FIRST EDITION OF BENTHAM’S PRINCIPAL WORK
BENTHAM, Jeremy. Traites de Legislation Civile et Penale… Publies en Francois par Et. Dumont… d’apres les Manuscrits confies par l’Auteu. Paris: Chez Bossange, 1802. Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary full tree calf, gilt-decorated spines, red and black morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers. $2800.
First edition of this seminal work on penal reform and legislation in general, in full contemporary tree calf gilt.
The first of Bentham’s works to be edited by Dumont, a Swiss writer he met and befriended in Paris; Dumont edited and translated many of Bentham’s works and acted, in effect, as his literary agent. This book consists partly of material by Bentham himself, some of which was originally written in French, and partly a summary by Dumont of Bentham’s ideas, including a Memoire in French of the Panopticon. It was this work that more than any other established Bentham’s reputation and made his ideas famous on the Continent, in Latin America and in England. “The great object of Mr. Bentham’s life was the improvement of legislation and jurisprudence… Mr. Bentham’s principal work was first published in French in 1802… [According to a contemporary review:] ‘It embraces almost every thing that is important in the science of human nature, and not only touches upon all the higher questions of government and legislation, but includes most of the abstract principles of ethics and metaphysics, and professes to delineate those important rules by which the finest speculations of philosophy may be made to exert their influence on the actual condition of society…” (Allibone I, 167-168). With half titles in all volumes. Owner signatures, contemporary gift inscription to half title of Volume I.
Text generally clean. Only minor rubbing to extremities of contemporary calf-gilt bindings. A very handsome copy of this quite scarce and important work.