Front Page Titles (by Subject) BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE NATURAL AND POLITICAL OBSERVATIONS. - The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE NATURAL AND POLITICAL OBSERVATIONS. - Sir William Petty, The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 2 
The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, together with The Observations upon Bills of Mortality, more probably by Captain John Graunt, ed. Charles Henry Hull (Cambridge University Press, 1899), 2 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE first edition of Graunt's Observations upon the Bills of Mortality1 was published between 25 January, 1662, the date of the first epistle dedicatory, and 5 February, 1662, when Graunt presented fifty copies to the Royal Society to be distributed among its members2 . In the world outside Gresham College as well as among the Fellows of the Royal Society, Graunt's work soon attracted attention. Pepys bought a copy at Westminster Hall, the 24 March3 , and the book proved so widely successful that a second edition was called for before the close of the year. With the return of the plague in the early summer of 1665, interest in the Observations revived. On the twentieth of June, at the same meeting at which the Council of the Royal Society recommended the Society to intermit their public weekly meetings until the present sickness should cease, it also ordered “that upon a report of Sir William Petty of his having perused the additions of Mr Graunt to his Observations upon the Bills of Mortality, the president be desired to license the reprinting of that book, together with such additions4 .” As the 4 July is the latest date in the “table shewing how many died weekly,” it is probable that the new edition appeared before the 11 July. It certainly appeared before the 25 July, on which day Brouncker sent to Pepys5 a copy of the book, “new printed and enlarged.” The enlargement of this third edition was effected chiefly by the addition of the appendix, the tables for Tiverton and Cranbrook, and the “table shewing how many died weekly”; the other changes, which are slight, are noted, in this reprint, where they occur. A “fourth impression,” reprinted from the third, soon appeared at Oxford. The latest date in the weekly table of this edition is the 26 September, and a copy of it in Cornell University Library bears the inscription “Ex dono Authoris Octob: 22° 1665.” No further edition was published during Graunt's life, but in 1676 a fifth edition was put out, it is said under Petty's supervision1 . To this, the completest edition, here reprinted, there were added “Some further Observations of Major John Graunt.” Since 1676 the Observations have been printed but once in English, viz. in A Collection of the Yearly Bills of Mortality from 1657 to 1758, London: 1759, which speaks erroneously of “the sixth edition, in 1676.” There is also an anonymous German translation2 published at Leipzig in 1702.
Petty's Quantulumcunque concerning Money was suggested, apparently, by the project of recoinage which was already under discussion when he came to London in June, 1682. The earliest allusion to the book occurs in his letter of 5 September to Southwell: “I have writ three sheets in answer to Thirty-one Questions concerning Money. If it take, for I renounce all judgment of my own, you shall have a copy1 .” These words, taken in connection with the fact that Halifax could not have been addressed as “Lord Marquess” earlier than 22 August, 16822 , cast some suspicion upon the date of 1681 which is assigned to the Quantulumcunque by Harleian MS. 1223 in the British Museum. This MS., moreover, appears to be of the eighteenth century, rather than of the seventeenth, and the pages containing the Quantulumcunque (ff. 169 seq.) are very carelessly written. Everything considered, the tract must be assigned to August or September, 1682.
In 1695, when the recoinage was imminent, the Quantulumcunque was privately printed3 in a quarto edition which has been followed in the present reprint. Of the alleged earlier editions in octavo4 I have failed to find a copy.
The Essays in Political Arithmetick, belong, in large part, to the fourth period of Petty's literary activity, and most, though not all of them were written in London. The circumstances which led to the writing of the various essays are indicated, so far as known, in connection with each essay severally. Petty never grouped the series, and it is uncertain who edited the collection published in 16991 . The order then adopted was chronological by date of publication, and it has been here adhered to save as regards the Political Arithmetick. That book, because first published (as supposed) in 1691, was made to follow the Five Essays, though it has little direct connection with them. I have transposed it to the first volume, a position which indicates more correctly its true chronological place among Petty's writings. The Essays thus follow Graunt's Observations, to which in subject and treatment they are more closely related than to Petty's other writings, and also precede the Treatise of Ireland, with which their chronological connection is most intimate.
