, GLE, 58, 30 January 1764, vol. 4, p. 206-209.
  • 29 E. Francalanza, op. cit., p. 428; M. R. de Labriolle, op. cit., p. 675.

14Issues of the new Gazette were arranged nationally, with reviews, letters and notices appearing under country headings, as they did in similar gazettes such as the Gazette d’Utrecht. There was little editorial comment, apart from the odd ‘Avis aux Lecteurs’. In the strict pecking order that the editors observed until May 1765 ‘Angleterre’ was in a humble station, coming after Russia, Sweden, Denmark/Poland, Germany, Spain/Portugal, Italy and Switzerland. As Éric Francalanza’s calculations in his recent biography of Suard indicate, however, the proportion of ‘English’ articles was higher than this might otherwise suggest. The 134 ‘English’ articles were exceeded in number only by the 161 articles devoted to ‘Allemagne’ and the 173 to Italy.26 Among the Italian articles was the first French translation of J.J. Winckelmann’s Über die Nachahmung der Kunst des Altherthums (1764), as well as an equally important review of Abbé Morellet's Fragment d'une Lettre sur la Police des Grains (1764).27 The country-by-country classification was sometimes applied rather idiosyncratically, however, as when a review of Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful was listed under ‘France.’28 As with its predecessor, the Journal Étranger, the Gazette often lifted its English items from the London Chronicle, London Magazine as well as the Critical and Monthly reviews.29

  • 30 Chevalier d’Éon, Lettres, Praslin to Chevalier d'Éon, 17 May 1763, p. 50.
  • 31 Ibid., Sainte-Foy to Chevalier d’Éon, 19 June 1763, p. 59.
  • 32 Ibid., d’Éon to Praslin, 11 May 1763.

15The editors also took advice from correspondents in London. Some of these were more willing than others. Praslin wrote to the Chevalier d'Éon about the Gazette on 17 May 1763, when d'Éon was acting Minister Plenipotentiary and had been living in London for eight months. He introduced the project and instructed d'Éon to send contributions or recommendations of notable recent publications directly to Arnaud or Suard.30 By 19 June, however, the premier commis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sainte-Foy, was writing to d'Éon complaining that d'Éon had yet to submit any of the contributions he had promised. Praslin, Sainte-Foy noted, had called d'Éon un paresseux littéraire’ for neglecting a project ‘qui lui tient extrêmement à cœur. According to this same letter d'Éon had himself been ‘le témoin de la formation de ce projet.31 Yet even before Praslin's letter arrived, d'Éon had already written to his superior explaining why the project was doomed to fail commercially in Britain, despite the popularity of periodicals as a genre.32 ‘En Angleterre on a bien la fureur des gazettes et papiers périodiques, he observed:

mais cette fureur ne s’étend que sur les papiers et gazettes Angloises qui parlent avec liberté de tout ce qui concerne leur Ministère, leur administration, leur commerce, leur constitution et leurs intérêts soit communs soit particuliers. Tout ce qui n’est pas cela les touche peu, et je sais par les meilleurs libraires de Londres qu’ils ne vendent aucun de nos écrits périodiques et journaux, pas même celui des savants, ni les brochures qui piquent le plus le cœur et l’esprit de nos parisiens. Tout cela est regardé en Angleterre comme misère étrangère ou plutôt Françoise pour endormir l’esprit des parisiens, tandis qu’on fouille dans leurs poches.

  • 33 Ibid., p. 46. D’Éon nonetheless wished Suard well with the Gazette in a letter sent the following A (...)
  • 34 Sainte-Foy refers in one letter to ‘une histoire très remarquable du Kamchat-Ka.’ Sainte-Foy to Che (...)

16The outgoing ambassador Nivernais agreed, D'Éon continued, and had apparently observed that English savants rarely ventured into society, and that those who were willing to read French ‘le font plutot pour entendre nos auteurs morts que pour parler avec nos auteurs vivants.33 As far as d'Éon was concerned, the Gazette was just too tame to have any hope of success in England. D'Éon may have drawn on his previous experience of diplomatic service in Russia to supply an article on Kamchatka (Sainte-Foy certainly pestered him about this) but does not appear to have provided any copy on English topics or publications in the months before his dispute with his superiors exploded into a diplomatic incident34.

