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HUME, David.

A Treatise of Human Nature:

Being An Attempt to introduce the experimental Method of Reasoning into Moral Subjects.

London, John Noon (vol. III Thomas Longman), 1739-40 Stock Code: 120809

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First edition of Hume's first great work, rarely found thus, complete in three volumes, with two of five leaves which Chuo notes as often cancelled in the uncancelled state (A4 and F6 of volume 3). Hume composed the first two books before he was 25 during his three years in France. He returned to London with the finished manuscript by mid-September 1737, but he did not sign articles of agreement with a publisher, John Noon, for another 12 months, and the two volumes finally appeared, anonymously, at the end of January 1739. Already fearing that they would not be well received, Hume had meanwhile begun a third volume, Of Morals, in part a restatement of the arguments of these first two books, which was not published until 5 November 1740 by a different publisher, Thomas Longman. Hume treated the third volume as a discrete work in its own right in so far as he later "cast anew" its contents alone as An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals (1751). As a result of this broken-backed publication history, the three volumes of the Treatise are rarely found together. "The book comes up for sale so seldom that one may doubt whether more than one or two hundred can be extant" (Keynes and Sraffa, in their introduction to Hume's Abstract).

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3 volumes, octavo (195 x 122 mm). Rebound to style in modern speckled calf, red and green morocco labels to spines, red morocco roundels on green labels lettered in gilt, compartments ruled in gilt, raised bands tooled with rope-twist roll in gilt, boards double-ruled in black, red sprinkled edges. Housed in a brown cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Engraved head- and tailpieces and initials.


Contents to Books I and II additionally bound in to the front of vol. II. Corrections neatly made in pencil to contents of vol. I following errata, two faint marginal pencil marks to vol. II. Very occasional spotting, still a fine set.


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