The Essays were chiefly written in Petty's last years, when his health was much impaired2 , and were almost immediately put to press. No necessity for circulating them in MS. arose and no MSS. of them are known. They are here reprinted not from the posthumous collected edition of 1699, but from the several original editions, the proof of nearly all of which doubtless passed under Petty's eye.
Another Essay in Political Arithmetick was probably written in Ireland about 16811 , but was not sent to press until after Petty came to London in June, 16822 . Three years after the first edition, which is dated 1683, there appeared, under a changed title3 , a “second edition, revised and enlarged.” The revision extends only to a few verbal changes which are recorded in the footnotes of this reprint. The enlargement was affected by the addition of the stationer's address to the reader and the “extract of a letter” which are reprinted on pages 453 to 455. Aside from these pages the ensuing text conforms to that of the original edition issued in 1683. The Essay is reviewed in the Journal des Sçavans, 15 Mars, 1683.
The earliest known reference to the Dublin bills is an order in the city assembly roll for the fourth Friday after Christmas, 1658, for the treasurer of the city to pay, on Mr Mayor's wariant, to John Tadpole, fifty shillings sterling for his employment heretofore in bringing in the weekly bills of mortality within the city and the suburbs thereof1 . To these bills Petty turned his attention upon the first trip which he made to Dublin after the publication of Graunt's book2 . It was not, however, until after the death of his friend that he undertook his Observations upon them. Concerning the Observations he writes to Southwell, 25 November, 1682, that he will meddle no more with political arithmetic nor ratiocinations, but will turn beast and grow absurd, as the glorious men of the world are. The accompanying pamphlet is not a startling from his resolutions, “for it was put a printing when I first came to town3 , and hath been kept in hand by my brother beast Mark Pardo, the stationer… I would have you run to the city of Bristol with the same and bore their skulls with the same advice that is here given for Dublin4 .”
Petty's Two Essays concerning London and Paris, though first published in French, were originally written in English1 . They were probably finished between the 17 July, 1686, the day on which was licensed no. 180 of the Philosophical Transactions containing the account of Verbiest's journeys referred to in the first essay2 , and the 26 August of the same year, when the Two Essays were themselves approved3 .
AT the session of the Royal Society 22 December, 1686, Petty produced a defence of the Two Essays. The defence was read and the author promised to lodge it with the Society1 . The 29th December he gave in two notes about the magnitude of London and Paris, which were ordered with his leave to be printed2 . The two notes were accordingly published in the Philosophical Transactions for November and December, 16863 under the caption of A further Assertion of the Propositions concerning the Magnitude of London, etc.4 The first note is substantially identical with the first of the Five Essays as printed in 1687 and here reprinted—variations are indicated in the foot notes. The second note, reprinted on p. 537, is not unlike the theses of the Fourth Essay. At the next session of the Society, 5 January, 1687, Petty produced three more papers in answer to the objection of Mr. Auzout against his conclusion that London was greater than Paris and Rouen taken together. He permitted them to be read and it was ordered that Justel's pleasure should be known with regard to printing an extract of Auzout's letter with Petty's answers5 . Justel sent the following interesting reply:
[Endorsed by Southwell.] Mr Justel's note read Jan. 26 168 1 .
THE Treatise of Ireland, the last considerable product of Petty's pen, can be understood only by reference to his relations with James II. and to the purpose for which the Treatise was written. In Petty's experiments in ship-building and in his writings upon naval matters, James, as Lord High Admiral, had taken a lively interest. After his accession to the throne, he appears to have continued to repose confidence in Petty, granting him repeated interviews1 and encouraging his scheme for a royal statistical office. Petty thereupon fancied that his ideas concerning the management of Irish affairs would have weight with the King. At the same time his growing realization of the dangers involved in Tyrconnel's violent Catholic policy supplied him with a further motive for submitting to James those “political pastimes and paradoxes concerning a perpetual peace and settlement of Ireland” which had long occupied his attention. He accordingly embodied his ideas in A Treatise of Ireland, designed both to convey a warning lest the importance of the Protestant interest in that island be underestimated, and also to propose a plan for the final solution of the perennial Irish Question.
