The Life of Charles James Fox

The Life of Charles James Fox

The Life of Charles James Fox

The Life of Charles James Fox

Excerpt

An attempt at a biography of Fox needs explanation, if not apology; for the subject is not a new one, and eminent historians have chosen it for their most distinguished works.

It is true that much has been written about Fox, but it is also true that until recently biographers have been attracted by the first rather than the second half of his life. This is perhaps due to the fact that the first half contains the early days of adventure and folly leading to the glorious years of opposition during the American War when he led his party to triumph and 'divided the Kingdom with Caesar', while the Fox of the later period is a much less spectacular figure. That period includes the twenty years of opposition and defeat, the long agony of Revolution and War leading to Fox's secession from Parliament, when hope was lost and further efforts seemed useless.

But to-day those twenty years of opposition have a new interest. The life of a statesman hopelessly calling for peace when the country was at war, and the career of a reformer at a time when revolution abroad had spread fear and suspicion at home, have to-day an interest which is something more than academic. As reluctant students of the effects of European war and the repercussions of European revolution, we may now find reality in historical events which may have seemed a generation ago almost as remote as the burning of heretics.

And there is another and more attractive reason for an interest in Fox's later years. In our own time letters and diaries have been published which have the double value of throwing light on some of the obscurities of the later eighteenth century, and of providing some of the most pleasant reading to be found in all that century of letter- writers and wits. The publication, for instance, of John Robinson's notes and estimates on the constituencies has made the defeat of the Coalition--why the King acted when he did, why Pitt took office, why he postponed the . . .

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