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THE following volumes I offer to the public, not without a distressing consciousness that they do imperfect justice to a subject at once so important and so comprehensive as that which they have undertaken to discuss. Neither of any lack of zeal on my part to bring about a different issue, nor of the absence either of care or of assiduity in digesting the materials submitted to me, can I

indeed accuse myself; for the compilation of the work has constituted my principal literary employment throughout the space of four entire years. Yet I feel, when all is done, that the results of myC? labours fall far short of the anticipations which I had ventured to form when they began; and that a larger share of indulgence must be sought for at the hands of my reader, than, under ordinary circumstances, I should be entitled to expect. Let me, however, tell my own tale with all the brevity

and candour which are becoming in one situated as I now am, and then throw myself, without hesitation, upon the considerate kindness of such as may take the trouble to follow the details of my explanation and judge of their fitness. That the task which I have now completed— I do not say how imperfectly-was not an easy one, may be gathered from the following statement of facts :-Not long after Mr. Hastings's death, and at a period when, of the friends of his manhood, many were yet alive, it was proposed to Mr. Southey to become the biographer of the greatest statesman whom British India has produced. The proposition being acceded to, the whole of the family papers were put into Mr. Southey's hands, who kept them by him a good while, and then returned them with a frank avowal that he could not command the time and attention that would be necessary for the management of an undertaking so extensive and so complicated. Mr. Hastings's executors were much disappointed at the result; and the project lay for a time in abeyance, till by and bye the late Mr. Impey, the son of Sir Elijah Impey, and a man every way qualified for the undertaking, revived the idea. To him, in his turn, the voluminous documents

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