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MANUAL OF LIBERTY:
IN BEHALF OF THB
RIGHTS OF MANKIND;
SELECTED FROM THE
BEST AUTHORITIES, IN PROSE AND VERSE,
PRINTED FOR H. D. SYMONDS, NO. 20, PATERNOSTER ROW.
THE present is the age of political speculation ; new and old systems of government are now at issue. The partisans of both are guilty of considerable error in the mode of conducting their respective causes : the defenders of the old systems are stubbornly bent upon not relaxing in the slightest particular, but rather upon winding up every spring of established prejudice and power to its utmost exteot; the defenders of the new, if they be not too large in their demands, at least are much too impatient in their hopes of a change. It is necessary for the welfare of both that both should come nearer to each other. The favourers of establishments should be willing, were it only for their own safety, to favour a gradual and moderate improvement, and the pleaders for innovation should be satisfied, provided they kept their great of ect continually in view,
and obtained slow and partial, but uninterrupted approaches to it.
The turbulence of either party leads them to favour strong exertions and projects of violence. The tempest is brewing, the political horison is overcast, and the waves are full of that restless commotion which precedes a storm. At so awful a crisis he is the common friend of mankind who endeavours, with the oil of truth, to assuage the fury that nov rages upon the waters. It is truth only, calm and dispassionate truth, truth drawn from the bosom of philosophy, and not the wild declamation of party bigots, that can divert the calamities that already hover over the human race. There are many benevolent individuals aloof from the violence of this portentous broil, that are sensible of this, and benevolently devote their labours to the planting, through the medium of instruction, the seeds of future amity and consent.
But unfortunately in the present day truth has an unfashionable and ungracious odour. The vehement advocates of existing governments confess their enmity to impartial and unfettered discussion, and he who, with the purest intentions, should listen only to the voice of reason, and repeat her dictates, must expect to be branded with the most opprobrious epithets.
It was this train of thinking which suggested the idea of the following compilation. “I do not expect," said its author, " that
my countrymen should lend a long, a pa" tient and laborious attention to any thing
my good-will might incline me to offer: “ but if I cannot be heard for my own sake, “and speak in my own words, some defese rence will at least be paid to those illus, “ trious writers, who, in all ages and in all “ countries, have born testimony to the
great principles of public good.” Accordingly in the present volume the reader will find scarcely a single word from the individual by whom it is now laid before him ; and the authorities are in most instances such, that no man can refuse to hear, and afterwards advance his pretensions to candour and liberality.
Several of the writers, such as Milton, Rousseau, Helvetius, and a writer of
very modern standing, whose name will repeatędly occur, Godwin, are authors who are certainly favourable to the speculative principles, taken in their most sober and mode