Stamford, Connecticut: The Overbrook Press, circa 1963. Folio broadside (measuring 16 by 11 inches tall), single deckle-edged leaf with watermark, printed in two colors on recto only, with single dotted rule border and captions. Custom tab-mounted on a black mat (measuring 24 by 19 inches). About-fine. A handsome piece of ephemera. Item #598
"A PEOPLE MAY PREFER A FREE GOVERNMENT"
Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Stamford, Connecticut: The Overbrook Press, circa 1963. Folio broadside (measuring 16 by 11 inches tall), single deckle-edged leaf with watermark, printed in two colors on recto only, with single dotted rule border and captions. Custom tab-mounted on a black mat (measuring 24 by 19 inches). About-Fine. A handsome piece of ephemera.
Solemn broadside tribute to John Stuart Mill, printing a central passage from his Essay on Representative Government. Tab-mounted on a black board and suitable for framing.
Mill's On Liberty and Representative Government, which appeared in succession in 1859 and 1860, are now widely regarded as "the finest expressions of nineteenth-century liberalism" (Baugh 1323). The passage—arranged within a simple frame accompanied by a blood-red title and printer's fleuron—declares: "Thus, a people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it."
This testament to Mill's enduring legacy was printed by Connecticut's Overbrook Press on fine Rives paper with a watermark in the lower right corner. Overbrook first printed this broadside (in an edition of 800 copies on Praga paper) in the early days of the Second World War (1940). An additional printing of 1750 copies (750 on Swedish handmade paper, 1000 on W & A Brooke paper) appeared after the war in 1948. This printing is undated but, given the border and caption, may have been among those printed for insertion in the scarce Overbook Press bibliography (1963). "Many of Mill's ideas are now the common-places of democracy. His arguments for freedom of every kind of thought or speech have never been improved upon. He was the first to recognize the tendency of a democratically elected majority to tyrannize over a minority" (PMM). See US Poster Collection at Hoover Institution Library & Archives (US 4741, circa 1917-18). CAHOON, p.27. MacMinn, Hainds & McCrimmon, p. 92; Printing and the Mind of Man 345.