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PREFIXED TO THE EDITION OF 1758.
THUS, the long-wished for History of the Four Last Years of the Queen's Reign is at length brought to light, in spite of all attempts to suppress it!
As this publication is not made under the sanction of the name, or names, which the author and the world had a right to expect; it is fit some account of the work's appearing in this manner should be here given.
Long before the dean's apparent decline, some of his intimate friends, with concern, foresaw the impending fate of his fortune and his works. To this it is owing, that these sheets, which the world now despaired of ever seeing, are rescued from obscurity, perhaps from destruction.
For this, the public is indebted to a gentleman, now in Ireland, of the greatest probity and worth, with whom the dean long lived in perfect intimacy. To this gentleman's hands the dean entrusted a copy of his history, desiring him to peruse and give his judgment of it, with the last corrections and amendments the author had given it, in his own hand.
His friend read, admired, and approved. And from a dread of so valuable and so interesting a
work's being by any accident lost or effaced, as was probable by its not being intended to be published in the author's lifetime, he resolved to keep this copy till the author should press him for it; but with a determined purpose, it should never see the light while there were any hopes of the author's own copy being published, or even preserved.
This resolution he inviolably kept, till he and the world had full assurance, that the dean's executors, or those into whose hands the original copy fell, were so far from intending to publish it, that it was actually suppressed, perhaps destroy
Then, he thought himself not only at liberty, but judged it his duty to his departed friend, and to the public, to let this copy, which he had now kept many years most secretly, see the light.
Thus it has at length fallen into the hands of a person, who publishes it for the satisfaction of the public, abstracted from all private regards; which are never to be permitted to come into competition with the common good.
Every judicious eye will see, that the author of these sheets wrote with strong passions, but with stronger prepossessions and prejudices in favour of a party. These, it may be imagined, the editor, in some measure, may have adopted; and published this work, as a kind of support of that ty, or some surviving remnant thereof.
It is but just to undeceive the reader, and inform him from what kind of hand he has received this work. A man may regard a good piece of painting, while he despises the subject: if the subject be ever so despicable, the masterly strokes of the painter may demand our admiration; while
he, in other respects, is intitled to no portion of our regard.
In poetry, we carry our admiration still farther; and like the poet, while we actually contemn the man. Historians share the like fate; hence some, who have no regard to propriety or truth, are yet admired for diction, style, manner, and the like.
The editor considers this work in another light: he long knew the author, and was no stranger to his politics, connections, tendencies, passions, and the whole economy of his life. He has long been hardily singular in condemning this great man's conduct amid the admiring multitude; nor ever could have thought of making an interest in a man, whose principles and manners he could by no rule of reason or honour approve, however he might have admired his wit and parts.
Such was judged the disposition of the man, whose history of the most interesting period of time in the annals of Britain is now, herein, offered to the reader. He may well ask from what motives? The answer is easily, simply given.
The causes assigned for delaying the publication of this history were principally these: That the manuscript fell into the hands of men, who, whatever they might have been by the generality deemed, were by the dean believed to be of his party; though they did not, after his death, judge it prudent to avow his principles, more than to deny them in his lifetime. These men, having got their beavers, tobacco boxes, and other trifling remembrances of former friendship, by the dean's will, did not choose publicly to avow principles, that had marred their friend's promotion, and might probably put a stop to theirs: therefore, they gave the inquisitive world to understand, that there was something too strong against ma
ny great men, as well as the succeeding system of public affairs in general, in the dean's History of the Four Last Years of the Queen's Reign, to admit of a publication, in our times; and, with this poor insinuation, excused themselves, and satisfied the weakly well-affected, in suppressing the manifestation of displeasing truths, of however great importance to society.
This manuscript has now fallen into the hands of a man, who never could associate with, or even approve, any of the parties or factions, that have differently distracted, it might be said disgraced, these kingdoms; because he has as yet known none, whose motives or rules of action were truth and the public good alone; of one, who judges, that perjured magistrates of all denominations, and their most exalted minions, may be exposed, deprived, or cut off, by the fundamental laws of his country; and who, upon these principles, from his heart approves and glories in the virtues of his predecessors, who revived the true spirit of the British polity, in laying aside a priest-ridden, a hen-pecked, tyrannical tool, who had overturned the political constitution of his country, and in reinstituting the dissolved body politic, by a revolution, supported by the laws of nature and the realm, as the only means of preserving the natural and legal, the civil and religious liberties of the members of the commonwealth.
Truth, in this man's estimation, can hurt no good cause. And falsehood and fraud, in religion and politics, are ever to be detected, to be exploded.
Insinuations, that this history contained something injurious to the present establishment, and therefore necessary to be suppressed, serve better the purposes of mistaken or insidious malecon