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A BOOK whose method and aim are not fairly apparent on inspection is not likely, I think, to be made much clearer through the agency of a preface. In the present instance, accordingly, it seems unnecessary to say more than that I have sought, in harmony with the general plan of the Gateway Series, to treat Burke's speech, not as a "literary puzzle" for the student, or as a medium for learned display by the editor, but rather as a great argumentative discourse whose interest for American youth ought always to be historical as well as literary. The Speech on Conciliation is rightly regarded as a masterpiece of logical exposition and elaboration, but it will not do to forget that it is also the sanest and most powerful plea for reasonableness and consideration put forth during the whole period of the struggle between the American colonies and the mother country. The introduction, therefore, dwells more upon the circumstances out of which the speech sprang than upon its place in Burke's political philosophy or its technical contribution to formal argumentative writing, while the notes have been kept as free as possible from the minute literary parallelism — not seldom, as it seems to me, appreciably overdone
with which it has sometimes been thought necessary to weight down this particular piece of good literature. In other words, I have assumed that the teachers and students who will use this book will be prepared to do some work, especially in literary and rhetorical lines, for themselves, and will not care to have their intellectual food too much predigested.
Much of the material in the notes was collected for other purposes long before I ever thought of editing the Speech on Conciliation, and I have not refrained from using it because other editors have traversed somewhat the same ground. Certain portions of the explanatory matter have also done duty, in one form or another, in other editions, and could not well be dispensed with or radically changed in this. A considerable number of notes, however, chiefly such as deal with historical, legal, or parliamentary matters, are new. It will be remembered that most of the bibliographical matter is, by the plan of the series, relegated to a supplementary volume.
The text is that of the second edition, but with modernized spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.