Discours sur la liberté de penser, par Mr. A. Collins. Traduit de l’Anglois & augmenté d’une Lettre d’un Médecin Arabe; avec l’Examen de ces deux Ouvrages par Mr. de Crouzas. Nouvelle Edition, corrigée. Tome Premier [-Second]. Londres, 1766.
Second Edition; First Collected. Two volumes in one, 8vo, (155 x 90 mm), pp. xii, 256,157-168 (ie 268); viii, 211, B4 and B5 partly loose at the gutter, in contemporary calf, triple gilt filet on the covers, brown morocco labels on the spine lettered and numbered in gilt, flat spine gilt in herringbone pattern, marbled endpapers, red edges, from the library of Claude Lebédel.
The second edition in French of A discourse of free-thinking, occasion’d by the rise and growth of a sect call’d Free-Thinkers, London 1713, by Anthony Collins, philosopher and thinker, friend and pupil of John Locke and one of the most influential deists of his time. This translation, by Rousset de Missy and Scheurleer, was first published in 1714 and includes the Lettre d’un médecin arabe à un fameux Professseur de l’Université de Hall en Saxe, sur les reproches à fait à Mahomet... traduit à l’arabe, 1713, appended to the 1714 edition printed in the Hague. Also included in this edition is the critical reaction to Collins’ work by Jean-Pierre de Crousaz, Examen du Traité de la liberté de penser, which was first published in Amsterdam in 1718.
At the core of Collins’ argument is his defence of free-thinking as a natural right and a religious duty, for which he used as evidence the many disagreements between the clergy. It was largely this that laid him open to accusations of atheism and using freethinking as a platform for a dangerous self-serving and libertine agenda. The work was publicly burnt in England and provoked dozens of replies including those from Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Hoadly, George Berkeley and Richard Bentley. Collins was forced to leave England for the Netherlands until the controversy died down.
See Cioranescu 57557 & 21911; Quérard II, 253.