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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citations.Other contemporary economists were also familiar with the work, even to the point of plagiarizing from the unpublished version.
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.
In the eighth chapter of Book One of The Wealth of Nations, Smith, without preliminary reference but rather presuming acquaintance on the part of his reader, suddenly adverts in his discussion of wages to Cantillon, [who] seems, upon this account, to suppose that the lowest species of common labourers must everywhere earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that one with another they may be enabled to bring up two children; the labour of the wife, on account of her necessary attendance on the children, being supposed no more than sufficient to provide for herself.
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.
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.
Econlib is pleased to present the full translation of this remarkable work.