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Translations into French of Arthur Young’s Travels in France (1791–1801)

Peter Michael Jones

Résumés

On a tendance à sous-estimer le rôle joué par des traducteurs dans la circulation des savoirs utiles au siècle des Lumières.

Notre étude porte sur les savoirs agricoles. On sait que la traduction, véritable industrie, s'est considérablement développée dans la seconde moitié du xviiie siècle grâce, sans doute, au nombre accru de lecteurs monolingues. La démonstration prend la forme d'une étude de cas: les traductions françaises du livre Travels in France de l'agronome britannique Arthur Young.

Selon nous les traducteurs sont issus de différents milieux sociaux. Ils étaient employés en général par des libraires sur une base spéculative. Les multiples traductions de l'œuvre d'Arthur Young servent également à nous rappeler le rôle soutien du pouvoir politique dans l'entreprise de la traduction, ainsi que dans les réseaux de diffusion à l'époque moderne.

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  • 1 See Stefanie Stockhorst (ed.), Cultural Transfer through Translation: the Circulation of Enlightene (...)

1It is increasingly recognised by researchers that the act of translation was one of the main channels for the circulation of enlightened thought among the peoples of Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century. Indeed some would argue that translation was the chief means by which cultural transfer and adaptation took place in this period.1 Exponential knowledge growth and the rapid enlargement of a bourgeois reading sphere threatened to overwhelm the venerable Republic of Letters and turn it into a Tower of Babel.

  • 2 Fania Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment: Scottish Civic Discourse in Eighteenth-Century (...)

2In most studies of cultural exchange via the printing press, the focus is placed on authors. Yet, if we accept the argument that the late-Enlightenment reading public was increasingly dominated by monolingual consumers, our attention might be better directed towards the ranks of translators. Not only the translators, but the entire ‘chain of go-betweens’2 linking authors to their readers. If the mechanisms of knowledge dissemination in the sphere of the useful sciences, which form the subject of this article, are to be understood, we need to know about authors, translators, printer-booksellers and, if possible, the purchasers or end-users of printed materials. It is unlikely that any linear model of diffusion will do justice to the relationships between these actors. Rather, we would do better to envisage the translation business as multi-directional and highly contested. Works of natural philosophy, political economy or fictional literature did not spring unaided from the minds of authors; translators did not slavishly reproduce texts without omissions or additions; and printer-booksellers did not participate in the market solely as agents and intermediaries. Often enough they were all actors in their own right.

  • 3 Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, op. cit., p. 60.
  • 4 Bertrand Barère, Les Beautés poétiques d’Edouard Young (Paris, Buisson, 1804), p. iii.

3That said, the contours of the ‘translation industry’ in the latter part of the eighteenth century can only be traced in outline. Even the identification of translators is no straightforward exercise. Were they anonymous free lancers working on commission at the behest of printer-booksellers? Or were they on the contrary a class of literati with a claim to be purveyors of knowledge, entertainment or escapist experience in their own right? What skills did they possess and how did they set about their task? Some of the critics of Pierre Letourneur, celebrated in Europe as the translator into French of Shakespeare, found his approach too mannered and emphatic. Capturing the style of the original whilst adhering to the literary conventions of the receiving language posed considerable challenges – particularly, it seems, for those rendering English into French. Edward Young, the hugely influential author of Night Thoughts, was moved to praise the skills of his German translator, Johann Arnold Ebert.3 Yet Letourneur’s French version of the same poem failed to carry conviction: ‘il a en quelque sorte fait une transaction entre les deux langues ; il a composé un Ouvrage français avec des Pensées anglaises.’4

  • 5 Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, op. cit., p. 59.
  • 6 ‘La nation rassasiée de vers, de tragédies, de comédies, d’opéras, de romans, d’histoires romanesqu (...)
  • 7 Fania Oz-Salzberger, ‘The Enlightenment in Translation: Regional and European Aspects’, European Re (...)

