17 June 2008
[HALIFAX, George Savile, Marquis of (1635-1695)]. The Character of a Trimmer. London: N.p., 1688.
4o (195 x 155). (Some minor worming along lower margin of the first few gatherings.) 19th-century vellum, spine lettered in black (some minor staining, front cover slightly bowed); modern slipcase. Provenance: "JB" (early initial signature on title-page).
Later edition of Halifax's defense of "trimming" between political parties, or in other words, supporting party sides as interest dictates. He advocated the center in politics, as well as compromise, and felt that the role of the "trimmer" was to keep things steady while others attempted to influence a situation one way or the other. "Halifax's policy has come to be the essence of constitutional democracy. Though his firm grasp of high moral generalizations is evident, often anticipating the broad concepts of Burke, he based himself on the Aristotelian precept that politics is the art of the possible: 'men should live in some competent state of freedom,' he wrote. His actions had a lasting effect on the politics of the time, and more lastingly on the government of the country: his writings provide a classic exposition of the empirical character of the British Constitution" (PMM). PMM 162; Wing H-296.
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