"ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT OF ALL POLEMICS": FIRST EDITION OF BURKE'S REFLECTIONS, 1790, HIS LANDMARK ATTACK ON THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
BURKE, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France, And on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to that Event. London: J. Dodsley, 1790. Octavo, period-style three-quarter polished brown calf and marbled boards; pp. (i-iii) iv, 1-356.
First edition of Burke's important and controversial attack on the French Revolution, the work that precipitated Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, handsomely bound.
"One of the most brilliant of all polemics… It is not to be wondered at that a man who desired justice for America but rejected Jefferson's doctrines would be deeply stirred by the events of 1789. To Burke an absorption with the end and neglect of the means was the most dreadful of sins. His anger and disgust were exacerbated by the dread that the aims, principles, methods and language which he detested in France might infect the people of England. This it was which provoked the Reflections" (PMM 239). "The effect of the Reflections was extraordinary. It created a reaction against the revolution… Abroad the Reflections created no less stir than at home, and Burke received the compliments of different foreign sovereigns" (DNB). Burke's "attack on the French Revolution… infuriated Paine, who was chagrined by these statements coming from his former friend, the great liberal. He rushed into print with his even more celebrated answer, The Rights of Man" (Gimbel-Yale 58-59). Press figures and catchwords correspond with Todd "a" impression. Title page with "M" set to the right of "D" in "Dodsley" (Todd's state "b"); p. iv with ornamental flower pointing up (Todd's "b")—all acceptable variant states within the first edition, with no priority established. Todd 53a. Grolier 100 63.
Interior very fresh with only tiny closed tear to title page not affecting text. A splendid near-fine copy.