The Works of Sir William Temple

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by William Temple

The Works of Sir William Temple

Title page from The Works of Sir William Temple, volume one, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author William Temple
Editor Jonathan Swift
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published London: Printed for A. Churchill, T. Goodwin, J. Knapton, R. Smith, B. Tooke
Date 1720
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language English
Volumes 2 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. Folio (33 cm.)
Location Shelf B-5
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

Sir William Temple, 1st Baronet (1628 – 1699) was an English statesman and diplomat. He attended Cambridge University but did not graduate, choosing instead to travel throughout Continental Europe from 1648-1654.[1] Following his marriage to Dorothy Osborne, Temple became a diplomat and was awarded a baronetcy in 1666.[2] In 1668, he became Ambassador to the Netherlands, where he helped negotiate the Triple Alliance between England, the Netherlands, and Sweden. He would later help negotiate the end to the Dutch War, and the marriage of Princess Mary and William of Orange.[3] Temple wrote extensively. His most famous work is Observations upon the United Provinces, a history of the Netherlands,[4] and he also wrote many shorter essays on a wide range of subjects, including trade in Ireland, "popular discontents," "health and long life" and "ancient and modern learning."[5]

Inscription, title page, volume two.

"In both his political and literary careers, he showed himself a keen and perceptive student of human nature, and this, perhaps, shaped both his strengths and his weaknesses: as a statesman he was a capable and reliable subordinate for the likes of Arlington and Danby, rather than an independent power broker; as a writer he was readable, intelligent, and stylish, rather than deeply profound."[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Temple's works. 2.v. fol. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph. Brown's Bibliography[7] lists the 1750 edition based on the copy Jefferson sold to the Library of Congress.[8] George Wythe's Library[9] on LibraryThing indicates "Precise edition unknown. Two-volume editions were published at London in 1720, 1731, 1740, 1745, and 1750." Because we don't know the exact edition Wythe owned, the Wolf Law Library chose to purchase a copy of the first two-volume edition (1720).

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary leather with design pressed on front boards. Modern leather spine with title and column number gilt embossed. Signed "D. Anderson, St Germains" on the title page of volume one and "David Anderson, St Germains" on the title page of volume two. Purchased from Sequitur Books.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

Headpiece, first page of text, volume one.

See also


  1. J. D. Davies, "Temple, Sir William, baronet (1628–1699)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed October 9, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. "Sir William Temple, Baronet," accessed October 8, 2013.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Sir William Temple, The Works of Sir William Temple, Bart. (London: Printed for A. Churchill, T. Goodwin, J. Knapton, R. Smith, B. Tooke, 1720), preface.
  6. Davies, "Temple, Sir William."
  7. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  8. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 1:155 [no.366].
  9. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on October 9, 2013.