Hocquet Caritat

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Louis Alexis Hocquet de Caritat was a French-born bookseller and publisher in New York in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.[1] He operated a rental library and a reading room[2][3][4][5] located in 1802 at "City-Hotel, Fenelon's Head, Broad-Way."[6] He served as the "authorized distributor of Minerva Press books'" in the U. States.[7] He stocked some 30,000 volumes[8] including imported titles in English and French language, and occasionally non-print items such as "sparkling white champaign wine."[9]

One of Caritat's contemporary admirers wrote in 1803:

"I would place the bust of Caritat among those of the Sosii of Horace, and the Centryphon of Quintillian. He was my only friend at New-York, when the energies of my mind were depressed by the chilling prospect of poverty. His talents, were not meanly cultivated by letters; he could tell a good book from a bad one, which few modern librarians can do. But place aux dames was his maxim, and all the ladies of New-York declared that the library of Mr. Caritat was charming. Its shelves could scarcely sustain the weight of Female Frailty, the Posthumous Daughter, and the Cavern of Woe; they required the aid of the carpenter to support the burden of the Cottage-on-the-Moor, the House of Tynian, and the Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne; or they groaned under the multiplied editions of the Devil in Love, More Ghosts, and Rinaldo Rinaldini. Novels were called for by the young and the old; from the tender virgin of thirteen, whose little heart went pit-a-pat at the approach of a beau; to the experienced matron of three score, who could not read without spectacles."[10]


  1. ^ Raddin, 1953; cited in: Michael H. Hoeflich. Legal Publishing in Antebellum America. Cambridge University Press, 2010
  2. ^ "Caritat's Reading Room." New-York Evening Post; Date: 08-31-1802
  3. ^ "The Terms of H. Caritat's Literary Room." Chronicle Express (NY); Date: 03-10-1803
  4. ^ Terms of Subscription to H. Caritat's Public Libraries. Weekly Museum (NY), 04-16-1803
  5. ^ For context, see: List of libraries in 19th-century New York City
  6. ^ "At H. Caritat's Book-Store, Literary Assembly-Room, and Circulating Library." Morning Chronicle (NY), 12-16-1802
  7. ^ Sydney Joseph Krause. "Historical Essay" in: Charles Brockden Brown. Arthur Mervyn, or, Memoirs of the year 1793: first and second parts. Kent State University Press, 2002
  8. ^ Hendrik Edelman (2001). "Circulating Libraries and Reading Rooms". In David H. Stam. International Dictionary of Library Histories. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 55. ISBN 1579582443. 
  9. ^ Morning Chronicle (NY), 12-16-1802
  10. ^ John Davis. Travels Of Four Years And a Half in the United States Of America. London: 1803.

Further reading[edit]

Caritat's catalog, 1799
  • H Caritat's Literary Room. Morning Chronicle; Date: 06-08-1803
  • Caritat, ed. Bibliothèque américaine: contenant des mémoires sur l'agriculture, le commerce, les manufactures, les moeurs et les usages de l'Amérique; l'analyse des ouvrages scientifiques de ce pays, ainsi que de ceux des Européens qui y ont voyagé; et des extraits des journaux publiés en Amérique, sur tout ce qui peut intéresser le commerc̜ant et l'homme d'état; par une sociéte de savans et d'hommes de lettres. Paris, 1807. Google books

Issued by Caritat[edit]

  • John Davis. The original letters of Ferdinand and Elisabeth. 1798
  • Charles Brockden Brown. Wieland; or The transformation. An American tale. NY: printed by T. & J. Swords, for H. Caritat, 1798
  • François René Jean, Baron de Pommereul. Campaign of General Buonaparte in Italy, during the fourth and fifth years of the French republic. By a general officer. 1798
  • Charles Brockden Brown. Ormond; or, the Secret Witness. New-York: Printed by G. Forman, for H. Caritat, 1799.
  • Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Beauties of the Studies of nature: selected from the works of Saint Pierre. New-York: Re-printed for H. Caritat, bookseller, stationer & librarian, by M.L. & W.A. Davis., 1799.
  • Johann Georg Zimmermann. Essay on national pride; translated by Samuel H. Wilcocke. New York: Printed by M.L. & W.A. Davis, for H. Caritat, bookseller and librarian, 1799.
  • Thomas Morton. Speed the plough: a comedy, in five acts. New-York: re-printed by M.L. & W.A. Davis, for H. Caritat, bookseller, no. 153 Broad-way, 1800.
  • M.G. Lewis. The East Indian: a comedy, in five acts. New-York: re-printed by M.L. & W.A. Davis, for H. Caritat, bookseller, no. 153 Broad-Way, 1800.
  • Helen Maria Williams. The political and confidential correspondence of Lewis XVI: with observations on each letter. 1803
  • The feast of reason and the flow of the soul. A new explanatory catalogue of H. Caritat's general & increasing circulating library. 1799
  • Catalogue des livres francais qui se trouvent chez H. Caritat, libraire et bibliothécaire dans Broad-Way, no. 157. 1799

About Caritat[edit]

  • George Gates Raddin. An early New York library of fiction : with a checklist of the fiction in H. Caritat's circulating library, no. 1 City hotel, Broadway, New York, 1804. New York : Wilson, 1940.
  • George Gates Raddin. Hocquet Caritat and the Early New York Literary Scene (Dover, N.J., 1953)
  • Leroy Elwood Kimball. "An account of Hocquet Caritat." Colophon, 1934