ILIFF, Edward Henry.

A Summary of the Duties of Citizenship!

Written Expressly for the Members of the London Corresponding Society.

London: R. Lee, D. I. Eaton, G. Riebau, J. Smith, and J. Burks, [1795] Stock Code: 139092
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First edition of this radical tract, by the actor, playwright, and novelist Edward Henry Iliff, a friend of William Godwin. Iliff writes "the genus of society contains two species of odious monsters; Tyrants and Slaves" (p. 5), the former including soldiers, priests, and lawyers, the latter the poor multitudes. This "strident attack on the Army, Church, and political institutions was accompanied by a very Godwin-like insistence on the progress of reason and opinion and the utter repudiation of recourse to violence" (Mark Philp, Reforming ideas in Britain, 2014, p. 229). Patriotism should be enlarged to "a diffusive spirit or universal affection", so that "colour will make no difference in our relative duties, and a black Negro may enjoy the friendship of his white oppressor" (pp. 27-28). The pamphlet led to the prosecution of its publishers and sellers - Daniel Eaton was tried in absentia for publishing this pamphlet and a similar work, and was forced into hiding and then into exile in Philadelphia; John Smith was imprisoned for two years for selling the book, despite his claim in his trial as to being ignorant of its contents.

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Octavo (209 x 122 mm). Recent brown cloth, spine lettered in gilt.


Contemporary ownership signature "D Constable" to half-title. Lightly toned and foxed, peripheral fraying to a couple of leaves. A very good copy.


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