Auction 358 Old & Rare Books - History of Law

(MONTESQUIEU, Ch. L. de SECONDAT de). De l'Esprit des Loix. Ou du rapport que les Loix doivent avoir avec la Constitution de chaque Gouvernement, les Moeurs, le Climat, la Religion, le Commerce, &c. Geneva, Barrillot & Fils, (1748). 2 vols. (8), xxiv 522; (4), xvi, 564 pp. 4°. Cont. cf. w. raised bands, dec. gilt backs, brown and green labels, & red edges. (Spines ends vol. 1 a bit dam., some sm. wormholes/o. sm. defects to both spines, corners rep. & chafed, some marg. stripes/annot. to beginning of vol. 1, browned/foxing in places, faint waterstain to lower margin vol. 2, vol. 1 sl. waterstained at the end).

In 'De l'Esprit des Loix', Montesquieu sets out his theory for government by limited monarchy with civil liberties well safeguarded, a vision that proved to be highly influential and became the underlying philosophy behind the American and French revolutions. Montesquieu divides his work into six main sections touching on general law and forms of government, military arrangement and taxation, economics and religion, Roman, French and feudal law, and a peculiar discussion on the effects of climate and geography on national character. Written over a period of 20 years, 'L'esprit' was widely circulated throughout France, but it was soundly attacked by the Jansenists, the Jesuits, and the censors. PMM 197 ('...the United States Constitution in particular is a lasting tribute to the principles he advocated'). -First edition with all cancels and the double 'r' spelling of the printer on the title-page as described by Tchemerzine. - Tchemerzine VIII, 459; Kress 4920; Goldsmith 8375. For the very complex printing history of this book see: C.P. Courtney 'Montesquieu et les imprimeurs de L’Esprit des lois (1748-1758)' pp. 193-216 in 'l'Écrivain et l'imprimeur' (by A. Riffaud, Presse Univ. de Rennes, 2010).

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