Burke's Most Important and Extensive Treatise in the Field of Economics.
Thoughts and Details on Scarcity. Originally Presented to the Right Hon. William Pitt, in the Month of November, 1795.
London: Printed for F. and C. Rivington, 1800.
BURKE, Edmund. Thoughts and Details on Scarcity. Originally Presented to the Right Hon. William Pitt, in the Month of November, 1795. London: Printed for F. and C. Rivington, 1800.
Third edition, printed same year as the first. With price in brackets on title-page and printer's name mispelled on title-page verso. Small quarto (7 5/8 x 5 1/8 inches; 195 x 130 mm). xvi, -48 pp.
Disbound but stitched together in newer paper wrappers. Leaf A4 with an ink stain obscuring a few words. Some minor soiling and toning, mainly to title-page and final leaf. Title-page with lower outer corner torn, not affecting text. Overall very good.
"This document is the nearest thing to a formal treatise on economics that Edmund Burke ever wrote. Even so, it was not meant as a full treatment of the subject but was a lengthy memorandum to the Prime Minister, William Pitt, on an immediate question of policy. Burke was alarmed by a project for governmental subsidy of the wages of agricultural laborers during a time of poor harvests. His memorandum was therefore very much an ad hoc document, addressed to a temporary situation. Burke thought well enough of it, however, to plan to expand it into a fuller work. But in the year and a half that remained of his life, he was a sick and dying man, and more urgently concerned with the folly of British overtures toward peace with Revolutionary France. He never managed to write more than several disjointed pages of his proposed economic treatise, and the memorandum was not published until after his death, by his literary executors, French Laurence and Walker King. They had it published in 1800 with a lengthy preface by themselves. It is included here for their explanation of the circumstances in which Burke wrote the memorandum and of their editing and interpolation in Burke’s text of the fragments of his planned expansion of it that they found among his papers." (Great Thinkers dot org).
"[Burke's] last piece on political economy. 'Thoughts and details on scarcity', drafted for several correspondents, including the prime minister, was his response to the famine conditions which occurred in 1795. Published after his death they revealed his continuing commitment to the market. They also included a definition of what lay within the purview of government, in sharp contradistinction to Paine's vision of a state dedicated to social welfare. The religious establishment, the judiciary, military forces, and those legal entities that it created for specific purposes must be its prime concerns. Statesmen should know the difference between 'what belongs to laws, and what manners alone can regulate'" (Oxford DNB).
Einaudi. Goldsmiths'. Kress.