Political Tactics

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

PREFACE1

THE present Essay2 is, as the number subjoined to it imports, but a fragment of a much more extensive work, the design of which embraced the whole theory of the discipline and mode of procedure most proper to be observed in all sorts of political assemblies.

What gave rise to it was the notification that had been given of the then approaching meeting of the French States-General, since termed the National Assembly.

As to the particular matter of the present Essay, preceded, as it required to be, by several other matters, as well in respect to the chronological order of the subjects treated of, as in respect to the order that seemed most favourable to investigation, it presented itself as second to none in the order of importance.

What was more, the very rules that suggested themselves as necessary to every assembly, turned out to be the very rules actually observed in both assemblies of the British Legislature. What theory would have pitched upon as a model of perfection, practice presented as having been successfully pursued: never was the accord more perfect between reason and experience.

The conjuncture which gave rise to the publication seemed to be such as would give it its best chance of being of use. A political assembly, selected from the whole body of a great nation, were about to meet for the first time. Every thing that concerned them was as yet new to them: every thing was as yet to create. They were in the situation of a manufacturer, who, besides the work that was the object of his manufacture, should find himself under the necessity of making the very tools he was to work with. The presenting these new manufacturers with a new set of tools, with a description of their uses, tools whose temper had been so well tried, was the object of the present design.

The subject, however, taken in its full extent, and handled in the manner in which it was endeavoured to be handled, was far too extensive for the time. All that could be done at the moment, was to select for immediate publication what seemed to stand first in the order of importance. By forced exertions, the part now published was accordingly printed off; and, of a few copies that were sent to Paris, the last sheet reached that metropolis a day or two after the first formal meeting of the Assembly, and before any

____________________
1
For details of this Preface, first printed in 1791, see the Editorial Introduction, p. xxxix.
2
The 'present Essay', i.e. Chapter VI, pp. 72-109 below, was the sixth Essay in the projected work. See Table I, p. 176 below.

-1-

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