AMERICA, FRENCH REVOLUTION, AUSTRALIA and THE ROYAL SOCIETY Papers of John Lewis Guillemard FRS, comprising his letters home written from France during the Revolution, from the United States while travelling with the duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt and serving as fifth member of the British commission to arbitrate on pre-Revolutionary debts under Article 6 of the Jay Treaty, and afterwards to members of the Davies Gilbert circle, 1895
Lot 3
Papers of John Lewis Guillemard FRS, comprising his letters home written from France during the Revolution, from the United States while travelling with the duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt and serving as fifth member of the British commission to arbitrate on pre-Revolutionary debts under Article 6 of the Jay Treaty, and afterwards to members of the Davies Gilbert circle, 1895
Sold for £15,000 (US$ 25,212) inc. premium
Lot Details
Papers of John Lewis Guillemard FRS, comprising his letters home written from France during the Revolution, from the United States while travelling with the duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt and serving as fifth member of the British commission to arbitrate on pre-Revolutionary debts under Article 6 of the Jay Treaty, and afterwards to members of the Davies Gilbert circle, including his niece Jane and her husband Sir John Franklin, during his governorship of Van Dieman's Land; together with his autograph memoir of his life in France during the French Revolution and family transcripts of other autobiographical writings, the archive comprising:

(i) Over twenty autograph letters signed by Guillemard, mostly to his sister Mary Griffin (mother of the future Lady Franklin), the first fifteen from France and Switzerland between 12 October 1787 and 11 August 1789, the penultimate in this group begun in Paris (at the Hotel du Parlement d'Angleterre) on 17 July 1789: "Yesterday was a day of great distress; on Wednesday Evening deputies from the national assembly arrived in order to dissipate the fears of the Parisians and announce the Kings intention of visiting his Capital. The next day, yesterday, all was countermanded... He came to-day in great form, attended by the national assembly on foot, and guarded by the Militia of Versailles intermixed with Dragoons and Swiss Guards... to-morrow a free passage will be allowed in and out of Paris, There were above 400,000 Citizens and others under arms this morning who lined the Streets thro' which he passed. When he entered a dead silence prevailed; but on his return he was received with loud and universal acclamations. The new Ministry are dismissed, and M. Necker recalled by a letter written by the King himself. – The common guard of Paris are disbanded, and a Militia composed of Citizens perform the office of guarding the Place, and preventing disturbances. The Bastille will I hope never be seen again. It is now level with the ground. The occurences of last Tuesday and to Day will never be forgotten"; and finished at Geneva, 25 July 1789: "I wrote this Letter at Paris, and meant to have it sent from Versailles, but I have not been able. The whole kingdom is in a tumult not to be easily described. We have arrived safe at Geneva after much care and trouble"; the remaining nine written from England, the last on the eve of his departure for Philadelphia, on 3 August 1794; many with address panels, postmarks etc., c.50 pages, some dust-staining, tears with old repairs, 4to, Paris, Geneva, Bath, Bristol and elsewhere, 1787-1794

