Genève, chez Barrillot & Fils, s.d. .
2 volumes 4to [251 x 188 mm] of: I/ (4) ll., xxiv pp., 522, l. 261-262 bound twice at the time; II/ (2) ll., xvi pp., 564 pp., marginal tear p. 149 without loss, a few waterstains and brown ll. Full brown granite-like calf, blind-stamped double fillet on the covers, spine ribbed and decorated with fleurons, red morocco lettering piece, red edges. Contemporary binding.
First edition of Montesquieu’s major work.
Tchemerzine, IV, 929.
“There is under the same section: ‘Genève, chez Barillot et fils’, another edition without date, which title is the same as above, except that Barillot’s name is spelled with only one r” (Le Petit, Bibliographie des principales Editions originales).
Masterpiece of the Age of Enlightenment, this work, founder of modern international law as well as Human rights, is an epigraph to the American Constitution and French revolution. Montesquieu deals with government forms, military dispositions, habits, economy, religion, ancient French and Roman law, etc.
After the publication of the ‘Lettres persanes’, Montesquieu traveled, from 1728 à 1721, in Austria, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and in England. Collecting observations regarding the constitutions of the countries where he stays, the habits of the inhabitant, meeting intellectual, religious, political personalities, he piles up reading and conversations notes.
Back in France (1731), he writes the ‘Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence’ (1734) a dedicates himself to the préparation of the ‘Esprit des lois’ (1748). In about twenty years, he builds up this analysis of government forms in order to clear out the political, economical, social and religious laws governing it.
[…] Despite his success and after a long quarrel in which the fermier général Dupin, the Jesuits and the Jansenists intervened, the ‘Esprit des lois’ was put on the Index (November 29th 1751) and condemned by la Sorbonne.
In eighteen months, over twenty editions were published, but the first edition is rare, especially in good condition, because this book was read and re-read with passion.
A beautiful copy preserved in its contemporary absolutely unrestored binding.