The Chimera: or, the French Way of Paying National Debts, Laid open.
Being an impartial account of the proceedings in France, for raising a paper credit and settling the Mississipi [sic] stock.London: for T. Warner, 1720 Stock Code: 122924
Rare first edition of this comparative examination of credit in England and France with a comprehensive discussion of John Law and the Mississippi scheme; the latter is discussed with a blend of admiration (in principle) and mistrust (in practice). Defoe's attitude towards credit can be gauged from his decision to sell his shares in the South Sea scheme in 1719, the year before this work was published.
"The tract exists in two variant settings, both with erroneous pagination though the text is continuous. In the second version, pagination runs 1-48 57-79" (Furbank, p. 191).
"First attributed to Defoe by Lee on p. 2, it contains the favourite saying of Defoe 'it had long since been receiv'd maxim in the case of war, that the longest purse, not the longest sword, would be sure to conquer at last' (cf. An Essay upon Projects (5), the Review for 8 October 1706 and 28 December 1710); and the favourite conceit, 'This coy mistress call'd credit' (p. 3) (cf. the Review, 10 January 1706: 'Money has a younger sister call'd credit this is a coy lass', and The Complete English Tradesman (224), I, p. 418, in which credit is called a 'coy mistress')" (Furbank, p. 191).
Octavo (193 x 122 mm), pp. , 32, 41-76. Early 20th-century tan calf by Riviere, gilt rule border to covers, gilt inner dentelles, neatly rebacked preserving the original gilt decorated spine, red morocco labels, navy blue coated endpapers, top edge gilt, other edges red. Housed in a brown cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Bookplate of Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration to pastedowns, with cancellation stamp. Some surface wear to spine, inner hinges cracked but firm, acquisition note in pencil (Quaritch, Catalog #405, Dec 1926) and bookseller's printed catalogue slip tipped onto front free endpaper; a very good copy.
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