An inquiry into the nature and progress of rent, and the principles by which it is regulated.
London: John Murray, 1815; [bound with, 2:] — Observations on the effects of the corn laws, and of a rise or fall in the price of corn on the agriculture and general wealth of the country. London: J. Johnson and Co., 1814; [and, 3:] — The grounds of an opinion on the policy of restricting the importation of foreign corn; intended as an appendix to "Observations on the corn laws." London: John Murray and J. Johnson and Co., 1815; [and, 4:] [ANON] Considerations upon the corn bill; suggested by a recent declaration from high authority ... Bath: Richard Cruttwell; London, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, and J. Ridgway, 1815; [and, 5:] ROSE, George. The speech of the right Hon. George Rose, in the House of Commons, on the 5th of May 1814, on the subject of the corn laws.
First editions of five contemporary pamphlets, including three Malthus first editions. The marginal concept of rent, an essential factor in the development of political economy, and one lacking from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, had first appeared as early as 1777 in James Anderson’s Enquiry into the Nature of the Corn-laws. But it was not until the intense public debate over the Corn Laws at the end of the Napoleonic Wars that this advanced theory of rent was rediscovered and widely credited with its true significance. The Corn-Law debate intensified in 1814 with the publication of major Parliamentary committee reports. It reached its height during the parliamentary debates on legislation between 17 February and 10 March 1815 (when the new Corn Law was passed). It was in response to these parliamentary reports, and in anticipation of the legislative debate, that Malthus, amongst many others (including Ricardo, Sir Edward West, and Robert Torrens), prepared his works. The Commons report, delivered on 26 July 1814, was politically decisive, advancing definite conclusions about its main objects of inquiry: the increases in the extent, intensity and cost of domestic cultivation effected by wartime agricultural development, and the increase in the price of grain that would be necessary to remunerate the grower. The report found that on average the cost of agricultural production, including rent, had doubled over the last twenty years, alongside new, very high levels of capital investment in agriculture. Boldly it asserted a specific price as the minimum remuneration: the notorious 80 shillings per quarter. This laid the ground for the Corn Law of 1815, and provided a direct spur to the theorists of rent. Elements of a mature theory of rent are evident in Malthus’s 1814 Observations on the Effects of the Corn Laws, but it was not until February 1815 that the really crucial works appeared. Piero Sraffa has established the following chronology of publication (with reference to publishers’ newspaper advertisements): Malthus’s Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent was issued on 3 February 1815, and his Grounds of an Opinion was issued on the 10th. “All the pamphlets in question have in common the principle of rent based on diminishing returns from the extension of cultivation to inferior qualities of land; and also from the employment of successive portions of capital on the same land” (Sraffa, Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, IV, p. 6). “The rent of land”, writes Malthus, “may be defined to be that portion of the value of the whole produce which remains to the owner of the land, after all the outgoings belonging to its cultivation, of whatever kind, have been paid, including the profits of the capital employed, estimated according to the usual and ordinary rate of the profits of agricultural stock at the time being” (Inquiry, pp. -2).
5 works bound together in one volume, octavo (208 x 127 mm). Contemporary sprinkled half calf, patterned paper sides, smooth spine with double gilt rules, dark green morocco label, marbled edges. Housed in a black cloth flat-back solander box. Malthus , first two leaves trimmed 3mm shorter at foot; Malthus  bound without the terminal advertisement leaves. Contemporary ink autograph contents to the front free endpaper, and contemporary ownership inscriptions to the titles of four of the pamphlets, excluding the Observations, occasional pencil annotations. Extremities lightly rubbed; hinges cracked but holding firm, some light spotting throughout, more pronounced on the titles, otherwise very good copies.
Bibliography: Malthus , variant issue with Murray only in the imprint: Black 2877; Einaudi 3673; Goldsmiths' 21130 (cf. 21131); Hollander 2323; Kress B.6536 (cf. B.6537); McCulloch, p. 32; Mattioli 2215. Malthus : Black 2822; Einaudi 3677; Goldsmiths' 20940; Kress B.6351; Mattioli 2218. Malthus  Black 2876; Einaudi 3672; Goldsmiths' 21177; Kress B.6535; McCulloch, p. 76; Mattioli 2214. Anon: Black 2856; Goldsmiths' 21160; Kress B.6454. Rose: Goldsmiths' 20948; Kress B.6381.Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary