Oxford: at the Theater, 1676. 4to. [viii], 322 pp. FIRST EDITION. Beautiful engraved frontispiece of mythological characters, engraved title vignette of the Sheldon Theater, engraved initials and headpieces. Contemporary calf, rebacked, boards rubbed, marbled edges; staining around edges of paste-down and fly-leaf, otherwise a fabulous copy with the bookplate of Richard Brinsley Sheridan and the contemporary signature of Winchester under the imprimatur. Preserved in a folding clamshell box. Item #17433
First edition of Clarendon’s famous attack on Hobbes’ Leviathan. It was in this work that Clarendon decisively formulated that Leviathan favored the domination of the usurping government that overthrew the king, and furthermore that Hobbes had written this work in order to make his return to England from exile (Zagorin). Over half of Clarendon’s book deals with politics and religion discussions found in Leviathan. Clarendon focuses on Hobbesian views of sedition, treason, and impiety. Even though Clarendon actually shared some of Hobbes’ views, it should be noted that Clarendon claimed Hobbes to be “so ignorant of the law and constitution of England that he was incompetent to judge political affairs.”
Clarendon (1609-1674) served as Lord Chancellor to King Charles II. He is best known as the author of the History of the Rebellion (1702), the most influential of all histories of the Civil War.
Provenance: Irish poet and playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), who owned the London Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. He was also a member of Parliament, where among other accomplishments he worked to prevent the American Revolutionary War.