Jean Louis De Lolme

There’s a new edition of Jean Louis De Lolme’s The Constitution of England, a book that influenced many in the late eighteenth century. The first French edition appeared in 1771, the first English edition in 1775. De Lolme identified himself as a Citizen of Geneva. (Familiar?) It’s a scholarly edition, not just a reprinting, available from Liberty Fund.

The editor, David Lieberman, has included a list of works De Lolme read and notes on some of his famous readers. But I could spit! There’s not a single mention of British North America or Canada anywhere in the scholarly apparatus. I understand that De Lolme was avidly read in Europe, Britain, and the United States. He was an academic bestseller. Yes. But he was also read in the British colonies. Both French and English Canadians relied on him. He was superbly, undeniably influential in this country. I call him Canada’s forgotten mentor.

I’ve written Guy Laforest at Laval. I’d like to know for one thing whether there are (still) copies of the French editions in Quebec’s university libraries.

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3 Responses to “Jean Louis De Lolme”


  1. 1 Jack April 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Are there French editions in Canadian libraries? I did a quick search awhile back whilst logged into RACER and didn’t find any. Old English editions seem plentiful (though I think most were microform).

    Yesterday for fun, I searched antiquarian booksellers and found that some very old French editions – maybe even 1st editions – are easy to get, for about $400-1000.

  2. 2 janetajzenstat April 6, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Hello Jack. Good to be in touch and to get your very interesting comment. I’ve forwarded it to the people at Laval. I’d sure like to see a scholarly French edition. But not too much enthusiasm there. (Maybe you?) A first edition is exciting but since De Lolme edited and added in later editions, the scholar would want the latest.

  3. 3 Dennis Baker April 9, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I read De Lolme’s book a few years back (on your recommendation) and loved it. Always a good counter to those who think the English Constitution is solely what they read in Bagehot — actually, I suspect that most of those people haven’t read Bagehot either, but that’s a different matter.

    Are the editorial notes in the Liberty Fund edition useful enough to warrant purchasing a new copy? My version is a very dodgy (but readable) reprint and those LF editions tend to be inexpensive, so maybe it’s time for a new one…


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