Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 July 2017
Madrid, 8 November 1788
“It is the duty of kings to honor and love the teachers of the great arts by whose counsel kingdoms are upheld and often improved.”R. D. Alfonso el Sabio, l. 3, tít. 10, Partida 2
Since this text was written as a eulogy that demonstrated how much had been done to promote useful instruction in Spain during the reign of the good king Charles III, who now rests in peace, other events related to his reign were described briefly, and the reflections that such a vast subject required were also abridged. The very nature of the piece demanded concision, but some people have suggested that several of the topics that the text mentions hurriedly deserve elaboration in a series of notes.
Though the author generally concurs with this view, he believes that he cannot, and should not, follow it, for two especially powerful reasons. First, that those readers who chose this text among the many written to honor Charles III, some of which contain a greater number of details and lengthier descriptions, do not seem to need the commentary to understand it; and, second, that having been asked by the Royal Society of Madrid to present this eulogy, and thus been so generously honored, the author cannot regard the text as his own, nor add anything that did not receive the Society's accolades. The eulogy appears here, therefore, exactly as it was read to that illustrious body on Saturday, 8 November of last year; with the author conceding, in deference to the Society, to both publish a text that was incapable of fulfilling the great object that was his aim, and to do so without altering it, and thus renouncing the improvement that a meditated and thorough revision might have brought about.
But if the public, which tends to dispense with circumstantial merits when judging works directed to its utility, were to embrace this one, the author reserves the right to revise it and publish it again. Then he would strive to include notes that clarify those points related to the literary history of political economy, which are, to his mind, in greater need of elaboration, and more worthy of it, too.