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MASTERS, AND SCHOLARS,
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN,
THE following work is an attempt to establish the elements of society, during the whole of its progress, from the lowest to the highest stages of civilization, upon the basis of sound morals; and to deduce from the hypothesis certain plain and practical principles of moral and political economy for the use of the British student.
On considering to whom I could with the greatest pleasure and propriety dedicate such a work, my
mind was not long left in doubt. Brought up from my earliest days within sight of an University of which I subsequently became an unworthy member, I have since had ample opportunities of appreciating the influence of the instruction there imparted upon the moral and political welfare of our country.
That the work which I now presume to offer to your consideration does in any degree merit an equal rank with the books which have been instrumental in producing that influence, I have not the vanity to suppose. Concerning the station to which it may be entitled by the presumed soundness of its principles or the justness of its conclusions, I shall cheerfully submit to your decision. But I may venture to observe that the SUBJECT is of the utmost importance, and one upon which no British Gentleman or Legislator should be permitted to go forth into the world without clear and decided views. The happiness of the people, derived from their comfortable subsistence, and from their moral conduct upon all those points which are connected with the principle of population, is the only solid foundation of National prosperity. Without it all the pains bestowed in the higher departments of policy are only
so many fruitless efforts to adorn a superstructure which the first blast of adversity must level with the ground. With it the edifice of the state is founded upon a rock, against which the waves will beat in vain; for it will be firm enough not only to be preserved from overthrow, but even to escape those temporary shocks which might injure the more minute arrangements for the comfort of the inhabitants. The mind of a British Statesman especially must be ill-furnished, and his efforts comparatively unsuccessful, who is ignorant of the principles upon which this essential foundation is to be laid; for a very slight acquaintance with the subject will show that the advanced stage of society, to which our Country has been happily carried, renders the knowledge of them peculiarly necessary, towards its maintenance and further progress.
Should the following work be calculated, in your opinion, to improve and to extend that knowledge, I shall be more than repaid for the labour of the composition and my utmost wishes will be surpassed, should you think it worthy of occupying an humble place in those studies by which the youth of Britain are trained to be the strength and ornament of their country, and to be the instruments of