The date of the Treatise can be determined within a few weeks. It was completed after Petty had received the returns of the Irish customs for the midsummer quarter, 16872 and it was ready for presentation to the King by the first week in September3
King James promptly appointed Petty's friend and admirer Pepys to examine the Treatise1 , but no steps were taken to execute its suggestions, and it was not even printed. The approach of the fatal disease of which Petty died three months later may well have prevented him from publishing the book himself, and when, in the years closely following the Revolution, the Political Arithmetick, the Political Anatomy of Ireland, and the Treatise of Naval Philosophy were finally printed, considerations of political expediency may have conspired with those based on the comparatively unfinished condition of the Treatise to deter his friends from giving it also to the world.
The Treatise is here reprinted from the Southwell or Nelligan MS.2 . whose history has been already traced3 . Of that MS. it occupies folios 52–129, neatly written in a hand similar to that of the Southwell Political Arithmetick and corrected at a few points by Petty himself.
In May, 1865, Mr. W. H. Hardinge submitted to the Royal Irish Academy an account of An unpublished Essay on Ireland by Sir William Petty1 , then in the collection of the Marquis of Lansdowne. It is evident from Mr Hardinge's quotations that the unpublished essay was, in part at least, identical with the present Treatise. Inasmuch, however, as the Lansdowne MS. had but twenty-nine “pages” (size not specified), while the Southwell copy of the Treatise, including the Dialogue, extends to seventy-seven folio leaves rather closely written upon both sides, it is improbable that the Lansdowne MS. contained all that is here printed. It is impossible, however, to be certain in respect of this matter, as Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Petty's descendant and biographer, kindly informs me that the MS. which Mr Hardinge saw cannot now be found.
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE NATURAL AND POLITICAL OBSERVATIONS.
Natural and Political | observations | Mentioned in a following Index, | and made upon the | Bills of Mortality. | By John Graunt, | Citizen of London. | With reference to the Government, Religion, Trade, | Growth, Ayre, Diseases, | and the several Changes of the | said City. | –Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro, | Contentus paucis Lectoribus.–
London, Printed by Tho: Roycroft, for John Martin, James Allestry, | and Tho: Dicas, at the Sign of the Bell in St. Paul's | Church-yard, MDCLXII .
Title, 1 l., epistles dedicatory, 3 ll., index, 4 ll., pp. 1–79, 82–85 and 2 folding tables not included in the pagination, 4°. — The verso of p. 79 is misnumbered 82.
Natural and Political observations, Mentioned in a following Index, | and made upon the | Bills of Mortality. | By John Graunt, | Citizen of London. | With references to the Government, Religion, Trade, | Growth, Ayr, Diseases, and the several Changes of the | said City. | –Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro, Contentus paucis Lectoribus.– | The Second Edition.
London, | Printed by Tho: Roycroft, For John Martin, James Allestry, | and Tho: Dicas, at the Sign of the Bell in St. Paul's | Church-yard, MDCLXII .
Title, 1 l., epistles dedicatory, 3 ll., index, 4 ll., pp. 1–79, and 2 folding tables not included in the pagination, 4°.
Natural and Political observations Mentioned in a following Index, | and made upon the Bills of Mortality. | By | Capt. John Graunt, | Fellow of the Royal Society. | With reference to the Government, Religion, | Trade, Growth, Air, Diseases, and the | several Changes of the said City. | – Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro, | Contentus paucis Lectoribus.– | The Third Edition, | much Enlarged.
London, | Printed by John Martyn, and James Allestry, | Printers to the Royal Society, and are to be sold at the | sign of the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard. | MDCLXV .
1 l., recto blank, verso order of the Council of the Royal Society to print, title, 1 l., epistles dedicatory, 7 ll., index 6 ll., 1 blank l., pp. 1–205, and two folding tables not included in the pagination, 4°.
Natural and Political | observations | Mentioned in a following Index, | and made upon the | Bills of Mortality. | By | Capt. John Graunt, | Fellow of the Royal Society. | With reference to the Government, Religion, | Trade, Growth, Air, Diseases, and the | several Changes of the said City. |– Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro, Contentus paucis Lectoribus.– | The Fourth Impression.
