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fore, has been made the foundation of the present, for which a form has been chosen better adapted to publick convenience. Such errours of the press as have been discovered in it are here rectified: in other respects it is faithfully followed, except that, in one instance, an accident of little moment has occasioned a slight deviation from the strict chronological arrangement; and that on the other hand, a speech of conspicuous excellence, on his declining the poll at Bristol, in 1780, is here, for the first time, inserted in its proper place.
As the activity of the Author's mind, and the lively interest which he took in the welfare of his country, ceased only with his life, many subsequent productions issued from his pen, which were received in a manner corresponding with his distinguished reputation. He wrote also various tracts, of a less popular description, which he designed for private
private circulation, in quarters where he supposed they might produce most benefit to the community; but which, with some other papers, have been printed, since his death, from copies which he left behind him fairly transcribed, and most of them corrected as for the press. All these, now first collected together, form the contents of the last two volumes. They are disposed in chronological order, with the exception of the Preface to Brissot's Address, which, having appeared in the Author's life time, and from delicacy not being avowed by him, did not come within the plan of this edition; but has been placed at the end of the last volume, on its being found deficient in just bulk.
The several posthumous publications, as they from time to time made their appearance, were accompanied by appropriate prefaces. These, however, as they were principally intended for temporary purposes, have been omitted.
omitted. Some few explanations only, which they contained, seem here to be necessary.
The "Observations on the Conduct of the Minority in the Session of 1793,” had been written and sent by Mr. Burke as a paper entirely and strictly confidential; but it crept surreptitiously into the world, through the fraud and treachery of the man whom he had employed to transcribe it, and, as usually happens in such cases, came forth in a very mangled state, under a false title, and without the introductory letter. The friends of the Author, without waiting to consult him, instantly obtained an injunction from the Court of Chancery to stop the sale. What he himself felt, on receiving intelligence of the injury done him by one from whom his kindness deserved a very different return, will be best conveyed in his own words. The following is an extract of a letter to a friend, which he dictated on this subject from a sick bed.
"MY DEAR Laurence,
Bath, 15th Feb. 1797.
"ON the appearance of the advertisement, all newspapers, and all letters "have been kept back from me till this time. "Mrs. Burke opened your's, and finding that "all the measures in the power of Dr. King, yourself, and Mr. Woodford, had been "taken to suppress the publication, she ven"tured to deliver me the letters to-day, “which were read to me in my bed, about “two o'clock.
"This affair does vex me; but I am not "in a state of health at present to be deeply ❝vexed at any thing. Whenever this matter
comes into discussion, I authorize you to "contradict the infamous reports, which (I am informed) have been given out; that
this paper had been circulated through the "Ministry, and was intended gradually to slide into the press. To the best of my "recollection, I never had a clean copy of it "but
"but one, which is now in my possession;
I never communicated that, but to the "Duke of Portland, from whom I had it "back again. But the Duke will set this "matter to rights, if in reality there were "two copies, and he has one. I never "shewed it, as they know, to any one of the
Ministry. If the Duke has really a copy, "I believe his and mine are the only ones "that exist, except what was taken by fraud from loose and incorrect papers by S
66 to whom I gave the letter to copy. As "soon as I began to suspect him capable 66 of any such scandalous breach of trust,
you know with what anxiety I got the “loose papers out of his hands, not having
reason to think that he kept any other.
Neither do I believe in fact (unless he me
ditated this villainy long ago) that he did
or does now possess any clean copy. I
never communicated that paper to any one "out of the very small circle of those private "friends, from whom I concealed nothing.