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GODWIN, William.

An Enquiry concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on Morals and Happiness.

printed for G. G. and J. Robinson, London , 1796 Stock Code: 129474
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Second edition, following the first of 1793, of one of the most radical and far-reaching political tracts of the era, by the father of British philosophical radicalism. First published just weeks after the execution of Louis XVI, and written in response to Burke's Reflections, Godwin's tract attacks all restraints on the exercise of individual judgement - in the belief that human opinions will become progressively more enlightened with the growth of knowledge. Among Godwin's targets were established religion and marriage, and he believed that government itself would ultimately become unnecessary. The work directly provoked Thomas Malthus to write his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798). Godwin revised the text for the second edition, moderating some of his views, and continued to do so further for future editions. This greatly vexed the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who took this book, in its original form, as his bible. With the bookplates of Sir Thomas Courtenay Theydon Warner (1857-1934), Liberal (later Coalition Liberal) MP for North Somerset from 1892 to 1895 and for Lichfield from 1896 to 1923, and mayor of Walthamstow from 1929 onwards.

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2 volumes, octavo (213 x 127 mm). Contemporary tree calf, black and green twin morocco labels, smooth spines with gilt motifs to compartments.


Pencilled shelf marks to front endpapers. Bound without half-title. Light rubbing to spines and extremities, a few minor marks to covers, some foxing to a few gatherings but generally clean. A lovely copy.


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