A Treatise on the wealth, power, and resources of the British Empire, in every quarter of the world, including the East Indies… Illustrated by copious statistical tables. P. COLQUHOUN.
A Treatise on the wealth, power, and resources of the British Empire, in every quarter of the world, including the East Indies… Illustrated by copious statistical tables.

A Treatise on the wealth, power, and resources of the British Empire…
A Treatise on the wealth, power, and resources of the British Empire, in every quarter of the world, including the East Indies… Illustrated by copious statistical tables.

London: Joseph Mawman, 1814.

Quarto, contemporary tree calf with gilt tooled flat spine and green calf label.

First edition: a detailed description of the state of the British Empire at the final stage of the war with Napoleon, with a chapter on the penal colony at New South Wales.

First edition: a detailed description of the state of the British Empire at the final stage of the war with Napoleon, with a chapter on the penal colony at New South Wales.

Patrick Colquhoun (1745-1820) was an energetic magistrate who played an important role in the reform of the London police from 1792 onwards, while promoting philanthropic schemes for the relief of the poor through charitable funds and soup kitchens. Colquhoun predicted a disastrous rise in unemployment and poverty following the demobilisation of the British armed forces after the defeat of Napoleon, who was exiled at Elba at the time of publication. The author sought to calculate the wealth of the empire, including possible sources of future revenue, with a view to initiating large scale employment and emigration to the colonies.

Colquhoun devotes an important chapter to the state of affairs in New South Wales, providing detailed descriptions of the agriculture and exports of the colony alongside the significant expenditures incurred. Through careful calculations the author proposes the convict settlement at New South Wales has cost £2,465,182: an enormous sum compared to the relatively small number of convicts transported. The cost exceeds the benefit, maintains Colquhoun, and the convicts should be sent to the relatively prosperous colonies of South Africa and North America (being present day Canada).

The description of New South Wales details the trading privileges enjoyed by army officers, especially the trade in cheap liquor that bred intoxication and poor discipline, while low numbers of female migrants generated prostitution and immorality. Interestingly, the author notes the lack of minted currency and the use of grain and cattle in as a medium of exchange. Clearly a wide variety of sources were used in this ambitious project including the Report of the Select Committee for Transportation of 1812 and the early settlement accounts of Governor Arthur Phillip and Judge Advocate David Collins.

Ferguson, 574a; Goldsmiths, 20869.

Price (AUD): $1,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #2402684

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