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A NEW Edition of the Works of Mr. Burke having been called for by the Publick, the opportunity has been taken to make some slight changes, it is hoped for the better.
A different distribution of the contents, while it has made the volumes, more nearly equal in their respective bulk, has, at the same time, been fortunately found to produce a more methodical arrangement of the whole. The first volume, contains those literary and philosophical works by which Mr. Burke was known, previous to the commencement of his publick life as a statesman, and the political pieces which were written by him between the time of his first becoming connected with the Marquis of Rockingham, and his being chosen Member for Bristol. In the second are comprehended all his speeches and pamphlets from his first arrival at Bristol, as a candidate, in the year 1774, to his farewell address from the hustings of that city, in the year 1780; and also what he himself published relative to the affairs of India. The remaining two comprize his works since the French revolution, with the exception of the Letter to Lord Kenmare on the Penal Laws against Irish Catholicks, which was probably inserted where it stands from its relation to the subject of the Letter addressed by him, at a later period, to Sir Hercules Langrishe. With the same exception, too, strict regard has been paid to chronological order, which, in the last edition, was in some instances broken, to insert pieces that were not discovered till it was too late to introduce them in their proper places.
In the Appendix to the Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts the references were found to be confused, and, in many places, erroneous. This probably had arisen from the circumstance that a larger and differently constructed Appendix seems to have been originally designed by Mr. Burke, which, however, he afterwards abridged and altered, while the speech and the notes upon it remained as they were. The text and the documents that support it have throughout been accommodated to each other.
The orthography has been in many cases altered, and an attempt made to reduce it to some certain standard. The rule laid down for the discharge of this task was, that whenever Mr. Burke could be perceived to have been uniform in his mode of spelling, that was considered as decisive ; but, where he varied, and as he was in the habit of writing by dictation, and leaving to others the superintendance of the press, he was peculiarly liable to variations of this sort) the best received authorities were directed to be followed. The reader, it is trusted, will find this object, too much disregarded in modern books, has here been kept in view throughout. The quotations which are interspersed through the works of Mr. Burke, and which were frequently made by him from memory, have been generally compared with the original authors. Several mistakes in printing, of one word for another, by which the sense was either perverted or obscured, are now rectified. Two or three small insertions have also been made from a quarto copy corrected by Mr. Burke himself. From the same source something more has been drawn in the shape of notes, to which are subscribed his initials. Of this number is the explanation of that celebrated phrase, " the swinish multitude :” an explanation which was uniformly given by him to his friends, in conversation on the subject. But another note will probably interest the reader still more, as being strongly expressive of that parental affection which formed so amiable a feature in the character of Mr. Burke. It is in “ Reflections on the Revolution in France," Vol. III. where he points out a considerable passage as having been supplied by his “ lost son.” Several other parts, possibly amounting all together to a page or thereabout, were indicated in the same manner ; but, as they in general consist of single sentences, and as the meaning of the mark by which they were distinguished was not actually expressed, it has not been thought necessary to notice them particularly.