5 December 2006
BLACKSTONE, William (1723-1780). Commentaries on the Laws of England. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765-1769.
4 volumes, 4o (269 x 209 mm). 2 engraved tables, one folding in volume two. (Some occasional pale spotting and pale browning, generally a clean copy.) Contemporary calf, arms of Newcastle on sides (rebacked to match, preserving original spine labels). Provenance: Duke of Newcastle (arms on sides); Harold Greenhill (bookplates).
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 a conjugate Mmm2 blank. Volume II includes the "Table of Consanguinity" and "Table of Descents." Without the 8-page "Supplement to the First Edition" in Volume I (which was issued later and is generally absent in earlier copies). Grolier English 52; PMM 212; Rothschild 407.
[With:] BLACKSTONE. A Discourse on the Study of the Law; Being an Introductory Lecture Read in the Public Schools, October XXV, MDCCLVIII. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1758. 4o. Original marbled wrappers. FIRST EDITION. This is Blackstone's first lecture after being appointed Vinerian Professor of Law at Oxford and represents his earliest formulations of the ideas which would blossom in the Commentaries. Rothschild 405. (5)
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