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THIS book is an attempt to sketch our existing system of Local Government, to state in popular language the net result of the combination of recent legislation with the former law. It contains the substance of six lectures which I delivered in Middle Temple Hall at the request of the Council of Legal Education during Michaelmas Term, 1898. I have taken as my model an admirable little book written in 1883 for this English Citizen Series by Mr. Mackenzie D. Chalmers, who was till last month a'member of the Council of the Governor-General of India. My book is to a large extent founded upon his; but the changes made in our local institutions since 1883 are so varied and so vast that every chapter had to be entirely re-written.

There is this difference also between the two books. Mr. Chalmers' book was a powerful and convincing argument for reform. He denounced with righteous indignation the chaos and confusion which then existed. in all local affairs. My book, on the other hand, seeks to inspire its readers with gratitude-not wholly devoid,


perhaps, of some hope of favours yet to come-but still with honest gratitude for the benefits which we have derived from the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894.

The mention of favours yet to come naturally reminds one of the London Government Bill now before Parliament. My chapter on the Metropolis was in print more than a month before Mr. Balfour brought in his Bill, and I therefore thought it best to leave unaltered what I had written as to the reform of the Metropolitan Vestries and District Boards.

W. B. O.


March 20, 1899.

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