17Suard thus turned to the British journalist John Wilkes, whom he had probably met at the salon of the Baron d’Holbach, perhaps as early as March 1763, when Wilkes came over to Paris to put his daughter Polly into school. Wilkes had attended Leiden University with d’Holbach, and the two became firm friends. In June 1762 Wilkes had begun publishing his own anti-ministerial periodical, The North Briton, which accused the King's favourite, the 3rd Marquis of Bute, of betraying English interests during the negotiations of the Peace. The infamous 45th issue published on 23 April 1763 led to a charge of seditious libel, and Wilkes fled to Paris, where he would remain in almost uninterrupted exile until 1768. Wilkes' intelligence, esprit and status as a martyr of free speech meant that he found a warm welcome in philosophe salons such as d'Holbach’s, and he soon counted Helvétius, Diderot, Marmontel and Morellet among his friends, as well as Arnaud and Suard.

  • 35 Louis I. Bredvold, The contributions of John Wilkes to the Gazette Littéraire de l'Europe’, Univer (...)
  • 36 Wilkes’ own copy of editions of the Gazette containing his articles (with marginalia noting his aut (...)
  • 37 ‘Lettre écrite par un Anglois’, GLE, 35, 19 September 1764, vol. 1, p. 43-48, here p. 46.
  • 38 GLE, 47, 28 November 1764, vol. 1, p. 170-173.
  • 39 Wilkes to Suard, 16 February 1765. William L. Clements Library [hereafter WCL], Wilkes Papers, vol. (...)
  • 40 Wilkes to Suard, 24 December 1764. WCL, vol. 3, f.10. I have found no evidence to support the rumou (...)
  • 41 Gabriel Bonno (ed.), Lettres inédites de Suard à Wilkes, Berkeley, California, 1932, p. 171. See al (...)

18Suard first invited Wilkes to write ‘un mot pour notre gazette in March 1764.35 Between March and November Wilkes contributed letters as well as reviews (in English, which Suard translated) on Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, on Oxford antiquities, on the poetry of his friend and political ally the Rev. Charles Churchill, on John Ogilvie, on the Rev. Evan Evans' Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards and on Bishop Lowth’s lectures on Hebrew poetry.36 Suard described his unnamed correspondent in print as ‘un homme de beaucoup d'esprit, à qui la littérature ancienne et moderne est très familière.’37 Suard nonetheless felt it necessary to edit as well as translate Wilkes’ copy, adding criticism of the ‘amertume’ of Churchill’s satiric poetry, for example, and concluding that the poet ‘paroît avoir violé toutes les loix de la bienséance et de l'honnêteté sociale.38 After Churchill died of a sudden illness at Calais on 5 November Wilkes planned to put together a critical edition of his friend's work, which would, he wrote Suard, leave the Gazette's editor with much ‘to unsay.39 This remark was doubtless made half-teasingly, as the published correspondence makes clear how friendly Suard and Wilkes were. For Wilkes, Suard’s official connections were a useful way of communicating with the French regime, which was happy to treat its enemy’s enemy kindly, if not quite as a friend.40 When Wilkes asked Suard to review a collection of the North Briton, however, Suard had gently to remind his friend that there were limits. ‘Je vous prens au mot surtout pour le North Briton; mais vous savés qu'il ne faut présenter que le côté littéraire.’41 There was precious little literary about the North Briton, and a review never appeared.

19The rest of the Gazette’s ‘English’ articles were lifted from the aforementioned London periodicals or penned by Suard himself. Considering they appeared under the heading ‘Angleterre’ they had a strong Celtic or British flavour. Suard was an ardent admirer of Ossian, and had already published extracts from James Macpherson's Fingal: an Ancient Epic Poem (1762) in the Journal Étranger. The Gazette published further extracts in two-part review of the 1765 collected Works of Ossian, as well as a long review of Hugh Blair’s Critical Dissertation on Ossian (1763, revised edition 1765). The first full French translation of Ossian, by Pierre Le Tourneur, would only appear in 1777. Suard thus presented the fictional 3rd-century Gaelic bard to a French audience for the first time. Otherwise the terms of Suard's praise hardly differ from those by which Ossian's German and other European fans justified their enthusiasm. He apologized for Ossian's rough edges, noting that:

  • 42 ‘The Works of Ossian’, GLE 14, 1 July 1765, vol 6, p. 102.

Les productions des siècles ignorans et sauvages doivent être irrégulières et sauvages aussi, mais en même temps elles doivent êtres animées de cet enthousiasme, de cette véhémence, de ce feu qui est l'âme de la Poésie; car les temps que nous appellons barbares sont, par un grand nombre de circonstances, favorables au génie poétique. Cet état, dans lequel la nature humaine prend un essor libre et indépendant, encourage certainement les développemens de l'imagination et des passions.42

  • 43 ‘Suite de la Dissertation sur Ossian’, GLE, 16, 1 August 1765, vol. 6, p. 234-251, here p. 251.

