by Emile de Laveley (1812)

Chapter I—The Question at Issue.

IN the 18th century people held long and lively discussions on the subject of Luxury. To-day we do not discuss it so frequently; we are content with indulging in it to excess.

Is luxury useful? This is the question we need to decide. I have read somewhere, no matter where, a saying which seems to me exactly to sum up the discussion. A financier and an economist of the last century held entirely different opinions on this subject.

“I maintain, for my part,” said the financier, “that it is luxury which upholds States.” “Yes,” replied the economist, “just as the executioner’s rope upholds the hanged man.” I agree with the economist. The philosophers of old times and the fathers of the Church alike condemned luxury in the strongest terms, and they were right in so doing. It is pernicious to the individual, and fatal to society. Primitive Christianity reproved it in the name of charity and of humility; political economy condemns it in the name of utility, and right in the name of equity.


– Chapter I—The Question at Issue.
– Chapter II—What Is Luxury?
– Chapter III—Sentiments Which give rise to Luxury
– Chapter IV—Luxury is Unjustifiable.
– Chapter V—Is Luxury Any Evidence or Cause of Moral Development?
– Chapter VI—Is Luxury Necessary for the sake of Keeping Machinery Employed?
– Chapter VII—Three Aspects of the Question of Luxury.
– Chapter VIII—Luxury and the Ideal Life.
– Chapter IX—Luxury in Relation to the Prosperity of Nations.
– Chapter X—Luxury and Justice.
– Chapter XI—State Luxury.
– Chapter XII—Luxury as Connected with Different Forms of Government.

– Chapter I—Political Economy as Related to other Branches of Social Science.
– Chapter II—Political Economy As Related To Morality.
– Chapter III—Political Economy as Related to Law.
– Chapter IV—Political Economy as Belated to History.

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