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A SELECTION OF THE BEST SPEECHES
THE MOST DISTINGUISHED
ENGLISH, IRISH, AND SCOTCH
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF CHARLES 1.
TO THE PRESENT TIME.
BIOGRAPHICAL, CRITICAL, AND EXPLANATORY.
BY WILLIAM HAZLITT.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
PRINTED BY THOMAS KIRK, MAIN-STREET.
THIS collection took its rise from a wish which the compiler had sometimes felt, in hearing the praises of the celebrated orators of former times, to know what figure they would have made by the side of those of our own times, with whose productions we are better acquainted. For instance, in reading Burke, I should have been glad to have had the speeches of Lord Chatham at hand, to compare them; and I have had the same curiosity to know, whether Walpole had any thing like the dexterity and plausibility of Pitt. As there are probably other readers, who may have felt the same kind of curiosity; I thought I could not employ my time better than in attempting to gratify it. Besides, it is no more than a piece of justice due to the mighty dead. It is but right we should know what we owe to them, and how far we have improved upon, or fallen short of them. Who could not give almost any thing to have seen Garrick, and Betterton, and Quin? Our polititians are almost as short-lived a race as our players," who strut and fret an hour upon the stage, and then are heard no more." The event, and the hero of the moment engross all our attention, and in the vastness of our present views, we entirely overlook the past. Those celebrated men of the last age, the Walpoles, the Pulteneys, the Pelhams, the Harleys, the Townshends, and the Norths, who filled the columns of the news-papers with their speeches, and every public place with their fame, who were the mouth-pieces of their party, nothing but perpetual smoke and bounce, incessant volley without let or intermission, who were the wisdom of the wise, and the strength of the strong, whose praises were inscribed on every window-shutter or brick-wall, or floated through the bu