The Fable of the Bees or Private Vices, Publick Benefits, by Bernard Mandeville

Prefatory Note on the Method of this Edition

I. The Explanatory and Historical Annotations

I HAVE not passed these last years in Mandeville’s company without an ever-deepening certainty of his literary greatness. But the reader will discover very little insistence on this fact in the present edition. An editor, I think, may well post upon his study walls Dr. Johnson’s remark to Boswell: ‘consider, Sir, how insignificant this will appear a twelvemonth hence’— changing the twelve months to a hundred years. In such perspective, argument for Mandeville’s genius and complaint at his present neglect are futile, for republication and time will of themselves, I believe, so establish him as to make editorial defence an anachronism.

I have consistently tried to orient Mandeville in the stream of thought of his period by a constant paralleling of his text with the works of his contemporaries or predecessors, so that the measure of his difference from or kinship with the speculation of his age may always be apparent. Where the thought considered was common, I have cited only enough representative passages to bear out the fact of its commonness, or such anticipations as might be sources; where the sentiment was rare, I have usually given all the parallels found, whether or not sources. Since, however, a scholarly edition is not a text-book, I have not attempted, in the matter of these citations, to do for the competent reader what he can do for himself. When noting parallels to Mandeville’s text I have indicated their relation as possible sources only when I felt that my study of the subject enabled me to bring to bear special insight, or when I believed that I could prove a case. And throughout I have been more interested in background than in sources.

In no edition can the commentary be exactly adapted to all the readers, and the difficulty of suiting the notes to the readers is especially great in the present case. The Fable of the Bees is concerned with so wide a range of thought that it is of import not only to those whose interest is primarily literary, but also to specialists in the history of economics and philosophy, and to Americans and Europeans as well as Englishmen. Consequently, what is extremely obvious to one reader may seem recondite to another, and an explanation which is a necessity for the one may impress the other as an insult to his education. I ask pardon of those whom I have thus outraged, having made it a rule to annotate when in doubt, on the ground that it is very easy to skip, but not so easy to supply an omission.

In determining what obsolete or technical words demanded elucidation I have tried to base my choice as objectively as possible, not simply conjecturing what words might justly perplex the reader. I selected two reputable dictionaries of moderate scope — an American and an English — the Desk Standard (Funk & Wagnalls) and the Concise Oxford Dictionary. A word not found in both these works is, I have assumed, sufficiently recondite to excuse annotation for the sake of either the American or the English reader.

I have not employed sic to indicate typographical errors in passages and titles cited. The reader may assume that the attempt has always been made to quote verbatim and literatim. — In my references the date given after the title refers not to the year of first issue, but to the particular edition used. — In the effort to cite from the best editions accessible to me, I have referred to two authors — Montaigne and Pascal — in editions differing somewhat in text from those available to Mandeville. I have, however, taken care to cite nothing which might not have been known by Mandeville in the same or an equivalent form.

Let me also note here that certain words —‘rigorism’, ‘utilitarian’, ‘empirical’— have been used in a somewhat special sense (see my definitions below, i. xlviii and xlviii, n. 1, and lii).

ii. The Text

Since the Fable of the Bees was published in two parts at different times, this edition is built on two basic texts of different date. The text used in volume one is that of the 1732 edition, which was the last edition during Mandeville’s life of the first part of the Fable. It is impossible to be sure whether this edition or that of 1725 is closer to Mandeville’s final intention (see below, i. xxxiv-xxxv). I have preferred the text adopted, because, other things being equal, the last authorized edition1 seemed to me preferable to an intermediate one and because the orthography of the 1732 edition is more modern.2 This edition has, moreover, a certain further interest in that it was from this issue that the French translation was made.3 The text used in volume two is that of the 1729 edition — the first edition of Part II. The only variations in the editions of Part II were apparently, as may be seen from the variant readings, due to the printer, so that the first edition is nearest to Mandeville’s text.

1 The 1732 edition was authorized: it was by Mandeville’s publisher and was acknowledged by Mandeville (Letter to Dion, p. 7).

2 There is no reason to suppose that this modernity was removed from Mandeville’s intention, for the conflicting practices in his various books and the evidence of his holograph (see facsimiles) indicate that he left orthography largely to his printers.

