Presentation Copy‘Mill’s Masterpiece’, Extensively Revised

Elements of political economy … Second edition, revised and corrected.

London, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1824.

8vo, pp. viii, 304 (pp. 300–304 being advertisements); title and final page browned, with the occasional spot, pp. 18-19 and 52-52 with slight browning and an impression left by what appears to be flowers, else a very good copy bound in green cloth, spine direct-lettered gilt; corners and spine ends a little rubbed and bumped; with a presentation inscription (slightly shaved) to the novelist, poet, and East India Company employee Thomas Love Peacock signed ‘the author’ on the title-page.


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Second edition of what Palgrave terms ‘Mill’s masterpiece’, extensively revised with alterations ‘too numerous to be specified’. This copy with a presentation inscription to Thomas Love Peacock signed ‘the author’.

According to John Stuart Mill, the book sums up the instructions given to him by his father in the course of their daily walks. James Mill says of the work: ‘My object has been to compose a schoolbook of Political Economy; to detach the essential principles of the science from all extraneous topics, to state the propositions clearly and in their logical order, and to subjoin its demonstration to each’, whilst acknowledging that he has ‘made no discovery’. McCulloch criticises the book for being ‘of too abstract a character to be either popular or of much utility’. Mill is, however, ‘naturally regarded as the interpreter of his contemporaries, especially of Ricardo his intimate friend’. The Elements is particularly valuable as a summary of contemporary received theories. It was translated into French in 1823.

This copy was presented to Mill’s friend, the satirical novelist and poet Thomas Love Peacock. Mill and Peacock worked together for many years in the examiner’s office of the East India Company and through Mill, Peacock became acquainted with many of the political radicals of his day (see Oxford DNB).

Einaudi 3893; Goldsmiths’ 24051; Kress C.1295; Mattioli 2395; McCulloch, p. 17.

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