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(DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE) FILMER, Robert. Patriarcha: or the Natural Power of Kings. London: Walter Davis, 1680. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 7-1/4 inches), modern half brown calf and marbled boards, raised bands; pp. (i-xiv), 1-141 (1).

First edition of Filmer's posthumously published Patriarcha—"the fullest presentation of his political ideas" on the natural and divine authority of rulers—prompting Locke to counter with his Two Treatises in 1689, "the basis of the principles of democracy" (PMM 163), handsomely bound.

Sir Robert Filmer was a leading 17th-century proponent of the view that patriarchal authority was derived from God and therefore natural, and rulers similarly had "fatherly power over their subjects. Just as a father's power over his children does not stem from their consent, they said, so the king's power is not derived from the consent of his subjects, but from God alone… kings are accountable to God alone" (Somerville,Patriarcha and Other Writings, ix-xxiii). Filmer's Patriarcha, his most "celebrated work" (Lowndes, 797), draws extensively on biblical and classical sources and is "the fullest presentation of his political ideas… He explored the implications of patriarchal political theory in greater detail than any previous writer" (Somerville, ix-xxiii). Believed written between 1628 and 1631, "Filmer sought permission from King Charles I to publish Patriacha at some point prior to 8 February 1632 and was on that date denied permission. It circulated thereafter in manuscript for nearly 50 years and exercised an immense influence on English royalist thinking" (Paul Rahe). Shortly after this posthumous first publication in 1680, nearly 40 years after Filmer's death, John Locke responded with his Two Treatises of Government (1689), heralded as "the basis of the principles of democracy" (PMM 163), In fact, "it is difficult to understand Locke unless we understand Filmer, for Locke's Two Treatises were not written as the abstract reflections of a detached philosopher, but were a polemical refutation of Filmer's case" (Somerville, xxiv). Locke's Second Treatise has especially "been credited with great influence on American constitutionalism" (A Covenanted People 37).

Filmer's Patriarcha later came to play an intriguing if tangential role in scholarly debates over Jefferson's Declaration of Independence— in particular his phrasing of: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." "The most curious, in some respects the most significant, notion of Jefferson's intellectual debt was set forth by Catholic scholars. In 1917 Gaillard Hunt, of the Library of Congress, published an article in the Catholic Historical Review suggesting that Jefferson (and George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights) got his ideas of political equality and consent of the governed from the 16th-century Jesuit, Cardinal Bellarmine. There was not a shred of evidence that Jefferson had ever read Bellarmine; but, Hunt said, he had in his library, and presumably had read, Robert Filmer's Patriarcha," which opens with a passage from Bellarmine that states: "Mankind is naturally endowed and born with Freedom from all Subjection, and at liberty to choose what Form of Government it please" (2). To Hunt this passage, which Filmer quotes only to vigorously oppose, "must have lodged in Jefferson's mind to reappear when he stood up his pen to write the Declaration" (Peterson, Jefferson, 306). Filmer's Patriarcha later influenced the proslavery arguments of pre-Civil War writer George Fitzhugh, who identified "the South and its heritage and tradition with Filmer, and the North and its tradition and heritage with Locke" (Woodward, Introduction, Cannibals All!, xxxviii). Bound without frontispiece of Charles II. Mispagination of page 110 (as "101") without loss of text. Wing F922. ESTC R29832. OCEL I:160. Allibone, 596. See Sowerby 2329. Early bookplate tipped-to title page verso. Small early numerical notation above title page.

Text quite fresh, restoration to gutter-edge of title page not affecting text. An excellent very good copy, handsomely bound.

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