Many years ago, when I read the History of the Belgian Revolution in Watson's excellent work, I was seized with an enthusiasm which political events but rarely excite. On further reflection I felt that this enthusiastic feeling had arisen less from the book itself than from the ardent workings of my own imagination, which had imparted to the recorded materials the particular form that so fascinated me. These imaginations, therefore, I felt a wish to fix, to multiply, and to strengthen; these exalted sentiments I was anxious to extend by communicating them to others. This was my principal motive for commencing the present history, my only vocation to write it. The execution of this design carried me farther than in the beginning I had expected. A closer acquaintance with my materials enabled me to discover defects previously unnoticed, long waste tracts to be filled up, apparent contradictions to be reconciled, and isolated facts to be brought into connection with the rest of the subject. Not so much with the view of enriching my history with new facts as of seeking a key to old ones, I betook myself to the original sources, and thus what was originally intended to be only a general outline expanded under my hands into an elaborate history. The first part, which concludes with the Duchess of Parma's departure from the Netherlands, must be looked upon only as the introduction to the history of the Revolution itself, which did not come to an open outbreak till the government of her successor. I have bestowed the more care and attention upon this introductory period the more the generality of writers who had previously treated of it seemed to me deficient in these very qualities. Moreover, it is in my opinion the more important as being the root and source of all the subsequent events. If, then, the first volume should appear to any as barren in important incident, dwelling prolixly on trifles, or, rather, should seem at first sight profuse of reflections, and in general tediously minute, it must be remembered that it was precisely out of small beginnings that the Revolution was gradually developed; and that all the great results which follow sprang out of a countless number of trifling and little circumstances.