BENTHAMITE LAW REFORM, PRESENTED BY LADY HOLLAND
8vo (222 × 136 mm.), pp. xii, 125, , 8 (adverts). Uncut in the original drab boards with printed paper label stating “The only authentic edition.” Spine slightly frayed with some loss. Inscription to head of title “From Lady Holland to...” [recipient’s name later erased]. A very nice copy.
First edition of Brougham’s famous six-hour speech (the longest in the history of the Commons) which kick-started the long-overdue reform of the British legal system. In the course of the speech “he exposed flaws in virtually every area of law (omitting only chancery reform and the criminal law) and staked his claim to be parliament’s prime champion of law reform. Brougham’s speech struck the perfect note. He showed himself to be committed to a widescale reform of the legal system, while resisting Bentham’s iconoclasm. In preparing the speech he had in fact received much guidance (and many manuscripts) from Bentham, who still considered Brougham as the man best placed... to advance his projects for codification and the abolition of the common law” (Oxford DNB).
Though the recipient’s name has been erased, this copy has a presentation inscription by Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Lady Holland, the celebrated literary and political hostess. It provides an interesting sidelight on her political sympathies.