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speculative notions, or positive judgment respecting characters and actions ?

It will be manifest that the compass of these pages could not afford scope for entering into those conjectures relative to the secrets of cabinets, or those discussions concerning the plans of policy that



supposed to have influenced sovereigns or their ministers, which usually occupy a large space in professed histories. Perhaps, however, the utility of a historical narrative is not materially impaired by such an omission. Were it possible to attain more certainty with respect to such topics than can come within the reach of a private person, what, in general, would be gained, except a nearer insight into a drama of life representing the play of ordinary motives upon ordinary minds - a view of the secondary movements of a machine, the mainsprings of which are acting according to known and obvious laws ? In reality, the great series of human affairs is directed by a chain of causes and effects of much superior potency to the efforts of individuals in any station, who, for the most part, are rather the subjects, than the rulers, of

While men, in continued succession, under a variety of characters, probably at all times existing in nearly equal proportions, are pursuing a course influenced by their passions and interests, changes are operating in the large masses of mankind, the result of combinations of circumstances which the flux of ages has been requisite to produce. It is from the observation of these, and not from an acquaintance with court intrigues and party manoeuvres, that the true philosophy of history is to be deduced ; and the


impartial record of leading facts is the grand desideratum for obtaining this important addition to human wisdom. Of such incidents, the period which the present work comprehends has been singularly fertile ; and the intelligent reader cannot fail of drawing inferences from them, which will have more value as the product of his own reflections, than as the promptings of a writer.

Although the title of “ Annals of the Reign of George III.” implies that the affairs of the countries of which he was the sovereign are peculiarly their subject, yet the concerns of all civilized states are so blended, and the events passing in one, exert so material an influence upon the policy of others, that it has been necessary to combine with the record of British history, a sketch of the most important occurrences of which not only the European continent, but a large portion of the inhabited world, was the theatre. Such a comprehensive view was frequently requisite in order to elucidate our own political system ; but independently of that consideration, it appeared desirable to associate in a reader's mind, with the memorable events of his native country, those which were simultaneously taking place in other scenes of action. The extraordinary character and momentous consequences of some of these transactions, especially of those which for the last thirty years have rendered France the object of universal interest, have sometimes made it difficult to keep this part of the narrative in due subordination to the leading topic; but such a subordination has always been the writer'


and with respect to domestic affairs, in particular, he hopes it will

be sufficiently apparent to justify the title given to the work.

Care has been taken to preserve as much as possible the exact application of the word Annals, by limiting the narrative of each year to the occurrences within the space of that year.

In a history at large it may be more advantageous to follow the thread of events of a particular class through the series of causes and effects, without any exact limitation to time; but the design of the present attempt being chiefly to provide, in the most useful form, a repertory of all the important facts of the reign, it was judged expedient to arrange them, as nearly as could be done, in precise chronological order. By such a position they are not only most easily referred to, but they frequently disclose a mutual bearing and connection, which might escape notice if they were removed to a distance from one another in the narrative.

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