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PREFACE.

This work was commenced by Mr. E. Seymer Thompson and myself in the hope and with the intention that we should complete it as joint authors.

Early in the course of the excitement to which the events of 1876 gave rise, the importance of the utterances of the platform and the press became apparent. They seemed to constitute a great debate, rivalling in importance those recorded in the

pages of Hansard. The daily and weekly journals gave a wide publicity to the contentions in the form of leading articles, correspondence, and reported speeches. But these records were essentially ephemeral in their nature, and after they had served the purpose of the moment, they were often difficult or inconvenient of access, At the same time many of the points contended for appeared to be of more than passing interest and importance.

This book is an attempt :

(1) To discuss briefly, though sufficiently to indicate the point of view adopted, the functions which the genius of the English Constitution assigns to Public Opinion (Part I.).

(2) To discuss methods of evaluation of Public Opinion in general, and to analyse English Public Opinion on the Eastern Question in particular (Part II.).

(3) Finally, to show that in the events of 1876-8 Public Opinion was deprived under Lord Beaconsfield of its due influence on the foreign policy of England (Part III.).

While not concealing our own opinion that this influence would, in this particular case, have been wholesome and beneficial,

1 Fellow and now Tutor of Christ's College, Cambridge.

we regarded it as lying somewhat beyond our scope to arrive at any dogmatic conclusion on the general question of the advantages or the reverse of personal government in foreign affairs.

We long worked at the book together, and with regard to a great deal of it, it would be hard to say what was due to one or to the other of us. But it became evident that the hope of completing the work jointly must be given up or the publication be indefinitely delayed. At last we reluctantly came to the conclusion that the MS. must be completed by me, and that the responsibility of the whole should rest with me alone. But my collaborator, as I still must call him, retained his lively interest until the end, continuing to furnish many valuable criticisms and suggestions; and though his name does not appear upon the titlepage, he has had no small share in the production of this book.

G. O. T.

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