From the very beginning of reading and writing—nay, doubtless from the very beginning of speaking,—Truth, immortal Truth has been the object of ostensible worship to all who read and to all who listen; and, in the abstract, it is unquestionably held in sincere veneration by all: yet, in the detail of every-day practice, the majority of mankind often hate it, and are seen to bear pain, disappointment, and sorrow more patiently than its honoured voice when it echoes not their own opinion. Preconceived notions generally take a much firmer hold of the mind than can be obtained by any statement, however clear and plain, which tends to overthrow them; and if it happen that these are connected with an honest intention of being right, they are often mistaken for principles;—in which case the attempt to shake them is considered not merely as a folly, but a sin. With this conviction strongly impressed upon my mind, it requires some moral courage to publish these volumes; for they are written in conformity to the opinions of ... perhaps none,—and, worse still, there is that in them which may be considered as contradictory to my own. Had I before my late visit to Paris written a book for the purpose of advocating the opinions I entertained on the state of the country, it certainly would have been composed in a spirit by no means according in all points with that manifested in the following pages: but while profiting by every occasion which permitted me to mix with distinguished people of all parties, I learnt much of which I was—in common, I suspect, with many Others—very profoundly ignorant. I found good where I looked for mischief—strength where I anticipated weakness—and the watchful wisdom of cautious legislators, most usefully at work for the welfare of their country, instead of the crude vagaries of a revolutionary government, active only in leading blindfold the deluded populace who trusted to them
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