HUME’S MONUMENTAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND, BEAUTIFUL UNIFORMLY BOUND QUARTO SET OF FIRST EDITIONS
HUME, David. The History of England, From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry VII; The History of England, Under the House of Tudor; The History of Great Britain. Containing the Reigns of James I and Charles I; The History of Great Britain. Containing the Commonwealth, and The Reigns of Charles II and James II. London; Edinburgh: Printed for A. Millar; Printed by Hamilton, Balfour and Neill, 1757-1762; 1754. Six volumes altogether. Quarto, contemporary full speckled brown calf rebacked, raised bands, red morocco spine labels. $8000.
First editions of Hume’s monumental history of England, "a neglected masterpiece," the complete six volumes, in contemporary calf boards.
"'This is the historical age and we are the historical people,' Hume announced" (Schama II:392). It was this conviction that caused Hume to "be regarded as the acutest thinker in Great Britain of the 18th century, and the most qualified interpreter of its intellectual tendencies" (DNB). "His massive History of England is a neglected masterpiece, which remained a best seller for more than a century" (Cannon, 497). Possessing "a distinct place in the literature of England, Hume's History was the first attempt at a comprehensive treatment of historic facts, the first to introduce the social and literary aspects of a nation's life as only second in importance to its political fortunes, and the first historical writing in an animated yet refined and polished style" (Britannica). Hume decided not to expand his history beyond the Stuarts, partly because he doubted whether he (or his readers) "could maintain partiality concerning recent events" (Jessop, 27). Altogether, Hume's History "promises ever to hold a prominent place in the front rank of English literature" (Allibone, 916). Bound with half titles in Volumes I and II of The History of England and Volume I of The House of Tudor; without half titles in Volume II of The House of Tudor and the two volumes of The History of Great Britain. Davies & Keeler 270. Jessop, 27-33. Todd, 196-199. See PMM 194. Bookplates.
Interior generally fine, with short closed tear to one leaf (S4) and foxing to first few leaves in Volume VI. Contemporary calf boards with some age wear. A very handsome set.