Oxford, | Printed by William Hall, for John Martyn, | and James Allestry, Printers to the | Royal Society, MDCLXV .
1 l., recto blank, verso order of Royal Society to print, title, 1 l., epistles dedicatory, 7 ll., index 6 ll., 1 blank l., pp. 1–205, and two folding tables not included in the pagination, 8°.
Natural and Political | observations Mentioned in a following index, | and made upon the | Bills of Mortality. | By Capt. John Graunt, | Fellow of the Royal Society. | With reference to the Government, Religion, | Trade, Growth, Air, Diseases, and the | several Changes of the said city. |–Non, me ut miretur Turba, laboro, Contentus paucis Lectoribus.– | The Fifth Edition, much Enlarged.
London, | Printed by John Martyn, Printer to the | Royal Society, at the Sign of the Bell in St. Paul's | Church-yard. MDCLXXVI .
1 l., recto blank, verso, order of Royal Society to print, title 1 l., epistles dedicatory, 9 ll., index, 6 ll., preface 3 ll., pp. 1–150, and two folding tables not included in the pagination, 8°. —According to Dr Campbell and James Milne this edition was prepared by Petty.
The Natural and political observations were also reprinted by Dr W. Heberden in his Collection of the yearly bills of mortality, 1759. See no. 13 b of the bibliography of Petty.
Natürliche und politische | Anmerckungen | über die | Todten-Zettul | der stadt London [sic], furnemlich ihre regierung, religion, gewerbe, vermehrung, | lufft, kranckheiten, und besondere veranderungen | betreffend. | Anfangs | in Englischer sprache abgefasset, | und offtermals durch den druck herausgegeben | vom | Capitain Johannes Graunt, | Mitgleid der Konigl. Societ. | nun | aber | um des grossen nutzens willen, der dem gemeinen | wesen Teutschlands insgemein, und iedes orts | insonderheit aus solchen todten-registern zuwachsen | kan, | ins Deutsche ubersetzet. | [Woodcut.]
Leipzig, bey Thomas Fritschen, 1702.
Title, 1 l., Vorrede des Ubersetzers (sic), 2 ll., Zuschriften Graunts, 4 ll., Vorrede des Autoris, 1 l., Register, 4 ll., pp. 1–112, 1 folded table, 12°. — The translator was Dr Gottfried Schultz of Breslau. See p. 318 note.
Note: Graunt did not write the “Reflections On the weekly Bills of Mortality For the Cities of London and Westminster and the places adjacent: But more especially so far as they relate to the plague… London: Printed for Samuel Speed, at the Rainbow in Fleet street. 1665.” This pamphlet was issued in two editions, both in quarto. All that is of value in either of them was filched from Graunt, but their compiler appears to have drawn liberally from his own imagination also. They were promptly denounced as spurious by John Bell, clerk to the Company of Parish Clerks, in his “London's Remembrancer” issued in the same year. Cf. pp. xliii, 426.
LIST OF BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS USED.SeeSeeetc.InInInSeeSeeSeerdSeeSeeSeeInpassim.Seeeditor.InInInInInInInSeeSeeInInInInSeeInSeeSeeInInSeeInIn
Birch, I. 75.
Diary, II. 209–210.
Birch, II. 57.
Diary, v. 24.
Dr John Campbell in the Biographia Britannica, IV: 2262–2263, note. Dr Campbell's account of the earlier editions, however, is sadly incorrect.
The translator was Dr Gottfried Schultz, born at Breslau 20 April, 1643, died there 14 May, 1698. Travel, says his eulogist, had made him master of many tongues, “non autem legisse tantum exterorum scripta ipsi sufficiebat, sed ut aliorum etiam usibus prostarent, multoties Interpretem accuratum egit. Cum vero modestia insignis, qua ubique usus, nomen praefigere versionibus typis divulgandis vetaret, tale saltem in praesenti versionis Specimen exhibeo, de quo (cum in ahis dubius hæram) certo constat, ejus solertiam illud parasse. Scilicet Joannis Grauntii, Membri Societatis Regiae Anglicanae, Observations Physicas et Politicas de Schedulis Mortalitatis Londinensibus Todten-Zettuln Germanico Idiomate donavit, in gratiam eorum, qui propter commodum publicum passim in Germanicam similem computum desiderarunt.”—Memoria excellentissimi apud Vratislavienses polyhistori medici domini D. Godofriedi Schulzn quam posteris commendal Samuel Grass, pp. 201–224 of the Appendix ad Ephemeridum academiae Caesareo-leopoldinae nat. curiosorum in Germania centurias III. & IV., Noribergae, 1715.