3 According to the French version, ed. 1740, i. viii; ed. 1750, i. xiv.

The textual notes list all significant variations in the texts of all the editions issued during Mandeville’s life except the pirated edition of the Grumbling Hive (1705). For the first volume, the editions used are those of 1714, 1723, 1724, 1725, 1728, 1729, and 1732, as well as the original edition of the Grumbling Hive (see below, i. xxxiii) and Mandeville’s Vindication, as it appeared in the London Journal for 10 August 1723, which first published it; and, for Part II, the editions of 1729, 1730, and 1733. Variations considered of sufficient interest for record comprise (1) all differences of text in which substitution, addition, or subtraction of words is involved, (2) contractions and expansions of words where the change causes a difference in pronunciation (e.g., them to ’em), and (3) a very few variations in punctuation which affected the sense of the passages involved. Variations due to misprints have not been noted except where there might be doubt as to the fact of the misprint, or where it made good sense. Variations in capitalization have not been noted, nor have differences in spelling, except in the special case of a proper name, where the alteration had significance (see below, i. 154, n. c). Although technically a change of word, the consistent alteration of whilst in the earlier editions to while in the last edition has been treated as the mere change of spelling which for practical purposes it was. Nor have I listed the frequent changes from humane to human. Likewise, the many alterations of terminal cy to ce and cies to ces (e. g., inconveniency to inconvenience) have not been noted except in two cases (i. 26 and 36) where they affected the rhyme scheme of versified portions of the Fable, and there I have made an exception to my general practice by substituting the terminal cies of the earlier texts for the ces of the basic one. In the case of references by Mandeville to the page numbers of other parts of his book, the numbers of which vary, of course, according to the editions, no variants are given, except where the reference is different not only in number but in fact. The presence of lists of errata has not been noted (with a few significant exceptions), but the corrections have been made as indicated in the various texts.

The basic texts (1732 and 1729) are reprinted unaltered in every way except that misprints have been corrected when it was quite certain that they were misprints, and that the punctuation of the basic text has been changed where it was too misleading. The latter has been done, however, only in the few cases where the pointing was so perplexed that it was more annoying than is the presence of the note with which I have always accompanied a correction; and, with three exceptions (see i. 263, n. a, ii. 311, n. a, and 338, n. a), there has always been authority for the correction in some other edition. In every case whatever, I have always fully indicated all changes made in the basic text, with the authority for the change found in the other editions. The occasional semicolon where we should now never use it (e. g., in i. 144, l. 2, ii. 206, l. 2, 232, l. 36, 242, l. 27, 261, ll. 9 and 13, and 287, l. 24) is not an overlooked misprint, but according to the practice of the day. — Corrections in Mandeville’s indexes have been made by placing the correct reference in brackets after the original reference.

The original pagination of the basic texts is indicated in brackets in the margin throughout, so that references to Mandeville in previous critical works may be more easily traced.1 Because the original paging is given, I have not changed the pagination in Mandeville’s own references and his indexes to correspond to that of the present edition.

1 The marginal paging in vol. 1 applies not only to the edition of 1732, but, almost exactly, to the editions of 1723, 1724, 1725, and 1728. The marginal paging in vol. 2 applies in similar fashion, except for the Introduction, to the edition of 1733.

In my textual notes, the different editions are discriminated by the last two numbers of their date — e.g., 23 for 1723. Mandeville’s Vindication as originally published in the London Journal for 10 August 1723 is designated by the letters L. J. Both 1714 editions are designated as 14 where the variants noted are identical in both editions; where the variants differ the first printing is referred to as 141, the second, as 142. The presumed second printing of sheet O in the 1729 edition of Part II (see below, ii. 394–5) is referred to as 29b. In noting variants lemmas were thought unnecessary and omitted where a single word is substituted for another single word. Throughout the notes, ‘add.’ [added] means that the passage referred to first appeared at the date given by the note; e. g., ‘the add. 24’ means that the word ‘the’ was first inserted in the text in the edition of 1724. It may be assumed that an edition not named in a textual note is identical as regards the variant considered with the text adopted.

A bird’s-eye view of the extent and date of the chief textual variations in the different editions of the Fable may be secured below, ii. 392–3; and a history of the development of the text is given in the second chapter of the Introduction.

The decorations are all reproduced from books printed by James Roberts between 1717 and 1732, and chiefly from various editions of the Fable. Roberts printed most of Mandeville’s major works (see below, ii. 2, n.).

This edition is an elaboration of a dissertation presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Yale University in 1917. I gratefully confess my debt for aid given me at Yale by Professors G. H. Nettleton, A. S. Cook, and W. H. Durham. Since then I have incurred pleasant obligations to many other friends. Professor E. L. Schaub, Mr. Nichol Smith, Mr. George Ostler, Dr. A. E. Case, Professor Gustave Cohen, Dr. W. H. Lowenhaupt, and Dr. A. J. Snow have given me valuable criticism and suggestions. Miss Simone Ratel and Mrs. G. R. Osler have aided me to find references and verify the proof. Dr. A. H. Nethercot, Mr. F. H. Heidbrink, and Mrs. L. N. Dodge have greatly helped me in collating and preparing the text. Mr. George Ostler, of the Oxford Press, has kindly taken on his shoulders the task of making the index. To Mr. T. W. Koch I owe especial gratitude for making this book, as it were, his foster-child — he will know what I mean. Nor am I forgetful of the patience and goodwill with which the Press has placed its wisdom at my disposal. But above all I am indebted to my colleague, Professor R. S. Crane, to whose painstaking criticism and literary and scholarly tact this edition owes so much that were it not pleasurable it would be embarrassing to make acknowledgement.

F. B. K.

Northwestern University,

Evanston, Illinois,

31 December 1923.

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