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PREFACE,

A long period has elapsed since my mind was first impressed with the belief that there exists in the heart and vitals of society some deeply rooted but concealed disease; and continued reflection upon the subject, has only tended to confirm and strengthen the opinion.

A notion appears to prevail amongst mankind, that there exists in our Social System a self regulating principle, and that the stream of commerce, like that of water, only requires to be let alone to find its own level, and to flow on smoothly and prosperously. Ten years ago, I doubted, and I now deny, the existence of any such principle. I also deny the possibility of effectually removing the distresses of this country, by any other means whatever than those of association in the employment of capital ; and I affirm, that by such association, under well digested principles, and with an improved plan of exchange, unmerited poverty

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may be removed, commercial difficulties of every denomination annihilated, and individual, as well as national, prosperity, established upon an ample and imperishable basis.

At an early period of my life I committed to paper the opinions I then entertained upon this subject, and sent the manuscript to the most intelligent friend I then, or have ever since, had, requesting the favour of a perusal, and of an opinion of the work; and here is a verbatim copy of his reply :

I had intended, as I was requested, to make a “ few observations upon this work, and I have “ waded through it with the view of doing so ; but “ after perusing the third chapter of the last part, [the work was then divided into three parts,] “ am convinced that any observations would be a

mere waste of time. I should advise that the “ book be put into any kitchen fire large enough “ to consume it."

My friend's verdict was certainly neither very complimentary nor encouraging : I had, however, but little disposition to act in accordance with his advice, and as it was quite evident that he had not understood the opinion which was intended to be stated, owing, perhaps, to the obscurity of the language, I endeavoured to console myself with the hope that, at some future period, I might be able to state my views in a more clear and intelligible manner; and I trust that I have now done so.

Some time afterwards, I re-wrote and published a part of the said work in the form of a lecture, of

which a few hundred copies were sold immediately, and the rest were put into the hands of a London publisher, who failed shortly afterwards, and from that hour to this I have never accurately ascertained what became of them. The pamphlet I allude to was afterwards reprinted in Philadelphia, where an edition of a thousand copies was rapidly sold off.

My reason for giving publicity to the foregoing statement now is to admit the justice of my

friend's criticism, so far as related to the propriety of publishing the work in the condition in which it then was ; and as that portion of it, which was afterwards printed, was not, in any instance, so far as I know, advertised, and as no other means, save only the issuing of a few prospectuses, were taken to bring it before the public, I have here quoted, without the accustomed marks, the very few sentences it contained, which I now think worthy of preservation.

Whilst, however, I am not anxious to rescue from oblivion the aforesaid pamphlet, which, by the way, was merely an introduction to the present subject, and contained no attempt to explain how matters might be improved ; let it not be supposed that I imagine the present work to be at all free from the same faults. Fully occupied, from a very early age, with the active business of life, I have had no opportunity of acquiring those literary qualifications, which, in this fastidious age, are so essential to accomplished authorship. But these, however undoubtedly important, are not, in the present instance, indispensable. The poet, or the

novelist, must be rich in words as well as in thoughts, ere he can be successful ; but in mere matters of opinion, a plain man can generally tell his mind in his own way : indeed, most men in the present day can put thoughts into language sufficiently well to be understood ; and, as the object of this little work is not to please the imagination, but to assist the judgment, to be understood is all, as a literary composition, that it aspires to.

A lapse of several years, since the subject of the commercial interests of nations first occupied my mind, during which I have undergone a very full share of bodily exertion, as well as of mental anxiety and affliction, has, I trust, done something towards abating the enthusiasm of a mind naturally confident and sanguine ; but additional thought, reflection, and experience, have only tended to confirm

ту belief, that in the commercial affairs of society there is a tremendous evil, resembling, not the decrepitude of old age, which can merely be assisted with the crutch, but rather the thorn, which only requires to be plucked from the foot of youth to restore him to vigour and activity. The opinions here stated are substantially the same as those which I entertained many years ago, but they are now for the first time published.

One word of apology for the style. Boldness of assertion, full confidence in their own opinions, and disregard of those of other men, are the common faults of inexperienced writers ; and they are amongst mine. I find it, however, much easier thus freely to express myself, than to ape a more

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