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"But I beg you and my friends to be cau"tious how you let it be understood, that I disclaim any thing but the mere act and "intention of publication. I do not retract any one of the sentiments contained in that "Memorial, which was and is my justification, addressed to the friends, for whose use " alone I intended it. Had I designed it for "the publick, I should have been more "exact and full. It was written in a tone of
indignation, in consequence of the resolu"tions of the Whig Club, which were direct"ly pointed against myself and others, and
occasioned our secession from that Club;
which is the last act of my life that I shall under any circumstances repent. Many 'temperaments and explanations there
would have been, if I ever had a notion "that it should meet the publick eye.”
In the mean time a large impression, amounting, it is believed, to three thousand copies, had been dispersed over the country. I
To recall these was impossible; to have expected that any acknowledged production of Mr. Burke, full of matter likely to interest the future historian, could remain for ever in obscurity, would have been folly; and to have passed it over in silent neglect, on the one hand, or on the other, to have then made any considerable changes in it, might have seemed an abandonment of the principles which it contained. The Author, therefore, discovering that, with the exception of the introductory letter, he had not in fact kept any clean copy, as he had supposed, corrected one of the pamphlets with his own hand. From this, which was found preserved with his other papers, his friends afterwards thought it their duty to give an authentick edition.
The "Thoughts and Details on Scarcity" were originally presented in the form of a Memorial to Mr. Pitt. The Author proposed afterwards to recast the same matter in a
new shape. He even advertised the intended work under the title of "Letters on Rural Economicks, addressed to Mr. Arthur Young;" but he seems to have finished only two or three detached fragments of the first letter. These being too imperfect to be printed alone, his friends inserted them in the Memorial, where they seemed best to cohere. The Memorial had been fairly copied, but did not appear to have been examined or corrected, as some trifling errours of the transcriber were perceptible in it. The manuscript of the fragments was a rough draft from the Author's own hand, much blotted and very confused.
The" Third Letter on the Proposals for Peace," was in its progress through the press when Mr. Burke died. About one half of it was actually revised in print by
himself, though not in the exact order of the pages as they now stand. He enlarged his first draft, and separated one great member of his subject, for the purpose of introducing some other matter between. The different parcels of manuscript, designed to intervene, were discovered. One of them he seemed to have gone over himself, and to have improved and augmented. The other (fortunately the smaller) was much more imperfect, just as it was taken from his mouth by dictation. The former reaches from the two hundred and forty-sixth* to near the end of the two hundred and sixty-second page; the latter nearly occupies the twelve pages which follow. No important change, none at all affecting the meaning of any passage, has been made in either: though in the more imperfect parcel, some latitude of discretion in subordinate points was necessarily used.
* In the present edition it extends from page 320 to page
There is, however, a considerable member, for the greater part of which, Mr. Burke's reputation is not responsible: this is the enquiry into the condition of the higher classes, which commences in the two hundred and ninety-fifth page. The summary of the whole topick indeed, nearly as it stands in the three hundred and seventythird and fourth pagest, was found, together with a marginal reference to the bankrupt list, in his own hand-writing; and the actual conclusion of the letter was dictated by him, but never received his subsequent correction. He had also preserved, as materials for this branch of his subject, some scattered hints, documents, and parts of a correspondence on the state of the country. He was, however, prevented from working on them, by the want of some authentick and official information, for which he had been long anx
* Page 369 of the present edition.
+ Pages 417, 418, of the present edition.