Two vols, small 8vo, pp. , 542 + engraved frontispiece; , 484; small inkstamps on versos of title-pages; ownership stamp ‘F’ and some soiling to the title in vol. II; light browning and offsetting throughout, more so to the final few leaves in vol. I, but still a good copy in recent marbled boards.
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Die glückliche Nation, oder der Staat von Felizien. Ein Muster der vollkommensten Freyheit unter der unbedingten Herrschaft der Gesetze. Aus dem Französischen. Erster [– Zweiter] Theil.
Very rare first German edition of Le Mercier de la Rivière’s physiocratic utopia L’heureuse nation, ou Relation du gouvernement des Féliciens, which had first appeared in French in 1792.
Le Mercier had long been conscious of the fact that his writings on physiocrat economics and political theory may have been rather too dry to gain much traction with the general public; he had attempted to mitigate this with more pedagogical works such as De l’instruction publique and Lettre sur les économistes, but realised by the 1790s that a utopian novel might prove the best way of spreading his ideas more widely. The present result, which was le Mercier’s last published work, explores the economic and political state of an imaginary world, Félicie, explaining its constitutional arrangements and institutions and articulating the philosophical and moral precepts upon which these institutions are based. The themes are very much similar to those found in le Mercier’s theoretical works, with an emphasis on enlightened despotism; it is fair to remark that it was not wholly in keeping with the mood of the times.
Le Mercier (1719-1801) was an associate of Quesnay and Mirabeau, and spent seven years as governor of Martinique, among other government positions under the ancien regime.
The present German translation is extremely rare: OCLC records only one copy outside Continental Europe, at NYU, and it is not found in Einaudi, Goldsmiths’ or Kress; for the (also uncommon) Paris edition of 1792, see Einaudi 3304, INED 2790, Negley, Utopian Literature, 774, and Quérard V, 140.
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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT STAGES DEPEND ON ECONOMY MILLAR, John.
Observations concerning the distinction of ranks in society. Under the following heads: 1. Of the ranks and condition of women in different ages. II. Of the jurisdiction and authority of a father over his children. III. Of the authority of a chief over the members of a tribe or village. IV. Of the authority of a master over his servants.
Second London edition, ‘greatly enlarged’, first published 1771. The first section of Millar’s book is a study of matrilineal ‘savage’ societies, in which early social development counts most when it comes to kinship with the mother, is remarkably prescient (see Morgan, Systems). Millar uses the ‘four stages’ theory that was the cornerstone of the Scottish Enlightenment, derived from the writing of Hume and Adam Smith, with whom Millar was a close friend. This posits a social development dependent on the cultural effects of economic relations, i.e. the development of hunting, property, agriculture and commerce, rather than the accidents of climate. Millar’s study of the unequal treatment of women clearly uses this four stages narrative in its comparative study of a number of cultures, including that of the Ancient Greeks. The last section addresses slavery, to which Millar was opposed.