"ONE OF THE MOST VERACIOUS CHRONICLERS IN THE LANGUAGE": FIRST EDITION OF BISHOP BURNET'S HISTORY OF HIS OWN TIME, 1724
BURNET, Gilbert. Bishop Burnet's History of His Own Time. London: Thomas Ward, 1724, 1734. Two volumes. Folio (9 by 14 inches), contemporary full tan speckled calf rebacked in red period-style morocco-gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers. Housed together in a custom slipcase. $1700.
First edition of the classic chronicle of the upheavals in 17th-century England by "a pioneer in the scientific treatment of history" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 70).
When the History of His Own Time was published, the Earl of Aylesbury wrote that Burnet's description of him was "false as all hell" and that Burnet was "a lying knave." The work was also severely criticized by Jonathan Swift, and, less virulently, by Samuel Johnson. Despite these criticisms, "Burnet is one of the most veracious chroniclers in the language" (Allibone, 297) and time has proven "the value of the History of My Own Time as a candid narrative and an invaluable work of reference" (DNB, III:404). Invaluable, because "the influence of Burnet in bringing about the Revolution of 1688, and the accession of William and Mary, was perhaps greater than that of any other person" (Allibone 296). Burnet began writing the History on the eve of the Glorious Revolution and completed it shortly before his death in 1715. At his request, publication was delayed for at least six years. On the verso of the title page of Volume II, his son Thomas wrote, "The Original Manuscript of both Volumes of this / History will be deposited in the Cotton Library by / T. Burnett" (as often). With lists of subscribers in both volumes. Head- and tail-pieces, engraved initials throughout. Allibone, 299. Lowndes, 320. Engraved armorial bookplate.
Interiors clean, a bit of light edge-wear to bindings. An attractive copy of this folio first edition.