4One thing is certain though: the need for translation was growing in the second half of the eighteenth century. Relatively few texts had been translated from English into French, or from English into any other language for that matter, during the seventeenth century, but from around the 1750s English started to flourish as a currency of cultural exchange. Whilst the traffic of translation from French into other languages remained intense, English works in translation entered the diet of Europe’s enlarged reading public for the first time on a significant scale. Among the offerings at the Leipzig half-yearly book fair in 1775 could be found fifty-nine translations from French originals, forty-one from English, twelve from Latin and just a handful from other languages.5 Demand followed a predictable pattern: works on agriculture and political economy, travel literature and, above all, novels. Voltaire6 had been one of the first to note the growing pan-European obsession with the theory and practice of husbandry, an obsession which involved much translation from English, as indeed did the related preoccupation with political economy. Yet it is the frenzy of translation of fictional or semi-fictional literature which is the most striking. We can be fairly sure, for example, that over three hundred English-language novels were translated into German between 1740 and 1790.7

  • 8 ‘[L’anglais]… en se dégageant de quelques une des entraves de la prose donne souvent aux idées qu’e (...)
  • 9 See Heinz Ischreyt, Buchhandel und Buchhändler im nordosteuropäischen Kommunikationssystem (1762-1 (...)

5Moreover as the demand for works in translation expanded, it brought into being a commercial infrastructure specific to the purpose. Entrepreneurs such as Johann Wendler in Leipzig, Lorenz Crell in Helmstedt, and Marc-Auguste and Charles Pictet in Geneva catered specifically for consumers whose knowledge of English was insecure or non-existent. Between them, the Pictet brothers translated vast quantities of English-language material for publication in their Bibliothèque britannique periodical (1796). Crell performed a similar service for natural philosophy through the medium of his Annalen der Chemie (1778). The emphasis was placed firmly on the dissemination of ‘useful’ information. When launching their journal the Pictets would acknowledge that the conversion of imaginative literature from one idiom to another posed a different order of problems.8 Nevertheless the translation of fiction was not neglected in Geneva, nor was it in Hamburg, Zurich, Basle and Leipzig – the other translation capitals of Europe. Where the commercial infrastructure was weak and enterprising printer-booksellers notable by their rarity, governments might choose to take the lead. In Russia, for example, Empress Catherine set up a state bureaucracy to promote translation as an urgent national priority. By 1774, eighty-five titles had been translated with many more waiting in the pipe line.9

6*

  • 10 See Peter Michael Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, English Historical Review, CX (...)

7All of the themes outlined above can be explored in greater detail if we turn our attention to the case of Arthur Young (1741-1820). His reputation as a writer claiming expertise in both the theory and the practice of agriculture was built on a series of study tours of England which he undertook between 1768 and 1771 and proceeded to publish.10 These were followed by a tour of Ireland (published in 1780) and, from 1784, by the launch of Annals of Agriculture and other Useful Arts. A journal of news, views, and reports of crop trials and stock breeding, the Annals expounded the argument that agriculture and animal husbandry needed to be rescued from the ex cathedra pronouncements of armchair theorists (philosophes) and placed on a truly experimental footing – one, moreover, which was informed by the most up-to-date scientific methodology. Needless to say, this was Young’s own view. Forty-six volumes of the Annals appeared between 1784 and 1815 and much of the copy for each successive issue flowed from his own hyperactive pen.

  • 11 The newly established Paris bookseller Jean-Pierre Costard commissioned a translation of Young’s Th (...)
  • 12 Arthur Young, Political Arithmetic. Containing Observations on the Present State of Great Britain a (...)
  • 13 James Steuart, An Enquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, London, A. Millar and T. Cadell (...)
  • 14 Adam Smith, An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, London, W. Strahan and (...)
  • 15 The Annales d’agriculture françoise launched by Tessier and Rougier-Labergerie in 1797 was a transp (...)
  • 16 See the translation into German of the first three volumes commissioned by the Leipzig bookseller S (...)

8Although there is some evidence to indicate that Young’s writings had attracted the notice of continental printer-booksellers as early as 1770,11 it was the publication in 1774 of Political Arithmetic12 which established his name in the collective consciousness of Europe’s educated public. The book was widely translated, its favourable reception no doubt aided by the better known works on political economy of James Steuart13 and Adam Smith14 which were just then starting to be read on the Continent. By the 1780s, however, Young’s authority as a writer on specifically agricultural topics and the problems of the rural economy needed no buttressing. We can attribute this to the appearance of the Annals of Agriculture, which would be hugely influential, widely imitated15 and even translated in whole or in part.16

  • 17 Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, op. cit., p. 1109 and note 40.

