We have hardly information about Manoury's life. We know his family name, not his first name. He signed his preface with C. Manoury indeed, but the C meant Citoyen, citizen.

 He must be born about 1720. About 1750 he was maȋtre d'hôtel in coffeehouse Café de l'École, later he became the manager. After 1787 he sold it.

 In 1770 and 1787 he published a draughts book. Left the title page of his first book, with his profession (seller of beverages) and his address (Quai de l'École).

 In the 18th century it cost a lot of money to have a book printed. For this reason a writer asked people who were interested to sign up, i.e. to pay in advance. In return their names were mentioned. This custom makes it possible to estimate the print numbers of an older book and to find out what kind of people bought it. Manoury did not work with this system. Because he was rich, of because he knew forsure that many draughts players would buy his book?

 In 1770 he explained the rules of Polish Draughts and presented end games and problems in number position. We don't know author's names. Manoury's coffee house was a meeting point of Paris draughts players, and some of them noted positions in games played there and composers' discoveries.

 Perhaps the drawings of Manoury's café may not tell it, but Café de l'École was a house fro the better classes. Not for the aristocrats but for the "second-rank", such as employees of the court, lawyers for instance, who got there for an appetizer or a meal and a drink (and to warm up, for the drawing show us the central place of the stove).

 And intellectuals visited the house to play draughts. In his second book Murray mentioned some names.

 The most important among them was one of France's greatest sons: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). In 1787 [page 47] Manoury described him as a weak player. Rouseau refused to play against a mediocre player, and for this reason he lost almost every game, in spite of the odds of two pieces by the strongest players (so Rousseau started the game with 20 pieces and his opponent with 18 ones).

 Rousseau also played chess, but he played chess as weak as draughts. He confessed in his "Confessions" (1770) that he shut himself in his house to learn chess openings by heart but after three months nevertheless lost every game.

 Another visitor of Manoury's café was Alexis Piron (1689-1773), a jurist who like writing poetry, stage plays and satirical poems better than legal work. And the playwright and politician Louis-Sebastien Mercier (1740-1814).

 Apparently, the writer Nicolas-Edmee Restif de la Bretonne (1734-1806) was no draughts player, although he was a regular visitor. Restif described his time, also the life of Paris and its inhabitants. He gave a picture of Manoury's coffee house, at any rate of the café that was called Café Robert after Manoury's retirement. About 1792, he wrote on two political events that made the feathers fly.

 A visitor who had lingered over his dinner made a lot of rumpus: he picked a quarrel with any follower of Lafayette, and a half-witted character, an imbecile prig, was so stupid to contradict him, with the consequence that the wrangler almost put him to the sword. "With our help the poor man had a narrow escape". In his function as the commander of the army, marquis de Lafayette got involved in the controversy between the Jacobins and the Girondists during the turbulent years of the Revolution (1789-1793). The Jacobins represented a movement that turned against the power of the king, the nobility and the army; the Girondists advocated a democratic government with rights for the individual. In June 1792 supporters of the Jacobins made an attack on the Tuilleries, symbol of king's power. Compelled by his position, Lafayette lodged an official protest. He was accused by the Jacobins: "Lafayette intends to settle a military dictatorship!" In August he fled to Austria.

 Directly after his portrayal of the quarrel in Café Robert, Restif wrote the following. "In the evening of the 31st, Parisians crowded before the door of Café Robert-Manouri. I was totally surprised to see two attractive young women yelling patriotic slogans; everybody admired them, apart from some aristocrats who loudly shouted: They have been paid to yell!" It seems sound to date this street row on July 31, 1792. Restif had said earlier that formerly, in former days, not recently, the coffee house was called Café Manouri.




Restif de la Bretonne