Definitions of Political Economy

  • R. D. Collison Black


Gentlemen — I recommend as a book to be referred to, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations,1 because I am more & more convinced that it contains probably more truth & less error than any other book on the same subject, altho’ it still contains a considerable amount of error. But those parts which are true are so admirably written, so clear & classical, that I think it is the best text book we can select. Ofcourse, Mill’s Political Economy2 is considered the leading work on the subject, & I shall certainly ask you to read considerable portions of it. Mill’s Political Economy is disfigured by a series of fallacies, & these I shall have to point out to you from time to time. A great part of the work is erroneous — almost more than in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. So I don’t wish to take Mill as a standard text book. There are several other books. One is Senior’s Manual, originally published in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, but it has been republished in a very convenient form, price about 4/6d.3 Now the earlier part of this is the best piece of writing on the subject of political economy, I believe, ever written — that is to say, just the introduction and the skeleton of the subject, which it begins with. And Senior is probably the soundest political economist that ever wrote, or taken with Malthus certainly.


Moral Science Domestic Economy Letter 631A Page Reference Introductory Lecture 
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  1. 10.
    James Martineau, ‘Plea for Philosophical Studies’, an address presented in February 1854 on taking the Chair of Philosophy in Manchester New College, London. See Martineau, Essays, Reviews and Addresses, 4 vols (1891) IV, 26–7. Cf. Vol. II, Letter 147, n. 4, p. 421.Google Scholar

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© R. D. Collison Black and Rosamond Könekamp 1977

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  • R. D. Collison Black

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