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HE late Mr. Burke, from a principle of
unaffected humility, which they, who were the most intimately acquainted with his character, best know to have been in his estimation one of the most important moral duties, never himself made any collection of the various publications with which, during a period of forty years, he adorned and enriched the literature of this country. When, however, the rapid and unexampled demand for his " Reflections on the Revolution of France" had unequivocally testified his celebrity as a writer, some of his friends so far prevailed upon him, that he permitted them to put forth a regular edition of his Works. Accordingly, three volumes in quarto appeared under that title in 1792, printed for the late Mr. Dodsley. A 3
press as have
That edition, therefore, has been made the foundation of the present, for which a form has been chosen better adapted to publick convenience. Such errours of the 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
circulation, 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. Bath, 15th Feb. 1797.
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 lifetime, 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. 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,
“ ON the appearance of the ad“ vertisement, 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 ventured 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