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SEVENTH AND EIGHTH VOLUMES.
I STATED in my last volume that the outbreak of the great French War in 1793 appeared to me the best and most natural termination of a History of England in the eighteenth century, and that it was not my intention to carry the English portion of my narrative beyond this limit. For the Irish portion, however, a different limit must be assigned, and in order to give it any completeness or unity, it is necessary to describe the rebellion of 1798, the legislative Union of 1800, and the defeat or abandonment of the great measures of Catholic conciliation which Pitt had intended to be the immediate sequel of the Union. I had hoped to do this in the compass of a single moderate volume, but a more careful examination has convinced me that, in order to do justice to this eventful period of Irish history, it is necessary to treat it on a larger scale. It is a period which has been very imperfectly written, and usually under the influence of the most furious partisanship. There is hardly a page of it which is not darkened by the most violently contradictory statements. It is marked by obscure agrarian and social changes, by sudden, and sometimes very perplexing, alterations in the popular sentiment, which can only be elucidated and proved by copious illustration. It is also a period of great crimes and of great horrors, and the task of tracing their true causes, and measuring with accuracy and impartiality the different degrees of provocation, aggravation, palliation, and comparative guilt, is an extremely difficult one.
In order to accomplish it with any success, it is necessary