20Although he noted the controversy over Ossian’s authenticity, Suard's enthusiasm left him convinced that these were original works.43

  • 44Quelques morceaux de la Poésie des anciens Bardes du Pays de Galles, GLE, 43, 4 November 1764, vo (...)
  • 45 ‘Revisal of Shakespear’s text’, GLE, 8, 17 April 1765, vol. 5, p. 172-174. See also ‘The Plays of S (...)

21Other bards did not quite match up to Ossian. Suard had to concede that Wilkes’ withering criticism in his review of Evans’ Poetry of the Antient Welsh was entirely justified. He was happy to publish Wilkes’ text almost unchanged, including the cruel observation that it would have been better if King Edward III had destroyed the bards’ writings instead of bothering to exterminate the bards themselves. There was, Suard reasoned, a vital difference between the poetry of ‘sauvages’ like the Scots and ‘barbares’ like the Welsh.44 Another, later bard, Shakespeare, was also a product of ‘les temps barbares,’ and the Gazette found the English enthusiasm for the Bard ‘une chose incompréhensible pour les Étrangers.’ It reviewed Benjamin Heath’s Revisal of Shakespeare's Text (1765) in a rather non-committal fashion, arguing that there must be something of the genius about Shakespeare to merit such praise from ‘une Nation éclairée et sensible.’ ‘En effet,’ it concluded, ‘Shakespear a tous les vices de l'ignorance et du mauvais goût; mais il a toutes les qualités du génie; il est original, vrai, sublime et pathétique.’45

  • 46 ‘Élégee écrite sur un Cimetière de Campagne’, GLE, 10, 28 April 1765, vol. 5, p. 217-224; “2nd Nigh (...)
  • 47 The story would come full circle in the early 1830s, when these same gardens were adapted as garde (...)
  • 48 ‘Maria’, GLE, 60, 6 February 1765, vol. 4, p. 282, ‘Miss Lucinda Courtney’, GLE, 51, 19 December 17 (...)
  • 49 ‘Sarah Th…’, GLE, 17, 15 August 1765, vol. 6, p. 257-89, here p. 258. For Voltaire, see ‘History of (...)
  • 50 ‘Tristram Shandy’, GLE, 3, 20 March 1765, vol. 5, p. 39-43, here p. 40. The first French translatio (...)
  • 51 Wilkes invited Suard to hear Sterne preach at the Ambassador’s chapel. ‘Tristram pleads his cause w (...)

22The Gazette was the first to translate the poetry of Thomas Gray into French, including his Elegy in a Country Churchyard, which Walpole had originally published in 1750-1, and part of Night Thoughts (‘2nd Night’). Suard’s translations appeared in the supplement for April 1765 and July 1764 respectively.46 Both made a deep impact on French landscape design. In the 1770s and 1780s tomb-filled gardens and bois were laid out in the Parc Monceau, at Ermenonville, and elsewhere.47 Turning to novels, the Gazette reviewed Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1765), Edward Kimber’s Maria (1764), The History of Miss Lucinda Courtney (1764) as well as Sarah Th… (1765) a novel by Jean Francois de Saint-Lambert purporting to be ‘traduite de l'Anglois.’48 Although Saint-Lambert was himself a contributor, the Gazette nonetheless betrayed some weariness with this raft of sub-Richardsonian fiction, even as it pointed out that plots in which a noble woman espoused a working man were less fantastic in a land ‘où l'on s'informe du mérite d'un homme avant de demander son nom.’49 The Gazette struggled to get to grips with Shandy, ‘une espèce de Roman bouffon.’ ‘On y trouve plusieurs traits d'une sensibilité tendre et vraie qui ne s'allie pas ordinairement avec la bouffonerie.’50 Here again, Wilkes had served as intermediary, introducing Suard to Sterne during the latter's visit to Paris in March 1764.51

  • 52 ‘Mort du celèbre Peintre Guillaume Hogarth’, GLE, 58, 30 January 1764, vol. 4, p. 202-205.
  • 53The Ghost, GLE, 44, 7 November 1764, vol. 3, p. 283-285, here p. 284. For similar expressions of (...)
  • 54 Letter of 14 March 1758 cited in Legouis, op. cit., p. 7, n.1.