9Consequently, when Young accepted an invitation issued by Maximilien de Lazowski17 to join a touring party which was planning a leisurely trip to the French Pyrenees in the spring of 1787, he scarcely had any need to prove his credentials as an agricultural observer. Indeed he was welcomed on his arrival in the French capital by none other than the naturalist Auguste Broussonet, who had become the secretary of the Royal Society of Agriculture of Paris.

  • 18 Ibid.

10The details of his subsequent travels in France between May 1787 and January 1790 need not detain us, for they are not relevant to this article and have been discussed elsewhere.18 We know that the collected French tours were first published in May 1792 under the title Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788 and 1789. Undertaken more particularly with a View of ascertaining the Cultivation, Wealth, Resources and National Prosperity of The Kingdom of France. John Rackham, a Suffolk stationer-bookseller in Bury St-Edmunds, took on the task, but he was reluctant to shoulder the commercial risk of printing in an obscure county town the dense companion volume containing Young’s extensive research notes. As a consequence only Young’s French travel diary was initially published. Even so, this quarto volume was priced at a hefty £1-15 shillings. Auguste Broussonet must have been among the first to receive a complimentary copy, for he acknowledged receipt in a ‘thank you’ letter to Young written in September 1792. Not until 1793 did a complete two-volume set of the Travels appear – under a Dublin imprint

  • 19 BL (British Library), Add MS 35127, M. de Lazowski to A. Young, 21 June 1791.
  • 20 Ibid., unsigned letter of Guyton de Morveau to Young, Paris, February 1793.

11The question of a French-language version of the book arose almost immediately. In fact it seems that plans were being laid by Broussonet and others even before the first volume had appeared. Maximilien de Lazowski complained about the work of an anonymous translator apparently chosen, or endorsed, by Broussonet in a letter sent from Paris on 27 June 1791. In rather awkward English, he described the translator’s preliminary efforts as ‘disgusting.’19 The chemist Guyton de Morveau, whom Young had met in Dijon during his travels, shared these reservations. Having obtained a copy of the book, he denounced the publisher as well as the translator. The latter, he maintained , ‘n’entend ni le français, ni l’anglais, ni la matière.’20

  • 21 See Voyages en France pendant les années 1787, 1788, 1789 et 1790, par Arthur Young, traduit de l’a (...)

12It is not possible to identify for certain the target of this invective – indeed there may have been several individuals employed on the task. However, the most likely candidate is Alexandre Charles de Casaux. Young had met the Marquis de Casaux at the Duc de Liancourt’s dinner table on 18 January 1790 – shortly before his final departure from France. He would have known of him in any case because de Casaux had authored several works on political economy immediately prior to the outbreak of the revolution in France. The French nobleman had an unusual military background, too, since he had switched sides during the Seven Years’ War in order to become a subject of King George III. As such, it is probable that he was residing in London for the most part, from which location he offered his services (or perhaps was enlisted) to help Young prepare the second volume of his Travels. Although it appears that de Casaux failed to complete a full translation, traces of his collaboration with the author can be found in the first French translation to be published inasmuch as the work was advertised as carrying with it ‘des notes et observations par M. de Casaux.’21

13This commentary never materialized, forcing the printer-publisher to offer his excuses to readers. In declining health, the Marquis withdrew from the cut-and-thrust of the early Revolution and retired permanently to London, where he would die in 1796. Who then was the first to complete a translation of Young’s Travels into French? Although he is only identified by the initials ‘F. S.’ on the title page of the French edition brought out by Buisson in 1793, the translator was in fact François Soulès (1748-1809). Far from being a hack translator, Soulès passed for a literary figure in his own right. He had spent many years in England and seems to have participated actively in political debates on the morrow of the American War. The Bibliothèque de France lists around thirty-nine entries under his name in its catalogue – both works of his own composition and a score of translations from English, which included Part One of Tom Paine’s Rights of Man.

  • 22 He translated A Romance in the Forest (1791) in 1794 and The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne: a High (...)
  • 23 Arthur Young, Voyages en France. Traduction, introduction et notes de Henri Sée, Paris, Tallandier, (...)

