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THE LORD CHANCELLORS
KEEPERS OF THE GREAT SEAL
FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TILL THE REIGN OF
KING GEORGE IV.
JOHN LORD CAMPBELL, A.M. F.R.S.E.
THE FIRST SERIES, IN THREE VOLUMES,
TO THE REVOLUTION OF 1688.
WILLIAM FREDERICK CAMPBELL.
MY DEAR Son,
As you are not to inherit from me great possessions, or a name illustrated by long official career, I inscribe this work to you, in the hope that it may prove to you a lesson of true labour.
I have hitherto had much reason to rejoice in the progress of your studies; and when you return from viewing foreign cities and manners, I shall hope to see you struggling to confer benefits on your country, while you lay the foundation of a lasting reputation for yourself. Thus I shall be more gratified than by any power or distinction I myself could have acquired, and you will render contented and happy the declining years of —
When suddenly freed, in the autumn of 1841, from professional and official occupations, I revelled for a while in the resumption of my classical studies, and in the miscellaneous perusal of modern authors. By degrees I began to perceive the want of a definite object: I recollected what Lord Coke and Lord Bacon say of the debt due from every successful lawyer to his profession; and I felt within me a revival of the aspiration after literary fame, which, in my most busy days, I was never able entirely to extinguish. Having amused myself with revising for the press "a Selection of my Speeches at the Bar and in the House of Commons,” I resolved to write “ The LIVES OF THE CHANCELLORS."
It is for others to judge how this work is executed, but I am more and more convinced that the subject is happily chosen. “HISTORIES,” says Lord Bacon, “ do rather set forth the pomp of business than the true and inward resorts thereof. But Lives, if they be well written, propounding to themselves a person to represent, in whom actions both greater and smaller, public and private, have a commixture, must of necessity contain a more true, native and lively representation."* In writing the lives of those who have successively filled a great office there is unity of design as well as variety of character and incident, and there is no office in the history of any nation that has been filled with such a long succession of distinguished and interesting men as the office of Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England. It has existed from the foundation of the
• Advancement of Learning.