Political Tactics

By Michael James; Cyprian Blamires et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.a
OF THE MODE OF PROCEEDING IN A POLITICAL ASSEMBLY IN THE FORMATION OF ITS DECISIONS.

§1. Introductory Observations.

THE subject we are now about to engage in, is in its own nature abstract, intricate, and obscure. Of these undesirable qualities in the subject, but too strong a tincture must inevitably be imbibed by the work. To judge by the celerity with which a motion is oftentimes made, and an order framed in consequence, the path may at first glance appear short and simple. But, in this as in other instances, practice may be short and simple, where description and discussion are tedious and involved. To put in action the whole muscular system, is the work but of an instant; but to describe the parts concerned in that action, and the different modifications it admits of, is to exhaust the stores of a copious and recondite science.

For affording a clue to this labyrinth at the first entrance, no expedient seemed to promise better, than that of singling out, and laying before the reader at one view, the essential points upon which the due conduct of the business seemed principally to turn; suggesting at the same time such regulations as the dictates of utility seemed to prescribe in relation to those points. Chronological order, the order of the incidents, has for this purpose been broken in upon, lest these points of primary importance should have been lost, as it were, in the multitude of less essential details. But though broken in upon, it is not anywhere reversed: and, in the subsequent discussions, strict order will reassume its empire.b

On these few points turn the essential differences between the British and (what, as far as I have been able to learn, has been) the French practice in this line. In these points, too, if the reasoning which the reader will find as he advances be not erroneous, resides the singular excellence, or rather exclusive fitness, of the former mode.

____________________
1
It was in fact not published but privately printed to form the bulk of 'Essay on Political Tactics'. In Bowring this footnote continued with a reproduction of the Preface to that work (see p. 1 above). Chapter VI In Bowring was based entirely on Bentham 1791, and made no use of the four chapters of Dumont (Chapters X, XV, XVI, and XVII) derived from the same source. As with Chapter V, significant differences between Bowring and Bentham 1791 are indicated in editorial footnotes. The Collation provides a complete account of the differences between the two editions.
a
This chapter was originally published in 4to, in the year 1791.1
b
Order, useful as it is in general to facilitate conception, and necessary as is the assistance it affords to the weakness of the human faculties, is good for nothing else: so that in the few cases where instruction can be administered to more advantage by dispensing with the laws of order than by the observance of them, to adhere to those laws with an inflexible pertinacity would be to sacrifice the end to the means.

-72-

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