Richard Cantillon'S Essay On Economic Theory

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Richard Cantillon offers fascination for historians and economists as much in death as he did in life.

Richard Cantillon, Irish born but living in Paris as a young man, from circumstances became a banker/broker there, and moved in influential, educated social circles.

Translated by Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, Department of Economics of University College, Cork. In scarcely any field, however, will one find a case similar to that of Cantillon’s Essai sur la nature du commerce en général, which, having greatly influenced the molding of a science and fully articulated it for the first time, was at once entirely forgotten and remained in obscurity for roughly a century until, re-discovered by accident, its second emergence proved sensational.

Introduction and textual comments written for Hella Hayek's 1931 German translation of Richard Cantillon's Essai. In our field Oresmius, Monchretien, Barbon, Rae, W. Lloyd, Cournot, Jennings, Longfield, and Gossen are just a few of the best known instances of this kind.

Econlib is pleased to present the full translation of this remarkable work.

We also bring you Higgs’s side-by-side French/English edition for download as a pdf file, as well as our formatted searchable online edition.To learn more or modify/prevent the use of cookies, see our Cookie Policy and Privacy Policy.Intrigue, murder, posthumous plagiarism, citations by Adam Smith, rediscovery by William Stanley Jevons a century later, and a stunning work on entrepreneurial risk, money, foreign exchange, and banking from the 1700s–what more could one ask for from an 18th century economist?The English version, which is printed opposite the French pages, has been collated with the numerous parallel passages in Postlethwayt’s Dictionary (see Appendix A); and the phrasing of the Dictionary has been adopted in many instances for the reasons stated on p. The complete English translation of the Essai now offered is the first of its kind, and may be considered a bicentenary tribute to the original.In economics, just as in other sciences, it is by no means an exceptional occurrence to find that, no sooner has a "new" doctrine made its mark, than earlier, completely forgotten writers are discovered who perceived those newly accepted ideas with brilliant insight in their own day and set them down in their writings.Other, no less exciting aspects were opened up by the research which led to this achievement. Why it is still rather unknown in this country and why a German translation needs to be justified can be explained by unpropitious circumstances, fully in keeping with the fortunes of the book, into which we shall enter in due course.The contemporaries who witnessed the publication of this book in 1755 had but a vague and partly incorrect knowledge of its author, who had died twenty-one years previously, and yet even in its latent form as manuscript the work had exerted a subterranean influence which can only now be appreciated…. The rediscovery of Cantillon’s Essai is due to the fact that it is one of the few works quoted by Adam Smith.That Smith was familiar with Cantillon in some form is documented in Smith’s own rare citations.Other contemporary economists were also familiar with the work, even to the point of plagiarizing from the unpublished version.Richard Cantillon was an Irish-French economist and author of Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général (Essay on the Nature of Trade in General), a book considered by William Stanley Jevons to be the "cradle of political economy".Although little information exists on Cantillon's life, it is known that he became a successful banker and merchant at an early age.


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