BLACKSTONE, William (1723-1780). Commentaries on the Laws of England. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769.
4 volumes, 4o (263 x 205 mm). 2 engraved tables, one folding in volume two. (Mmm1 short, short marginal tear on Z2 in volume 3, occasional light browning and spotting, offset staining from binding on preliminaries and endleaves, including title-pages, heaviest in the fourth volume, otherwise generally clean.) Contemporary mottled calf, spines in six compartments with five raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, black morocco label tooled with volume number and floral device in the third, the other compartments with repeat pattern of various roll tools (very discreetly rehinged, edges rubbed); modern blue cloth folding cases.
Provenance: Sir John Cust (1718-1770), baronet, speaker of the House of Commons: armorial bookplates -- Rt. Hon. Lord Brownlow: Belton House armorial bookplates; sale, Sotheby's London, 8 November 1971, lot 22.
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 and there is no conjugate Mmm2 blank: this is not called for by Rothschild. This copy does not include the Supplement to the First Edition; containing the most material corrections and additions in the second. The tools on the binding show slight variations, demonstrating that the set was probably bound for the same owner, as the volumes appeared. PMM 212; Rothschild 407. FINE.
[With:] Four contemporary, or near contemporary, manuscript legal documents, laid-in. Comprising: [PRICE, Robert and Robert EYRE]. Contemporary transcript of "The Proceedings before all the Judges of England about the Grand Question concerning the Marriage and Education of the King's Grandchildren," London, 22 January 1717, 3½ pages, folio, reproducing signatures of Robert Price (1655-1733) and Sir Robert Eyre (1666-1735) at end. -- Manuscript document, n.p., [late 18th century], 1 page, folio, with integral blank, being a general outline of the Commentaries. -- Manuscript fragment, n.p., [late 18th century], 3 pages, 8vo. Labelled at head, "Sheet the Fifth," this fragment discusses the legal means to rectify feuds, including those arising from estate settlement and marital conflict. -- Manuscript document, n.p., [late 18th century], 1 page, 4to, titled at head "Healey's Case." A legal brief in the first person concerning a dispute over a transfer of property between Mr. Healey and a Mr. Bainton. (4)