BOTERO, Giovanni.

Della Ragion di Stato, Libri Dieci.

All'illustris. e reverendis. sig. il sig. Volfango Teodorico, Arcivescovo e Prencipe di Salczburg.&c.

Venice: Appresso I Gioliti, 1589 Stock Code: 126573
Reserve Ask us a question

First edition of a neglected masterpiece in the history of economics. Schumpeter writes: "Divested of nonessentials, the 'Malthusian' Principle of Population sprang fully developed from the brain of Botero in 1589: populations tend to increase, beyond any assignable limit, to the full extent made possible by human fecundity (the virtus generativa of the Latin translation); the means of subsistence, on the contrary, and the possibilities of increasing them (the virtus nutritiva) are definitely limited and therefore impose a limit on that increase, the only one there is; this limit asserts itself through want, which will induce people to refrain from marrying (Malthus's negative check, prudential check, 'moral restraint') unless numbers are periodically reduced by wars, pestilence, and so on (Malthus's positive check). This path-breaking performance - the only performance in the whole history of the theory of population to deserve any credit at all - came much before the time in which its message could have spread: it was practically lost in the populationist wave of the seventeenth century. But about two hundred years after Botero 1540-1617, Malthus really did no more than repeat it, except that he adopted particular mathematical laws for the operation of the virtus generativa and the virtus nutritiva: population was to increase 'in geometric ratio or progression'" (pp. 254-5).

Confused? Read our glossary


Quarto (208 x 144 mm). 18th-century vellum over paste paper boards, spine lettered gilt, blue green edges.


Woodcut initials, headpieces and tailpeices.


Engraved bookplate of Franz Pollack Parnau to front pastedown, with his armorial stamp to title verso. Occasional contemporary marginal markings and "finis" added to the end of most books in ink. Occasional light spotting, more severe in places; a very good copy.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.


Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book