London: J. Dodsley, 1790.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #003557
8vo (212 x 130 mm). iv, 356 pp. Small woodcut vignette to p. iv ponting to the right. Bound in contemporary calf, rebacked with original gilt-lettered and gilt-decorated spine leather laid down, gilt-tooled boards, board edges and turn-ins, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers (extremities rubbed, corners worn). Occasional very minor spotting and a few scattered marginal (light and removable) pencil marks, pp. 207-211 with pale brown staining at blank fore-margin, blank upper fore-margin of leaves M6 & M8 torn (or with paper flaw) with little loss not affecting text. Provenance: Thomas Bigge* (armorial bookplate to front pastedown), Duff Cooper* (armorial bookplate to first flyleaf). An exceptionally crisp and clean copy internally. ----
PMM 239; Todd 53a; Rothschild 522; Goldsmiths-Kress 14518; Grolier 100 63. RARE FIRST EDITION, FIRST IMPRESSION of "one of the most brilliant of all polemics" (PMM). "It is strange that Burke, who for all his influence enjoyed less experience of the practical business of government than most of his acquaintances, should have been written, in defence of an existing régime and against a liberating revolution, one of the most brilliant of all polemics. ... It is not to be wondered at that a man who desired justice for America but rejected Jefferson's doctrines would be deeply stirred by the events of 1789. To Burke an absorption with the end and neglect of the means was the most dreadful of sins. His anger and disgust were exacer-bated by the dread that the aims, principles, methods and language which he detested in France might infect the people of England. This it was which provoked the Reflections, in which his distrust of the 'Perfectibilitarians' and of mere destructive criticism of institutions was magnificently voiced. To the view that the old régime was so rotten that Wholesale revolution was necessary, Burke replied that any revolution that did not bring real liberty, which comes from the administration of justice under a settled constitution without bias from the mob, was no liberty. 'Alas!' he said, 'they little know how many a weary step is to be taken before they can form themselves into a mass which has a true political personality.' The Reflections achieved immediate success alll over Europe, even though it cost Burke the allegiance of the Whigs. Lonely now, he finally enjoyed a European authority which he had never attained in his own country or with his own party. The other side found a trenchant spokesman in Paine's Rights of Man ([PMM] 241), which took the discussion beyond the limits of the government of France, but as the Terror grew, Burke seemed almost to be a prophet. In the eternal debate between the ideal and the practical, the latter had never had a more powerful or moving advocate, nor one whose own ideals were higher." (PMM 239).
In this bibliographically complex work which conforms to Todd 53a: the M in the imprint date is immediately below D of Dodsley, the flower ornament on p. iv is pointing to the right, press figures 10: x, 116: none, 171 & 354: *; E2, F6, H2-3 are cancels and B8, E7-8 are cancellands.
*Thomas Bigge (1766-1851) was an English political writer and activist who wrote political tracts from the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars; Alfred Duff Cooper, 1st Viscount Norwich (1890-1954), known as Duff Cooper, was a British Conservative Party politician, diplomat and military and political historian. - Visit our website to see more images!
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