“IF EVER IT WERE TIME TO SPEAK, OR WRITE, ’TIS NOW”: FIRST EDITION OF THE PEOPLES ANCIENT AND JUST LIBERTIES, 1670—THE RECORD OF THE LANDMARK WILLIAM PENN-MEADE TRIAL (“BUSHELL’S CASE”)
(PENN, William, et al). The Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties Asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead. London, 1670. Slim octavo, later half brown sheep; pp. 62.
First edition of this transcript of and commentary on the Penn-Meade trial—which was also a landmark development in the rights of juries.
William Penn "influenced religious and political thought in an age of experimentation. Although he did not invent the concept of religious toleration, he brought it to its highest point in the governing principles of his colony. Such toleration became the touchstone of religious and ethnic plurality from which the American ethos grew" (DNB). He "was arrested with fellow Quaker William Meade for speaking at the Grace church Street meeting in London. Instead of fining them for unlawful preaching, the mayor raised the charge to promoting a riot, for which the accused had the right to trial by jury. The result was a landmark case, known as the Penn-Meade trial
[and also "Bushell's Case"], in which the jury established its authority to reach a verdict contrary to the judge's instructions.
Penn and Meade proved their innocence of the charge of inciting a riot, but were imprisoned for keeping their hats on in court" (ANB). Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties
without final leaf [H4] (Errata on recto, verso blank). Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties
corresponds most closely to the third state
(Bronner & Fraser 10C; Wing P1334B), although Bushel listed on page 5 as "Ed. Bushel" as in the fourth (Bronner & Fraser 10D). Bound without errata (either removed or not present in this variant state). Evidence of bookplate removal to pastedowns.
Faint dampstain to inner corner of title page, expert marginal paper repair to page 7, occasional foxing and faint staining to interior, a bit of wear and toning to binding. Extremely good condition.