Lot 1427: James Burgh THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN NATURE 1754 First Edition Antique Theology
by National Book Auctions
October 22, 2016
Freeville, NY, USALive Auction
Title: The Dignity of Human Nature; or, A Brief Account of the Certain and Established Means for Attaining the True End of Our Existence
Author: James Burgh - James Burgh was a British Whig politician whose book Political Disquisitions set out an early case for free speech and universal suffrage: In it, he writes, "All lawful authority, legislative, and executive, originates from the people." He has been judged "one of England's foremost propagandists for radical reform".
Burgh also ran a dissenting academy and wrote on subjects such as educational reform. One of his first books was "Thoughts on Education" (1747). His widow acted as fairy godmother to early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, then a young and unpublished schoolmistress, who titled her first book "Thoughts on the Education of Daughters" (1787). The title alludes to Burgh's "Thoughts on Education" which in turn alludes to John Locke's 1693 work, "Some Thoughts Concerning Education."
In 1754, Burgh's "The Dignity of Human Nature" was published. This is Burgh's first major publication, and one that bears a striking resemblance to Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac." In 1761, Burgh wrote "The Art of Speaking," an educational book focusing on oratory. In 1766, he wrote the first volume of "Crito," a collection of essays on religious toleration, contemporary politics, and educational theories. The second volume followed a year later. This is his first work that included a strong emphasis on politics.
Burgh became involved in the early 1760s with a group called the Honest Whigs, a club that met on alternate Thursday evenings in a coffeehouse in London. Other members of the group involved Richard Price, Joseph Priestley, Benjamin Franklin, James Boswell and others. In 1774, Burgh wrote his most popular work, "Political Disquisitions." The three-volume work was intended by Burgh to be longer, but his deteriorating health caused him to stop after the third volume.
Publisher: Printed W. B. and sold by J. and P. Knapton
Printing Information: First Edition
Binding Style: Hardcover
Pagination: 430 pages
Width: 7.5" Height: 9.25"
Condition / Notes: This antique volume is a first edition, with a separated front board and separating rear board. The volume is in full leather with five raised bands and gilt lettering to the spine. The exterior displays significant rubbing, chipping, and minor loss at the head of the spine. An armorial bookplate is present to the front paste-down and the front flyleaf is loose. A previous owner's signature appears on the title page. The interior displays mild foxing, a few pencil notes, and a few moisture markings.
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