Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty. BOUND WITH: (PORTEUS) Letter to the Clergy


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(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) PRICE, Richard. Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, The Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War in America. London: Printed for T. Cadell, 1776. BOUND WITH: (PORTEUS) Beilby. A Letter to the Clergy… Concerning Sunday Schools. London: T. Payne, J. Rivington, T. Cadell, 1786. Octavo, full period-style red morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and boards, black morocco spine label, marbled endpapers; pp.[viii], [1]-132; [3]-25, [26-27], 28-31, [1].

Scarce 1776 edition, issued shortly after the same year’s first edition of Price’s powerfully influential British defense of the American revolution, precedes the first American edition, a work of crucial importance in “determining the Americans to declare their independence” (DNB), this important early edition bound with work by Dr. Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London and a powerful opponent of Thomas Paine.

A close friend of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, Richard Price "was the most influential British advocate of American independence" (Howes P586). His Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty stands as the most important writing by an Englishman sympathetic to the American cause, for "the encouragement derived from this book had no inconsiderable share in determining the Americans to declare their independence" (DNB). Here Price presents "four different kinds of liberty—physical, moral, religious and civil—arguing that the central idea running through them all is self-government…. His enthusiasm for the American Revolution derived from his seeing it as the expression of these ideas" (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 678). Price foresees that America will establish "a plan of government, and a growing power that shall astonish the world, and under which every subject of human enquiry shall be open to free discussion, and the friends of Liberty, in every quarter of the globe, find a safe retreat from civil and spiritual tyranny." This powerful work had a significant effect on America's resolve to secure self-government. In 1778 Price was offered the singular honor of United States citizenship, and "in recognition of his services in the cause of liberty, Dr. Price was presented with the freedom of the city of London" (DNB). Stated "Sixth Edition": issued shortly after the same year's first edition and "with substantially the same setting of type" (Adams, American Independence 224f). With "Preface to Fifth Edition" dated March 12th, 1776; as issued without half title. Precedes the first American edition. Bound in the same volume is a 1776 work by Dr. Beilby Porteus, who became Bishop of London in 1787. Porteus, whose parents were "natives of the American colony of Virginia," was born in Britain and became a leading abolitionist. He was especially famed, however, for his passionate opposition to Thomas Paine, "whose Age of Reason had, Porteus said, 'rendered irreligion easy to the meanest capacity'… It was specifically to counter the influence of 'one Paine, an American', as Porteus referred to him, that he commissioned More's Village Politics, 1793… In 1795, with Paine himself beyond its reach, Porteus' Proclamation Society prosecuted the printer of Paine's Age of Reason, Thomas Williams" (ODNB). This first edition of Letter to the Clergy of the Dioceses of Chester was published the year before Porteus became Bishop of London. With rear page of publisher's advertisement. (Price) Adams 76-118f. Sabin 65452. ESTC T11628. Howes P586. See Adams 76-118a; Adams, American Independence 224a, 224t; Goldsmiths 11512; Kress 7243; Sowerby 2994, 3109. (Porteus) ESTC T68481.

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