London: G.G. and J. Robinson, 1798. Third Edition (Corrected). Two volumes; octavos (21.5cm.); contemporary straight-grained morocco, rebacked at a later date (ca. 19th century) in tan calf, black gilt spine labels, all edges marbled, marbled endpapers; lvi,436;ix,,554pp. Boards a bit rubbed along extremities, some clean peeling to upper cover leather of Vol. I, spine leather slightly cracked but not dried, interior has extensive interesting and educated 20th-century pencil annotations throughout else interior near fine, albeit lacking half titles. Very Good or better overall. Contemporary institutional manuscript ownership signature of a "Literary Library" to both pastedowns, ownership signature of American lawyer James Mansford Kerr to title pages.
Final version of Godwin's radical philosophical treatise on political freedom and free will, first published in 1793 in response to Thomas Paine's Rights of Man and the ongoing events of the French Revolution. The work was an immediate success, appearing in numerous periodicals and pirated editions, making Godwin "one of the most dangerous enemies of established society" (Peter H. Marshall, William Godwin (1984), p. 121). ESTC N6482; PMM 243.