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The present edition of the Federalist contains all the numbers of that work as revised by their authors; and it is the only one to which the remark will apply. Former editions, indeed, it is understood, had the advantage of a revisal from Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Jay, but the numbers written by Mr. Madison still remained in the state in which they originally issued from the press and contained many inaccuracies. The publisher of this volume has been so fortunate as to procure from Mr. Madison the copy of the work which that gentleman had preserved for himself, with corrections of the papers, of which he is the author, in his own hand. The publication of the Federalist, therefore, may be considered, in this instance, as perfect; and it is confidently presented to the public as a standard edition.
Some altercation has occasionally taken place concerning the author. ship of certain numbers of the Federalist, a few of those now ascertained to have been written by Mr. Madison having been claimed for Mr. Hamilton. It is difficult to perceive the propriety or utility of such an altercation ; for whether we assign the disputed papers to the one or to the other, they are all admitted to be genuine, and there will still remain to either of these gentlemen an unquestioned number sufficient to estab. lish for him a solid reputation for sagacity, wisdom and patriotism. It is not the extent of a man's writings, but the excellence of them, that constitutes his claim upon his contemporaries and upon posterity for the character of intellectual superiority: and to the reader, the difference in this case is nothing, since he will receive instruction from the perusal, let them have been written by whom they may.
The present moment may be regarded as peculiarly favorable for the republication of this work. Mr. Hamilton is dead; and both Mr. Jay and Mr. Madison have retired from the busy scenes of life. The atmosphere of political passions through which their principles and actions were lately viewed has disappeared, and has been replaced by one more pure and tranquil. Their political virtues are now manifest and almost universally admitted. Time, which tests the truth of everything, has been just to their merits, and converted the reproaches of party-spirit into expressions of gratitude for the usefulness of their labors. It is to