INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR’S SON

The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, begun in the Year 1641.  With the precedent Passages, and Actions, that contributed thereunto, and the happy End, and Conclusion thereof by the King’s blessed Restoration …

Oxford, Printed at the Theater, 1702[–4]. 

Three vols, folio, pp. I: [4], xxiii, [1], 557, [1]; II: [16], 581, [1]; III: [22], 603, [1], [22 (Index)]; with a half-title and an engraved frontispiece portrait (by White after Peter Lely) in each volume, an engraved vignette to each title-page, and engraved head- and tail-pieces and initials; some occasional spots and stains, the portraits in volumes II and III slightly toned, but a fine copy, in contemporary panelled, speckled calf (not quite uniform but from the same bindery), neatly rebacked, speckled edges; presentation inscription to front free endpaper of vol. II ‘Given by the Right Honourable the Earle of Clarendon: 20th Oct. 1703’, manuscript shelfmarks R–b / 17 to 19.

£3250

Approximately:
US $4220€3864

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The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, begun in the Year 1641.  With the precedent Passages, and Actions, that contributed thereunto, and the happy End, and Conclusion thereof by the King’s blessed Restoration …

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First edition of Clarendon’s monumental History of the Civil War, with a presentation inscription by his son Henry Hyde, the second Earl (1638–1709). 

The History was ‘the most sophisticated and finely balanced history yet written in English (or written for a long time afterwards) …  a distinctive work of art based on a highly wrought style, a forensic dissection of character and issue, and a sense of the depth of individuals’ moral responsibility for their actions’ (ODNB), and it remains an invaluable source for the period.  ‘Hyde nursed considerable literary ambitions for his History and in correspondence with friends discussed what models—both Roman and more recent—it might follow … The accounts of misgovernment in the 1630s and of the debates in the Long Parliament and the inclusion of the royalist declarations of 1642 make at least the first few books of the History into an argument for and vindication of the carefully balanced form of royalism set out in the declarations.’  Clarendon had begun the work in exile in the Scilly Islands and on Jersey in 1646–8, but dropped it when he was called to Paris in 1648.  In the late 1660s he wrote a second more autobiographical text, known as the Life of Clarendon, and in 1671–2 with the assistance of his son Laurence Hyde, first Earl of Rochester, he set about merging the History with the Life, adding new material.  The resulting work was not published until the accession of Queen Anne (Clarendon’s grand-daughter) in 1702.  ‘Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, contributed a carefully nuanced defence of his father to the first volume; by the time the second and third volumes were published in 1704, Rochester’s dismissal from government made him give a more partisan, Tory edge to their dedications to the Queen’ (ibid.)

Henry Hyde had been a copyist and secretary to his father during the interregnum and after, and defended his father at the time of his impeachment in 1667.  A Jacobite and non-juror, he spent a couple of short periods in the Tower after William III took the throne.  Although the publication of his father’s History was mostly the work of his younger brother Laurence, he took an interest and was proud of the result – he is known to have presented his friend John Evelyn with a set in December 1704.  We have been unable to identify the recipient of this copy, which was evidently presented volume by volume as it was published. 

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