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happy conjuncture of thought and phrase, to live as long in memory, or longer, than anything that fell from them in elaborate orations. To these, as well as some other portions of the book, gathered from voluminous histories and lengthy biographies, the words of the elder Disraeli, when speaking of some of his own labours, may not inappropriately be applied :“There are articles in the present work, occupying but a few pages, which could never have been produced had not more time been allotted to the researches they contain than some would allow to a small volume.”
It may be thought that anecdotes of a humorous nature occur in the book to an extent not to have been anticipated. They have, however, arisen from the nature of the subject. Humour has always played an important part in the proceedings of the British Parliament, whether it be the greater Parliament of the platform and the polling-booth, or the select body which assembles at St. Stephen's. As a worthy member of the House of Commons once remarked, it "loves good sense and joking.”* This book, therefore, could not faithfully mirror Parliamentary life, as it attempts to do, unless both qualities were fairly represented.
Reference to authorities is given throughout the work, wherever it seemed likely to be useful to the reader, or of any importance for verification. It is scarcely necessary to add that in many cases the authorities cited indicate only the sources from which the principal facts or reports are derived; such additions and explanations as may have been requisite to complete the information having, of course, been supplied from other sources.
Of one thing the reader may be assured,—that the work before him has been prepared without undue leaning or partiality in favour of any of the great parties in the State, whether in past or present time. The historical student frequently cares little for the differences of passing politics, seeing rather, in the calmness of private study, that the adversaries and opponents of a particular time have been, in the main, men working with different views towards common
* P. 490.
objects, and that there has been much on both sides worthy of admiration and respect. The familiar illustration of the knights and the shield is as applicable in political as in any other affairs, and it has required many chivalrous men of opposing views to build worthily upon the foundations of the British Parliament. It is believed that all sides alike are here fairly represented; for the historical spirit, as distinguished from that of party, in the main pervades the principal sources of information referred to, and in the collection of material from these quarters there has been no such endeavour as that of Dr. Johnson,* to “take care that the Whig dogs did not get the best of it.”