An Essay on the Origin of Evil.

KING William.; LAW Edmund translator (1731)

£1250.00  [First Edition]

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First Edition in English. 4to (240 x 190mm). lvi, 330, [2, errata] pp., without the second part ’Additions made to the first edition’ [see below].  Water staining in the lower margin at the beginning and end, insect damage to the fore and lower margins of a number of leaves (for the most part not touching the text or the side notes), a few marks and spots in places. Contemporary calf, panelled in blind, red morocco label lettered in gilt, plain endpapers, red sprinkled edges (corners a little bumped and covers slightly scuffed).


London: for W. Thurlbourn Bookseller in Cambridge; and sold by R. Naplock, J. and J. Knapton, and W. Innis, 1731

First published in Dublin in 1702 as De origine mali. Translated by Edmund Law (1703-1787) with voluminous notes. The second part is lacking in many copies recorded on ESTC and has certainly never been bound here. 


William King's "most important philosophical work", dealing with the nature of good and evil. The first English translation - the edition read and commented upon by Leibniz - with annotations by the 21 year old Oxford student, Edward Cooper  with evidence of his supplementary reading on the subject. 


Edmund Law's Enlgish translation of King's work includes volumious notes intended to "explain and vindicate some of the Author's Principles Against the Objections of Bayle, Leibnitz, the Autor of A Philosophical Enquiry Concerning Human Liberty [Anthony Collins]; and others".


Leibniz referred in his Appendix to Theodicy to "Remarks on the Book On the Origins of Evil, Published a Short Time Ago in England" by noting that Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), who had been a critic of King's work, should have read the actual book rather than the newspaper reviews in order to get a better understand of King's views (see Sean Greenberg, "Leibniz on King: Freedom and the Project of the "Theodicy", Studia Leibnitiana  (2008) p.205-222). 


Provenance: Edward Cooper (b.1765-?), ownership inscription on front flyleaf: "E libris Edwarde Cooper / E Coll Wigorn [Worcester] Oxon / De Jan^ii^ 18th / A D 1786". According to Alumni Oxonienses, Cooper was the son of the cleric Edward Cooper of Droitwich, Worcestershire and matriculated  12th November 1783, aged 18, and proceeded B.A in 1787 and M.A. 1792. There are six - often very lengthy - annotations by Cooper in the text. Cooper appears to have used this copy as part of his studies and link various passages with works by Locke and Hutchinson.


Later Provenance: John Stephens (1948-2006), book label on the front pastedown. 

Stock Code: 239735

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