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FILMER, Sir Robert.

Observations concerning the Original and Various Forms of Government,

as described, viz. 1st. Upon Aristotles Politiques. 2d. Mr. Hobbs's Leviathan. 3d. Mr. Milton against Salmatius. 4th. Hugo Grotius, de Jure Bello. 5th. Mr. Hunton's Treatise of Monarchy, or the Nature of a limited or mixed Monarchy, To which is added the Power of Kings. With directions for Obedience to Government in Dangerous and Doubtful Times. [Together with:] Patriarcha: or the Natural Power of Kings.

Published: London: Printed for R.R.C. and are to be Sold by Samuel Keble and Daniel Brown [Patriarcha:] Printed for Ric. Chiswell, Matthew Gillyflower and William Henchman, 1696 & 1680

Stock code: 110036

Price: £1,750

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First expanded edition of the Observations (published originally in 1652) and first edition of the Patriarcha, although Johann Sommerville (in his edition of 1991) notes that the Chiswell edition was “probably published later” as it corrects errors in the edition of 1680 published by Walter Davis. These are both key works by the English political writer Robert Filmer (1588?-1653), perhaps best known for being on the receiving end of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1690), an “extended attack on the politics of Sir Robert Filmer. Filmer had died in 1653, but his main work, Patriarcha, was not published until 1680. It set out the patriarchal theory of politics in its most extreme and most vulnerable form. For Filmer we are not born free, but in a state of subjection to our parents and to the rulers whom God has set over us. Paternal and political power are ultimately the same: both descend from Adam, who had by right of fatherhood royal authority over his children, and this authority passed to his successors. Locke set out to demolish this theory not merely by severing the chain of argument at its weakest link, but by destroying every part that appeared vulnerable. He argued that Adam never possessed the kind of power that Filmer supposed, and that even if he had done, it could not have been conveyed to his posterity in any manner that could justify the titles of any of the monarchs now ruling. Filmer’s theory required that Adam’s power descended either by a form of primogeniture, so that at any time there was a single heir who was rightful monarch of the whole world, or to all his descendants—that is, to everyone” (ODNB).

2 works bound as one, small octavo (179 x 109 mm). Contemporary panelled calf neatly rebacked (in 1967, according to a pencil note). Engraved portrait frontispiece of Charles II. Discreet book label of the historian Peter Laslett (1915-2001), editor of Filmer (Patriarcha and other Political Writings, 1949). A little wear to corners of binding, bound without the preliminary blank to Patriarcha, neat marginal repair to H3 in Observations. A very good copy.

Bibliography: Wing F919 & F923.

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