Thorpe, Cat. lib. MSS. bibl. Southwellianœ, 405, Fitzmaurice, 252.
Doyle, Official Baronage, II. 93.
Massie, Observations relating to the Coin, 32.
Meitzen suggests that the editor was “John Williamson” (probably Sir Joseph is intended), but the suggestion seems to rest solely upon a misreading of Anthony à-Wood. Geschichte der Statistik, 15. Thorpe's Cat. lib. MSS. bibl. Southwellianæ, lot 710, describes a draft of a letter, dated 26 Dec., 1698, from Sir Robert Southwell to Petty's son Henry, afterwards Baron Shelburne, “relative to Sir William Petty's papers, some of which were then reprinting.”
Fitzmaurice, 289 seq.
See p. 466 and note, also p. 468.
Cf. pp. 438, 480.
See Bibliography 13, 17.
Gilbert, Calendar, IV. 154.
Letter, to Brouncker, 4 February, 1663, printed in note 2, p. 398.
June 1682, Fitzmaurice, 250.
Thorpe, Cat. lib. MSS. bibl. Southwellianæ, 405.
Bibliography, 18. The French Version declares itself to be “Traduit de l'Original Anglois.”
Birch, IV. 513.
Vol. XVI. no. 185, pp. 237–240.
Birch, IV. 517.
Royal Society's Letter Book J1, letter 110.
Fitzmaurice, 275–284, Clarendon to Rochester, 17 Nov., 1686, Correspondence, 11. 67.
See p. 588.
Sunday 4 [Sept.] this Evening.
I am just now sent to from Bath where The King will be on Tuesday for y° papers in your hands. I blush to presse you for your perusall of them, & to make your Remarques with that frendly Severity you promised. As for y° Truth in Matter of fact & y° justnesse of my Inferences I am content to venture them at y° perill of my Veracity & Reputation. But Whether The King will be pleased to have those Matters to be discussed & published, is beyond my Reach, Those onely can advise me who converse much with him: I am sure I meene well, but that may not be enough for
Your affette and humble servtWm. Petty. Autograph letter, endorsed, “Septr 4th, 1687. Sr Wm Petty to Mr Pepys. Upon his Political Papers & Calculations relateing to Ireland, & ye Improvement thereof.” Rawlinson MS. A. 189, f. 17, Bodleian Library. Piccadilly 8° Septemb. 87.
In my owne Judgement & Conscience, there is Nothing in our Treatise, Not true, not necessary to be considered, & not fitt for ye Kings knowledge, &c. I therefore thanke God, That His Maty appointed you to examine these my Opinions. In which take any Assistance you please whom The King will agre to. 2. The Matters pretend good to all ye Kings Subjects & ye Meanes propounded are of an high Extraordinary Nature, & therefore should be exposed to public View; but for this I am not peremptory for ye whole. 1. If you cannot understand them alone, They are not fit for ye public but must be made plainer: Neverthelesse, I will attend yor Summons to facilitate this Worke, by saving you ye labor, of turning back to things already provd. I can say no more, but that I am
Yor most affectionat humble ServantWm Petty. I have not broke yor seale.
Autograph letter, endorsed, “Septr 8th 1687. Sr Wm Petty to Mr Pepys. Accompanying a 2d time his political Papers abt Ireland for a review.” Rawlinson MS. A 189, f. 19, Bodleian Library.
Brit. Mus. Addl. MS. 21,128.
P. 236, cf. p. 123.
Trans. R. I. A., Vol. xxiv, Antiquities, p. 371–377.