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Mr. Sheridans' Speech, delivered in the house of com-

mons, on the 15th of February, 1787, on the impeach-
ment of Warren Hastings, for high crimes and mis.
demeanors,

38

PREFACE.

OF all the studies which can engage industry, or allure genius, perhaps that of eloquence is the most enchanting. To this delightful occupation the Editor has devoted some of his time, and all his zeal. The result of his labours is now laid before the publick, and though he may receive but limited applause for the execution, yet, he hopes that the design may escape censure.

He presumes, but not vainly, that he has not been forestalled in this literary undertaking. Notwithstanding the choice and variety of materials, the enterprise and judgment of booksellers, and the liberal curiosity of enlightened readers ; notwithstanding national pride and individual vanity, no ample specimen of forensick and parliamentary eloquence has ever appeared even in the metropolis of the British Empire

Distinguished as Ireland certainly is, by glo. rious efforts of the most impassioned oratory, she has been supinely negligent of her fairest fame, and the busy curiosity of Dublin, and the more judicious inquisitiveness of her University, have been satisfied with the garbled and meagre reports of the speeches of Malone, of Flood, of Burgh, and of Grattan.

Scotland, a region abounding with acute and eloquent speakers, and conspicuous alike for her Faculty of Advocates, and her General Assembly, has also been careless to preserve the monuments of her eloquence.

Even in France, so memorable for the vivacity and copiousness of her rhetorick, we might inquire in vain for some of the most brilliant effusions of her Parliament and her Convention.

In short, though in many sections of Europe, single speeches in fugitive pamphlets may have been accidentally, gratuitously, or venally preserved, nothing like a collection has hitherto been compiled by Industry, or selected by Taste.

The Editor, trusting to diligence alone, hopes, not without anxiety, that by the publication of this work he is rendering an acceptable service to the republick of letters. With the volumes now presented to the publick, he completes that portion of the work which is appropriated to the eloquence of Europe. He may, at a future period, not too

a remote, add to the collection a volume of American

a

speeches; and if he receive adequate encouragement, he will cheerfully, at proper intervals, continue the series. Eager to vindicate the insulted Genius of his native land, he is sensible that in no way can it be done more successfully than by exhibiting its eloquence. For, if our writers form but a small com. pany, the regiment of our speakers is full. It may be safely affirmed, that since the Athenian democracy, with no people has the talent of publick speaking so generally prevailed. Eloquence of the highest order, and the purest species, we may not have attained. But though we have not emulated those lofty strains and brilliant effusions which the ancient specimens display, or are to be seen in some of the spirited harangues that the momentous events of modern Europe have inspired, yet in that style of oratory, which shines without dazzling, and charnis rather than excites astonishment, or kindles enthusiasm, we are extensively gifted and eminently excel. There have been, perhaps, brighter luminaries, but not a greater constellation. Collectively, we are entitled to boast of as much eloquence as has been exhibited in any age or country,

A well grounded conviction of the value of a compilation like the present, induced the Editor to take a wide survey of the Rhetorick of Europe. His researches, though sometimes baffled, have, on the whole, been rewarded with a success very disproportioned to the moderate expectations with which he commenced his task. From the cabinets of the curious, and from the hoards of " literary misers” he drew indeed such a profusion of materials as to have ultimately imposed upon him rather the

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