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DAVENANT, Charles.

Discourses on the Publick Revenues, and on the Trade of England. In two Parts.

Viz. I. Of the Use of Political Arithmetick, in all Consideration about the Revenues and Trade. II. On Credit and the Means and Methods by which it may be restored. III. On the Management of the King's Revenues. IV. Whither to Farm the Revenues, may not, in this Juncture, be most for the Publick Service? V. On the Publick Debts and Engagements... Part I. To which is added, a Discourse upon improving the Revenue of the State of Athens. Written originally in Greek, by Xenophon; and now made English from the Original, with some historical Notes; by another Hand [Walter Moyle]. [- Part II. Discourses … which more immediately treat of the Foreign Traffick of this Kingdom … To which is added, the late Essay on the East-India Trade. By the same Hand].

London: James Knapton, 1697-8 Stock Code: 114857
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"Trade is by its nature free, finds its own channel, and best directeth its own course"

First edition of this important early work on economics. Sir Charles Davenant (1656-1714), MP and, at the end of his life, Inspector-General of Exports and Imports, took many years to become recognized as an economist of the first rank, a fact explained by the sophistication of his thought. Part I of the present Discourses contains five essays, on "Political Arithmetic" (described by Schumpeter as treating its subject with "unsurpassable fairness"), credit, and other matters of public finance. Part II contains essays on trade. The Essay on the East-India Trade was first published in 1696.

Schumpeter classifies the "impressive total" of Davenant's contributions to economic analysis under four heads: "(1) there is, implicit but clear, behind all his writings the awareness of the logic of the relations by which things economic hang together; (2) he substantially improved his epoch's acquirements in the theories of money and of international trade and finance; (3) he was one of the first authorities of his time on public finance - taxes, debts, and so on; (4) he was one of the few who understood, and co-operated in, the work of Political Arithmetick" (History of Economic Analysis, p. 211).

"Davenant's position in the history of economics rests on a variety of contributions. Initially, his work was largely depicted as typically that of an 'adherent of the mercantile theory'... but 'Tory free trader'... better describes his pronouncements on foreign trade policy as he particularly advocated the removal of trade restrictions, such as those affecting woollen exports, which benefited the landed interest by raising land values... His free trade position is not unambiguous. Although Davenant's remark that 'Trade is by its nature free, finds its own channel, and best directeth its own course'... is often quoted, the contradictory view that 'it is the prudence of a state to see that its industry, and stock, be not diverted from things profitable to the whole, and turned upon objects unprofitable, and perhaps dangerous to the public'... is less frequently noticed." (Peter Groenewegen in The New Palgrave).

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2 volumes, octavo (183 x 105 mm). Contemporary speckled calf rebacked to style, brown morocco labels, raised bands, covers with a blindstamp rule border with floral spray cornerpieces, all edges speckled red.


With 4 folding tables.


Pastedowns with armorial bookplate of Lord Sinclair and early manuscript shelf labels; 19th-century Basel University Library stamp to front free endpaper of Volume 1, half-title and titles; partially erased inscription to title in Volume 1. Boards rubbed, small insect damage to fore edge of front board of Volume 1, small hole to margins of title in Volume 1 and sig. Ccc2 in Volume 2. A very good copy.


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