ONE OF “THE INTELLECTUAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE” (JEFFERSON): 1698 FIRST EDITION OF SIDNEY ON GOVERNMENT
SIDNEY, Algernon. Discourses Concerning Government… Published from an Original Manuscript of the Author. London: Printed, and are to be sold by the Booksellers of London and Westminster, 1698. Folio (9 by 13 inches), contemporary full speckled brown paneled calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands.
First edition of “the best elementary book of the principles of government… which has ever been published in any language,” one of the primary influences on the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson was one of many influenced by Sidney's ideas. In 1804, he wrote of the Discourses: "They are in truth a rich treasure of republican principles, supported by copious & cogent arguments, and adorned with the finest flowers of science. It is probably the best elementary book of the principles of government… which has ever been published in any language" (Sowerby III: J6). "Jefferson identified Sidney as one of four writers who provided the intellectual foundations of the Declaration of Independence" (A Covenanted People, 56). "Sidney was executed in 1683 for complicity in the Rye House Plot, his papers, including the [unpublished] Discourses, being used against him. The indictment cited sentences saying that the king is subject to law, is responsible to the people, and may be deposed, as a 'false, seditious, and traitorous libel… Sidney's Discourses Concerning Government was not published until 1698" (Sabine, 512). Wing S3761. Lowndes, 2394. Marke, 953.
Text exceptionally clean. Joints starting, cords holding firm, the occasional scuff or bump. A very handsome copy.