Geneva: Chez Barrillot & Fills, 1748. First edition. With the double "r" spelling of the printer on both title-page, as described by Tchemerzine. Two quarto volumes (253 x 191 mm.). Full contemporary speckled calf, rebacked with original spine. Each volume with two original green morocco spine labels, lettered in gilt. Spine stamped in gilt. All edges speckled red. Hinges cracking, but holding firm. Some rubbing to boards. Previous owner's book plate on front paste down of each volume. Collating [2, blank], , xxiv, 522; [2, blank], , xvi, 564, [2, blank]. Woodcut device on title, decorative woodcut tail-pieces. Both volumes with half-titles, but without the errata. Some occasional tiny black ink spots in text. A few pages of light toning, but generally very clean. A very good set.
"De l'Esprit des Loix...took four years to write, and when it was finished almost all his friends advised him not to publish it. Montesquieu paid no attention and it was printed in Geneva in the autumn of 1748. It consists of six main sections, the first dealing with law in general and different forms of government, and the second with the means of government, military matters, taxation and so on. The third deals with national character and the effect on it of climate; a subject of peculiar originality and the one most discussed at the time. The fourth and fifth deal with economic matters and religion; the last is an appendix on law Roman, feudal and modern French. The most distinctive aspect of this immense syllabus is its moderation: a quality not designed to achieve official approval in 1748. It is an always original survey which is neither doctrinaire, visionary, eccentric, nor over-systematic. The scheme that emerges of a liberal benevolent monarchy limited by safeguards on individual liberty was to prove immensely influential. His theories underlay the thinking which led up to the American and French revolutions, and the United States Constitution in particular is a lasting tribute to the principles he advocated" (PMM).
En Français dans le texte 138. Kress 4920. PMM 197. Tchemerzine VIII, p. 460. (Item #2590)