Genève, Barrillot & fils, .
2 parts bound in one volume 4to. Marbled roan, spine ribbed decorated with gilt tools, red edges. Contemporary binding.
261 x 201 mm.
First edition of one of the basic texts of the political thought of the Enlightenment Age. It was printed in Geneva in the last days of October 1748.
“There exists under the same heading: in Geneva, at Barillot et fils, a second edition also undated, whose title is the same as above, except that the name of Barillot is spelled with an r only.” (Le Petit, Bibliographie des principales Éditions originales).
Master work of Montesquieu, this treatise of political science is the fruit of the observations collected by the author during his trip in Europe between 1728 and 1731 on the constitutions of the countries which he visited and the customs of their inhabitants. Montesquieu analyzes the different types of governments (republic, monarchy and despotism) and the political, economic, social and religious laws that govern them.
Distinguishing, according to the degrees of freedom that they include, three forms of government, the republic (democracy and aristocracy), the monarchy and despotism, Montesquieu founds modern political science by analyzing the form of each government to discover the proper laws, in other words fundamental, to each one, and to deduce from it the positive laws that each one of these governments must adopt (En français dans le texte, n°138).
The work was put on the Index on November 29, 1751 and was condemned by the Sorbonne.
A rare copy in its definitive state, with all the cancels.
These cancels replace “many passages which were modified, either by order of the censor, or by the author” (Le Petit). The cancels are on pages 23-24, 27-28, 29-30, 37-38, 45-46, 47-48, 85-86, 87-88, 185-186, 227-228, 261-262 of volume I and on pages 267-268, 273-274, 425-426 and 427-428 of volume II.
Copy with the errata, including 47 corrections, placed at the head of volume I. Four states of this errata established in January 1749 are known. This one is the most complete. “It is also the most elegant of the four: surmounted by an airy topographical composition, devoid of any abbreviation, it extends over three pages; it is also very correct” (Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, p. 47).
One of the beautiful known copies preserved – a rare fact – in an unrestored contemporary binding. In May 2007, the copy from the second state bound in calf with the dorsal cipher of the Duke of Belle Isle, of the same height – 250 mm, was sold for 95 000 €.