Des Principes des Négociations, pour servir d’Introduction au droit public de l’Europe, fondé sur les traités. Par M. l’Abbé de Mably. ‘A La Haye’, ie Paris, 1757.
First Edition. 12mo, (163 x 92 mm) pp. viii, 278, initial blank removed, in contemporary mottled calf, extremities a little worn, spine gilt in compartments with red morocco label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, red edges, from the library of Claude Lebédel.
An important work by the celebrated economist, intended as an introduction to a much earlier work, his Droit publique de l’Europe which was published in 1746. ‘His Principes des negociations... was a courageous attack on the foreign policies of the European powers, and a plea for more rational and honest methods, not only for the sake of justice and humanity, but because they are actually profitable’ (Whitfield, Ernest, Gabriel Bonnot De Mably, New York, 1969). In this work he discusses the principles of international trade, modern warfare and the role of ambassadors and diplomacy. Chapter XVII, ‘Des traités de commerce. Digression sur le luxe’, contains a discussion of the theories of David Hume.
An enormously popular writer in his day, Mably is now hailed variously as communist, republican and utopian. ‘Here also is the beginning of the French School of Utopian Communism properly so called’, says George Catlin, emphasising the importance of Mably’s exposition of the doctrine of equality (see George Catlin, A History of Political Philosophers, London, 1950), while Johnson Wright stakes out new ground for Mably as a republican: ‘Mably should be seen as neither a proto-socialist nor a reactionary thinker, but as a republican - a classical republican, in fact, whose writing represents a later Gallic contribution to the political tradition founded by Machiavelli and Harrington. He is not only interesting as the personification of the revolutionary spirit and as a level-headed reformer, but because he formulated principles which have since been either accepted or re-discovered’ (Wright, History of Political Thought, Volume 13, Number 3, 1992, pp. 391-415).
Cioranescu 41170; Tchemerzine VII, 265.