23Hogarth’s death in 1764 elicited a notice which praised the artist in literary terms. ‘Y a-t’il un Roman plus touchant que cette suite de tableaux? […] ses Ouvrages sont un livre populaire où tous les hommes peuvent lire […].’ In dubbing Hogarth’s 1753 aesthetic treatise (The Analysis of Beauty) ‘absurde,’ while celebrating Hogarth as a master of ‘Comédie en tableaux,’ Suard echoed the general consensus that the painter was an observer of manners rather than a creative genius.52 Turning from arts to other topics, the Gazette’s reports hailed England as the bearer of a great metaphysical tradition, ‘la Patrie de Newton, de Lo[c]ke, de Hume, &c’ – even as they wondered how such lumières could be conjoined with credulity in the affair of the Cock Lane and Croxford ghosts.53 Back in 1757-8 when he was busy translating English news items for the Mercure, Suard had taken great pleasure in translating Hume’s Natural History of Religion (published in Four Dissertations in 1757).54

  • 55 Suard to Chevalier d’Éon, 12 August 1763. Bibliothèque Municipale, Tonnerre. D'Éon Papers, G/174.
  • 56 ‘Inoculation’, GLE, 15, 30 May 1764, vol. 1, p. 327-331.

24Like d'Éon, Suard was deeply interested in smallpox inoculation. Whereas this British import had been adopted in some fashionable Parisian quarters, Suard would write to d'Éon, it was purely as a fashionable English novelty. ‘Il faut en convenir,’ he wrote, ‘notre nation manque […] d'esprit public; l'inoculation a été un affaire de mode plus que de raison; on l'a favorisée, comme une nouveauté on l'attaque par le même principe; les sourdes intrigues […] ont étouffé la voix des hommes éclairée.’55 D'Éon may well have drawn Suard’s attention to an article by Patrick Blair on inoculation in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1763, which was duly translated for the Gazette.56

‘Une machine composée de ressorts divers’

  • 57 Robert Darnton, Gens des lettres, gens du livre, Paris, Jakob, 1992, p.17.
  • 58 Francalanza, op. cit., p. 149.
  • 59 Even then, Malesherbes delayed issuing the privilège, and the first two issues appeared without it. (...)

25As Robert Darnton has noted, to set up a periodical in pre-Revolutionary France was not a straightforward endeavour, but an ‘obstacle course.’57 Would-be editors had to secure a privilège, negotiate with the Direction de la Librairie, the Garde des Sceaux, locate a relatively friendly censor and negotiate with the postal service. All these required contacts and funds, to cover official fees as well as douceurs – all this before a publisher was hired and a single page was printed. To make matters worse, the 1759 ‘postal revolution’ unleashed a glut of new periodicals, many of which lasted less than a year. Of the twenty-four established in 1760, fifteen failed to see their first birthday. Four of the twelve that were established the same year as the Gazette met a similar fate.58 When Arnaud took over the Journal Étranger in 1760 Malesherbes insisted that they show a list of at least 400 subscribers and pay an indemnity to the Journal des Savants. Arnaud pulled strings and got the Dauphin to intervene on his behalf. Fittingly, the Journal was dedicated to him.59

  • 60 Francalanza, op. cit., p. 158.

26The Gazette’s status as an organ of the state meant that it had certain privileges. It enjoyed the same ‘unlimited’ privilège enjoyed by the Gazette de France, carried frais de port throughout the kingdom, and up to its borders.60 But it also induced a certain circumspection on the part of its editors, who clearly felt the need to avoid politics, current affairs and other controversial topics. As we shall see, this did not prevent the Gazette from reviewing English publications on history and politics entirely. Suard might have refused to review The North Briton, but he did not impose a total ban. Though few in number, those articles that did appear echoed much of the language used in the Gazette’s discussions of British art and literature, and elicited similar visions of an apparently vigorous order emerging from obscurity and disorder.

27Unsurprisingly, the Gazette’s view of the English constitution was strongly influenced by Montesquieu's Esprit de Lois (1748), in seeing the English polity as a self-correcting mechanism. In February 1765 a review of a safely centrist political pamphlet observed that:

  • 61 ‘An Address to both Parties’, GLE 62 (20 February 1765), vol. 4. p. 312-314, here p. 312.

Les divisions de Partis semblent être un ingrédient nécessaire dans la constitution de la Grande-Bretagne; elle seroit en effet en grand danger, si par quelques circonstances que ce fût on voyoit jamais la Cour, le Parlement et le Peuple réunis. Ce Gouvernement est une machine composée de ressorts divers qui ont une action et une tendance opposées; […] Cependant, si l'on observe avec attention ce qui s'est passé depuis quelques années en Angleterre, il paroît que le Parti Démocratique a pris un ascendant sensible sur le Parti Monarchique.61

  • 62 Ibid., p. 294.