14François Soulès can be considered a professional translator. He probably learned the rudiments of his profession upon leaving Boulogne-sur-Mer to work as a French language schoolmaster in England. Although he specialised in current affairs, it is apparent that he could turn his hand to most forms of translation, not excluding imaginative literature such as the popular gothic novels of Ann Radcliffe.22 Since he had worked for Buisson several times before, it is plausible to assume that he was brought in to complete and improve the translation of Young’s Travels. Certainly the French edition of the Voyages which appeared under Buisson’s imprint in 1793 is exempt from major errors of translation and it is hard to see why Guyton de Morveau took such exception to it. Henri Sée, whose 1931 translation of Young is still widely used by historians, describes the Soulès edition as a ‘bonne traduction faite avec soin, en général, précise et exacte.’23

15The printer-bookseller Buisson had been responsible for bringing out Soulès’s translation of Paine’s Rights of Man and it is worth turning our attention to the commercial aspects of literary production at this point. Like translators, publishers were often important figures in their own right. Moreover, they took great care to cultivate links to the political power structures of the day. François Buisson (1753-1814) had been a Paris printer-bookseller since 1783 and was making money in the area of women’s fashion publishing as the Ancien Régime drew to a close. Like many enterprising printer-booksellers, he responded to the opportunities which the Revolution presented and, in 1789, we find him the printer of Brissot’s Patriote françoise newspaper and then of La Bouche de fer, the organ of the Cercle Social club. When not printing political ephemera, he specialised in translation – particularly translations from English. It is in this connection that he seems to have maintained a ‘stable’ of translators who were able to take on commissions – often at short notice.

  • 24 On this connection, see Carla Hesse, Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789- (...)
  • 25 AN (Archives nationales, Paris), F10 223, letter of the secrétaire-général du Département de l’Inté (...)
  • 26 See D.-J. Garat, Mémoires sur la Révolution ou exposé de ma conduite dans les affaires et dans les (...)

16He also made every effort to stay on good terms with successive waves of Revolutionary politicians, notably the abbé Grégoire, Marie-Joseph Chénier and Dominique-Joseph Garat.24 The latter, in particular, called repeatedly for the use of government patronage and resources to promote the translation of English and German works containing useful knowledge. In fact, we know that he became familiar with the world of utilité publishing when briefly attached to the French embassy in London during the autumn of 1792. No doubt his awareness of the appearance of Young’s first volume dates from this time. In any event, Garat ensured that his officials took steps to acquire a copy of Young’s Travels just as soon as he was installed as Minister of the Interior in January 1793. The Ministry’s bureau d’agriculture placed an order with the London merchant house Bourdieu, Chollet & Bourdieu for a selection of agricultural manuals, specifying in particular ‘un ouvrage prétieux qui forme un inquarto sur l’agriculture françoise. C’est M. Yon, ou ivon qui en est l’auteur.’25 Is it too far-fetched to suppose that Garat lay behind Buisson’s decision to commission a more trustworthy translation of Young, with or without the commentary promised by Alexandre-Charles de Casaux? Garat was certainly anxious to claim credit for having arranged the translation when he was struggling to survive in the hostile political environment of the Thermidorian Reaction.26

  • 27 Decree of 23 Frimaire II / 13 December 1793.
  • 28 Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, op. cit., p. 1112.

17François Buisson’s 1793 edition of the Voyages must have been a success. Notwithstanding Guyton de Morveau’s strictures, the work was reprinted, with corrections and maps, early the following year. Perhaps the first edition was exhausted so quickly because copies of the book were distributed through official as well as commercial channels. This seems likely, for the French Republic was now at war with much of Europe and the embattled government was trying to disseminate practical knowledge in a number of key areas, of which agriculture was one. Towards the end of 1793, moreover, the Committee of Public Safety commissioned its own translation of Young – not of the whole of the book, merely four chapters abstracted from the second, didactic volume.27 The aim was to send the material in an easily accessible form to local administrations and Jacobin clubs throughout the Republic. On this occasion the translator was Augustin-François de Silvestre, a linguist and savant who had previously held the post of librarian to the king’s brother (the future Louis XVIII). In all probability, his translation was completed under duress, for, many years after the turmoils of the Revolution, Silvestre confided that this timely gesture of patriotism had saved his life.28

  • 29 For this paragraph, see Hesse, Publishing and Cultural Politics, op. cit., pp. 142-58.

