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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 seventy-third and fourth pages, 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 anxiously waiting, in order to ascertain, to the satisfaction of the publick, what with his usual sagacity he had fully an
ticipated from his own personal observation, to
*Page 369 of the present edition.
his own private conviction. At length the reports of the different Committees, which had been appointed by the two Houses of Parliament, amply furnished him with evidence for this purpose. Accordingly he read and considered them with attention; but for any thing beyond this the season was now past. The Supreme Disposer of all, against whose inscrutable counsels it is vain as well as impious to murmur, did not permit him to enter on the execution of the task which he meditated. It was resolved, therefore, by one of his friends, after much hesitation, and under a very painful responsibility, to make such an attempt as he could at supplying the void; especially because the insufficiency of our resources for the continuance of the war was understood to have been the principal objection urged against the two former "Letters on the Proposals for Peace." In performing with reverential diffidence this duty of friendship, care has been taken not to attribute to Mr. Burke any sentiment
sentiment which is not most explicitly known, from repeated conversations, and from much correspondence, to have been decidedly entertained by that illustrious man. One passage of nearly three pages, containing a censure of our defensive system, is borrowed from a private letter, which he began to dictate, with an intention of comprizing in it the short result of his opinions, but which he afterwards abandoned, when, a little time before his death, his health appeared in some degree to amend, and he hoped that Providence might have spared him at least to complete the larger publick letter, which he then proposed to
In the preface to the former edition of this letter, a fourth was mentioned as being in possession of Mr. Burke's friends. It was in fact announced by the Author himself, in the conclusion of the second, which it was then designed to follow. He intended, he said, "to
"proceed next on the question of the facilities "possessed by the French Republick, from the "internalstate of other nations, and particularly
of this, for obtaining her ends; and, as his "notions were controverted, to take notice of "what, in that way, had been recommended
to him." The vehicle which he had chosen for this part of his plan was an answer to a pamphlet which was supposed to come from high authority, and was circulated by Ministers with great industry, at the time of its appearance in October 1795, immediately previous to that Session of Parliament when His Majesty for the first time declared, that the appearance of any disposition in the negociate for general peace, should not fail to be met with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest effect. In truth, the answer, which is full of spirit and vivacity, was written in the latter end of the same year, but was laid aside when the question assumed a more serious aspect, from the commencement
of an actual negociation, which gave rise to the series of printed letters. Afterwards, he began to re-write it, with a view of accommodating it to his new purpose. The greater part, however, still remained in its original state; and several heroes of the Revolution, who are there celebrated, having in the interval passed off the publick stage, a greater liberty of insertion and alteration than his friends on consideration have thought allowable, would be necessary to adapt it to that place in the series for which it was ultimately designed by the Author. This piece, therefore, addressed, as the title originally stood, to his noble friend, Earl Fitzwilliam, will be given the first in the supplemental volumes, which will be hereafter added to complete this edition of the Author's Works.
The tracts, most of them in manuscript, which have been already selected as fit for this purpose, will probably furnish four or five