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Welsh History Review


Vol. 17, nos. 1-4 1994-95

The correspondence of Richard Price, volume III: February 1786-February 1791. A bibliography of the works of Richard Price. Book review.

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1786-FEBRUARY 1791. Edited by W. Bernard Peach. University of Wales Press,
Cardiff/Duke University Press, Durham N.C., 1994. Pp. xxxi, 382,  39.95: A
Stephens and P. A. L. Jones, Scolar Press, Aldershot, 1993. Pp. xxi, 221.  50.00.
With these two publications a profoundly fruitful period in Price scholarship draws
to an end. The last twenty years have seen the publication of Price's writings on the
American Revolution, a student edition of his political writings, a bilingual edition of
his Discourse on the Love of our Country, Japanese translations of his major political
writings, a transcription of his private shorthand diary, a major monographic study of
his life and thought and many other specialized studies. Now we have the final volume
of his correspondence and a bibliography. At the heart of these enterprises has been D.
0. Thomas, but he has attracted distinguished collaborators, as these two works show.
Together they furnish indispensable materials for studying the life and thought of
Richard Price. The bibliography, besides containing arcane information for the
bibliophile, scrupulously compiled by John Stephens and P. A. L. Jones, provides an
account of the often complex publishing history for each one of his works and an
indication of present-day library holdings. But this is more than a manual for
researchers, bibliophiles and antiquarian booksellers; it contains guides, written in
clear, non-technical language, to the contents of individual works. These are
effectually microcosmic histories of Price's life and ideas and are especially important
for the lesser-known and less available works. Moreover, even those to the better-
known works contain fascinating insights. The minor changes, for example, to the
Discourse on the Love of our Country, reveal Price modifying passages which might
have given offence to the Methodists, and also substituting Fenelon for Marmontel in
his pantheon of those who had disseminated just notions of the rights of men 'of
religion and the nature and end of civil government'. This was a clear indication that
Fenelon's reputation as a friend of mankind proved to be more enduring than
Marmontel, whose work Beliasrie (1767) has supported the cause of toleration and, in
its time, had created a great storm, being suppressed by the Sorbonne. It had been
translated into English almost immediately and went into several editions. French
memories, however, appear to be have been as short as English ones, for, when the
discourse was translated into French by Loius Felix Keralio, Rousseau was substituted
for Marmontel.
Price wrote some forty works, many of which went into several editions. In all, there
were twelve translations-into Dutch and French. By the end of the eighteenth century,
112 books and pamphlets had been published which addressed the ideas of this leading
philosophe. Interest in his work then fell off fairly drastically. The equivalent figure
for the whole of the nineteenth century is six, to which one can add three articles, and
ten other works in one way or another related to his life and ideas. Price continued to
be remembered as a moral philosopher, but his overall achievement was largely
forgotten. The situation gradually changed this century: to date nineteen books and
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