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Observations on the means of exciting a spirit of National Industry; chiefly intended to promote the Agriculture, Commerce, Manufactures, and Fisheries, of Scotland.

In a series of letters to a friend.

Edinburgh: printed for T. Cadell, London, and C. Elliot, Edinburgh, 1777 Stock Code: 118071
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First edition, presentation copy, inscribed "For Sir William Forbes Bart. from the Author" on the title page verso, complete with both the half-title and addenda pages (pp. 527-34), the former of which is bound in after the errata as issued. Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo (1739-1806) was an eminent Scottish banker and benefactor, and a good friend of James Boswell and, through him, Samuel Johnson. Forbes amassed a large number of highly important works and miscellanies at his library at Pitsligo.

The Scottish agriculturalist and political economist James Anderson (1739-1808) wrote several influential works on rural economy as well as regular articles for his two magazines, The Bee (1790-4) and Recreations (1799-1803). He was "second to none as a development economist" (The New Palgrave I, p. 93). Observations includes one of the earliest criticisms in print of his contemporary Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The postscript to Letter XIII presents a prolonged argument, with sustained direct quotation, against Smith's light treatment of the importance of grain prices "to the well-being of almost every individual of the state" (p. 310): "since writing the above, I have seen the very ingenious treatise of Dr Adam Smith on the nature and causes of the wealth of nations; and am sorry to find, that I have the misfortune to differ in opinion from an author of such extensive knowledge" (p. 309). Smith never directly addressed these criticisms. In his closing statements on the topic, however, Anderson capitulated by stating that on all other matters Smith's reasoning is "just, clear, and convincing. To Wealth of Nations therefore I refer the curious reader for father sic satisfaction: - it deserves in particular the serious attention of every person who is concerned in the legislative council of the nation" (pp. 370-1).

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Quarto (260 x 205 mm). Contemporary speckled calf, brown morocco spine label, compartments ruled and decorated in gilt, gilt-tooled roll to boards, marbled endpapers.


Bookplate of Sir William Forbes to front pastedown.


Gentle rubbing to spine and extremities, a little wear to corners, front and rear leaves slightly browned from turn-ins, an excellent copy.


Goldsmiths' 11528; Kress B.6.


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