Oxford: Clarendon Printing House, 1759. Two parts in one. Folio. [iv], iii, [i], 133, , 523,  pp., including half-title and index. FIRST EDITION. Separate half-title for second part. Engraved frontispiece portrait signed by P. Lelij and R. White dated 1703, numerous engraved vignettes, historiated initials, head- and tailpieces. Contemporary calf, worn on the corners and edges, spine label; overall interior excellent. From the library of the Janus Foundation with its bookplate on the paste-down. Item #17801
First edition of Clarendon’s autobiography. The Earl began writing his autobiography during his exile at Montpellier after his impeachment in 1667. He completed the first part of the text in August 1670 and later intended to merge it with his account the history of the civil wars. He was able to give his son, Laurence Hyde, the earl of Rochester, many of the original drafts of both works. Laurence was largely responsible for printing the first editions of his father’s works. He was also careful to add defenses of Clarendon given the ever-changing political landscape of England. Importantly, Clarendon developed a secular royalist ideology that relied less on the concept of “divine right” of kings but rather the role of kings within laws and constitutions. In this way, Clarendon hoped to reconcile monarchial and parliamentarian rule. He did all this with minimal bias and in a distinctly stoic voice that has cemented his writings as invaluable historical resources.
Of particular interest is Clarendon’s description of his father’s death. Henry Hyde “almost certainly suffered from, and died of, angina pectoris. If this is really so, it is the first recorded case” (Garrison & Morton, 2884.
Clarendon (1609-1674), one of the first great English writers of history, held the offices of Lord High Chancellor of England and Chancellor of the University of Oxford. He was chief adviser to both Charles I during the English Civil War and thereafter to Charles II. After being falsely accused of treason he fled to France where he wrote his major works including his autobiography and History of the Grand Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1702).