HOBBES, Thomas (1588-1679). Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill. London: printed for Andrew Crooke, 1651.
Chancery folio (279 x 184 mm). Collation: etched frontispiece, A4 (title, author's dedication to Francis Godolphin, table of contents, errata, introduction); B-E4 F4(3+ fold-out sheet Table of Subjects of Knowledge) G-Z4 Aa-Bb4 (Part 1 Of Man, Part 2 Of Common-Wealth); Cc-Tt4 (Part 3 Of a Christian Common-Wealth); Uu-Zz4 Aaa-Ccc4 (Part 4 Of the Kingdome of Darknesse); Ddd4 (A Review and Conclusion). Woodcut head-ornament vignette on title. (Some light staining, tiny rust-hole in 2T2 affecting 3 letters, final leaf slightly trimmed along fore-edge.) Contemporary English dark calf (rebacked preserving original spine, some wear); morocco folding case.
FIRST EDITION OF THE MOST IMPORTANT 17TH-CENTURY ENGLISH WORK OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY. Hobbes regarded the state "as a great artificial monster made up of individual men, with an existence which could be traced from its generation through human reason under pressure of human needs to its destruction through civil strife proceeding from human passions. The individual (except to save his own life) should always submit to the State, because any government is better than the anarchy of the natural state" (PMM).
Hobbes’ theory caused a scandal in England, where he was labeled “everything from atheist, heretic and libertine to the ‘monster of Malmesbury’ and ‘pander to bestiality.’ He was blamed…for the great London Fire of 1666 and…discovered a committee of bishops in the House of Lords willing to put him to the stake” (Norman). His influence, first on Spinoza and Bentham, has lasted into our own century. The frontispiece "may have contributed to the strong impact of the book" (Schmitt). Previously ascribed to be in the style of W. Hollar, it is now thought to be by Abraham Bosse (ca. 1602-1676), who executed it after lengthy discussions with Hobbes. ESTC R17253; Macdonald-Hargreaves 42; Pforzheimer 491; PMM 138; Wing H-2246; Norman 1082; see Carl Schmitt Der Leviathan in der Staatslehre des Thomas Hobbes, 1938, p. 26.