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An Essay on the Principle of Population;
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  • 96622

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MALTHUS, Thomas Robert.

An Essay on the Principle of Population;

or, a View of its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness; with an Inquiry into our Prospects Respecting the Future Removal or Mitigation of the Evils which it Occasions. A New Edition, very much Enlarged.

Published: London: J. Johnson, 1803

Stock code: 96622

Price: £4,500

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

Second edition, first published in 1798. “In 1803 Malthus published a greatly expanded second edition of the Essay, incorporating details of the population checks that had been in operation in many different countries and periods. Although nominally a second edition, it was regarded by Malthus as a substantially new work. He did not claim originality for the idea that population tends to outrun the food supply. In the preface to the second edition he stated that in writing the first edition he had deduced the principle of population from the writings of David Hume, Robert Wallace, Adam Smith, and Richard Price, but that in the intervening period he had become aware that much more had been published on the subject. He nevertheless believed that even more remained to be done, especially in describing the means by which populations are checked and in drawing out the practical implications of the principle of population. In the second edition, he made clear what was only implicit in the first, that prudential restraint should, if humanly possible, be ‘moral restraint’—that is, delayed marriage accompanied by strictly moral pre-marital behaviour, although he admitted that moral restraint would not be easy and that there would be occasional failures. Whereas in the first edition he had said that all the checks to population would involve either misery or vice, in the second edition he attempted to lighten this ‘melancholy hue’ (Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st edn, 1798, iv) and ‘to soften some of the harshest conclusions of the first essay’ (2nd edn, 1803, vii) by arguing that moral restraint, if supported by an education emphasizing the immorality of bringing children into the world without the means of supporting them, would tend to increase rather than diminish individual happiness” (ODNB).

Quarto (275 211 mm). Contemporary marbled calf, gilt broad roll-tool border on sides, rebacked to style retaining the original dark green label, marbled edges, drab endpapers. Occasional light spotting, paper flaws in blank margins at 3O3 and 3Z3. An excellent tall copy. Bookplate on front pastedown of Harriot Beauclark, Duchess of St Albans (1777?–1837), actress and banker, wife of the banker Thomas Coutts.

Bibliography: Einaudi 3668; Goldsmiths' 18640; Kress B.4701.

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