The Beginning of Sociology
EDEN, Sir Frederick Morton. State of the Poor. or, An History of the Labouring Classes of England, from the Conquest to the Present Period; In which are particularly considered, their domestic economy, with respect to diet, dress, fuel, and habitation; And the various plans which, from time to time, have been proposed, and adopted, for the relief of the poor: together with parochial reports relative to the administration of work-houses, and houses of industry; the state of friendly societies; and other public institutions, in several agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing, districts. With a large appendix; containing a comparative and chronological table of the prices of labour, of provisions, and of other commodities; an account of the poor in Scotland; and many original documents on subjects of national importance. London: Printed by J. Davis, for B. & J. White... , 1797.
First edition of “one of the classical works in the history of economics” (Printing and the Mind of Man). Three quarto volumes (10 5/8 x 8 1/8 inches; 269 x 207 mm). [6], xxxi, [1, blank], 632; [iii]-viii, 444, 443*-*444, 445-692; [iii]-viii, 693-744, 737*-*744, 737†-†744, 745-904, ccccxxx, [1, “Directions to the Binder”], [1, blank] pp. Bound without the half-titles, but with the “Directions to the Binder” leaf at the end of Volume III, which is often lacking. Errata leaf to Volume I bound before the Preface. Folding table facing p. viii of the Appendix (in Volume III).

Contemporary calf, neatly rebacked to style. Covers with decorative gilt border, spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments, with red and green morocco gilt lettering labels, board edges and turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt. Some light foxing and minor soiling. A 1.5-inch crack to bottom of outer front hinge of Volume I. Corners a bit bumped. Short tear to outer margin of 3U3 (pp. 517/518) in Volume I, not affecting text. From the library of William A. Foyle, with his red morocco bookplate on front pastedown. An excellent copy.

Eden (1766-1809), a disciple of Adam Smith, was led to embark on his investigation by the high prices brought on by the war in 1794 and 1795, and the harsh effect they had on the living conditions of the poorer classes. His results were published in three volumes, “the first containing a description of the condition of the laboring classes and an analysis of its causes, the other two the supporting facts in the form of parochial reports on the administration of workhouses and houses of industry, friendly societies, and other charitable organizations, with a lengthy series of appendixes, including tables of prices and wages and a list of works on poverty and its alleviation...Eden’s own work, notwithstanding its originality, might now be forgotten if it were not for the invaluable collection of facts attached to it, which can never cease to be of importance. More valuable even than these, however, is the method he adopted of obtaining and systemizing statistically the details of so diffuse a problem; it has proved the basis of sociological investigation ever since. Perhaps the greatest tribute to Eden’s achievement is that paid to him by Karl Marx in Das Kapital. Not forgetting Malthus, he described Eden as the only pupil of Adam Smith who achieved anything of any significance during the eighteenth century” (Printing and the Mind of Man).

Einaudi 1714. Goldsmiths’ 17107. Kress B.3384. Maxwell & Maxwell I, p. 387, no. 14. Printing and the Mind of Man 249.

HBS # 65389 $10,000