Epea Pteroenta, or The Diversions of Purley

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by John Horne Tooke

The Diversions of Purley
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author John Horne Tooke
Published London: Printed for J. Johnson
Date 1786
Volumes volume set

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Tooke's Diversions of Purley 8vo." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. Both George Wythe's Library[1] on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography[2] list the first edition, a 1786 octavo published in London. It may be that no other octavo editions were published in Wythe's lifetime.

The Wolf Law Library has been unable to find and purchase a copy of the 1786 edition of Epea Pteroenta.

Citations from Wythe's Reports

Devisme v. Martin

Wythe does not specifically quote Epea Pteroenta, but in Devisme v. Martin, Wythe 298 (1794),[3] he alludes to a passage from the dialogue "Of the Noun": "Reason is an arrant despot; who, in his own dominions, admits of no authority but his own."[4] Wythe makes the allusion as a defense for his presumption in disagreeing with a decision from the English Court of Common Pleas:

The writer of these notes, differing in this point with three capital english judges, is aware, that he will be regarded with a fastidious eye by men, whose veneration for the westmonasterian oracles is equal to the veneration of the antients for the dodonaean and delphic oracles; but, when he has reason, the only despot,* to which he professeth unconditional submission, on his side, he will venture to differ with any man. *John Horne Tooke[5]

See also


  1. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on August 22, 2023.
  2. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433.
  3. George Wythe, Decisions of Cases in Virginia by the High Court of Chancery with Remarks upon Decrees by the Court of Appeals, Reversing Some of Those Decisions, 2nd ed., ed. B.B. Minor (Richmond: J.W. Randolph, 1852): 298.
  4. John Horne Tooke, Epea Pteroenta, or, The Diversions of Purley (London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1786), 75.
  5. Wythe 300.