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PIONEERS OF FREEDOM OF OPINION,
COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE, & CIVILISATION,
IN BRITAIN,

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THE AGE OF FREE TRADE IN MANUFACTURES,
F00D, AND NAWIGATION.

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IN asking the reader to form an acquaintance with the
subjects of this Biographic History of T. of Opinion,
Commercial Enterprise, and Civilisation, I shall state the
circumstances briefly under which it was arranged as it
now stands; for, had it been designed at first to be as com-
prehensive as it now is, it would have been slightly altered
in the title and heading of the pages.
At the dissolution of the National Anti-Corn-Law
League in 1846, which occurred immediately after the
enactment of the law for the prospective abolition of the
duties on foreign corn in 1849, the popularity of the
leading members of that body caused the Fo to inquire
for memorials of their personal history. I was applied to
by the conductors of various newspapers and other persons,
(being known to have had an intimate connection with
the League in a literary capacity,) to furnish written
sketches of the principal members.
But it appeared to me only just that many persons who
had assisted to repeal the Corn Law merited a place in a
series of Memoirs who were not leaders. It had also been
suggested to me that a Selection of the numerous articles
which I furnished to different periodicals in the advocacy
of free trade, and of which the members of the League
generally had expressed a favourable opinion, would be an
acceptable book with the public ; and, finding a publisher
of the same opinion, it was agreed to unite the two works
in one volume—the Selections and the Memoirs—and to
ive it the title by which the author was best known,
he Whistler at the Plough. -
In preparing those Selections and the Memoirs it was
found to be impracticable to do justice to the latter in the
space available for them. Yet The Whistler at the Plough

is in reality a volume of Free Trade history. . It is pub--~~

lished in connection with the work now before the reader. The Biographic History was designed to be in one volume of 640 pages; but, in researching for the earlier services which League members rendered to Free Trade before the League existed, and of political philosophers and statesmen dead, who had, in times gone by, promoted that cause, many remarkable men were found who merited space which one volume would not afford. Poulett Thom

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