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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE READER.
The late Mr. Burke, from a principle of disposed in chronological order, with the es. unaffected humility, which they, who were the ception of the Preface to Brissot's Address most intimately acquainted with his character, which having appeared in the Author's lifebest know to have been in his estimation ono time, and from delicacy not being avowed by of the most important moral duties, never him- him, did not come within the plan of this self made any collection of the various publi- edition, but has been placed at the end of the cations with which, during a period of forty last volume, on its being found deficient in just years, he adorned and enriched the literature bulk. of this country. When, however, the rapid The several posthumous publications, as and unexampled demand for his "Reflections they from time to time made their appearance, on the Revolution of France," had unequivo were accompanied by appropriate prefaces. cally testified his celebrity as a writer, some These, however, as they were principally of his friends so far prevailed upon him, that intended for temporary purposes, have been he permitted them to put forth-a regular edition omitted. Some few explanations only, which of his works. Accordingly, three volumes in they contained, seem here to be necessary. quarto appeared under that title in 1792, print- The “Observations on the Conduct of the ed for the late Mr. Dodsley. That edition, Minority in the Session of 1793,” had been therefore, has been made the foundation of the written and sent by Mr. Burke as a paper present, for which a form has been chosen entirely and strictly confidential; but it crept better adapted to public convenience. Such surreptitiously into the world, through the fraud ertours of the press as have been discovered and treachery of the man whom he had emin it are here rectified; in other respects it is ployed to transcribe it, and, as usually happens faithfully followed, except that in one instance, in such cases, came forth in a rery mangled an accident of little moment has occasioned a state, under a false title, and without the inslight deviation from the strict chronological troductory letter. The friends of the Author, arrangement; and that, on the other hand, a without waiting to consult him, instantly obspeech of conspicuous cxcellence, on his de- tained an injunction from the Court of Chanclining the poll at Bristol, in 1780, here, for cery to stop the sale. What he himself felt, the first time, inserted in its proper place. on receiving intelligence of the injury done As the activity of the Author's mind, and him by one,
from whom his kindness deserved the lively interest which he took in the welfare a very different turn, will be best conveyed in of his country, ceased only with his life, many his own words. The following is an extract subsequent productions issued from his pen, of a letter to a friend, which he dictated on which were received in a manner correspond- this subject from a sick bed: ing with his distinguished reputation. Ho wrote also various tracts, of a less popular
“Bath 15th Feb. 1797. description, which he designed for private “ MY DEAR LAURENCE, On the appearcirculation, in quarters where he supposed ance of the advertisement, all newspapers, and they might produco most benefit to the com- all letters have been kept back from me til munity; but which, with some other papers, this time. Mrs. Burke opened your's, and have been printed since his death, from copies finding that all the measures in the power of which he left behind him fairly transcribed, Dr. King, yourself, and Mr. Woodford, had and most of them corrected as for the press. been taken to suppress the publication, she All these, now first collected together, form ventured to deliver me the letters to-day, which the contents of the last volume. They are were read to me in my bed, about two o'clock
" This affair does vex me; but I am not in it, might have seemed an abandonment of the
i a state of health at present to be deeply vexed principles which it contained. The Author, at any thing. Whenever this matter comes therefore, discovering that, with the exception into discussion, I authorize you to contradict of the introductory letter, he had not in fact the infamous reports, which (I am informed) kept any clean copy, as he had supposed, corhave been given out; that this paper had been rected one of the pamphlets with his own hand. circulated through the Ministry, and was in. From this, which was found preserved with his tended gradually to slide into the press. To other papers, his friends afterwards thought it the best of my recollection, I never had a clean their duty to give an authentic edition. copy of it but one, which is now in my posses- The " Thoughts and Details on Scarcity" sion; I never communicated that, but to the were originally presented in the form of a Duke of Portland, from whom I had it back Memorial to Mr. Pitt. The Author proposed again. But the Duke will set this matter to afterwards to recast the same matter in a