(ii) Series of nearly eighty autograph letters signed by Guillemard, from the United States and Canada, the majority from Philadelphia and The Solitude, the house of William Penn's grandson, to members of his family in England, especially his sister, Mary Griffin, his nieces Fanny, Jane and Mary Griffin and his uncles, James and Isaac Guillemard: early letters of a practical nature, such requests to send books out to America ("...I should like to have bought & sent with them any new books published by my friend Dr Beddoes, – any that Horne Tooke has published. – Darwin's Zoonomia, both Volumes, if both are published..."); several taken up with his planned expedition with Rochefoucauld-Liancourt ("...I am immediately going to undertake a long Journey into Canada, and then the Eastern States of Philadelphia notwithstanding the news re receive daily I am not despairing of the State of England. The French have done harm to their own cause, but their villainy, their violence, their madness. – and not only to their own cause, or we might say peace to them, but to the great cause of humanity and liberty. I have not changed my principals..."), of which he informs his uncles: "I am about to begin a long Journey, and into a very new Country. I shall not hear often from Europe. I go that I may gather new information, and if possible new sources of happiness, and new means of usefulness"; several letters written from the French émigré colony of Asylum in northern Pennsylvania ("...I am now in the midst of woods. – for above 200 miles we have travelled thro' thick wood, except that now and then we arrived at settlements, on the banks of the Susquehanna. – forming a stripe along the Water. – A person who has not spent whole days in perpetual wood can have no adequate idea of the monotony of such fancy... The place in which we now are – myself and my companion M de Liancourt, is a small village on the bank of a river called the E. branch of the Susquehanna. It is an establishment originally imagined by some Frenchmen. – with the desire of collecting together the ruined French who who have been driven, or have escaped, from France or the French Islands... The present state of the village is rather retrograde. – The volatility, I might add, insouciance of the French is thoroughly marked in every circumstance... For a few days the singularity of the objects renders the residence at Asylum very interesting, but the habits of life of the Islands are too prevalent..."); the series containing several mentions of Rochefoucauld-Liancourt with whom he set up house in Philadelphia and some of whose philosophy he appears to have imbibed ("...I am in good health, just returned from a long Journey. I live in a small house with M. de Liancourt, a Man well known in Europe, and of whom different persons will give very different characters... I am not ambitious of fame or fortune. I have mingled much in the world and I am satisfied that competency, good health, and self-possession and contentment are goods more to be prized than all that splendour, power or riches have to offer..."); most of the letters commenting on news from Europe, not least the disastrous course that the war there seems to be taking and the clear relish with which this news is received in the US ("...Intelligence is just received here of the arrival of a French fleet in the West Indies. The attachment to France which prevails here among the people is very great, and the richer Merchants, and in general the Men of most apparent importance are by no means fond of the principles or practice of this people, they have admirers and favourers almost innumerable, and the bulk of inhabitants of the States openly and unequivocally rejoice in all their successes, and abhor their opposers. The President conducts himself with his well-known prudence..."); other subjects touched on include a further expedition undertaken with Rochefoucauld-Liancourt and the opportunities this had afforded him to observe the progress of the young republic the conclusions they reach on ("...Just returned from a short journey into Maryland with M. de Liancourt I find on my arrival the two British Commissioners... This country is in a curious state, and what will be the demands of France or their consequences if the war continues between the rival nations of Europe requires more knowledge of Men and more of the spirit of prophecy than falls to my lot. – In this City little is talked of beside their depredations of the French privateers in the West Indies, and the downfall of many of the Speculators in Lands. – among whom Mr Robert Morris holds a high, but disgraceful and unenviable pre-eminence. He has papers out, it is said, to the amount of 20,000,000 of Dollars..."); while looking to the country's immediate past ("...These States, impudent and vain as they sometimes show themselves, are still Colonies, and have all the vices of countries peopled by needy and rapacious Adventurers, who lead the fashion and are imitated by their weak and corrupted neighbours...") he also looks forward, with some prescience, to its long-term future ("...This country is much divided in its real and supposed interests, – some of which are founded on geographical situation, some on commercial calculation, some on imaginary or real wrongs. Of these the former are the most likely to break up the Union, but it will not be for many years..."); he also welcomes with especial glee news of the Battle of the Nile ("...The victory of Nelson [at the Nile] will produce a great effect here. No Englishman but feels proud of a country which alone stands in the gap to prevent the destruction of the civilized world & the general irruption of barbarous and death-dealing Jacobinism. We are invited to celebrate to-morrow this glorious event by a Society of English Merchants. – and of course accept the invitation..."); the penultimate paragraph of his last letter from America, written from The Solitude on 26 May 1800, sums up affairs thus: "The administration here is in great confusion. The President has removed the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of War has resigned, and the Attorney General execrates these officers. It is pretty clear that Mr Adams does not even expect to be re-elected President, and it is probable Mr Jefferson will. The measures of the new Men will be not less hostile to England than those of the present party, but they will perhaps have an air of being to, because the hatred to Great Britain which is now hypocritically concealed will then be openly avowed"; together with about 18 letters to him, both delivered letters and retained copies, by his uncles James and Isaac; many letters with address panels, postmarks, etc., c.180 pages, some browning and old repairs with adhesive paper, but overall in good condition, folio and 4to, The Solitude near Philadelphia, Philadelphia, New York, Asylum, Boston, Montreal, Quebec, and elsewhere, October 1794 to May 1800

