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“Wir bonus dicendi peritus"—a virtuous man skilled in the art of speaking—such is the definition of an orator given by Cato the elder, and handed down by Quinctilian. Certainly no one on record more aptly accords with the description than the illustrious subject of this biography. Perfect in private and in public life, as far perhaps as the common failings of humanity would permit, EDMUND BURRE presents throughout his whole

course an example pleasing to contemplate, and of infinite ad

vantage to study. Burke's speeches and writings have, by

frequent repetition, reference, and quotation, become known to most people in and out of Parliament. Few political emergencies occur—few measures of imminent interest and importance fall into discussion and debate—without recourse, either for guidance or encouragement, to the lessons and language of Edmund Burke; and thus it is that his thoughts of wisdom and his words of fire have become familiar to us all. Yet his own history, like that of Shakespeare, is far less known than his

works. This circumstance, the truth of which will be readily b

admitted, is the more to be lamented when one considers that Edmund Burke's whole life was a precept; that his domestic actions, as well as his historic deeds, were constantly of a nature to cheer, instruct, and edify mankind. Mr. Fry, in one of his popular and instructive discourses on the subject of Edmund Burke, particularly alludes to this. “Nor is it,” says the learned lecturer, “only in the glare of public life, nor only for his immortal compositions, that Mr. Burke is to be studied and admired. The quiet under-current of his existence equally deserves our attentive approbation, and honourably distinguishes him from his eminent contemporaries. . . . In all the private relations we see the conduct of this great man harmonious and consistent—anxiously discharging every private duty of husband, father, friend, and fellow-creature, till his great heart had ceased to beat.” This is certainly true; and the probable reason why there exists such imperfect knowledge of the man himself arises doubtless from there having been really no complete and readable account of the life of Burke. The more extensive memoirs of him are mere disjointed, discursive, and confusing compilations. Political and private matters are so mixed up and jumbled together in them, with such little regard to following the time or ide of events as they flow on, that the reader who attempts to master the narrative finds himself lost as in a labyrinth, until utter weariness and perplexity impede, or altogether prevent, his going further. Each of these long and tedious memoirs is wretched as a whole, yet

the present author has found in some of the earlier of them


facts and details pertinent and applicable to this book: such parts he has endeavoured to mould, make use of, and incorporate in this condensed and in some measure compiled biography. Nevertheless, after so general a condemnation of writers who, whether living or dead, have long since passed into merited oblivion, the author avoids, as invidious, pointing out any of them by name. There are some smaller biographies of Burke—much better productions; but these, again, are either too short, or, like Dr. Croly's very able work, which first appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, are professedly or in effect confined to politics only. The present volume attempts to remedy the deficiency, by relating the history of Edmund Burke, both as a private person and a public character, in a compact, and, it is presumed, an easily intelligible shape. The author's aim and anxiety have been to furnish a plain and popular biography. In his endeavour to effect that object, he has experienced, from the quantity of matter he has had to sift and set in order, far more difficulty and toil than he could have anticipated, or than probably the result of his labours may make it be believed. His success has now in some measure been tested, by the sale of a very large edition of this book within a very short space of time. This favourable reception, and early call for another edition, are so far cheering, that they go to confirm what the author's estimation and admiration of the character and doctrine of Edmund Burke had led him already to hope, that no effort

would prove entirely vain which sought to aid in extending the

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