18Fortunately Buisson’s political patrons survived the Terror as well and he was able to keep in step as Grégoire continued to nudge government policy in the direction of direct subsidization of the arts and sciences. ‘A good book is a political weapon’, Grégoire declared, the implication being that the French nation should not baulk at the cost of publishing (and, if necessary, translating) improving literature. Accordingly large sums were made available via the Executive Commission on Public Instruction and, when this body ceased to exist in October 1795, via the Division of Public Instruction of the Interior Ministry.29

  • 30 Although Le Cultivateur anglais was conceived as a subscription edition in 1801, Maradan et Perlet (...)

19This is the context in which another translation of Young’s Travels would be commissioned by the printer-bookseller Claude-François Maradan (1762-1823) and his business partner Charles-Frédéric Perlet (1759-1828). Styling themselves ‘cessionnaires de Monsieur Buisson’, they wrote to Arthur Young from Paris on 14 Prairial IV / 2 June 1796 with the information that they were putting in hand a plan to translate and publish his collected oeuvres in up to eighteen volumes. In the event, only Maradan stayed the course (Perlet’s involvement was abruptly terminated when he was deported following the Fructidor coup of 1797). Even so, it would be five years before the collected works were made available to subscribers under the portmanteau title: Le Cultivateur anglais ou oeuvres choisies d’agriculture, et d’économie rurale et politique d’Arthur Young (Paris, an IX). 30

  • 31 See Jean-Jacques Aymé, Déportation et naufrage de J.-J. Aymé, ex-législateur, Paris, Maradan, 1800, (...)
  • 32 The Recess (1783) by Sophia Lee and The Monk: A Romance (1796) by Matthew Graham Lewis.

20Three translators together with a commentator seem to have worked on this time-consuming undertaking. Before we identify them, it is helpful to recall the context of massive state aid to writers and publishers between 1794 and 1797. Although the subsidy regime was in decline by the time Maradan et Perlet were in a position to go ahead with their project, it is clear that they had been promised indirect financial support by the Minister of the Interior, Pierre Bénézech. The government agreed to subscribe for five hundred sets of the work.31 There were other signs of official patronage as well. One of the three translators, Pierre-Bernard Lamare (1753-1809), was an employee in the bureaux of the Executive Commission on Public Instruction. He had cut his teeth as a sub-contracted translator working anonymously for Pierre Letourneur before branching out in his own right. In 1792 Buisson had commissioned him to translate John Adams’s Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States and he also turned his hand to English Romantic fiction.32 Another of the translators, Pierre-Vincent Benoist (1758-1834), held a more senior administrative position – in the bureaucracy of the Ministry of the Interior. He appears to have collaborated with Lamare in rendering English novels into French and, despite a somewhat chequered Revolutionary past, would finish his career holding high office under the Restoration regime.

  • 33 See Souvenirs de J.-B. Billecocq (1765-1829): en prison sous la Terreur: suivis de quatre autres te (...)

21The third translator to work on Young’s collected writings was also a man of some standing: Jean-Baptiste Billecocq (1765-1829). An ex-parlementaire, he was in serious need of a new career after 1788 and would try to make one in the arena of Revolutionary politics. He presented himself as a candidate for Paris to the Legislative Assembly, but, as a député-suppléant, was never called upon to sit. Whilst holding an administrative position in the Royal Lottery, he worked, intermittently, as a translator for Buisson, specialising in travel literature and voyages of discovery. Like many former magistrates, he was incarcerated, albeit briefly, during the Terror.33 One other individual was recruited to assist with the varied challenges of the project: the agronomist C. F. A. Delalauze. According to the publishers’ prospectus, his task was to harmonize the translations and to provide learned commentary.

  • 34 ‘[Cette nouvelle traduction], … destinée principalement aux agronomes, sera sans doute précieuse au (...)

22It is likely that Delalauze’s job also included the exercise of a certain amount of editorial judgement and control, for Maradan et Perlet had no intention of reprinting, in translation, every word that Arthur Young had ever published. The collection, they insisted, was targeted at the specialist user and it was on this basis that the venture received the blessing and the support of the Directorial government. Grand theories of agricultural transformation, which had inspired the early Revolutionaries, were now in abeyance.34 The emphasis had moved instead in the direction of incremental change based on methods that had been tried, tested and found to work. Many of the earliest accounts of Young’s experimental activities had been overtaken by subsequent research and experimentation in any case, and they would not be translated for inclusion. Nor, significantly, would the first volume of the Travels which, as we know, consisted mainly of diary entries and often caustic comments recorded as he travelled through the French countryside.

