« ÖncekiDevam »
yet publish, there may perhaps be found something of the garrulity of age, and I hope also something of grey-headed reflection, and a more mature and well-ripened cast of thought.
But, alas! to what does it all amount? The toys of childhood, the toys of manhood, and the toys of old age, are still toys. And, if it were hereafter possible for me to look down upon them from a future state, I should find them to be all alike laborious trifles. As it is, and seeing with my present imperfect organs, I am more than half inclined to despise them. But I know not that I could have done any better,
The alterations which I have introduced into the present edition are not considerable. They are greatest in the concluding Essay, as my opinions in some respects on the subject of that Essay have sustained a material change; and I was not willing to contribute, however slightly, to give permanence to notions which now appeared to me erroneous.
I have added two pages to the end of the Essay on Beggars. And, if it may be allowed, I would particularly solicit the reader's attention to a note now added, in page 256, on the character of Brutus.
shich now ap.
to the end of , if it may be ·ly solicit the how added, in of Brutus.
The volume here presented to the reader, is upon a construction totally different from that of a work upon the principles of poli. tical science, published by the same author
The writer deems himself an ardent lover of truth; and, to increase his chance of forcing her from her hiding-place, he has been willing to vary his method of approach.
There are two principal methods accord. ing to which truth may be investigated.
The first is by laying down one or two simple principles, which seem scarcely to be exposed to the hazard of refutation ; and then developing them, applying them to a number of points, and following them into a variety of inferences. From this method of investigation, the first thing we are led to hope is, that there will result a system consentaneous to itself; and, secondly, that, if all the parts shall thus be brought into agreement with a few principles, and if those principles be themselves true, the whole will be found conformable to truth. This is the method of investigation attempted in the Enquiry concerning Political Justice.
An enquiry thus pursued is undoubtedly in the highest style of man. But it is liable to many disadvantages; and, though there be nothing that it involves too high for our
pride, it is perhaps a method of investigation incommensurate to our powers.
A mistake in the commencement is fatal. An error in almost any part of the process is attended with extensive injury; where every thing is connected, as it were, in an indissoluble chain, and an oversight in one step vitiates all that are to follow. The intellectual
eye of man, perhaps, is formed rather for the inspection of minute and near, than of immense and distant objects. We proceed most safely, when we enter upon each portion of our process, as it were, de novo ; and there is danger, if we are too exclusively anxious about consistency of system, that we may forget the perpetual attention we owe to experience, the pole-star of truth.
An incessant recurrence to experiment and actual observation, is the second me