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

Table of Contents


Prefatory Note on the Method of this Edition
  1. Life of Mandeville.
  2. History of the Text.
  3. Mandeville’s Thought.
  4. The Background.
  5. Mandeville’s Influence.
Note on the phrase ‘Private Vices, Publick Benefits’
The Preface.
The Grumbling Hive: or, Knaves turn’d Honest.
The Introduction.
An Enquiry Into the Origin of Moral Virtue.
An Essay on Charity, and Charity-Schools.
A Search into the Nature of Society.
A Vindication of the Book, from the Aspersions Contain’d in a Presentment of the Grand Jury of Middlesex, and An Abusive Letter to Lord C.


The Preface.
The First Dialogue Between Horatio, Cleomenes, and Fulvia.
The Second Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
The Third Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
The Fourth Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
The Fifth Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
The Sixth Dialogue Between Horatio and Cleomenes.
Mandeville’s Family. Notes to the Genealogy
Description of the Editions
Criticisms of the Fable.
A List Chronologically Arranged of references to Mandeville’s Work.
Corrigenda in Volume ii


Letter Addressed to Sir Hans Sloane

Sloane MS. 4076, f. 110 (British Museum)


The date of this letter must be later than 3 April 1716 for Sloane was not made a baronet till then


‘I read Mandeville forty, or, I believe, fifty years ago. . . . he opened my views into real life very much.’

Johnson, in Boswell’s Life, ed. Hill, 1887, iii. 292.

‘The wickedest cleverest book in the English language.’

Crabb Robinson, Diary, ed. Sadler, 1869, i. 392.

‘If Shakespeare had written a book on the motives of human actions, it is. . . . extremely improbable that it would have contained half so much able reasoning on the subject as is to be found in the Fable of the Bees.’

Macaulay, in the essay on Milton (Works, ed. 1866, v. 5).

‘I like Mandeville better [than La Rochefoucauld]. He goes more into his subject.’

Hazlitt, Collected Works, ed. Waller and Glover, vi. 387.

‘Ay, this same midnight, by this chair of mine,

Come and review thy counsels: art thou still

Staunch to their teaching? — not as fools opine

Its purport might be, but as subtler skill

Could, through turbidity, the loaded line

Of logic casting, sound deep, deeper, till

It touched a quietude and reached a shrine

And recognized harmoniously combine

Evil with good, and hailed truth’s triumph — thine,

Sage dead long since, Bernard de Mandeville!’

Browning, Parleyings with Certain People (1887), p. 31.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58