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Hume Studies Volume XXV, Numbers 1 and 2 , April/November 1999, pp. 225-240 Critical Study J. Martin Stafford's Private Vices, Publick Benefits? EUGENE HEATH J. MARTIN STAFFORD, ed. Private Vices, Publick Benefits? The Contemporary Reception of Bernard Mandeville. Solihull, England: Ismeron, 1997. xxiv + 639. ISBN 0-9512594-5-8. £52.50, cloth. Of those philosophers that Hume credits with having "begun to put the science of man on a new footing" (T xvii), Bernard Mandeville has received relatively little attention from contemporary philosophers and Hume scholars. In contrast, Mandeville was not so neglected in his own age, a point well-chronicled in F. B. Kaye's introduction to The Fable of the Bees,1 and substantiated, tangibly, by this collection of writings excellently assembled and edited by J. Martin Stafford. In the eighteenth century and, more particularly, in the decade between the publication of the 1723 edition of the Fable and Mandeville's death, numerous sermons, essays, letters, and books were published with the single intent of refuting what one eighteenth-century critic considered "so monstrous an Opinion" (300), namely, that private vice might render a benefit to the public. What one discovers on reading these early critics is that it is not so much Mandeville's opinion that is monstrous as it is the incessant misinterpretations that are so often used against him. This new, beautifully bound collection will provide the scholar of eighteenth -century thought a single source for reading the English-speaking critics of Mandeville, whose 1723 edition of the Fable, offensive to religious believers and the civic humanist defenders of public virtue, created a scandal, provoking the Grand Jury of Middlesex to offer a Presentment against the book. Mandeville's mordant poem, "The Grumbling Hive: Or Knaves turn'd Honest," Eugene Heath is at the Philosophy Department, State University of ew York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY 12561-2440 e-mail: heathe@matrix.newpaltz.edu 226 Book Reviews first appeared in 1705; from 1714, the poem was supplemented with remarks and essays and several times reissued as The Fable of the Bees: Or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits. However, it was not until the 1723 edition, which included the essay on charity schools, as well as "A Search into the Nature of Society," that Mandeville's work received the attention of a wide public. In 1728, a second volume was published consisting of dialogues articulating, among other things, Mandeville's naturalistic explanation of the evolution of norms. Stafford's fine collection, which includes sixteen entries, does not include every work that appeared within the decade 1723-1732. It excludes several sermons defending charity schools, works in languages other than English, works whose primary focus is not on Mandeville, and some well-known and otherwise easily obtainable works. These exclusions, which seem quite defensible, mean that Joseph Butler's sermons (1726), which were not directed primarily towards Mandeville, and the relevant sections of the easily acquired work of Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry Concerning the Original of Our Ideas of Virtue or Moral Good (1725), are not included, just as the 1767 work of Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, which bears on self-interest and on luxury , is excluded. The collection, which includes a hitherto unacknowledged sermon by Robert Burrow, generally follows the bibliography of references compiled by Kaye.2 With the exception of the works of Hume and Smith, included because of their fame, most of the texts are not easily available and are here reprinted in full. Although there are some typographical errors, the editing is otherwise careful and, except where noted, true to the original text. The editor translates Latin phrases, provides biographical footnotes on obscure names, and includes an index of names and ideas (but, alas, no general bibliography). With the exception of the entries from Hume and Smith, along with a short article from Read's Weekly Journal, each contribution includes a biographical summary, a helpful introduction to the text, and, where necessary, some notes on how the work was edited. There are minor instances of unnecessary editorializing in two footnotes (453 and 531 n. 4) and an unnecessary excursus, in the introduction , into whether current...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-9921
Print ISSN
0319-7336
Pages
pp. 225-240
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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