The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

De Quincey, Thomas (1785–1859)

  • F. Y. Edgeworth
Reference work entry


The son of a prosperous merchant, De Quincey was born in 1785, and, after a brilliant literary career, died in 1859. That a genius of so high an order of imagination found the abstract reasoning of political economy ‘Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose’ is instructive. The fascination which the severer aspect of the science had for De Quincey is expressed in that passage of the Confessions of an Opium Eater where the writer describes how he was aroused from lethargy by the study of Ricardo’s Political Economy (1818). The fruit of that study appeared in the Dialogues of Three Templars (1824), a brilliant exposition and defence of the Ricardian theory of value. The paradox, for so De Quincey admits it to be in a good sense, that real value is measured by quantity of labour, that

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Y. Edgeworth
    • 1
  1. 1.