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This account will be sufficient to explain all the circumstances attending the design, progress, and state of the Work, as well as the manner in which it is now brought before the publick. If any should object to my having entered into so much detail respecting those points, I have no other excuse to offer, than the nature of the task I had undertaken, and the extreme anxiety, that no fault or omission of the Editor should by any possibility be attributed to the Author. Perhaps it may be necessary to forestall an observation of a very different description. Those who admired Mr. Fox in publick, and those who loved him in private, must naturally feel desirous that some memorial should be preserved of the great and good qualities of his head and heart. Some among them may think that the present account should not have been confined to such matters only as relate to the unfinished work to which it is
prefixed. It is true that, at the melancholy period of his death, advantage was taken of the interest excited by all that concerned him, to impose upon the publick a variety of memoirs and anecdotes, (in the form of pamphlets,) as unfounded in fact as they were painful to his friends, and injurious to his memory. The confident pretensions with which many of those publications were ushered into the world, may have given them some little circulation at the time; but the internal evidence of their falsehood was sufficiently strong to counteract any impression
which their contents might be calculated to produce. It is not, therefore, with a view of exposing such misrepresentations, that any authentick account of the life of Mr. Fox can be deemed necessary. On the other hand, the objections to such an undertaking at present are obvious; and after much reflection, they have appeared to those connected with him to be insuperable. A compilation of his speeches, or of such transactions of his publick life as are well known, might be, and probably has already been, executed with as much fidelity and success by others, as it could be by those who had the advantage of a closer intimacy or nearer connection with him. If more were attempted, either many interesting passages of his life must be omitted, and truth in some instances suppressed, or circumstances which might wound the feelings of individuals yet living, must be unnecessarily and wantonly disclosed to the publick. No allusion is here made to any particular period, transaction, or person : the observation is general: it applies to the memoirs of every publick man, and must therefore be true in the instance of Mr. Fox.
These considerations have induced his family and friends to reinquish, for the present, any such design. It is, however, a duty to the publick, as well as to the memory of any great and good man, to preserve with the utmost diligence, all the materials which may
enable a future biographer to do justice to the events of his life, and the merits of his character. With this view, the private letters of Mr. Fox have been carefully collected ; and I am already indebted to several of his correspondents for the originals or copies of such as were in their possession. It is hoped, that by these and further communications, the means will be secured of perpetuating the remembrance of his publick and pri· vate virtues, and of conveying a faint, but just notion of his character to posterity.
In the mean while, his friends will contemplate with some satisfaction this monument, however imperfect, of his genius and acquirements; they will recognize throughout the work those noble and elevated principles, which animated his own conduct in life; and in the simplicity of the thoughts, as well as in the nature of the reflections, they cannot fail to discover a picture of his candid and amiable mind.
Holland House, April 251h, 1808.
May 4. Since the preceding pages were printed, Serjeant Heywood has obligingly communicated to me copies of several letters which he received from Mr. Fox, on subjects connected with his History. They evince the same anxiety about facts, and the same minuteness of research, which have been remarked in his correspondence with Mr. Laing. But some of his readers may be gratified with the perusal of the following, as it contains his view of the character of Lord Shaftesbury, upon which so much difference of opinion has existed among historians.
- Dear Heywood,
I am much obliged to you for your letter; of the hints in which I shall avail myself, when I return to " this place, (as I hope,) before the end of the week. I
go to town to-morrow, and shall be in the House on " Tuesday.
I remember most of the passages in Madame de Sevigné, and will trouble you or Mrs. Heywood to " hunt for another, which I also remember, and which
in some views is of importance. If my memory does
"not deceive me, in one of the early volumes, while “ Barillon is in England, she mentions the reports of “ his being getting a great deal of money there; but I “ have not lately been able to find the passage. Pray
observe, that notwithstanding the violence against the “ Prince of Orange, Madame de Sevigné's good sense " and candour make her allow, that there is another “ view of the matter, in which the Prince of Orange,
fighting and conquering for a religion, qu'il croit la
vraye, &c. &c. appears a hero. Her account of James, “! both for insensibility and courage, is quite at variance “ with his apparent conduct before he went off. Here " he appears to have been deficient in courage, and by
no means in sensibility.
“ I am quite glad I have little to do with Shaftesbury; " for as to making him a real patriot, or friend to our • ideas of liberty, it is impossible, at least in my opi" nion. On the other hand, he is very far from being - the devil he is described. Indeed, he seems to have “ been strictly a man of honour, if that praise can be
given to one destitute of public virtue, and who did " not consider Catholicks as fellow-creatures; a feeling
very common in those times. Locke was probably caught by his splendid qualities, his courage, his openness, his party zeal, his eloquence, his fair dealing with his friends, and his superiority to vulgar corruption. Locke's partiality might make him, on