Vie de Monsieur Turgot.London, [no publisher stated], 1786 Stock Code: 127444
NotesThe true first edition of Condorcet's life of Turgot, Gertis's edition A, the first of four editions published with a London imprint in 1786. Condorcet was a strong supporter of Turgot, who had attempted to implement physiocratic ideas as the French finance minister from 1774 to 1776. His biography seeks to vindicate Turgot's thought and work, and is a powerful defence of Enlightenment economic ideas. Seven editions appeared within two years, making it one of the best-selling works of economics of its day.
This work, together with Dupont de Nemours's biography, is the chief contemporary account of the renowned financial reformer and friend of the physiocrats. It contains in a footnote Condorcet's early attempt to apply mathematics to economics. On pp. 178-184 he discusses the various mathematical ways "in which indirect taxation could be replaced by direct taxation and the effects of such a change" (Theocharis, Early developments in mathematical economics, p. 65).
Condorcet (1743-1794) was secretary to the Académie and was a prolific author. Although more celebrated for his studies in philosophy, literature and politics, "his mathematical treatment of probabilities, and his discussion of differential equations and finite differences, show an ability which might have put him in the first rank had he concentrated his attention on mathematics" (W.W. Rouse Ball, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics, p. 388).
The present copy has an appealing provenance with at least two distinguished owners: firstly, with the bookplate to front and rear pastedowns, and the ownership signature to title page, of Thomas Walpole (1727-1803), son of Horace Walpole, an MP and a Parisian banker; secondly, with the bookplate to the front pastedown of Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), a founding member of the Bloomsbury Group and author of Eminent Victorians. A modern bookplate is also present.
Octavo (195 x 124 mm). Contemporary calf, rebacked with fragments of original spine laid down, marbled endpapers.
Restoration to tips, a little burnished around edges, some light rubbing to extremities, light toning to fore edge of title page. A very good copy.
Goldsmiths' 13128; ESTC T177159; Anton Gertis, Condorcet's Vie de Monsieur Turgot, Harvard University Bulletin.
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