2 December 2010
PLAYFAIR, William. Outlines of a Plan for a New and Solid Balance of Power in Europe; with a Map, and Statistical Table, shewing the Extent, Population, Forces, &c. &c. &c. [London:] J. Stockdale, 1813.
8o (218 x 132 mm). Hand-colored folding frontispiece map of Europe and two statistical tables (one folding). (Title slightly offset and wrinkled from bookplate on verso, otherwise fine.) Original gray boards with printed paper label on cover. Provenance: John Borthwick (pencil signature on front free endpaper and bookplate on title verso).
RARE FIRST EDITION in which Playfair defines his belief in an international system by which countries would finance one another for mutual gains and prolonged peace. Written immediately after Napoleon's disastrous retreat from Russia, Playfair sets down the ambitions of each power: "The Russian Empire, as a continental power, and Britain as a maratime [sic] and mercantile one, are both interested in the peace of the world, and in the prosperitey of each other" (p. 22). He proposes that if we are to stay at peace and develop as countries, a "New Balance of Poer" should first be based on the understanding that such despotic systems as France have ultimately failed. He develops his argument with a statistical measure, the power of each European country by a "compound of armed forces, revenue, and population: as geographical situation, and as nature and disposition of the people...the actual power of a country is composed of certain known, and certain unknown quantities; some can be measured or numbered, but others can neither be measured nor numbered, though they are equally real" (p. 31). Goldsmiths 20631; Kress B.6204.
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