new rights, if in reality there were two copies, and shape. He even advertised the intended work he has one. I never shewed it, as they know, under the title of “Letters on Rural Econoto any one of the Ministry. If the Duke has mics, addressed to Mr. Arthur Young;” but really a copy, I believe his and mine are the he seems to have finished only two or three only ones that exist, except what was taken detached fragments of the first letter. These by fraud from loose and incorrect papers by being too imperfect to be printed alone, his S- to whom I gave the letter to copy friends inserted them in the Memorial, where As soon as I began to suspect him capable of they seemed best to cohere. The Memorial any such scandalous breach of trust, you know had been fairly copied, but did not appear to with what anxiety I got the loose papers out have been examined or corrected, as some of his hands, not having reason to think that trifling errours of the transcriber were percephe kept any other. Neither do I believe in tible in it. The manuscript of the fragments fact (unless he meditated this villainy long was a rough draft from the Author's own hand, ago) that he did or does now possess any clean much blotted and very
confused. copy. I never communicated that paper to any The “ Third Letter on the Proposals for one out of the very small circle of those private Pea was in its progress through the press friends, from whom I concealed nothing. when Mr. Burke died. About one half of it
“ But I beg you and my friends to be cautious was actually revised in print by himself, though how you let it be understood, that I disclaim any not in the exact order of the pages as they now thing but the mere act and intention of publica- stand. He enlarged his first draft, and sepation. I do not retract any one of the sentiments rated one great member of his subject, for the contained in that Memorial, which was and is purpose of introducing some other matter be my justification, addressed to the friends, for tween. The different parcels of manuscript, whose use alone I intended it. Had I designed designed to intervene, were discovered. One it for the public, I should have been more exact of them he seemed to have gone over himself, and full. It was written in a tone of indignation, and to have improved and augmented. The in consequence of the resolutions of the Whig other, (fortunately the smaller,) was much more Club, which were directly pointed against mye imperfect, just as it was taken from his mouth self and others, and occasioned our secession by dictation. No important change, none at from that club; which is the last act of my all affecting the meaning of any passage, has life that I shall under any circumstances repent. been mado in either, though in the more Many temperaments and explanations there imperfect parcel, some latitude of discretion would have been, if I had ever had a notion in subordinate points was necessarily used. that it should meet the public eye."
There is, however, a considerable member,
for the greater part of which, Mr. Burke's In the mean time a large impression, amount- reputation is not responsible: this is the ining, it is believed, to three thousand copies, had quiry into the condition of the higher classes. been dispersed over the country. To recall The summary of the whole topic indeed, nearly these was impossible ; to have expected that as it stands, was found, together with a margiany acknowledged production of Mr. Burke, nal reference to the bankrupt-list, in his own full of matter lisely to interest the future histo- hand-writing ; and the actual conclusion of the rian, could remain for ever in obscurity, would letter was dictated by him, but never received have been folly; and to have passed it over in his subsequent correction. He had also presilent neglect, on the one hand, or, on the other, served, as materials for this branch of the to have then made any considerable changes in subject, some scattered hints, documents, and parts of a correspondence on the state of the pamphlet which was supposed to come from country. He was, however, prevented from high authority, and was circulated by Ministers working on them, by the want of some authen- with great industry, at the time of its appear. tic and official information, for which he had ance in October, 1795, immediately previous to been long anxiously waiting, in order to ascer- that Session of Parliament when his Majesty tain, to the satisfaction of the public, what for the first time declared that the appearanco with his usual sagacity he had fully antici- of any disposition in the enemy to negotiate pated from his own personal observation, to his for general peace, should not fail to be met own private conviction. At length the reports with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and of the different Committees, which had been speediest effect. In truth, the answer, which appointed by the two Houses of Parliament, is full of spirit and vivacity, was written in the amaply furnished him with evidence for this latter end of the same year, but was laid aside purpose. Accordingly he read and considered when the