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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. In Two Volumes. The Third Edition.

London: for J. Johnson by T. Bensley, 1806 Stock Code: 142661
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In exceptional condition

Third edition, in an extraordinarily fresh contemporary binding, the first edition to be published in two octavo volumes, the format which was to remain the standard in Malthus's lifetime.

This third edition has important alterations and additions, particularly the appendix, in which Malthus replied to some of his many critics; it follows the first edition of 1798 in a single octavo volume, and the revised second edition in quarto in 1803.

Malthus's treatise on population is one of the most important and influential works in the history of economic thought, and the foundation text of modern demography. "For today's readers, living in a post-Malthus era, the world's population problems are well known and serious, but no longer sensational. It is difficult therefore to appreciate the radical and controversial impact made by the Essay at the time of publication. It challenged the conventional notion that population growth is an unmixed blessing. It discussed prostitution, contraception, and other sexual matters. And it gave vivid descriptions of the horrendous consequences of overpopulation and of the brutal means by which populations are checked" (ODNB). Despite its unpopularity with liberal critics, Malthus's principle of population became accepted as a central tenet of classical political economy and Charles Darwin acknowledged Malthus's influence in the development of his theory of natural selection.

Provenance: the library of the Conservative politician Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart (1826-1903), with his engraved armorial bookplates to the front pastedowns of both volumes, imposed over the earlier engraved armorial bookplates of Sir John Shaw-Stewart, Fourth Baronet of Greenock (1740-1812).

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2 volumes, octavo (211 x 128 mm). Contemporary tree calf, red morocco title and volume labels, speckled edges.


Other than the most trivial spots of rubbing to binding and very faint foxing to contents, a genuinely fine copy.


Einaudi 3689; Goldsmiths' 19210; Kress B5067.


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