2 December 2010
PLAYFAIR, William. An Inquiry into the Permanent Causes of the Decline and Fall of Powerful and Wealthy Nations, illustrated by four engraved charts. London: W. Marchant for Greenland and Norris, 1807.
4o (273 x 210 mm). 4 folding hand-colored engraved charts (frontispiece detached). (Title-page patched on lower inner margin.) 19th-century half calf (spine rubbed, some rubbing and a little wear to extremities). Provenance: Lonsdale Yates (signature on title and initials on pastedown).
Second edition. "The history of three thousand years, and of nations that have risen to wealth and power, in a great variety of situations, all terminating with a considerable degree of similarity, discovers the great outline of the causes that invigorate or degrade the human mind, and thereby raise or ruin states and empires" (p. xiv). A remarkable attempt to extract lessons from the downfall of the great empires of history and "find the means by which prosperity may be lengthened out, and the period of humiliation procrastinated to a distant day" (p. iv). Playfair concludes his arguments optimistically, however, in the case of England: "It is, then, wealth arising from industry, that is the object to be aimed at, and that cannot be obtained by war or conquest" (p. 293). Kress B.5240.
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