Letters, On the Spirit of Patriotism (1749)
Letters, On the Spirit of Patriotism: On the Idea of a Patriot King (1749)
by Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke
Full Title: Letters, On the Spirit of Patriotism: On the Idea of a Patriot King: and On the State of Parties, At the Accession of King George the First.
7 ¾ x 5. In English. Printed for A. Millar, London, 1749. FIRST EDITION. xi, , 251 pp. One Vol. 8vo. Verified complete via WorldCat. ORIGINAL, full calf boards, front and rear, reattached in 2019, keeping with period style. Spine worn, with five raised bands. Head and tail missing as is a label. Extremities otherwise in Good+ condition with repaired board corners. Beautifully marbled pastedowns and endpapers. Former owner's bookplate to front endpaper. The text block is in relatively EXCEPTIONAL condition. Leaves show some age toning as well as some trivial foxing. Otherwise, clean, free from rips, tears, writing and ownership markings. Overall, very collectible copy of the first printing of ** one of the most famous political works of the 18th century. ** Original binding presents nicely without serious condition issues and virtually new internally.
This book contains the treatise “The Patriot King,” a short essay written by the prominent Tory politician and orator Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke in 1738. The essay was formulated for Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King George II, while he lived at Leicester House in London. The Prince of Wales had a troubled relationship with his father and had established a rival court at the residence, which consisted of members of the political elite who had fallen out of favor with the king and his prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole.
Bolingbroke's treatise describes an ideal type of kingship, whereby the king would do away with party-politics, would place himself above politicking and squabbles, and only select those who were the best-suited for the job to govern. The king would, therefore, rule the nation as its father, serving in the best interests of his people. It was an idealistic philosophy tempered by Bolingbroke's own turbulent history with successive sovereigns and governments: he had served under Queen Anne, but was forced into exile at the accession of George I following his support for the Jacobite claimant, James Francis Stuart, the Old Pretender.
Although Bolingbroke was unhappy with its publication, the essay came to influence the early philosophy of the young George III, under the guidance of his tutor, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, in the early years of his reign. The French philosopher Voltaire also adopted some of the themes into his own works, which, in turn, inspired the Founding Fathers of the United States in their attempts to form a representative government after the American War of Independence.
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