  • 35 The first ten volumes were sent from Paris on 13 November 1801 to a French bookseller and binder in (...)
  • 36 Voyage en France, fait par Arthur Young, pendant les années 1787, 88, 89, 90. Réduit à la partie de (...)
  • 37 Voyage en Italie pendant l’année 1789, par Arthur Young ; traduit de l’anglais par François Soulès, (...)

23Whether Arthur Young ever received the complimentary set of all eighteen volumes of Le Cultivateur anglais that Maradan had promised him five years earlier is not known.35 The work was finally published in the course of the an IX / 1800-1801, with the truncated version of the Travels consigned to volume seventeen.36 The international sea lanes were now re-opening in anticipation of a durable peace in Europe after nearly a decade of warfare. Young was sorely tempted to return to France in order to gather information for a post-Revolution sequel to his tours. However, his eyesight was starting to fail and, as far as we know, he never again travelled abroad. Nonetheless, his reputation on the Continent continued to grow. Francois Soulès would exploit his earlier connection with a translation of Young’s 1789 side-trip excursion into Italy.37 He presented it with a translation of John Symonds’s articles on Italian husbandry which Young had inserted into the early volumes of the Annals of Agriculture.

24*

  • 38 In this connection, see Alison Elizabeth Martin, ‘Paeans to Progress: Arthur Young’s Travel Account (...)

25This article has opened a window on the discursive networks of the late-Enlightenment. In a Europe no longer in secure possession of a universal language in which to conduct cosmopolitan intercourse, translation played an increasingly influential role. The point holds whether it is applied to dinner-table conversations or to knowledge exchange practised at a distance by savants and philosophes. Although this case study has been confined to the reception of the writings of Arthur Young in France and in French, it could be extended without difficulty.38

  • 39 For an up-to-date survey of the reading public in Germany, see Michael North, ‘Material Delight and (...)

26Our focus on translators rather than authors and texts confirms that they tended to be highly literate individuals occupying comfortable niches in society rather than jobbing hacks taking on work in order to keep the wolf from the door. Compared with the German-speaking lands, France appears to have relied much less on academic translators drawn from the universities and high schools. No doubt this reflected the differing contours of the public sphere in the two countries.39 By the end of the Ancien Régime, Bourbon France boasted a truly multi-facetted intelligentsia. Nevertheless, nearly all translators worked on a free-lance basis, to judge from the evidence accumulated for this study. François Buisson may have developed a business model dependent on a ready and reliable workforce of highly competent translators. However, it seems most unlikely that any of his translators were contracted on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.

27If the diversity of the backgrounds of the individuals employed to translate the Travels is striking, so is their eclecticism. No one specialised very much in the world of translating in this period, any more than did enlightened practitioners and purveyors of natural philosophy. Arthur Young thought nothing of dabbling in fields as diverse as political economy, soil science, plant nutrition and veterinary medicine. Nevertheless, it is a little surprising to find men like Pierre-Bernard Lamare and Pierre-Vincent Benoist alternating between the translation of highly idiomatic English gothic and romantic novels, travel accounts and political theory. Lamare, it is true, had trouble finding a niche in a rapidly-changing society. Although we know very little about the first fifteen years of his adult life, it is likely that a good part of it was spent as a journeyman translator moving from job to job.

  • 40 See note 37.

28How far Young’s translators surmounted, or failed to surmount, such genre challenges would require a close analysis of the texts in question. We have already seen that the modern standard of literal translation was not necessarily one achieved, or even aspired to, in the eighteenth century. Translators practised ‘creative enhancement’, which might involve the taking of considerable liberties with a text in order to make it compatible with the tastes of the putative reader. Printer-booksellers did the same. Moreover, they were in business and, as such, had additional commercial imperatives to bear in mind. Much depended on the market. John Rackham, the Bury St-Edmunds printer, declined to publish Young’s supporting research evidence in a second volume because he thought that it would not sell and he would lose money on it. By the end of the century, though, Young’s French publishers had clearly drawn the opposite conclusion. The diary element of the work had no enduring significance; instead readers would – or should– only be interested in a cut-down version of the book, which had been ‘réduit à la partie de l’agriculture et de la statistique.’40

  • 41 A.-F. de Silvestre, Observations sur l’état de l’agriculture en France, extraites des « Voyages d’A (...)

