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N availing myself of your Lordship's most obliging permission to inscribe to you the following Work, I am performing an act the propriety of which will not fail to be concurred in by all Mr. WINDHAM's friends, The grounds of that concurrence need not be sought for in your exalted rank or more distinguished character; they are to be found in the uninterrupted private friendship and political agreement which subsisted between your Lordship and the illustrious person of whom these memorials are collected in the striking proofs which occurred of your kindness and regard for him
and in the watchful and affectionate solicitude which your Lordship shewed, and which I, among many others, had the melancholy gratification of witnessing, during that illness which deprived his King and Country of a faithful servant and most zealous champion.
Two years have this day elapsed since the extinction of those talents and virtues, those graces of mind and of heart, which I am persuaded are still fresh and vivid in your Lordship's recollection. That this humble attempt to convey to others that impression of which your Lordship can require no renewal, may be honoured with your indulgent approbation, is the anxious wish of,
and obedient Servant,
IT may be proper to apprize the Reader, that three of the speeches in the ensuing collection, viz. those on the Peace of Amiens*, Mr. Curwen's Reform Billt, and the Bill for preventing Cruelty to Animals, were corrected by Mr. Windham, and published separately in the form of Pamphlets under his inspection. The five speeches also, on the subject of the Defence of the Country, which immediately follow the speech on the Peace of Amiens §, were revised by Mr. Windham, and published together at Norwich in 1804. Of the other speeches, those which originally appeared in Cobbett's Parliamentary Debates, from the commencement of that useful compilation in 1803 till within a few months of Mr. Windham's death, were chiefly seen and corrected by him previous to their publication. But with respect to the speeches prior to 1803, it is much to be lamented, that, owing to causes which are pointed out in the ensuing biographical preface, the reports of them which have been preserved are very imperfect and unsatisfactory; so much so,
* Vol. II. p. I.
t Vol. III. p. 303.
that the Reader is requested to consider them as having been inserted in this work merely for the sake of recording Mr. Windham's opinions during a long and important period of his life, and not by any means as exhibiting fair specimens of his eloquence..
The biographical sketch, being intended merely to serve as an introduction to the speeches, is chiefly confined to the events of Mr. Windham's political life. The writer indeed is ready to confess that his views were narrowed rather by necessity than by choice. As his theme was grateful to him, he would have been glad to forget that he was writing, not a book, but a preface; and that in such an undertaking, all he could reasonably hope for was, to excite curiosity, not to gratify it. That it is intended to be gratified hereafter, from the pen of Mr. GEORGE ELLIS, the Reader will undoubtedly learn with pleasure. In the meantime, the sketch now presented, if it be found faithful in the outline, may perhaps not be unwelcome to the common observer, though the connoisseur, who demands the scale, the colouring, and the finish of a complete portrait, must be content to wait a little longer for the fulfillment of his wishes.
The Writer has only to add his best thanks to those friends and relations of Mr. Windham who have most obligingly favoured him with communications, and whose names will appear in the course of the following pages.