28Other than this review of the anonymous Address to Both Parties the closest Suard got to reviewing a political pamphlet was Allan Ramsay’s Essay on the Constitution. Both the Essay and the Address sat on the fence, which was quite an achievement considering how hot the pamphlet war was raging in London in 1763-5. That is probably why Suard chose them. The above reference to the ‘ascendant sensible’ of the ‘Parti Démocratique’ (presumably Wilkite) is as close as the Gazette gets to analysis of political events across the channel. Suard does comment on the dangers he associates with the mounting size of the English national debt. ‘Il est évident que les emprunts ne peuvent soulager la génération actuelle qu'en écrasant les générations suivantes; c'est que notre Auteur ne paroît pas contredire.’62 Like many French observers (as well as British ones), Suard could not see how the English state could avoid bankruptcy.

29David Hume's History gave Voltaire the opportunity to consider the longue durée in a review published in May 1764. What struck Voltaire about English history was not its slow, Whiggish evolution, but its saltationism. Peace, order and reason seemed to generate themselves spontaneously from a primordial chaos of bloodshed, violence and fanaticism. ‘C’est de l’anarchie que l’ordre est sorti,’ he observed, ‘c’est du sein de la discorde et de la cruauté que sont nées la paix intérieure et la liberté publique.’ This confusing oscillation was uniquely British, and no less instructive for it:

  • 63 ‘L'Histoire complète de l'Angleterre’, GLE, 10, 2 May 1764. This is reproduced in Oeuvres de Voltai (...)

Voilà ce qui distingue le peuple anglais de tous les autres peuples, et ce qui rend son histoire si intéressante et si instructive. Ce peuple rentre de lui-même dans l’ordre, et quelques années après la catastrophe de Charles Ier, on voit les fanatiques absurdes et féroces qui ont trempé leurs mains dans son sang changés en philosophes. La raison humaine se perfectionne dans la même ville où il n’y avait peut-être pas, du temps de Charles Ier, un seul homme qui eût des notions raisonnables.63

  • 64 Suard kept notes of their debates, which his friend Garat seems to have used in his own memoirs, fr (...)

30Wilkes and Suard often discussed the apparent link between noisy factional politics and liberty. Whereas both agreed that British liberty was inseparable from oppositional politics, Suard argued that it was possible for both sides to appeal to public opinion rather than ceaselessly sniping at each other. Wilkes argued that power corrupted those who held it, that ‘la liberté est une place forte toujours assiégée: il faut être debout sur les ramparts, même alors que le feu s'est tu.’ Suard adopted a more Johnsonian pose, fearing false alarms and arguing that representatives embodied public opinion, which was reasonable and calm.64

  • 65 P. L. de Bachaumont, Mémoires secrets, vol. 4, p.78; Jonathan Conlin, ‘Vauxhall on the Boulevard: p (...)

31The Gazette therefore took a measured view of that Anglomania which was taking hold in Paris, and which would eventually see the creation of London-style pleasure gardens and fashions for redingotes and (in 1769) mouchoirs à la Wilques [sic].65 Clearly this was not enough, however, as charges of uncritical admiration of the English led Voltaire to defend the Gazette:

  • 66 GLE, 45, 14 November 1764, in Oeuvres de Voltaire, vol. 41, p. 524-527, here p. 524-5. For a fuller (...)

Mille gens, messieurs, s’élèvent et déclament contre l’anglomanie, j’ignore ce qu’ils entendent par ce mot. S’ils veulent parler de la fureur de travestir en modes ridicules quelques usages utiles, de transformer un déshabillé commode en un vêtement malpropre, de saisir jusqu’à des jeux nationaux pour y mettre des grimaces à la place de la gravité, ils pourraient avoir raison; mais si par hasard ces déclamateurs prétendaient nous faire un crime du désir d’étudier, d’observer, de philosopher, comme les Anglais, ils auraient certainement grand tort, car en supposant que ce désir soit déraisonnable ou même dangereux, il faudrait avoir beaucoup d’humeur pour nous l’attribuer, et ne pas convenir que nous sommes à cet égard à l’abri de tout reproche.66

32When Francesco, Count Algarotti published a work praising the innovative spirit of English manufactures, therefore, Suard was careful to pick him up for it. Perhaps surprisingly, Wilkes approved:

  • 67 Wilkes to Suard, n.d. WCL, vol. 3, f. 62.

I am glad that you have lash'd Algarotti, his extravagant praises of my countrymen are unjust, ridiculous, and tend to blunt the edge of our industry. – In England we say that we never invented any thing […] Cundums only we claim, nor will that be disputed to us, except by your Évêque de Condom.’67

‘La Prérogative Précieuse’

  • 68 Francalanza, op cit., p. 150.
  • 69 Popkin, op. cit., p. 44.

