"FROM THE AUTHOR": FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, OF RANBY'S DOUBTS ON THE ABOLITION OF THE SLAVE TRADE, 1790
[RANBY, John]. Doubts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade; by an Old Member of Parliament. London: John Stockdale, 1790. Slim octavo, period-style half brown calf, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine label. $1800.
First edition, presentation copy, of this work on the brutal economic impact of abolishing the slave trade by a prominent pamphleteer, inscribed on the title page in an unidentified hand: "From the Author."
"A natural son of the [famous] surgeon, John Ranby (1743–1820), pamphleteer, assumed the name of Ranby by royal licence in exchange for that of George Osborne, in 1756. Educated at Eton College, he stated that he knew Richard Watson, afterwards bishop of Llandaff, at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted on 26 May 1761; however, he did not graduate. Ranby, who was admitted at Lincoln's Inn in 1762, 'huzzaed after Mr. Wilkes' in 1763, but developed into a partisan pamphleteer on the tory side. In 1791 he published Doubts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which James Boswell (who called Ranby his 'learned and ingenious friend') highly commended" (DNB). In this work, Ranby looks at the slave trade from an economic perspective, arguing that Great Britain and its colonies in the Caribbean would be devastated by an end to slavery. Ranby further put forward the idea that the sugar industry could not be properly staffed without slaves, damaging both the economy and trade. Ultimately, Ranby argued that any attempt to abolish the slave trade had to be grounded in fact, rather than in a "pursuit of unattainable purity and perfection." Without half title and blanks. Sabin 20675.
Light soiling to title page and a few interior leaves, minor foxing to preliminary and concluding pages, binding handsome. A near-fine presentation copy.