Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7
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PREFACE. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 7 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 7.
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From the moment of beginning my work, one of my most anxious endeavours has been to keep myself out of the sight of my readers;—not from any affectation of reserve, but because, in this case, there is no necessary connexion between the author of the work and the matter discussed in it. Occasions have arisen, however, to induce me to speak in the first person, in a preface; and I now do so again on account of certain questions which have been publicly as well as privately treated, respecting the proper direction of the popular influence which is attributed to me, and which it would be equally weak and hypocritical in me to disclaim.
What I wish to explain is,—briefly,—that I take my stand upon Science. Whether the truths attempted to be illustrated by me on this ground be Tory, Whig, or Radical, is a question to be determined, if they so please, by Tories, Whigs, and Radicals, and not (at least at present) by me. It comes within the scope of my object to illustrate certain principles of Social Morals, as well as of Political Economy; but it is altogether foreign to my purpose to determine by what political party those principles are the most satisfactorily recognized. I may have,—I have,—a decided opinion on this point; but, as it has nothing to do with my work, I must protest against all attempts on the part of those who speak of me as an author to render me distrusted by any one political party, or to identify me with any other.
All have their mission. It is the mission of some to lead or support a party;—a mission as honourable as it is necessary. It is the mission of others to ascertain or to teach truth which bears no relation to party; and to fulfil it requires the free use of materials and facilities afforded by any in whose possession they may happen to be. This last is my office,—imposed on me by the very act of accepting my first services. Its discharge requires perfect liberty of action and of speech;— freedom alike from anger at the vituperation and ridicule of one party,—from distrust of the courtesies of a second,—and from subservience to the dictation of a third. Such freedom I enjoy, and am resolved to maintain. The sciences on which I touch, whether in the one series or the other on which I am occupied, bear no relation to party. The People, for whom I write, are of no party,—I, therefore, as a writer, am of no party. To what party I might be proved to belong by inference from the truths I illustrate, I leave to be decided by those who may think it worth their while.
If this explanation should expose me to the charge of self-importance, let it in justice be remembered that it was not I who originated the question respecting the proper direction of my influence, or invited any interference therein. No such direction is attempted by myself. As I think, so I speak; leaving what I say to find its way to the hearts and minds which have a congeniality with my own. Whenever I begin to modify the expression of what I think from a regard to one class of minds rather than another, I shall probably be thankful for assistance in determining the direction of an influence which will have lost half its vitality in losing its freedom.
Meantime while declining all control in the use of such power as I have, I will most humbly accept aid from any quarter in the improvement of its character. With its extent and mode of operation I am and shall be satisfied, because these are not included in my responsibilities. With its quality, I hope never to be satisfied; as the time ought never to arrive when it will not be inferior to my aspirations.