Les intérêts de la France mal entendus, dans les branches de l’agriculture, de la population, des finances, du commerce, de la marine, & de l’industrie ...

Amsterdam, Jacques Coeur, 1756.

Three vols, 12mo, pp. xii, 372; [ii], vii, [1, errata], 434; [ii], 392; a very good, clean and crisp copy in contemporary speckled calf, triple gilt fillet border to covers, flat spines richly gilt in compartments with gilt-lettered red labels, red edges, marbled endpapers; light wear to covers.


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A nice copy of Goudar’s principal work, and the one that made his name, volumes II and III in the first edition and volume I in a later edition of the same year, uniformly bound (copies are frequently found in mixed editions). ‘Of the pre-physiocratic French writers who approached the population problem in terms of agricultural values and reforms, Ange Goudar (1720-1791) was the most important. He looked upon population growth as an index of the soundness of a nation’s laws, and shared the mercantilist view that the state must be made strong. While he believed with the mercantilists that the strength of a state depended upon the size of its population relative to that of other states, and upon the degree of concentration of the population, he reasoned that a state’s power rests ultimately upon agriculture, and not upon industry and bullion. For agriculture was independent of foreign influence and of shifts in tastes and demands, inasmuch as its products were always needed and always consumed at home. Moreover, population, the immediate source of national power, was dependent primarily upon agriculture for its support, even as armies were dependent upon it for food and the power to win victories’ (Spengler, French predecessors of Malthus, p. 57).

‘Goudar est un des premiers auteurs à avoir proclamé la priorité de l'agriculture et de la population. Sans être vraiment un fondateur d'école, il aura de nombreux disciples ou successeurs et a sans doute inspiré le mouvement physiocratique’ (Dictionnaire de Biographie Française). Grimm is reported by Quérard to have praised this work highly in his literary correspondence; Süssmilch used it in his Die göttliche Ordnung, and Voltaire had a copy in his library.

Mars, ‘Ange Goudar, cet inconnu’, Casanova Gleanings 9 (1966), 25 (vols II and III), 27 (vol. I). Cf. Einaudi 2659 (Mars 27); Goldsmiths 9081-2; Higgs 1145 (Mars 26); INED 2079; Kress 5524-6; Mattioli 1481 (Mars 26); Quérard III, p. 418.

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