Si la torture est un moyen seur a verifier les crimes secrets; Dissertation morale et juridique, Par laquelle il est amplement traitté des Abus qui se commettent par tout en l'instruction des Procés Criminels, & particulierement en la recherche du Sortilege. […]. Augustin Nicolas.
A Pioneering Critical Work on The Practice of Torture

Si la torture est un moyen seur a verifier les crimes secrets; Dissertation morale et juridique, Par laquelle il est amplement traitté des Abus qui se commettent par tout en l'instruction des Procés Criminels, & particulierement en la recherche du Sortilege. […].

A Amsterdam: Chez Abraham Wolfgang, prés de la Bourse, 1681. First edition. In somewhat later leather. Gilt spine with red title vignette. With woodcut head and tailpieces and initials. 224 [8] p. Front panel with small damage to the leather. Spine somewhat rubbed, worn at the head. Pastedown replaced. Later bibliographical notes in ink on front pastedown. Pages toned. A few notes and singes in ink on the margins, initial words underlined sporadically. Overall a firm copy in very good condition.

A manifesto for the abolition of torture, a century before Beccaria.

Si la torture is “the first work openly critical of the practice of torture” (Silverman, 2001), written by Augustin Nicolas (1622–1695), the French magistrate and président of the parlement of Dijon.

Nicolas principally discouraged the use of torture in cases of witchcraft, but “in the process thoroughly condemned the practice of torture in all instances” (Silverman, 2001). As a precursor of the reformists of the Enlightenment, such as Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794), he provides a humanist critique of judicial torture.

Although the work was dedicated to Louis XIV, Nicolas did not obtain the right to publish it in France and was obliged to print the book in Amsterdam. The present first edition was published in 1681 and it was quickly reissued by the publisher the next year.

Literature: Silverman, L.: Tortured Subjects. Pain, Truth, and the Body in Early Modern France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. pp. 258–261.

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Price: €2,000.00

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