Imatges de pÓgina

the English constitution, must be allowed to be a pretty competent judge of the merits of a performance which professes to treat of the law relating to a part of its institutions.

So far, therefore, as an advantage can arise from a supposed capacity of judging, the public will readily admit that I have chosen well, when I have chosen to dedicate my book to you :-But from that situation in which those who direct the councils of the nation have, in their wisdom, thought proper that you and I should at present be placed (a), I am deprived of that advantage which would inevitably result from the public supposing, that you had actually exercised your judgment on the work, and given me your permission to send it into the world under the fanction of your name.

I have not the opportunity of communicating to you my intention so to do; but if by chance this circumstance should be conveyed to your knowledge, I am not without hopes that you will learn it without displeasure.

(a) Both being, at this time, prisoners in the Tower of London, under warrants of commitment for high treason.


Two motives influence my conduct on this occasion; a desire to pay a public tribute of gratitude for the honour of your friendship; and an ambition to have my name hereafter mentioned in company with yours as a scholar, as it will most probably be as a citizen, engaged in the same public cause.

I have the honour to be, with the highest affection and esteem,


Your most obedient

and devoted humble servant,


TOWER, August 20, 1794

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The intrinsic merits of a book are unquestionably its best recommendation to the attention of the public:-If it can derive any additional advantage from the fanction of his name to whom it is inscribed, that advantage must arise from the supposition that he is capable of judging of the subject, and that he has in fact exercised his judgment.

The man whose public conduct, for a series of years, has proved that he possesses the most profound and accurate knowledge of the whole of


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