EDEN, Sir Frederic Morton, Bt (1766-1809). The State of the Poor: or, An History of the Labouring Classes in England, from the Conquest to the Present Period. London: J. Davis for B. & J. White, G.G. & J. Robinson, T. Payne [and others], 1797.
3 volumes, 4° (268 x 205mm). 'Appendix' bound in at the end of volume III, with folding letterpress 'Conversion Table' between A4 and IB1. Letterpress tables in the text, some full-page. With leaf II, 3L3, quires III, 5B* and 5B+, and 'Directions to the Binder' leaf III, IH4. (Variable, generally light browning and spotting, occasional minor staining or marking, lacking half-titles.) Early 19th-century polished calf gilt (extremities lightly rubbed and bumped, boards lightly marked and scuffed, skilfully rebacked). Provenance: occasional early annotations and markings -- William Foyle (1885-1963, bookplates; sale, Christie's, 11-13 July 2000, lot 509).
FIRST EDITION OF EDEN'S GREAT SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY. In volume I Eden discusses the history of the poor, the alleviation or exacerbation of poverty in earlier times, and contemporary schemes for poor relief. While he was in favour of land enclosure, comparing the landscape of Great Britain with its 'immeasurable heaths, commons and wastes' to 'one of those huge unwieldy cloaks worn in Italy and Spain; of which a very small part is serviceable to the wearer' (I, p.xxi), and also mindful of the cost to the government of poor relief, believing 'no other kingdom, or country, has so expensive a national for the maintenance of it's [sic] Poor' (I, p.xxii), he nevertheless saw very clearly the link between the growth of manufacturing industry and the creation of poverty ('Manufactures and commerce are the true parents of our national poor'). Like John Howard, he was keenly aware of the need for field study, and the last two volumes of his work consist of 'Parochial Reports' on the parishes and townships of England and Wales. His statistical approach became a model for all subsequent enquiries into mass poverty. ESTC T145895 and N64264; Goldsmiths' 17107; Kress B-3384; Norman 677; PMM 249.