(iii) Series of nearly a hundred autograph letters signed by John Guillemard written between his return from America in 1800 and death in 1844, mostly to his nieces Fanny and Jane, as well as to Jane's husband Sir John Franklin, his sister Mary, her husband John Griffin, his brother-in-law Davies Giddy (Gilbert), his uncles, and Sir George Staunton, many from Paris and Liancourt or elsewhere on the continent; eight letters to the orientalist Sir George Staunton while living at Canton between 1814 and 1816, one letter marked "Canton/ to be forwarded to China by the first Country Ship" (in which he keeps Staunton abreast of European news: "The Volcano of the French Revolution appears to be extinct. I hope it may be really so, yet I feel like one who treads on dangerous ground... I mean to go for a few weeks to Normandy, perhaps for Paris. I shall find my old acquaintances in great splendour. Talleyrand, Volney, La Rochefoucauld, Begouin, and possibly the Duc d'Orleans into the bargain. I wish to see them before the gloss of their new power is over..."), another letter to Staunton, from his Essex estate of Clavering, is docketed as sent on 20 July 1814 and received on 9 August 1815; the letters to his nieces, whom he treats as if they were children of his own, contain further valuable, and often charming, insights into the circle of his brother-in-law Gilbert Davies and his associates such as Dr Beddoes and Sir Humphry Davys, among them a description of Christmas spent at the Davies house, Tredrea, in 1815 ("...We spent our Christmas Eve here in the old country way sitting by the Kitchen fire over a great log, with each person a cake and a bowl of ale or cyder. No meat is allowed for supper on the Eve, and the amusement is singing Christmas carrolls – which tho' the ballad is not much worth are set to very pleasant tunes and were very well sung by our party... Christmas Day was spent as it is with our Eastern people, and as you probably spend it. – except that in the Evening a party of singers came up from the Church Town & sang first under the Windows and then upon invited in to drink ale sate singing in the Kitchen..."; nearly a dozen letters are addressed to his niece's husband, Sir John Franklin, many more to Jane Franklin herself, including eight when the couple were in Van Dieman's Land, where Sir John was Governor, some of these being long and informative letters keeping Sir John in touch with scientific progress especially at the Royal Society, especially as regards geological discoveries but touching on other fields of enquiry such as, in a letter of 20 December 1839, photography ("...The question of the new art of producing drawings without the eye or hand of a designer is not within my jurisdiction, but I have seen some designs on Silvered Copper which are remarkable to their precision and delicacy which have marked the minutest lines with an accuracy superior to that of human observation and to be now traced in the photogenic lines only by high power microscopes or lenses. Nothing has yet been produced in England equal to the recent plates executed under the supervision of Daguerre..."); many letters (including those to Van Dieman's Land) with address panels and postmarks, c.275 pages, usual dust-staining etc., but generally in fine condition, 4to and 8vo, Paris, Liancourt, Rome, Naples, Lyons, Milan, Bordeaux, London, Tredrea, Enys and elsewhere, September 1800 to August 1844

(iv) Guillemard's autograph memoir of his experiences of the French Revolution during the week of the fall of the Bastille, written at Eastbourne in December 1823 [when staying with his brother-in-law Davies Gilbert PRS] ("...The procession advanced proceded by some muffled drums which were now and then faintly heard amidst the screams and yells of the infuriate multitudes, who rushed down different streets to glut themselves with the spectacle of lately perpetuated murder. It was about 7 oClock in the Evening and I could just discern the heads of the victims elevated on pikes above the throng, by my companion saw distinctly the blood clotted in their hair and disfiguring their ghastly countenances and hiding his face against the lining of the carriage exclaimed to me I can look no more..."); the narrative breaking off after mentioning an encounter with the future prime minister, Robert Jenkinson, "now Lord Liverpool", 14 pages, in one gathering, 4to, 1823

