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The three small volumes here offered to the public have been prepared in the hope that they would be of some service in showing the great currents of political thought that have shaped the history of Great Britain during the past two hundred and fifty years. The effort has been not so much to make a collection of the most remarkable specimens of English eloquence, as to bring together the most famous of those oratorical utterances that have changed, or here tended to change, the course of English history.
Eliot and Pym formulated the grievances against absolutism, a contemplation of which led to the revolution that established Anglican liberty on its present basis. Chatham, Mansfield, and Burke elaborated the principles which,
on the one hand, drove the American colonies into independence, and, on the other, enabled their independence to be won and secured. Mackintosh and Erskine enunciated in classical form the fundamental rights which permanently secured the freedom of juries and the freedom of the press. Pitt, in the most elaborate as well as the most important of all his remarkable speeches, expounded the English policy of continuous opposition to Napoleon ; and Fox, in one of the most masterly of his unrivalled replies, gave voice to that sentiment which was in favor of negotiations for peace. Canning not only shaped the foreign policy of the nation during the important years immediately succeeding the Napoleonic wars, but put that policy into something like permanent form in what has generally been considered the masterpiece of his eloquence. Macaulay's first speech on the Reform Bill of 1832 was the most cogent advocacy of what proved to be nothing less than a political revolution; and Cobden, the inspirer and apostle of Free Trade, enjoys the