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"If I were to put all the political information that I have ever gained from books, and
CHARLES JAMES Fox.
A LITTLE more than a hundred years ago, a young Irishman, the son of a Dublin attorney, arrived in London, without possessing powerful friends or ample means, and entered on the books of the Middle Temple the name of EDMUND BURKE.
Thirty-seven years afterwards this man died. He had in the meantime won for himself a name which sheds lustre on his country and his age; earned a place in the front rank of philosophic inquirers; soared on the majestic wing of a gorgeous eloquence to every clime where there was a wrong to be redressed ; asserted in fervid and glowing oratory the rights of insulted America and of trampled India ; largely swayed the destinies of a great nation in a great era; and with one hand paralyzed sceptred despotism, while with the other he repulsed rude anarchy from the altar and the throne.
Such is the man whose intellectual triumphs will be found in the volume now presented to the reader. I cannot, of course, but feel that in following the able writers who have edited the former volumes of the “ Orators of Ireland,” I labour under the disadvantage of having my efforts brought into contrast with the literary achievements of a Madden, a MacNevin, and a Davis. But I can, at least, honestly say, that I have endeavoured to make up for the deficiency by industry ; I have placed no speech in this volume, of the authenticity of which I had not obtained clear evidence. In the introductory observations which I have prefixed to each speech, I have sought to convey to the reader all the circumstances connected with its delivery, and to point out the principal characteristics which
marked its style; thus seeking to render the volume available both for historical and literary purposes. I hope I will not be found to have missed the object in view.
Feeling that it would enhance the attractions of the volume, I have introduced some select passages from Burke's pamphlets. The immortal picture of the Queen of France, coloured with a noble chivalry, will be found in the following pages; as also Burke's eloquent recognition of the virtues and the learning of the French Catholic Clergy, a class of men who have been doubly wronged. The merciless rabble of 1792 took life. Modern liberalism, scarcely more humane, finds it fashionable to stab their memory.
I have also introduced extracts from Burke's famous “ Letter to a Noble Lord,” in which (with the years of a Priam on him, but not with a Priam's weakness), he flings no imbeile telum at the Duke of Bedford and others, who vented their abuse on (to use his own pa thetic language) a desolate old man.
In the introductory memoir, I have endeavoured to place before the reader a sketch of the life of our great orator. In this portion of my task I have had the assistance of the works of Bissett, Prior, Croly, and others. Guided by these authorities, and from historical works, (for Burke's life was history), I have traced the eventful career of EDMUND BURKE. I have gladly joined in praise when just, and though I have not shrunk from acceding to the views of those who dissented from Burke, where I have thought such dissent correct, I have endeavoured to vindicate the motives which through life actuated our distinguished countryman.
With these remarks, I leave the volume to the indulgence of the reader.