Essai sur les causes du déclin du commerce étranger de la Grande Bretagne.
8vo. 2 vols. (2), 302 pp., final blank. (2), 392 pp. Contemporary calf, giltstamped double red label to prettily gilt spines. All edges red.
First French edition. Matthew Decker (1679-1749) was born in Amsterdam but grew up in England and became a successful merchant, a director of the East India Company and a member of parliament. He wrote two important books on trade: "Serious considerations on the several high duties which the nation in general, as well as trade in particular, labors under, with a proposal for raising all the publick supplies by one single tax" (1743) and the present one, originally published in 1744 as "Essay on the causes of the decline of the foreign trade, consequently of the value of the lands in Britain, and on the means to restore both". The implication of Decker's title, namely that British foreign trade was declining, appears inaccurate, but his arguments were mainly meant to show the possibility of improvement of British trade. His chief proposal was to abolish import duties, and in his book he attempted to refute the objection that this would diminish the value of land. As McCulloch states, "few if any of the older works on commerce [...] have so many well-founded claims to attention [...] or embody so many enlightened, ingenious, and original views". Adam Smith owned a copy of this book: while his library catalogue attributes it to William Richardson, current research argues strongly in favour of Decker's authorship. This French translation is the work of J. P. de Gua de Malves, a mathematician also credited with other writings on economic subjects.
Upper spine-end of first volume slightly damaged, bookplates removed from pastedowns. Still a nice set.
Kress 5600. EHB 1336. Goldsmiths'-Kress 9242. McCulloch p. 46. Palgrave I, 519. A Catalogue of the Library of Adam Smith p. 156.