Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > The Progress of Science > Political Economists of the Seventeenth Century: Sir William Petty and Locke
  Contemporary Poets and Scientific Research: Cowley, Donne, Butler  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

XV. The Progress of Science.

§ 18. Political Economists of the Seventeenth Century: Sir William Petty and Locke.


Sir William Petty and the philosopher Locke are the best known names in this group of political economists. Locke, in particular, was interested in questions concerning the currency and the rate of interest. Sir William Petty, who was among the first to state clearly the nature of rent, wrote a celebrated Treatise of Taxes and Contributions.  21  Captain John Graunt’s Natural and Political Observations marked the beginning of that interest in statistical data concerning health and population which is a distinguishing feature of modern economic research. Another writer, Samuel Fortrey, followed Petty in his endeavour to go behind the mere art of taxation and analyse the ultimate sources of national wealth in the land and labour of the country. In general, it may be said that, in the seventeenth century, political economy was still an art rather than a science. Between these writings and Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776), there was a great gap; but the practical observations of the seventeenth century were not without use in supplying material for his scholarly and impartial analysis.   54

Note 21. Cf. ante, Chap. XIV. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Contemporary Poets and Scientific Research: Cowley, Donne, Butler  
 
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