33In launching the Journal Étranger Arnaud had stated that French was ‘dans la bouche de toutes les Nations de la Terre.’68 The list of French language periodicals published outside France confirms this. In Germany there was the Bibliothèque des Belles-Lettres et des Arts libéraux and the Recueil Bavarois, in Spain the Gazette de Madrid. In the Netherlands the publication of French language newspapers and books was a major industry, one founded on the weakness of the States General relative to individual city councils (who often chose to ignore edicts curbing press freedom) as well as presence of Huguenots who had fled France around the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. These included the Luzac family of Leiden, who began publishing Nouvelles extraordinaires de Divers Endroits (more usually known as the Gazette de Leyde) in 1677. As J. Popkin has shown, by the 1760s the Gazette de Leyde was the nearest thing Europe had to a paper of record, and it reflected the French language’s status as ‘the preferred language of nobles, thinkers and political elites throughout the continent.69

34It was therefore felt to be fitting that a journal dedicated to European arts and sciences should be published in French. As the Prospectus observed:

  • 70 Prospectus, p. 5.

L'universalité de la Langue Francoise la rendoit plus propre qu'aucune autre à servir d'organe commun et à répandre la Gazette Littéraire dans toutes les parties du monde scavant; et, par un effet réciproque, le succès de cette Gazette pourroit contribuer à conserver, et même à l'étendre la prérogative précieuse que notre Langue semble avoir obenue du consentement unanime de tous les Peuples.70

35But where was the danger to that prérogative précieuse of the French language which the Gazette sought to maintain?

  • 71 Maty's Journal Britannique (1750-57) was an important publication, but otherwise a trawl of Sgard’s (...)
  • 72 S. Burrows, ‘Cosmopolitan press’, op.cit., p. 28; Simon Burrows, ‘The Courier de l'Europe as an age (...)
  • 73 See Simon Burrows, A King’s Ransom: The Life of Charles Théveneau de Morande, Blackmailer, Scandalm (...)

36English was far less widely spoken, or read. London itself had played host to French language periodicals as early as the Mercure Anglais (1644-1648), but there were only two such titles published in London in the 1750s, and only three or four in the 1760s, all of which folded in even less time than the Gazette did.71 Only in the 1770s and above all during the Revolutionary War in the American colonies did London begin to rival the Dutch cities as a centre for French-language periodicals, thanks above all to the Courier de l’Europe (1776-1791).72 The Courier’s editor from 1784, Théveneau de Morande, was one of the more disreputable members of a contingent of French hacks who came to use London as a base from which to publish (or threaten to publish) libelles against various members of the French elite in the 1770s and 1780s.73

  • 74 Tombs, op. cit., p. 151. For Anglomaniac fashions, see Grieder, op. cit., p. 12.

37Although printed in French, such salacious publications only confirmed the well-established reputation that the English and their language had in France for being Gothic and crude, the latter lacking any equivalent for the Académie that protected and purified the French language. As we have seen, Louis XV opposed the teaching of English. Louis XVI’s position was more ambivalent: though he ridiculed those who sported themselves in redingotes and other English fashions he taught himself English in private, against the opposition of his mother.74 The publication of Samuel Johnson's dictionary in 1755 caused Horace Walpole's The World to muse on the relative state and territory of English and French:

It must be owned that our language is at present in a state of anarchy; and hitherto, perhaps, it may not have been the worse for it. During our free and open trade, many words and expressions have been imported, adopted and naturalized from other languages, which have greatly enriched our own. Let it still preserve what real strength and beauty it may have borrowed from others, but let it not, like the Tarpeian maid, be overwhelmed and crushed by unnecessary foreign ornaments. The time for discrimination seems to be now come. Toleration, adoption and naturalization have run their length. Good order and authority are now necessary.

  • 75 The World, 100, 28 November 1754, p. 601-2.

38English was a disorganized rabble of words. Many of them were asylum seekers. Johnson's linguistic police action in producing the dictionary was just the thing to knock them into shape and keep out further immigrants. Addressing his audience in The World, Walpole resigned all rights in his language to Johnson. But this was no exercise in Little Englandism; English was on the march. Whereas the French language had ventured abroad in the train of Louis XIV’s armies, it was now the turn of the English language to conquer by means of her great authors and philosophers. ‘A nobler sort of conquest,’ Walpole observed somewhat smugly, ‘and a far more glorious triumph, since graced by none but willing captives!’75

  • 76 Cited in Grieder, op. cit., p. 4.
  • 77 Tombs, op. cit., p. 87.
  • 78 Grieder, op. cit., p. 125n.

