Stat nominis umbra.

London: printed by T. Bensley, for Vernor and Hood, J. Cuthell, [and 5 others in London], 1801 Stock Code: 125952
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A handsomely bound early edition of the letters of the notorious and enigmatic political polemicist "Junius", which were first published in authorised book-form by Henry Sampson Woodfall in March 1772, and first printed in the Public Advertiser between 21 January 1769 and 21 January 1772. This edition prints Junius's "Dedication to the English Nation", boldly stating support for republicanism and freedom of the press. Junius's letters are now considered "a classic of English political commentary" characterised by "high Whig philosophy" combined with "one of the most effective uses of slanderous polemic ever employed" (ODNB) in attacking the policies of George III and his government under the Duke of Grafton and Lord North. Perhaps outlasting the fascinating political focus of the letters is the enduring academic enigma surrounding the identity of "Junius", named after another republican hero, Lucius Junius Brutus (of "et tu" fame). The epigraph subtitle "Stat magni nominis umbra", taken from Lucan, Pharsalia, translates as "He stands, the shadow of a great name", and is appropriate; since the appearance of the first letter (and enduring to this day), speculations have abounded as to his true identity, and have included: William Petty, second earl of Shelburne (later marquess of Lansdowne), and his political allies Isaac Barré, John Dunning, first Baron Ashburton, and William Greatrakes; Richard Grenville (later Grenville-Temple), second Earl Temple, and his brothers George Grenville and James; Lord George Sackville; Hugh Macaulay Boyd (connected with the letters only after his death in 1794); Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth earl of Chesterfield; Edward Gibbon; Edmund Burke; the poet Richard Glover; Horace Walpole; Lauchlin Macleane (c.1728-1778); and Sir Philip Francis (1740-1818), a Whig political writer who perhaps has the strongest claim (based upon political affiliations, strong circumstantial evidence and, albeit disputed, comparisons of handwriting). Whatever the specific identity (or identities) of Junius, the letters evince him as "a highly opinionated, shrewd, ironic, vituperative, even arrogant individual schooled in classics and the law." (ODNB)

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2 volumes, octavo (214 x 129 mm). Contemporary tree calf, red and green morocco labels, spines tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers.


Engraved title page (dated 1797), numerous engraved portrait plates (dated 1798) and woodcut vignettes by John Bewick.


20th-century bookplates with ownership signatures, contemporary ownership signature on front free endpaper. A few marks to covers and spines, spine ends a little worn, some foxing and a few blemishes to contents. A lovely set.


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