"Soon we will see a frightful calm, during which all will unite against the power that violated the law."
"When Sylla wanted to yield liberty back to Rome, it could no longer receive it."
-- Montesquieu, The Spirit of The Laws.
A. Mertens and Son, Printer
Rue de l'escalier, 22
This book has traits that can be applied to all governments, but it has one precise goal: to personify one political system in particular that has not varied in its methods for a single day since the unfortunate and, alas, already too faraway date of its inauguration.
This is not a lampoon or a pamphlet; the senses of modern people are already too policed to accept violent truths about contemporary politics. The supernatural duration of certain successes [in this field] is furthermore intended to corrupt honesty itself; but public consciousness still lives, and the heavens will one day day interfere in the games being played against it.
One better judges certain facts and certain principles when one sees them outside of the framework in which they habitually move before our eyes; the change of optical perspective sometimes terrifies the eyes!
Here, everything is presented under the form of fiction; it would be superfluous to provide the key in anticipation. If this book has an import, if it contains a lesson, it will be necessary for the reader to understand it and not have it given to him. Furthermore, such reading will not fail to have quite lively distractions; it is necessary to proceed with it slowly, as is suitable with writings that are not frivolous things.
One will not ask where is the hand that traced out these pages: a work such as this is, in a certain way, impersonal. It responds to an appeal to consciousness; everyone has conceived it; it is executed; the author effaces himself, because he is only the editor of a thought that is in the general sense; he is only a more or less obscure accomplice of the coalition for good.
Geneva, 15 October 1864
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