BERTIN, Théodore-Pierre. ~ Encyclopédie comique ou Recueil anglois de gaietés, de plaisanteries, de traits d’esprit, de bons mots, d’anecdotes, de portraits, d’originalités, d’aventures, de naïvetés, de balourdises, de calembourgs et de pensées graves et sérieuses. Version libre de l’anglois. Paris: chez l’Editeur, [n.d., 1800].
2 vols. bound together, pp. , xii, 148; , 2, 207, , 23, , including half-titles, plus engraved frontispiece and title to each volume (the title vignettes after Hogarth).
[uniform with:] Les Rieurs anglais, ou Supplément a l’Encyclopédie comique, traduction libre de l’anglais. Paris: Marchand, An X [1801/2]. 2 vols bound together, pp. , viii, , 132; , 156, ,20, including half-titles, plus engraved frontispiece to each volume.
4 vols bound in 2, 12mo (175 × 95 mm), partially uncut. Later red straight grain quarter morocco, spines elaborately gilt (by Champs-Stroobants Sr). Excellent copies.
First edition. A rare collection of comic extracts translated or abridged from English authors including: Shakespeare, Gay, Johnson, Milton, Sheridan, Fielding, Goldsmith, Richardson, Young, Smollett, Sterne and Swift. Bertin (1751-1819) had worked in England as a tutor and translator and was the author of some 50 works on various subjects, including several translations. While in England he had studied Samuel Taylor’s system of shorthand and published, in 1791 a French edition of An Essay intended to establish a Standard for a universal System of Stenography, successfully introducing modern shorthand to the French public. Encyclopédie comique and Les Rieurs anglais are partly adverts for this system, with their shorthand plates and supplement entitled ‘Dissertation critique et curieuse sur l‘Okigraphie’. The second volume of Encyclopédie comique has a frontispiece depicting an English ‘Wife Sale’ (vente d’une femme Angloise à l’encan) which illustrates a short account of this peculiarly English custom or ritual observed in rural or working-class communities. ‘It can be seen as a bleak transaction, or as street-theatre, or as a shaming ritual’ (E. P. Thompson, ‘Sale of Wives’ in Customs in Common, 1993, p. 447). Gay II, 98 (first work only); Rochedieu, Bibliography of French Translations of English Works, 1700-1800, Appendix III (Collections of works translated from the English), 30.