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THE three first of the following letters appeared originally in Cobbett's Weekly Political Register. There are several things, in which they may seem to require some apology. First, some persons, who were convinced by the arguments, have objected to the style as too flowery, and full of attempts at description. · If I have erred in this respect, it has been from design. I have indeed endeavoured to make my book as amusing as the costiveness of my genius would permit. If however these critics persist in their objection, I will undertake to produce a work as dry and formal as they please, if they will undertake to find readers. Secondly, some of the observations, may be thought too severe and personal. In the first place, I shall answer that the abuse, of which there is to be sure a plentiful sprinkling, is not I think unmerited or unsupported; and in the second place, that if I could have attacked
the work successfully, without attacking the author, I should have preferred doing so. But the thing was impossible. Who ever troubles hinself about abstract reasonings, or calm, dispassionate inquiries after truth ? The public ought not to blame me for consulting their taste. As to the diffuseness, the repetitions, and want of method to be found in these letters, I have no good defence to make. I may however make the same excuse for the great length to which they have run, as the Frenchman did, who apologised for writing a long letter by saying, that he had not time to write a shorter.
ANSWER TO MALTHUS, &c.
As the proposed alteration in the system of the Poor Laws must naturally engage your attention, as well as that of the public; and, as the authority of Mr. Malthus has often been referred to, and has great weight with many people on this subject, it may not be amiss to inquire, how far the reputation which that gentleman has gained, as a moral and political philosopher, can be safely reposed on as the foundation of any part of a system which is directed to objects of national utility, and requires close, comprehensive, and accurate reasoning. You, Sir, are not ignorant, that a name will do more towards softening down prejudices, and bolster