39Voltaire and Montesquieu had put English on the French literary map back in the 1730s, when the former’s Lettres philosophiques (Letters concerning the English nation) and the latter’s L'Esprit des lois went through multiple editions. The Abbé Prévost began the trend for French authors to use English settings with his Histoire de M. Cleveland. By the 1740s Philippe van Tieghem estimates that there were sixteen periodicals in France primarily interested in English ideas and literature.76 Around mid-century Richardson and his many imitators (French and English) pushed out of this beachhead, spawning a brood of heroes and heroines whose names varied from obvious transliterations to cod Franglais.77 In 1752 Clément’s Nouvelles littéraires, etc. de France changed its name to Nouvelles littéraires, etc. de France et d'Angleterre.78

40In the mid 1760s patriotic Francophone Englishmen were still willing to concede that standards of taste were much looser in English. Wilkes felt the need to apologize to Suard for such language, but also to the English people for his own love of France:

  • 79 Wilkes to Suard, 1 December 1769. WCL, vol. 3, f. 26, referring to his Letter to the Right Hon. Geo (...)

For I was never so happy, neither before nor since, as during the time of my exile and outlawry – a damned confession this for old England – but I will make her amends in the next political trash I give to the public by abusing France as much – […] pray remember that in this country our mustard is ten times stronger than yours […] The taste of a nation must be consulted. Be so good to apply this to works of the manufacture of the press. Delicacy is not the thing. Strength and force are requisite […] For my part I endeavour to forget all the excellent lessons of true taste, which you and the dear Abbé [Arnaud] gave me, and I may have imbibed from the ancients, or I should be undone as tribune of the people […] This is the true apology for several violent things of bad taste, which you will find in a certain letter to G.G. [George Grenville] and is all the apology can be made [sic] for our Shakespeare.79

41As we have seen, Suard was willing to make concessions to the ‘strength and force’ of Ossian and (grudgingly) Shakespeare in the Gazette. In a review of a poem by John Granger celebrating that useful plant, ‘The Sugar Cane,’ Suard related the English devotion to agriculture to a certain healthy earthiness of language.

  • 80 ‘The Sugar Cane’, GLE, 49, 1 October 1764, vol. 4, p. 14-16, here p. 15.

En Angleterre où les gens du monde vivent plus à la campagne, où la culture est plus honorée, où la langue est plus populaire, moins délicate et moins gênée par les idées de noblesse et de bassesse, les détails champêtre peuvent être mis en Vers et l'ont été avec assez de succès par quelques Poëtes.80

  • 81 John Lockman was known as ‘the herring poet’ for his ballads and fables celebrating the herring ind (...)

42Even the ‘culture’ of the herring fishery did not go without its poet in England, Suard might have added.81

43Reaching firm conclusions about the timing of the English language’s rise as a medium of polite literature and Enlightenment learning is difficult. In terms of the role of French in polite or genteel society, the ability to converse in French seems to have remained a necessary social skill for the elite and upper middle class of Britain until the 1840s. Thereafter knowledge of a foreign language became less important, while for savants German arguably replaced French as the one language British intellectuals had to have. As for the importance of conversational English to the French elite, I suspect it did not become widespread until the closing decades of last century. Within court and diplomatic circles the position of French must have seemed unassailable in the 1760s. Despite residing in London for many years d'Éon apparently felt no need to learn English, and may never have mastered it.

  • 82 Suard was charged with organizing the education of Jack in France. Wilkes to Suard, 21 July 1769. W (...)

44Quite why the French foreign ministry would have felt a need to ‘conserver’ the French language in this period remains mysterious, therefore. General Amherst may have helped push the French out of Canada, but he wrote to his officers in French while doing so. Wilkes was a pillar of the Anti-Gallican Society, one whose fire-breathing political pamphlets calumnied Frenchified ministries in London – all the while instructing both his legitimate daughter Polly and his illegitimate son Jack to learn French and write to him in that polite language.82 That the French regime saw it necessary to promote the French language through an international periodical may reflect the profile of the English and especially Scottish Enlightenment in the monde savant, or perhaps a desire to continue the war by other means, to conquer the realm of intellect, to establish a virtual form of universal monarchy to compensate for that territorial one which had been conquered by Louix XIV and squandered by his grandson, Louis XV. Or, perhaps more likely, it was a reflection of fears that Britain had pretensions to monopolize world trade. A political, social and economic system that had previously seemed peripheral now seemed to be bidding for a place at the big table, endeavouring (in the words of one contemporary French pamphlet) to:

  • 83 Basset de la Marelle, La Différence du patriotisme national chez les Francois et chez les Anglois, (...)

fonder un commerce exclusif, qui embrasse et absorbe celui de toutes les Regions connues; mettre tous les peuples a contribution en se rendant les Facteurs et les seuls Négociants de l’Europe; s'ériger en Souverains des mers, vouloir former le lien de l’Orient, de l’Occident et du Midi; devenir le canal unique de leur communication […].83

45Dominating over world trade may have seemed a preliminary to seeking to change the lingua franca spoken in the marketplace for ideas and opinions.

