BENTHAM, Jeremy.

Defence of Usury.

Shewing the Impolicy of the Present Legal Restraints on the terms of Pecuniary Bargains. In a series of letters to a friend. To which is added, a letter to Adam Smith, Esq; LL, D. On the Discouragements opposed by the above Restraints to the Progress of Inventive Industry.

Dublin: Printed for Messrs D. Williams, Colles, White, Byrne, Lewis, Jones, and Moore, 1788 Stock Code: 93476
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"A gem of the finest water" in contemporary calf

First Irish edition, originally published in London in 1787, published in Dublin in the year when a debate on the reduction of the rate of interest (from 6 to 5 percent) was being held in the Irish parliament. The Defence of Usury was written during Bentham's stay in Russia, and takes the form of letters to a friend from "Crichoff, in White Russia". The work expounds the characteristic Benthamite economic principle that no adult of sound mind acting freely and aware of the circumstances, should be hindered from making any bargain that he sees fit to make; it is thus "an attempt to out-Smith Smith" in hostility to state intervention in economic life (Ross Harrison in The New Palgrave I, 228). "The Monthly Review, spoke of the book as 'a gem of the finest water' while Adam Smith pronounced it to be the work of a superior man, adding that he thought the author was in the right. 'He has given me some hard knocks', Dr. Smith is reported to have said; 'but in so handsome a manner that I cannot complain'" (Atkinson, Jeremy Bentham, p. 82).

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Octavo (162 x 100 mm). Contemporary calf, rebacked to style, brown morocco label.


Ownership inscription of the economic historian R. H. Tawney. Bookplate of Earl of Portarlington to front pastedown. Boards with some surface abrasion, scuffed and worn; internally fine.


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