29Our case study also sheds light on the role of the state. Governments entered the marketplace to support and channel the work of translation for a number of reasons. The dirigisme of France’s Revolutionary Government was expressed most rigorously when, in the late autumn of 1793, the Committee of Public Safety simply requisitioned translators, as though they were no different from any other type of scarce resource, and instructed the printing presses to run off many thousands of low-cost impressions of Silvestre’s Observations.41 Although the focus and political priorities underpinning government interventionism tended to shift through the 1790s, it is clear that printer-booksellers such as Buisson worked in close and fruitful collaboration with ministers and bureaucrats. When the second edition of the Soulès translation of the Travels appeared at the start of 1794, it was issued with an ultra-patriotic preface upbraiding Arthur Young for his lukewarm comments on the early years of the Revolution and his failure to highlight the formative role played by Robespierre when a deputy in the Constituent Assembly.

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Notes

1 See Stefanie Stockhorst (ed.), Cultural Transfer through Translation: the Circulation of Enlightened Thought in Europe by Means of Translation, Amsterdam, New York, Edns Rodopi, 2010.

2 Fania Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment: Scottish Civic Discourse in Eighteenth-Century Germany, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 2.

3 Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, op. cit., p. 60.

4 Bertrand Barère, Les Beautés poétiques d’Edouard Young (Paris, Buisson, 1804), p. iii.

5 Oz-Salzberger, Translating the Enlightenment, op. cit., p. 59.

6 ‘La nation rassasiée de vers, de tragédies, de comédies, d’opéras, de romans, d’histoires romanesques, de réflexions morales plus romanesques encore et de disputes théologiques sur la grâce et les convulsions, se mit à raisonner sur les blés. On écrit des choses utiles sur l’agriculture, tout le monde les lit exceptés les laboureurs’, Georges Weulersse, Le Mouvement physiocratique en France, 1756-1770 (2 vols, Paris, Alcan, 1910), vol. i, p. 25.

7 Fania Oz-Salzberger, ‘The Enlightenment in Translation: Regional and European Aspects’, European Review of History, 13:3 (2006), 397; also Mary Bell Price and Lawrence Marsden Price, The Publication of English Literature in Germany in the Eighteenth Century, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1934, pp. 13-14.

8 ‘[L’anglais]… en se dégageant de quelques une des entraves de la prose donne souvent aux idées qu’elle exprime une teinte et une énergie, non seulement inimitables dans la langue soumise à des règles sévères, mais dont le goût de la Nation Française n’admettoit pas même l’imitation en supposant qu’elle fût possible’. Bibliothèque britannique (Geneva, 1796), vol. 1.

9 See Heinz Ischreyt, Buchhandel und Buchhändler im nordosteuropäischen Kommunikationssystem (1762-1797), in Giles Barber and Bernhard Fabian (eds.), Buch und Buchhandel in Europa im achtzehnten Jahrhundert, Hamburg, Hauswedell, 1981, p. 261.

10 See Peter Michael Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, English Historical Review, CXXVII no. 528 (October 2012), 1100-1120 and passim Peter Michael JONES, Agricultural Enlightenment: Knowledge, Technology, and Nature, 1750–1840. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016.

11 The newly established Paris bookseller Jean-Pierre Costard commissioned a translation of Young’s The Farmer’s Guide which appeared within months of the original in 1770. The translator was Joseph-Pierre Frenais, who also translated into French the works of Lawrence Sterne.

12 Arthur Young, Political Arithmetic. Containing Observations on the Present State of Great Britain and the Principles of her Policy in the Encouragement of Agriculture, London, W. Nicoll, 1774.

13 James Steuart, An Enquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, London, A. Millar and T. Cadell, 1767, 2 vols.

14 Adam Smith, An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, London, W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776, 2 vols.

15 The Annales d’agriculture françoise launched by Tessier and Rougier-Labergerie in 1797 was a transparent imitation of Young’s Annals.

