Vie de Monsieur Turgot.

‘Londres’, [i.e. Paris?, n.p.], 1786.

8vo, pp. [iv], 299, [1, errata]; small loss to lower corner of T1, small hole to margin of last leaf, very occasional light foxing, light soiling to final page, otherwise a very good, crisp copy in 19th-century sprinkled calf, spine gilt in compartments, gilt lettering-piece; upper joint slightly cracked at head (holding firm), extremities slightly worn, inner hinges cracked.


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First edition of the sole example of Condorcet’s economic writings to employ mathematics. Condorcet’s use of ‘the sign ∫ as a sign of summation of finite quantities’ is an ‘innovation’ in his ten-page footnoted discussion of the various ways ‘in which indirect taxation could be replaced by direct taxation and the effects of such a change’ (Theocharis, p. 65). This biography, together with that of Dupont, is the chief contemporary account of the renowned financial reformer and physiocratic sympathizer, Turgot.

Condorcet’s ‘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’ (Ball, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics, p. 388).

The work was much called for; four editions were published in 1786. This is the earliest, with a misprint in the errata: page 134 instead of 104 (identified as edition ‘A’ in Anton Gerits’ ‘Condorcet’s Vie de Monsieur Turgot’, Harvard Library Bulletin NS Winter 1992-1993, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 35).

Einaudi 1217; Fisher, p. 174; Goldsmiths’ 13128; INED 1186 (a later 1786 edition); Jevons, p. 278; Kress B.1032; Mattioli 746; see Theocharis, p. 65.

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