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In presenting to the public the following collection of Mr. Pitt's Speeches, the Editor would persuade himself that little apology is necessary, either for the motives which induced him to undertake the work, or for the plan upon which it has been conducted. Animated by an ardent zeal and a lively veneration for the memory of Mr. Pitt, and anxious that every vestige of that illustrious statesman's
parliamentary career should be recorded as faithfully as possible, he has aimed at accomplishing this object by all the means that diligent and persevering research could afford him.
From the journals of Debrett and Woodfall, and from other public reports of admitted authenticity, the work has principally derived its materials. These, however, have not been the only channels, through which intelligence has been received. Other sources of more difficult access, but at the same time of more authoritative information, have been consulted, and have contributed very valuable assistance: and it has been by col. lating these various authorities, by detecting the misrepresentations of some through the avowed fidelity of others, by discarding errors where they could be ascertained, and supplying defects where the means of amendment where within reach, that a compilation has been formed, not inadequate, it is hoped, to the expectations of the public. Some few of the speeches that appear in this collection underwent the revision of Mr. Pitt himself; some were communicated by respectable members of the House of Commons from private notes in their own possession ; and of the remainder, the greater part has been sanctioned by the testimony of those, whose frequent observation of the style and character of the speaker enabled them to determine the degree of accuracy with which the speeches were reported.
Whilst the Editor presumes to offer this explanation, as to the merits of the collection in general, he is sensible that some exceptions must be admitted. Instances will occasionally occur, in which his efforts will be found unsuccessful; where either the speeches are presented in an imperfect form, or where the report of them has been entirely lost.
This is a defect, for which no remedy could be discovered which the utmost caution has not been able to prevent, nor the most assiduous industry to supply.
In regulating the size of the work, the importance of the matter has been always the first object in view; nor has the privilege of rejection ever been resorted to, but in cases where the nature of the subject seemed to warrant the omission. Few readers, it is imagined, will make it ground of complaint, that, on questions of comparatively inferior interest, on local and incidental topics, which in many
instances were discussed rather in the form of desultory conversation than of serious debate, the speeches have not been inserted : and to those, whose curiosity upon points connected with finance may experience a disappointment in the exclusion of
any of the budget speeches, it may possibly afford some satisfaction to learn that the most celebrated of these have been retained--such as, though perhaps not superior to the others either in clearness of arrangement or precision of detail, exhibit matter more remarkable for novelty, and abound with a larger share of general information.
The prefatory and supplemental notes have been compressed and used as sparingly, as was found consistent with the necessary illustration of the subjects to which they refer.
With these introductory observations it was deemed expedient to prepare the reader, as to the nature and execution of the work before him. . Of the exalted character, some portion of whose eloquence these pages have attempted to preserve, it is superfluous to speak. His talents, his patriotism, his virtues, are fresh in the memory of all ; and his country will feel with long and deep regret its premature loss of them. “ Quidquid ex Agricold amavimus, quidquid mirati sumus, manet mansurumque est in animis hominum, in æternitate temporum, famâ rerum. Nam multos veterum velut inglorios et ignobiles oblivio obruet, Agricola posteritati narratus et traditus, superstes erit.” (TaciTUS IN AGRIC.)