OR, MEDITATION ON THE REVOLUTIONS OF EMPIRES
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PREFACE OF THE LONDON EDITION.
- Published by T. Allman, 42 Holborn Hill, London, 1851.
The plan of this publication was formed nearly ten years ago; and
allusions to it may be seen in the preface to Travels in Syria and
Egypt, as well as at the end of that work, (published in 1787).
The performance was in some forwardness when the events of 1788 in
France interrupted it. Persuaded that a development of the theory
of political truth could not sufficiently acquit a citizen of his
debt to society, the author wished to add practice; and that
particularly at a time when a single arm was of consequence in the
defence of the general cause.
The same desire of public benefit which induced him to suspend his
work, has since engaged him to resume it, and though it may not
possess the same merit as if it had appeared under the
circumstances that gave rise to it, yet he imagines that at a time
when new passions are bursting forth,--passions that must
communicate their activity to the religious opinions of men,--it is
of importance to disseminate such moral truths as are calculated to
operate as a curb and restraint. It is with this view he has
endeavored to give to these truths, hitherto treated as abstract, a
form likely to gain them a reception.
It was found impossible not to shock the violent prejudices of some
readers; but the work, so far from being the fruit of a disorderly
and perturbed spirit, has been dictated by a sincere love of order
After reading this performance it will be asked, how it was
possible in 1784 to have had an idea of what did not take place
till the year 1790? The solution is simple. In the original plan
the legislator was a fictitious and hypothetical being: in the
present, the author has substituted an existing legislator; and the
reality has only made the subject additionally interesting.