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TO THE READER.
Mr. Fox was for some years engaged in an historical Work, which he did not live to complete. The curiosity excited by the knowledge that he was so employed, would be sufficient to justify the publication of any Fragment of his labours, even if it had been found in a more unfinished state than the chapters which compose the body of this volume. It is, therefore, conceived, that although the work is incomplete, any apology would be misplaced, and that in fact, I only fulfil the wishes of the public, in laying before them all that can now be obtained of a history so earnestly expected from the pen of Mr. Fox.
An explanation, however, of the circumstances
attending a posthumous publication, if not necessary for the satisfaction of the reader, is due to the memory and reputation of the author himself. Some notion of what he projected, seems requisite towards forming an estimate of what he performed; and in this instance, the rumours formerly circulated concerning the nature of his undertaking, and the materials which he had collected, render indispensable, a short statement of his intentions, and of the manner in which he prosecuted his researches. It will be yet more necessary to explain the state in which the manuscript was found, and the course which had been pursued in printing a work, respecting which no positive injunctions were ever received from the author.
The precise period at which Mr. Fox first formed the design of writing a history, cannot be ascertained. In the year 1797, he announced publickly his intention of devoting “ a greater * ,“ portion of his time to his private pursuits :" He was even on the point of relinquishing his seat in Parliament, and retiring altogether from
* Vide Parliamentary Debates, May 26, 1797.