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A View of Society in Europe, in its Progress from Rudeness to Refinement:
or, Inquiries concerning the History of Law, Government, and Manners, First Edition, xx, 433pp plus errata leaf, quarto, a fine copy in contemporary half russia, spine with raised bands with blind dice rules in compartments, gilt lettered, with the shelf mark "D.c.14. Lauderdale History" in ink on title-page, Edinburgh, Bell and Murray, 1778.FROM LAUDERDALE'S LIBRARY. A FINE COPY OF AN IMPORTANT TEXT OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT Goldsmith 11665; Kress B.159. An important text from Lauderdale's library. The dispersal of Lauderdale's extraordinary library commenced in a series of Sotheby auction sales in the late 1980's. The majority of the books were purchased for two Japanese university libraries in Tokyo.This work by Gilbert Stuart (1742-1786), noted by DNB as his "most important treatise", is one of a group of texts of the eighteenth century that have as their aim the elucidation of the contemporary state of society and its organisation through an analysis of history. Interestingly, these texts also often comment on each other, and taken together, provide the reader with a key to the British enlightenment and an insight into how the structure of western society evolved.The present work is centred on the early and medieval period and is concerned with law, customs, and government and the relationship between them: "it is in the records of history, in the scene of real life, not in the conceits and the abstractions of fancy and philosophy, that human nature is to be studied. But while it is in the historical manner that laws, customs and government are to be inquired into, it is obvious that their dependence and connection are close and intimate. they all tend to the same point, and to the illustration of one another. It is from the consideration of them all, and in their union, that we are to explain the complicated forms of civil society, and the wisdom and accident which mingle in human affairs."The author speaks of his work as a kind of moral archaeology; "my materials were buried in the midst of rubbish, were detached and unequal. I had to dig them up anxiously, and with patience; and, when discovered and collected, it was still more difficult to digest and fashion them.." Citing extensive but often obscure authorities, (with examples chosen from as wide a range as from the ancient Romans to the American Indians) Stuart here presents the origins of moral and societal bonds, tracing in them the beginnings of ideas that became effective archetypes of behaviour. Of particular interest is Stuart's pioneering examination of the role of women in society. Examples of chapters that specifically concern women are: An Idea of the German Women; Of Marriage and Modesty; Of the Property of the Women. The Dower, the Morgengabe and the Marriage-portion. The Communication to them of the Powers of Succession and Inheritance. The Advancement of Manners; The Institutions of Chivalry, the Pre-eminence of Women, Politeness, and the Point of Honour; Of Manners and Refinement, the Dissolute Conduct of the Women amidst the Decline and Oppressions of the Fiefs. The General Corruption which invades Society.Stuart's main thesis was that the sensitive and careful treatment of women in any particular society bears a direct relationship to the overall prosperity and wellbeing of that society.
      [Bookseller: Jeffrey Stern Antiquarian Bookseller]
Last Found On: 2013-01-01           Check availability:      UKBookworld    

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