16 See the translation into German of the first three volumes commissioned by the Leipzig bookseller Siegfried Leberecht Crusius: Annalen des Ackerbaues und andere nüzlichen Künste, Leipzig, 1791. The translators were Samuel Hahnemann and Johann Riem, with the latter also providing a commentary.

17 Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, op. cit., p. 1109 and note 40.

18 Ibid.

19 BL (British Library), Add MS 35127, M. de Lazowski to A. Young, 21 June 1791.

20 Ibid., unsigned letter of Guyton de Morveau to Young, Paris, February 1793.

21 See Voyages en France pendant les années 1787, 1788, 1789 et 1790, par Arthur Young, traduit de l’anglais par F. S., avec des notes et observations par M. de Casaux, Paris, Buisson, 1793.

22 He translated A Romance in the Forest (1791) in 1794 and The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne: a Highland Story (1789) in 1797.

23 Arthur Young, Voyages en France. Traduction, introduction et notes de Henri Sée, Paris, Tallandier, 2009, p. 62.

24 On this connection, see Carla Hesse, Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1810, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1991, pp. 186-92.

25 AN (Archives nationales, Paris), F10 223, letter of the secrétaire-général du Département de l’Intérieur et du Bureau central d’agriculture to Messrs Bourdieu, Chollet & Bourdieu à Londres, n. d.

26 See D.-J. Garat, Mémoires sur la Révolution ou exposé de ma conduite dans les affaires et dans les fonctions publiques, Paris, an III [1795].

27 Decree of 23 Frimaire II / 13 December 1793.

28 Jones, ‘Arthur Young (1741-1820): For and Against’, op. cit., p. 1112.

29 For this paragraph, see Hesse, Publishing and Cultural Politics, op. cit., pp. 142-58.

30 Although Le Cultivateur anglais was conceived as a subscription edition in 1801, Maradan et Perlet must also have supplied the trade, for the collection was offered for sale as late as 1840 by the specialist agricultural bookseller Bouchard-Huzard.

31 See Jean-Jacques Aymé, Déportation et naufrage de J.-J. Aymé, ex-législateur, Paris, Maradan, 1800, p. 8.

32 The Recess (1783) by Sophia Lee and The Monk: A Romance (1796) by Matthew Graham Lewis.

33 See Souvenirs de J.-B. Billecocq (1765-1829): en prison sous la Terreur: suivis de quatre autres textes inédits. Presented, commentated and annotated by Nicole Felkay and Hervé Favier (Paris, Société des études robespierristes, 1981).

34 ‘[Cette nouvelle traduction], … destinée principalement aux agronomes, sera sans doute précieuse aux personnes que la révolution a poussées du tourbillon des vaines occupations, vers l’activité paisible de la vie champêtre…’, Annals of Agriculture (Bury St-Edmunds, 1797), vol. 29, 481.

35 The first ten volumes were sent from Paris on 13 November 1801 to a French bookseller and binder in London, J.-C. de Boffe, for onward despatch, see B L Add MS W35128.

36 Voyage en France, fait par Arthur Young, pendant les années 1787, 88, 89, 90. Réduit à la partie de l’agriculture et de la statistique, Paris, Maradan, 1801.

37 Voyage en Italie pendant l’année 1789, par Arthur Young ; traduit de l’anglais par François Soulès, traducteur des « voyages en France » du même auteur, Paris, Fuchs, an V / 1796.

38 In this connection, see Alison Elizabeth Martin, ‘Paeans to Progress: Arthur Young’s Travel Accounts in German Translation’, in Stockhorst (ed.), Cultural Transfer through Translation, op. cit., pp. 297-313.

39 For an up-to-date survey of the reading public in Germany, see Michael North, ‘Material Delight and the Joy of Living’: Cultural Consumption in the Age of Enlightenment in Germany, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008, chapter 1.

40 See note 37.

41 A.-F. de Silvestre, Observations sur l’état de l’agriculture en France, extraites des « Voyages d’Arthur Young », n. d. [1793].

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Peter Michael Jones, « Translations into French of Arthur Young’s Travels in France (1791–1801) », La Révolution française [En ligne], 12 | 2017, mis en ligne le 15 septembre 2017, Consulté le 21 octobre 2017. URL : http://lrf.revues.org/1739 ; DOI : 10.4000/lrf.1739

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Peter Michael Jones

School of History and Cultures
University of Birmingham

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