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A DVERTISE MENT.
THE Book on the English Constitution, of which a new edition is here offered to the public, was first written in French, and published in Holland”. Several persons have asked me the question, How I came to think of treating of such a subject? One of the first things in this country, that engage the attention of a stranger who is in the habit of observing the objects before him, is the peculiarity of its government: I had moreover been lately a witness of the broils which had for some time prevailed in the republic in which I was born, and of the revolution by which they were termimated. Scenes of that kind, in a state which, though small, is independent, and contains within itself the principles of its motions, had naturally given me some competent insight into the first real principles of governments: owing to this circumstance, and perhaps also to some moderate share of natural abilities, I was enabled to perform the task I had undertaken with tolerable success. I was twenty-seven years old when I came to this country: after having been in it only a year, I began to write my work, which I published about nine months afterwards; and have since been surprised to find that i had committed so few errors of a certain kind: I certainly was fortunate in avoiding to enter deeply into those articles with which I was not sufficiently acquainted. The book met with rather a favourable reception on the continent; several successive editions having been made of it. And it also met here with approbation, even from men of opposite parties; which, in this country, was no small luck for a book on systematica} politics. Allowing that the arguments had some connection and clearness, as well as novelty, I think the work was of peculiar utility, if the epoch at which it was published is considered; which was, though without any design from me, at the time when the disputes with the colonies were beginning to take a serious turn, both here and in America. A work which contained a specious, if not thoroughly true, confutation of those political motions, by the help of which a disunion of the empire was endeavoured to be promoted (which confutation was moreover noticed by men in the highest places), should have procured to the author some sort of real encouragement; at least the publication of it should not have drawn him into any inconvenient situation. When my enlarged English edition was ready for the press, had I acquainted ministers that I was preparing to boil my tea-kettle with it, for want of being able conveniently to afford the expense of print
* In one of the notes to this work, the author says that it was first published in France. The fact seems to bave been, that it made its first appearance in Holland, whence it was sent to France. Edit.
ing it, I do not pretend to say what their answer would have been ; but I am firmly of opinion, that, had the like arguments in favour of the existing government of this country, against republican principles, been shown to Charles the First, or his ministers, at a certain period of his reign, they would have very willingly defrayed the expenses of the publication. In defect of encouragement from great men (and even from booksellers) I had recourse to a subscription; and my having expected any success from such a plan, shows that my knowiedge of this country was at that time very incomplete”.
* In regard to two subscribers in particular, I was, I confess, sadly disappointed.—Though all the booksellers in London had at first refused to have any thing to do with my English edition (notwithstanding the French work was extremely well known), yet, soon after I had thought of the expedient of a subscription, I found that two of them, who are both living, had begun a translation, on the recommendation, as they told me, of a noble lord, whom they named, who had, till a few years before, filled one of the highest offices under the crown. I paid them ten pounds, in order to engage them to drop their undertaking, about which I understood they already had been at some expense. Had the noble lord in question favoured me with his subscription, I would have celebrated the generosity and munificence of my patron; but, as he did not think proper so to do, I shall only observe, that his recommending my work to a bookseller cost me ten pounds.
At the time the above subscription for my English edition was advertising, a copy of the French work was asked of me for a noble earl", then invested with a high office in the state; none being at that time to be found at any bookseller's in London. I gave the only copy I had (the consequence was, that I was obliged to borrow one, to make my English edition from): and I added, that I hoped his lordship would honour me with his subscription. However, my hopes were here again confounded. As a gentleman who continues to fill an important office under the crown, accidentally informed me about a year afterwards, that the noble lord here alluded to had lent him
* M. de Lolme seems here to allude to the earl of Rochford.—EDIt.
tioned to the size of the performance. And, in fine, I must add to the account of the many favours I have received, that I was allowed to carry on the above business of selling my book, without any objection being formed against me from my not having served a regular apprenticeship, and without being molested by the inquisition.
Several authors have chosen to relate, in writings published after death, the personal advantages by which their performances had been followed: as for me, I have thought otherwise; and, fearing that during the latter part of my life I may be otherwise engaged, I have preferred to write now the account of my successes in this country, and to see it printed while I am yet living. I shall add to the above narrative (whatever the reader may be pleased to think of it) a few observations of rather a more serious kind, for the sake of those persons who, judging themselves to be possessed of abilities, find they are neglected by such as have it in their power to do them occasional services, and suffer themselves to be mortified by it. To hope that men will in earnest assist in setting forth the mental qualifications of others, is an expectation which, generally speaking, must needs be disappointed. To procure one's notions and opinions to be attended to, and approved by the circles of one's acquaintance, is the universal wish of mankind. To diffuse these notions farther, to numerous parts of the public, by means of the press or by others, becomes an object of real ambition; nor is this ambition always proportioned to