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An Essay on the Principle of Population - MALTHUS, Thomas Robert [1766-1834] - 1803. [1194589]
Printed for J. Johnson, by T. Bensley, London 1803 - (26.5 cm x 21 cm). Pp. viii, [3] contents, [1] errata, 610. Bound in contemporary diced calf bordered by double gilt rules, artfully rebacked to style with corners restored, spine divided into 6 compartments with central blind-stamped ornaments flanked by narrow gilts rules, dog tooth rolls and dotted lines between raised bands, gilt titled direct, marbled endpapers, speckled edges. Endpapers and title a bit foxed, title and facing blank with brown spotting to inner margin (almost certainly caused by pressed foliage), but otherwise a very clean copy internally with only an occasional hint of marginal foxing, in a handsome and well-preserved binding. The Second Edition, known as the Great Quarto Edition, of Malthus's famous treatise on population. This edition was so substantially revised and enlarged from the anonymously published essay of 1798 that the author himself considered it almost a new work. The original essay was essentially a polemical tract, designed as a corrective to the utopian views of Condorcet and Godwin regarding the perfectibity of society. Malthus argued that progress of society will always be hindered by the tendency of the population to increase faster than the means of subsistence. While populations increase geometrically, food production only increases arithmetically, resulting in hardship and starvation for the lowest ranks of society. In the vastly enlarged 1803 edition, the product of five years of research and travel on the European continent, Malthus addresses the many misconceptions and criticisms of his original essay by presenting a far more thorough and balanced statement of his views. He begins the work with a lengthy historical analysis of the working out of his theory in many different types of societies throughout the world from ancient times to the present. By fleshing out his ideas with factual examples he claims to give his work, in his own words, "a more practical and permanent interest". As the extended title of the second edition indicates, the last half of Malthus's work is devoted to an issue barely touched upon in the earlier essay, namely the measures and expedients that may be taken by society to mitigate or eliminate the suffering resulting from population pressures. Here he softens the harshness of his original conclusion that the only checks on population consist in "misery or vice" (i.e. famine and disease, or homosexuality and abortion) by proposing a number of preventive measures that should be taken, in the form of education for the lower classes, reform of the poor laws, and "moral restraint" (i.e. abstinence and delayed childbearing) in order to avoid the ruinous consequences of over-population. Malthus's theory of population, though later qualified by technological advances in food production and birth control, remains one of the most influential works in the history of social and economic thought. Most importantly, it served to call public attention to population as a major factor in the progress of civilisation, and through its emphasis on social competition for scarce resources, "the struggle for existence", provided the critical impetus for Darwin and Wallace's theory of natural selection. PMM 25 1 (cf. 1st edition). Size: Large Quarto [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Contact Editions, ABAC, ILAB]
Last Found On: 2016-09-14           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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