These memoirs, first published some 70 years after the French Revolution, offer a fascinating (and ultimately poignant) glimpse into the high society of the French nobility in the years preceding the Revolution, ending with a mournful reflection on the turbulent days of 1789. By the mid-19th century, the nation was no doubt beginning to gain a sense of perspective on the previous upheavals, and this volume would have been seized upon both by those who survived the trauma, and those who wished (or needed) to learn about it.
Henriette Louise de Waldner de Freundstein (sometimes 'Freunstein'), Baronne d'Oberkirch (1754–1803) is principally known for the Mémoires, which end in 1789. Born into a noble family, and married to a Baron, she lived in and wrote about court society in her native Alsace, in Montbéliard, Stuttgart and (most importantly) in Paris and Versailles; she visited the court of Louis XVI in 1782, 1784, and 1786. She was a childhood friend of the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna, later the Empress of Russia, and also of the poet Goethe. She inspired several works by the writer Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, who fell in love with her in 1776.
Our books are in good condition for their age, bound in green boards covered with handsomely marbled paper, with half-leather spine with 5 raised bands, the title and volume numbers in gilt lettering on black paper paste-downs bordered with a gilt double line. The leather is now a tan colour, but may have been red originally, and the spines are quite worn, with some loss to the lower black paste-down on Vol 2. The marbled paper, too, is worn away at all corners, exposing the green boards beneath. Within, however, the books are in good condition, the binding firm, and the pages generally clean and unblemished, apart from a couple of stains here and there; there is some very light browning of the edges throughout. The endpapers are marbled (blue-green), and undamaged. A blank page between the front fep and the half-title page may be suggestive of a rebinding, though the amount of external wear might offer contrary evidence. The name of a previous owner is inscribed in pencil in each volume.