question assumed a more serious them with attention; but for any thing beyond aspect, from the commencement of an actual this the season was now past. The Supreme negotiation, which gave rise to the series of Disposer of all, against whose inscrutable coun- printed letters. Afterwards, he began to resels it is vain as well as impious to murmur, write it, with a view of accommodating it to did not permit him to enter on the execution of his new purpose. The greater part, however, the task which ho meditated. It was resolved, still remained in its original state ; and several thereforo, by one of his friends, after much heroes of tho Revolution, who are there cele hesitation, and under a very painful responsi- brated, having in the interval passed off the bility, to make such an attempt as he could public stage, a greater liberty of insertion and at supplying the void ; especially because the alteration than his friends, on consideration, insufficiency of our resources for the continu- have thought allowable, would be necessary to ance of the war was understood to have been adapt it to that place in the series for which it the principal objection urged against the two was ultimately designed by the Author. This former " Letters on the Proposals for Peace.” piece, therefore, addressed, as the title origiIn performing with reverential diffidence this nally stood, to his noble friend, Earl Fitzduty of friendship, care has been taken not to william, will be given the first in the supattribute to Mr. Burke any sentiment which is' plemental volumes, which will be hereafter not most explicitly known, from repeated con- added to complete this edition of the Author's versations, and from much correspondence, to works, have been decidedly entertained by that illustri- The tracts, most of them in manuscript, ous man. One passage of nearly three pages, which have been already selected as fit for containing a censure of our defensive system, this purpose, will probably furnish four or five is borrowed from a private letter, which he volumes more, to be printed uniformly with began to dictate, with an intention of compris. this edition. The principal piece is entitled ing in it the short result of his opinions, but "An Essay towards an Abridgment of the which he afterwards abandoned, when, a little English History;" and reaches from the earliest time before his death, his health appeared in period down to the conclusion of the reign of some degree to amend, and he hoped that King John. It is written with much depth Providence might have spared him at least to of antiquarian research, directed by the mind complete the larger public letter, which he of an intelligent statesman. This alone, as then proposed to resume.
far as can be conjectured, will form more than In the preface to the former edition of this one volume. Another entire volume also, at letter, a fourth was mentioned as being in least, will be filled with his letters to public possession of Mr. Burke's friends. It was in men on public affairs, especially those of fact announced by the Author himself, in the France. This supplement will be sent to the conclusion of the second, which it was then press without delay. designed to follow. He intended, he said, "to Mr. Burke's more familiar correspondence proceed next on the question of the facilities will be reserved, as authorities to accompany possessed by the French Republic, from the a narrative of his life, which will conclude the internal state of other nations, and particularly whole. The period during which he flourished of this, for obtaining her ends; and, as his was one of the most memorable of our annals. notions were controverted, to take notice of It comprehended the acquisition of one empire what, in that way, had been recommended to in the east, the loss of another in the west, and him." The vehicle which he had chosen the total subversion of the ancient system of for this part of his plan was an answer to a Europe by the French Revolution with all
which events, the history of his life is neces- been hitherto kept back, notwithstanding resarily and intimately connected, as indeed it peated inquiries and applications. It is, therealso is, much more than is generally known, fore, once more earnestly requested, that all with the state of literature and the elegant arts. persons who call themselves the friends or adSuch a subject of biography cannot be dismis. mirers of the late Edmund Burke, will have sed with a slight and rapid touch; nor can it the goodness to transmit, without delay, any be treated in a manner worthy of it, from the notices of that, or of any other kind, which information, however authentic and extensive, may happen to be in their possession, or within which the industry of any one man may have their reach, to Messrs. Rivington; a respect accumulated. Many important communica- and kindness to his memory, which will be tions have been received, but some materials, thankfully acknowledged by those friends to which relate to the pursuits of his early years, whom, in dying, he committed the sacred trust and which are known to be in existence, have of his reputation.