"OF CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE": THE WORKS OF SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE, 1720 FOLIO FIRST EDITION
TEMPLE, William. The Works. London: A. Churchill, et al., 1720. Two volumes. Folio (8 by 13 inches), contemporary full brown calf rebacked, red morocco spine labels, raised bands. $2800.
First edition of Temple’s Works, including his Essay upon the Original and Nature of Government, with brief memoir of Temple by his protégé Jonathan Swift, in two handsome folio volumes.
The fame of 17th-century English statesman, diplomat, and author William Temple rests securely on his diplomatic triumphs and political treatises. "He was debarred by his impartiality, his honesty, and his want of ambition from taking an active part in the disgraceful domestic politics of his time. But in the foreign relations of his country he was intimately concerned for a period of 14 years, and in all that is praiseworthy in them he had a principal hand… He will be remembered as one of the ablest negotiators that England has produced, and as a public servant who, in an unprincipled age and in circumstances peculiarly open to corruption, preserved a blameless record… Temple's literary works are mostly political, and are of considerable importance" (NNDB). "In both his political and literary careers, he showed himself a keen and perceptive student of human nature… as a statesman he was a capable and reliable subordinate for the likes of Arlington and Danby, rather than an independent power broker; as a writer he was readable, intelligent, and stylish" (ODNB).
Among the more notable works included here are An Essay upon the Original and Nature of Government (first published in 1672), "which ignored the fashionable theory of social compact, argued that society was founded on the family, that climate accounted for differences between nations, and that laws were merely customs sanctioned by lengthy usage" (ODNB), Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands (1672), An Essay upon the Advancement of Trade in Ireland (1673), Of Health and Long Life and Of the Different Conditions of Life and Fortune (1680). The anonymous "Account of the Life and Writings of Sir William Temple" that prefaces Volume I was written by Temple's protégé, Jonathan Swift. Lowndes, 2602. See Teerink 477 for Swift's "Account of the Life and Writings."
Text generally quite clean and fresh; minor marginal wormtrace to first few leaves of Volume II, not affecting title page letterpress. Boards with some wear and expeert repairs. A very good copy of this folio first edition.