  • 84 Prospectus, p. 8.

46The French government withdrew its support from the Gazette in April 1766, leaving the field to the Journal Encyclopédique, Journal des Savants, the Correspondance Littéraire (1753-90) and other journals. State support was supposed to have lent the Gazette a degree of solidity sufficient to protect it from what the Prospectus had called ‘les vicissitudes et les révolutions auxquelles sont exposés tous les Projets Littéraires d'une certain étendue.84 In fact, as the editor of the Correspondance Littéraire Friedrich von Grimm had noted back in June 1763, such support came at a price:

  • 85 J. A. Taschereau (ed.), Correspondance Littéraire, 16 vols., Paris, 1829, vol. 3, 15 June 1763, p. (...)

Si les intentions du ministère à cet égard méritent des éloges, il faut dire aussi que le caractère de réserve, de circonspection et de décence qui est nécessaire à tout ouvrage qui paraît sous ses auspices, nuira infailliblement à la liberté, qui seule peut intéresser dans un ouvrage de cette nature. Combien de questions importantes sur lesquelles il ne sera pas permis aux auteurs d'avoir un avis[!]85

  • 86 For an example of Praslin's idealism, in this case on the subject of international law, see Praslin (...)
  • 87 Cited in Legouis, op. cit., p. 20.

47The Gazette may have reflected a certain idealistic streak in Praslin.86 But it also formed part of attempts by his cousin Choiseul to present a patriotic and even Enlightened face to its citoyens (as opposed to sujets) and to the elites of other countries. The impetus came from the financial and other burdens incurred in the Seven Years War, and one of the aims of this repackaging of the monarchy was to strengthen France for eventual revenge on perfide Albion, which eventually came in the form of French support (first covert, then open) of the rebel colonists in America. The war made direct communication between Wilkes and Suard difficult. In order to correspond with London ‘Il faudroit avoir un ami à Ostende,’ Suard wrote, ‘et je n'y connois personne.’87

  • 88 E. Dziembowski, Un nouveau Patriotisme, p. 423, 458-61, p. 474-481; Eric Annandale, ‘Patriotism in (...)
  • 89 On the popularity of Bolingbroke, see D. J. Garat, Mémoires historiques, vol. 2, p. 82-85; E. Dziem (...)

48Along with Choiseul’s project of improving the fisc, rebuilding the navy and associating the state with patriotic spectacles such as de Belloy's hit play Le Siège de Calais, the Gazette exhibits many of the paradoxes of an absolutist state trying to adopt a reformist image88. One of these paradoxes was the extent to which those patriotic ideas were popularly understood as English, even if that England reflected the ideas of Paris-based writers such as Montesquieu and Bolingbroke as much as it did reality.89 As E. Dziembowski has noted, portraits of the patriotic public-spirited England in the 1760s :

  • 90 E. Dziembowski, Un nouveau Patriotisme, op.cit., p. 297.

rassemble au fond davantage à un portrait idéalisé de la France quà la véritable Albion: un peuple parfois critique, mais paisible, composé d’“honnêtes gens”; une noblesse vertueuse, modèle de la nation, des citoyens dévoués au bien de l’État. Prises comme telles, ces caractéristiques de l’Angleterre constituent bel et bien l’image de la France régénérée qu’appelle de ses voeux l’autorité.90

  • 91 As noted by S. Burrows, ‘Cosmopolitan press’, op.cit., p. 36.

49Both on the personal level of Wilkes, Suard, d’Éon and Walpole as well as on the printed page the Gazette project offers a picture of a France seduced but also confused by its neighbour: England and the English language were open, scientific and exhilaratingly vigorous. They were also incoherent, superstitious and barbare. Such views of the instability of the British constitutional system endured into the Revolutionary period, and arguably convinced the Constituent Assembly to reject the British model in 1789/9.91 The failure of the Gazette was to some extent a failure in communication, both between the French regime and the cosmopolitan world of les Lumières as well as between France and England.

Haut de page


1 The World, 103, 19 December 175, p. 620-621.

2 For the Chevalier d’Éon see Gary Kates, Monsieur D’Éon is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade, New York, Basic Books, 1995 ; Simon Burrows, Jonathan Conlin, Russell Goulbourne and Valerie Mainz (ed.), The Chevalier d’Eon and His Worlds: Gender, Espionage and Politics in the Eighteenth Century, London, New York, Continuum, 2010.

3 The Chevalier d’Éon, Lettres, mémoires et négociations particulières du Chevalier d’Eon, Paris, Jacques Dixwell, 1764.

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