8vo, pp. [iv], vii,  blank, 269,  colophon,  publisher’s advertisments; some early pencil marginalia and side-lining; occasional mild offsetting and spotting, but still a good copy, uncut in contemporary drab boards, neatly rebacked, corners worn.
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First published edition, originally printed in 1810, of Bentham’s criticism of English libel law, which he had always detested and which more than once stood in the way of the free publication of his opinions. When the work was written, the law’s injustice had recently been made obvious in a series of prosecutions for libelling the Duke of York. The Art of Packing contains many bitter animadversions on the Judges, and Romilly, who read the manuscript, warned Bentham that the attorney-general would be certain to prosecute both author and publisher under the very law the work condemns. Bentham accepted Romilly’s advice not to sell it openly, though he gave away copies to his friends.
The Advertisement to the present edition states: ‘In regard to the Author, all that need be said is – that it was not by him that it was … kept back; and that it is not by him, or at his instance, that it is now put forth. If, on either accounts, it were desirable that the causes of its being thus long withheld should be brought to view, those causes would afford a striking illustration of the baneful influence of the principles and practices it is employed in unveiling, and presenting in their true colours.’
Chuo E1-2 (lacking the advertisment leaf); Everett, p. 534; Goldsmiths’ 23350; see Muirhead, p. 18; not in Kress.
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