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period of her history, nor was likely so to do, had not the wild ambition of her ruler provoked his own downfal and led to the general change in her institutions. Consequently, France has no claim whatever to be considered her own liberator; she struggled hard, on the contrary, to continue enslaved, and was at length only drubbed out of her chains. And a constitutional system, the most valuable present that could possibly be made to any nation, worth more than all the conquests she ever effected had she been permitted to retain them all, has been the voluntary gift of her conquerors.
So little, therefore, did her revolution, with all its spoliations, proscriptions, terrors, massacres, and wars, for more than twenty-two years, effect for its nominal aim—that of giving freedom and security to her people. And so fully was the anticipation of Mr. Burke verified, that an event which inflicted and permitted so many evils, could scarcely, if left to itself, be productive of good.
The Addenda contain some particulars which were mislaid during the progress of the work; and likewise a few others which came to hand too late to be inserted in their proper places.
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inner Few things interest the curiosity of mankind more, or prove so instructive in themselves, as to trace the progress of a powerful mind by the honourable exertion of its native energies, rising amid serious obstructions and difficulties from a very private condition to stations of public eminence and trust, and in its progress acquiring the power to rule, or to influence, the destiny of nations.
Such a person, as sprung not from the privileged few, but from among the mass of the people, we feel to be one of ourselves. Our sympathies go along with him in his career. The young imagine that it may possibly be their own case; the old, with a glance of retrospective regret, may fancy, that with a little more of the favour of fortune it might have been theirs; and at any rate we are anxious to ascertain the causes of his superiority, to treasure up his experience, to profit by what he experienced to be useful, to avoid what he found to be disadvantageous. And the lesson becomes doubly instructive to that large class of society who are born to be the architects of their own fortune, when it impresses the great moral truth, that natural endowments, however great, receive their highest polish and
power, their only secure reward, from diligent study
-- from continued, unwearied application-a plain, homely faculty within the reach of all men; one whose fruits, as they bear testimony at once to the industry of the possessor, and to the intrinsic value of the possession, are above all others likely to wear well. Of the great results of such endowments, fostered and directed by such cultivation, we have not a more distinguished example than Edmund Burke.
To an attentive reader of our political and literary history during the sixty years that are past, no name will more frequently attract his attention, whether we consider the large space he occupied in the public eye, the original genius he possessed, the diversified talents he displayed, the great events with which the whole of his public life was connected, and the alternate eulogy and abuse by which, particularly since the period of the French Revolution, his reputation has been assailed.
Two biographies of this remarkable man have been written; one of them a quarto volume of slander, dictated by the most envenomed party spirit, and probably meant at the moment to answer some party purpose; the other more just to his deserts ; but both very deficient in facts, and especially so as to his earlier life, very little being stated, or indeed known of him, until his connexion with the Marquis of Rockingham, and subsequent entry in Parliament. Obvious as this deficiency in political biography was, accident alone suggested to the present writer the attempt to clear up part of this obscurity. Contemplating his qualities, both natural and acquired, and his career at large, as very extraordinary and successful, he drew up a character of him at some length in the autumn of 1819, which being thrown by for above two years without further notice, came then under the examination of a friend, who recommended that it should be enlarged and altered from the form it then bore : for that many parts as it stood would be obscure to the general reader, many be liable to mistake or misapplication, and some nearly unintelligible, if not grounded upon a memoir. This additional labour was undertaken certainly without regret. Some new materials were already in the writer's hands, and by application to various friends in England and Ireland, a variety of others, chiefly unknown to the world, and of undoubted authenticity, were procured ; and, as illustrative of the opinions, the criticisms, and the style of correspondence, as well of the friendly as of the more formal description of his principal, a few of his letters have been added, several of them little or not at all familiar to the public eye.
An extended biography, embracing a minute exposition of all his labours in Parliament, in Westminster Hall on the prosecution of Mr. Hastings, or in the press, together with details respecting American, India, French, or other important public affairs with which he was much concerned, was not deemed necessary. It may be said, indeed, that to write the life of a great statesinan and orator, withVOL. I.
out giving the substance of his speeches in the great council of the nation, is scarcely to do him justice, and were they not to be found elsewhere, the remark would be just. But these make part of the history of the country. A few of the principal of them, given at length, are to be found in his works; and the remainder may be seen, although in a very imperfect form indeed, as all such things must be when reporting was imperfect and publication wholly interdicted, in the four volumes collected and published (for Longman and Co.) by a different editor in 1816. And independent of this, the appalling form of two, three, or even more quartos, to which such a design would inevitably extend, was sufficient of itself to deter the writer from any such attempt, bearing in mind the observation of the eminent subject of his sketch, that “ a great book is a great evil.” His aim was, therefore, not to make a great book, but a compact one ; to condense within a moderate compass all that was necessary to be known, and which many readers would decline to seek in the more ponderous forms just mentioned. In doing this he thought it better simply to allude to the chief public exertions of Mr. Burke, accompanied by a few words of explanation or illustration, sometimes drawn from himself, rather than to aim at entering into their details.
Great as is the reputation of this eminent man, it stands, so far as party feelings are concerned, in rather a singular predicament. It is well known that he would not go all lengths with any body of men, and constantly declined to fall in with any