17 June 2008
BLACKSTONE, William (1723-1780). Commentaries on the Laws of England. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769.
4 volumes, 4o (266 x 213 mm). 2 engraved tables (one folding) in volume two (some browning and offsetting). (Some spotting, a few pale marginal stains.) Contemporary calf (volume two rebacked to style preserving contemporary lettering-pieces, other joints just starting, extremities lightly rubbed); calf backed slipcase.
FIRST EDITION. "Blackstone's great work on the laws of England is the extreme example of justification of an existing state of affairs by virtue of its history... Until the Commentaries, the ordinary Englishman had viewed the law as a vast, unintelligible and unfriendly machine... Blackstone's great achievement was to popularize the law and the traditions which had influenced its formation... He takes a delight in describing and defending as the essence of the constitution the often anomalous complexities which had grown into the laws of England over the centuries. But he achieves the astonishing feat of communicating this delight, and this is due to a style which is itself always lucid and graceful" (PMM).
The text in volume one ends on Mmm1. Volume 2 includes the "Table of Consanguinity" and "Table of Descents." Without the 8-page "Supplement to the First Edition" in Volume one (which was issued later and is generally absent in earlier copies). Grolier/English 52; PMM 212; Rothschild 407. (4)
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