An Essay on the Principle of Population; or, a view of its past and present effects on human happiness;

MALTHUS Thomas Robert (1807.)


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with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions.

Fourth edition. Two volumes. 8vo. xvi, 580; vii, [1], 484, [60, index] pp., lacking the half titles. Contemporary calf, spines lettered and ruled in gilt, boards panelled in gilt, with floral roll in blind marbled edges, marbled endpapers (both volumes rebacked to style, boards scuffed, extremities worn). London, for J. Johnson.

A canonical text of classical economics and a reference point for all serious discussion of population to this day, being in effect a reprint of the important third edition of 1806, with the addition of an Appendix at the end of the second volume intended as a response to "serious objections that were made to my principles or conclusions". 

First published anonymously in 1798, Malthus' "Essay was originally the product of a discussion with his father on the perfectibility of society. Malthus senior was a supporter of the utopian views of Godwin and others, but recognised the force of his son's refutation of these views, and urged him to publish. Thus, the first edition was essentially a fighting tract, but later editions were considerably altered and grew bulkier as Malthus defended his views against a host of critics. The Malthusian theory of population came at the right time to harden the existing feeling against the Poor Laws and Malthus was a leading spirit behind the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

Provenance: book labels of a but not the "Mr. William Morris" to the front pastedowns of both volumes.

PMM, 251 (first edition); Kress, 5219. 

Stock Code: 229886

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