Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts

James Mill

Commerce Defended

MILL,James.Commerce Defended. An answer to the arguments by which Mr Spence, Mr Cobbett, and others, have attempted to prove that Commerce is not a source of National Wealth. London, C. and R. Baldwin, 1808

Octavo, 19 x 21.2 cm, later nineteenth-century quarter calf and marbled boards, spine ruled and decorated gilt, red leather label, originally stab-sewn, lower and fore-edges uncut, top edge gilt , pp.(4) + 154, some spotting and staining, a very good, large copy.

First edition, very rare, last auction record 1937. A reply to Spence's Britain Independent of Commerce 1807. John Stuart Mill described his father's book as "the first of his writings which attained any celebrity, and which he prized more as having been his first introduction to the friendship of David Ricardo, the most valued and most intimate friendship of his life."

"Chapters VI and VII of Commerce Defended, entitled respectively, "Consumption" and "Of the National Debt," is not confined exclusively to the overproduction fallacy, but is also and even more concerned with the companion fallacy of under consumption. In the opinion of the Editor, it represents one of the most important contributions of the Classical School, and to this day, remains among the most advanced expositions of the theory of saving and capital formation to be found anywhere." Prof.George Reisman in Mises Daily Jan 2007 Introduction to Mill's Commerce Defended.

"Apart from the not insignificant fact that it was as a result of this pamphlet that Mill made the acquaintance of Ricardo, the work is chiefly of interest for the fact that it contains the first enunciation in English of what was originally known as the Say-Mill Law of Markets. As the title indicates, the pamphlet was an attack on the views of those neo-Physiocratic authors who had argued during the period of Napoleon's economic blockade that agriculture rather than manufacturing and commerce were not the true source of Britain's wealth. Mill did not dispute the fact that the claims of commerce had frequently been pitched too high, but he defended the Smithian view that manufacturing and other profits were a legitimate form of net surplus, and upheld a pre-comparative cost interpretation of the gains from trade in terms of the difference between the real costs incurred in producing goods for export and the putative domestic cost of producing the imported goods acquired through trade" (The New Palgrave).

Goldsmiths' 19571; Kress B.5402; McCulloch, p. 56; The New Palgrave, 3, p. 465.


James Mill - Commerce Defended

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