MIRABEAU, Marquis de. L’Ami des hommes, ou Traité de la population. Nouvelle édition. Augmentée d’une quatrième Partie & de Sommaires.

Price : 4.500,00 

Precious edition in elegant contemporary binding of which four volumes are here in first edition.

The publication of the Ami des hommes in 1756 brought Mirabeau a real triumph.

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SKU: LCS-18354 Categories: ,

N.p., 1759-1760.

Seven parts in 7 volumes 12mo of : I/ 1 front x pp., (3) ll. of table. ;II/ (6) ll. and 534 pp; III/ (6) ll. and 526 pp, tear on lower corner of p. 225 without damage to text; IV/ xj-267 pp; V/ (1) l. and 376 pp; VI/ xii, 298 pp. and (2) ll. table; VII/ (2) ll. 228 pp. and (1) l. table plus 6 folding tables. The last two parts are dated 1760. From the fourth part onwards, the text is here in original edition.

Full marbled brown calf, decorated ribbed spines, red edges. Contemporary binding.

165 x 91 mm.


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Precious edition of “L’Ami des Hommes” containing all seven parts bound as they appeared with individualized lettering-pieces. Tchemerzine, IV, 750.

First edition of the last four volumes, the text of the first three having already appeared. The last two volumes are here corrected, and an eighth part was published in 1760. The last part here does contain the six folding tables.

The publication of the Ami des hommes in 1756 brought Mirabeau a real triumph. But it was after this publication that he met Quesnay and it was not until 1760 that he adhered to the doctrine of the physiocrats of which he became one of the most influential propagandists.

In 1756, the publication of L’Ami des hommes ou Traité sur la population began, the work that would contribute to the fame of its author, Victor de Riqueti, Marquis de Mirabeau, who came from a line of Italian merchants established in Marseille, ennobled in the 16th century, and rich in land that had been raised to the status of marquisate since Louis XIV. More than his estates in Provence or Limousin, he was interested in his land at Le Bignon near Paris, which was more welcoming to applied agronomy. But this aristocrat, introduced into the enlightened circles of Paris, in addition to managing family disputes, which we will not be able to avoid, had already published a still confidential Testament in 1747, heralding a Mémoire concernant l’utilité des états provinciaux, which was noticed, keeping the ambiguous reputation of a plea for the freedoms of the provinces, still tinged with nobility. This is a useful reference for approaching L’Ami des hommes, which is considered by a whole tradition, currently being re-examined, as one of the founding texts of the physiocratic doctrine.

It sets out principles such as the primacy of agriculture, the creator of “true wealth”, and the condemnation of finance, luxury and “greed”, in a world led by landlords (who were still lords) and a “king pastor”.

More than a moral requirement, it is thus as a science that the new doctrine to which the Marquis adheres is presented, at the same time as a whole school is formed, with the Abbé Baudeau, Dupont de Nemours,…

The growing influence of Lemercier de la Rivière contributed to accentuate the theoretical rigidity of the statements and for a whole part of the philosophers (Diderot, Galiani), the physiocrats became a “sect”. In 1767, Quesnay dealt with the “Despotism of China”, and Lemercier de la Rivière elaborated the concept of “legal despotism” in these years. In this concert, the Marquis de Mirabeau played his part, publishing in 1760 a Théorie de l’impôt which earned him an eight-day prison sentence, but also in 1763 a Philosophie rurale then between 1767 and 1768 Lettres sur la dépravation, la restauration et la stabilité de l’ordre rural which illustrate the continuity of his moralising approach. The decline of the “sect” during the years of the political and social crisis of 1770-1776, which saw the fall of Turgot, a sympathizer of the movement, is well known.

A key economic work of the period, issuing from that group of French Enlightenment economists termed the Physiocrats, a circle that included Mirabeau, Turgot and Quesnay. Immediately preceding Adam Smith’s theories (which are fundamental to modern economics) Physiocracy was arguably the first consistent and rigorous theory of economics, espousing a theory that the wealth of nations rests on agriculture. The term laissez faire is identified with this circle; it was popularized by Vincent de Gournay, a physiocrat and intendant of commerce in the 1750s, who likely adopted the phrase from François Quesnay’s writings on China. This work was issued simultaneously in quarto and duodecimo and is scarce complete in either edition”. (Kress 5735 ; Higgs 1631).

A fine copy with all seven parts numbered 1-7 on the spine of each volume preserved in its contemporary marbled calf bindings.


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MIRABEAU, Marquis de.


N.p., 1759-1760.