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CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
TIMES OF GEORGE III.
The affairs of men, the interests and the history of nations, the relative value of institutions as discovered by their actual working, the merits of different systems of policy as tried by their effects, are all very imperfectly examined without a thorough knowledge of the individuals who administered the systems and presided over the management of the public concerns. "The history of empires is, indeed, the history of men, not only of the nominal rulers of the people, but of all the leading persons who exerted a sensible influence over the destinies of their fellow-creatures, whether the traces of that influence survived themselves, or, as in the case of lesser minds, their power was confined to their own times.
But, in another view, this kind of inquiry, this species of record, is even more important. Not only the world at large is thus instructed, but the character of statesmen and rulers is improved. Examples are held up of the
faults which they are to avoid, and of the virtues which they are to cultivate. Nor can history ever be the school of potentates, whether on or near the throne, unless the character and the conduct of their predecessors be thoroughly scrutinised. This task has been attempted in the following work, which aspires, therefore, to a higher office than merely amusing the vacant hours of the idle (the hours a little more unemployed than the bulk of their time), and aims at recording, for the warning or for the encouragement of the great, the errors or the wisdom, the vices or the virtues, of their predecessors. It is a well-meant contribution, of which the merit is very humbly rated by its author, to the fund of Useful Knowledge as applied to the Education of those upon whose information or ignorance the fortunes of mankind in an especial manner depend. But, how moderate soever may be the merits of the contributor, the value of the contribution cannot easily be estimated too highly, if, by only stating the facts with careful accuracy, and drawing the inferences with undeviating candour, those who voluntarily assume the government of nations are taught to regard their duties as paramount to their interests, and made to learn that ignorance of their craft is in their calling criminal, by having placed before their
the examples of others-their signal punishment to deter from vice, their glorious reward to stimulate in welldoing. This salutary lesson will be taught if the friends of mankind, the votaries of duty, of peace, of freedom, be held up to veneration, while their enemies, themselves the slaves of ambition or avarice, and who would forge fetters for their fellow-creatures or squander their substance or their blood, are exhibited to the scorn and hatred of after-ages.
The chief objection to such a work, undertaken so soon after the persons whom it undertakes to portray have left this earthly scene, arises from the difficulty of preserving strict impartiality in considering their merits.