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In the fourth volume of the “Correspondence of Charles James Fox” I have said: "I shall endeavour, in a separate form, to place in a connected narrative the relation of Mr. Fox's political career and an account of his Times. In that manner the great events of his life will be prominently set forth, and his public policy fully discussed.”
I have found it impossible to perform this task without entering very fully into the Parliamentary History of the Times. A great leader, who took a prominent part in the main discussions of the House of Commons from 1775 to 1806, is identified with that which is the life of Englandher free debate in Parliament.
Lord Holland had intended to give a description of Mr. Fox's domestic life, and such fragments of his conversation as the memory of his friends could supply. In these respects my work must be very deficient. On the other hand, many volumes published of late years, such as the “Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham,” “The Court and Cabinets of George III.," and other lives and memoirs,
have furnished materials for history of which Lord Holland was not possessed.
I have, therefore, attempted rather to follow the political career than to portray the private life of Mr. Fox.
Such mighty events as the American War, the French Revolution, and the French Revolutionary Wars, deserve to be studied in all their different aspects. They are the great elevations from which the streams of modern history must flow towards the ocean of time.
I have ventured to give many extracts from the speeches of Mr. Fox. I am aware how imperfectly these reported speeches, uncorrected by the great orator, represent his fire, his force, his language. But the following pages, from Lord Erskine's letter to the Editor of his collected Speeches, give a measure of the value of the treasure which is lost, while they show a just appreciation of the grandeur of the remains which we possess.
“This extraordinary person, then,” says Lord Erskine, “ in rising generally to speak, had evidently no more premeditated the particular language he should employ, nor frequently the illustrations and images by which he should discuss or enforce his subject, than he had contemplated the hour he was to die; and his exalted merit as a debater in Parliament did not, therefore, consist in the length, variety, or roundness of his periods; but in the truth and vigour of his corceptions; in the depth and extent of his