(v) Transcript of the above, made by F.H.H. Guillemard in January 1895; together with similar transcripts of a "Fragment of the Diary of John Guillemard F.R.S. in 1816./ Describing visit to Liancourt [where his friend Rochefoucauld had established his model farm], Paris, & Geneva" and "Fragmentary Notes written by John Guillemard F.R.S. on a voyage from Greece to Leghorn in 1819", 25 pages, in three gatherings, 4to, 1895



    John Lewis Guillemard (1764–1844) was a member of a Huguenot silk-weaving family and was brother-in-law of Davies Giddy (later Gilbert), mentor of Sir Humphry Davy and friend of Dr Thomas Beddoes, in whose circle Guillemard also moved. He was Fellow of the Royal Society, of which his brother-in-law was President, in 1806 and was elected to the Royal Geographical Society, American Philosophical Society. He served as Secretary to the Royal Institution in 1811-13 and was a members of other learned bodies such as the Linnean Society, the Camden and several others, in whose activities, as these above letters show, he took a lively interest. Indeed, it is clear that one of the purposes of his corresponding with Staunton and Franklin was to keep them up-to-date with Royal Society news, of which like him they were both Fellows, and of kindred societies; those to Franklin reporting on the breakthroughs in geology and palaeontology that took place in the decades leading up to publication of The Origin of Species (Guillemard confesses himself especially astonished, on one of his letters to Franklin, that Richard Owen can identify a species as new to science from the survival of a tooth only).

    After witnessing the events surrounding the Fall of the Bastille at first hand Guillemard travelled to the United States, where he settled for a while and where he met the Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt early in 1795, subsequently accompanying him on his journeys in Canada and the United States (see the latter's Journal de Voyage en Amérique et d'un séjour a Philadelphie 1 Octobre 1794–18 Avril 1795). From 1797 to 1799 he served as the final member, chosen by lot, of the five-person mixed commission established under Article 6 of the Jay Treaty to arbitrate British creditors' claims for payment of pre-Revolutionary debts. When that commission failed to settle the claims, and in 1803 the British government appointed Guillemard and the two other British members of the group to act as a 'domestic commission' to determine what claims would be paid under the Convention of 1802 between the United States and Great Britain (see the biographical note to his letter to Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 29, 1 March 1796–31 December 1797, edited Barbara B. Oberg, 2002, pp. 154–155). While living in Philadelphia, he rented the famous house, still standing, called The Solitude, which had been built by William Penn's grandson in 1784.

    His sister Mary was his only sibling, and he was, as these letters show, clearly devoted to her three daughters, especially Fanny and Jane. The latter was to achieve fame as the indomitable widow of the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin; but owed much to the upbringing she received at the Davies Gilbert house, Tredea: 'At Tredea, Jane for the first time enjoyed the tutelage of someone with an analytical mind as powerful as her won. Her uncle John Guillemard continued to hone his own mental powers in discussion with eminent Oxford intellectuals like John Henry Newman. Guillemard instructed Jane in algebra, history, grammar, and philosophy. He 'catechized' her on Watts's Logic, discerned that she was merely parroting the opinions of the master, and taught her to analyse and criticize the author's views, instilling forever the habit of critical thought that distinguishes the educated mind. Sojourning at Tredea with her uncle was as close as Jane would come to attending university' (Ken McGoogan, Lady Franklin's Revenge, 2007 edition, p.33).

    This archive appears to have been assembled by a later member of the family, presumably F.H.H. Guillemard. While the letters to Sir George Staunton are the only major ones written to someone outside the family (Staunton was childless and one assumes that they were sent back to the Guillemard family after his death), they are written to so many different members of the family, principally to his paternal uncles – their letters to Guillemard comprising both letters that were delivered to him in America and their retained copies – as well as to his sister and her children, that a conscious decision must have been made to gather them together. Some incoming letters by famous personalities to Guillemard found their way into the Enys Collection of autographs (see the sale in these rooms, 28 September 2004); but this, the biographical core, appears to have been preserved intact.

    Provenance: F.H.H. Guillemard; and thence by descent to the current owner.
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