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EDWIN CANNAN, M.A., LL.D.,
APPOINTED TEACHER OF ECONOMIC THEORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON AT THE
WITH TWO ADDITIONAL SECTIONS."
P. S. KING & SON,
ORCHARD HOUSE, WESTMINSTER
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE history of the theories dealt with in this book has not been much affected by the researches of the last ten years. The publication of the student's notes of Adam Smith's lectures and Dr. W. R. Scott's study of the philosophy of Francis Hutcheson, have indeed thrown much additional light upon the origin of the Wealth of Nations, but that subject lies outside the limits laid down, and can be conveniently treated by itself. The new information contradicts nothing in the present work, and confirms the conjecture of Chapter VI., § 1, as to the manner in which the Smithian scheme of Distribution was evolved.
Certain critics of the first edition complained of its tone, but I have great hope that what appeared to be ill-tempered blasphemy in 1893 will now be seen to be the calm statement of undoubted fact. No suggestion of actual misrepresentation or mistake in the history has reached me. Substantial changes therefore do not appear to be called for, and my experience in collating different editions of some of the greatest economic works does not incline me to regard extensive changes of an unimportant character with favour. Such changes generally add unnecessarily to the bulk of a book, almost always destroy its consistency, and invariably confuse and annoy the serious student. I have consequently resisted all temptations
to strengthen or modify arguments, and to add new quotations.
The only changes in the text are the correction of a few misprints and grammatical blunders, the conversion of 'Mr. Giffen' into 'Sir Robert Giffen,' and the modification of one or two references to time which might have been confusing to the readers of a book dated 1903. In the references in the footnotes several alterations have been made necessary by the reprinting of Ricardo's letters to the Morning Chronicle, and by Professor Marshall's revision of successive editions of the first volume of his Principles; it has also been made clear that the tripartite division of Say's Traité occurs first in his second edition.
But while thus confining the alterations within the narrowest possible limits, I have not thought myself precluded from adding at the end of the last chapter two entirely new sections, in which I have attempted to indicate the relation of the theories of to-day to those of the period under review, and to show that the old theories have been replaced by others stronger from a scientific point of view, and equally suitable for the practical needs of their own time.
LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS,
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
As no one any longer believes that political economy was invented by Adam Smith and perfected by John Stuart Mill, it has become necessary almost to apologise for taking the dates of the publication of the Wealth of Nations and Mill's Principles of Political Economy for the limits of a history of a portion of economic theory.
I have chosen to begin with 1776 because what may be called the framework of the theories of Production and Distribution which have been taught in English economic works for the last hundred years, appears to owe its origin entirely to that peculiar combination of indigenous economics with the system of Quesnay which is to be found in the Wealth of Nations. I have ended with 1848 because it is yet too early to treat in an historical spirit the twenty-five years which have elapsed since 1868, and the period of stagnation which followed the publication of Mill's work is not a profitable subject of study except in connexion with the outburst of new ideas which ended it.
I have been able to obtain surprisingly little assistance from previous writers. Sir Travers Twiss' View of the Progress of Political Economy is forty-six years old. Professor Ingram's History of Political Economy, and Mr. Price's Short History of Political Economy in England from Adam Smith to Arnold Toynbee are both excellent, but the present work is so much more detailed within its own limits that