Edmund Burke: Commentary (1)

Seamus Deane writes: ‘Burke had the strange distinction of having introduced the Old World to modernity and then of having invented a potent argument against ever renewing the acquaintance.’ (Strange Country: Modernity and Nationhood in Irish Writing Since 1790, 1997, p.15.)

Older writers
Oliver Goldsmith
Theobald Wolfe Tone
Thomas Prior
Samuel Johnson
Thomas Russell
Thomas Paine
S. T. Coleridge
Lord Byron
Joseph Napier
Karl Marx
Matthew Arnold
Alfred Cobban
George M. Trevelyan
Sir Philip Magnus
Lola Montez
Modern writers
Liam Barry
Ross J. Hoffmann
James Boyd White
Conor C. O’Brien
David Grierson
David McCracken
Patrick Rafroidi
Marshall & Williams
W. B. Stanford
Joseph Leerssen
R. & C. Ward
Stanley Ayling
A. N. Jeffares
Maureen Wall
J. W. Foster
R. B. McDowell
Seamus Deane
Terry Eagleton
Robert Welch
Siobhán Kilfeather
Majorie Howes
Declan Kiberd
Harvey Mansfield
Luke Gibbons
David Bromwich
P. J. Marshall
Daphne Abernethy
Paul Bew
Kevin Whelan
W. J. McCormack
Francis Fukayama
Fred Botting
Spurgeon Thompson
Barton Swaim
Thomas Bartlett
Richard Bourke

See the account of Burke in Mary Cusack (Nun of Kenmare), An Illustrated History of Ireland, 400AD to 1800 (1868) - attached.

See ...

Rev. James J. Gaffney, “Edmund Burke: His Life and Times”, in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. X: published in issues for Dec. 1872, pp.97-115, & Jan. 1873, pp.145-66 - available at Internet Archive - online [accessed 176.09.2011].


The journal, conducted ‘by a society of clergymen under episcopal sanction’ and bearing the imprimatur of Cardinal Paul Cullen, embraces Burke as an Irishman and a friend to Catholics - and parenthetically rebukes George Berkeley for his inactivity in face of the Penal Laws (quoting the Edinburgh Review in a footnote to that effect) ....

  Oliver Goldsmith’s “Retaliation”
‘Here lies our good Edmund, whose genius was such,
We scarcely can praise it or blame it too much;
Who, born for the universe, narrowed his mind,
And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
Though fraught with all learning, yet straining his throat
To persuade Tommy Townsend to lend him a vote;
Who, too deep for his hearers, still went on refining,
And thought of convincing, while they thought of dining;
Though equal to all things, for all things unfit;
Too nice for a statesman, too proud for a wit;
For a patriot too cool; for a drudge disobedient,
And too fond of the right to pursue the expedient.
In short, ‘twas his fate, unemployed or in place, sir,
To eat mutton cold, and cut blocks with a razor.’

Theobald Wolfe Tone’s Paris Journal

‘Sad. Sad. Edmund wants to get another 2,000 guineas for his son, if he can: dirty work. Edmund is no fool in money matters. Flattering Gog to carry his point. Is that sublime or beautiful?’ (Quoted in Declan Kiberd, Ulysses and Us, London: Faber 2009, p.129; citing Tom Bartlett, ed., Life of Wolfe Tone, 1998, p.151. Kiberd compares it to the ‘wittier asides’ of Bloom’s interior monologue.)

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Thomas Prior, Memoir of the Life and Character of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke, with specimens of his poetry and letters, and an estimate of his genius and talents compared with those of his great contemporaries [3rd edn.] (London: H. & E. Sheffield 1839), 596pp., with index. [items incl. ‘Burke, Edmund’s father’, ‘birth of’; ‘alleged irritability’; ‘considered as an orator’; ‘death and funeral’; ‘disinterestedness’; ‘humility’; ‘piety’; ‘schools ed. at’, ‘zeal of’; ‘anecdotes of’, &c.; also, under Ireland, ‘trade or’, ‘motion for revising laws relating to’; ‘visited by Burke’; ‘affairs of’; ‘Irish absentees’, ‘proposed tax of’; ‘propositions’.

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Dr. Johnson (in Boswell’s Life): ‘Burke, sir, is such a man, that if you met him for the first time in the street, when you were stopped by a drove of oxen, and you stepped aside to take shelter but for five minutes, he’d talk to you in such a manner, that, when you parted, you would say This is an extraordinary man.’ (Life of Johnson, ed. J. W. Croker, 1844, Vol. IV, p. 23.)

See variant: [...] you could not meet Burke for half an hour under a shed, without saying he was an extraordinary man.’ It is remarkable how this encomium resembles Burke’s own contention, in the short piece “A Way to Preferment”, where he writes: ‘A Great Genius discovers himself in a Moment; and you cannot address yourself to any [such] Man, without his letting you know what an extraordinary person you have the honour to converse with.’ - a resemblance noted in the obverse sense by H. F. V. Somerset who introduces the above quotation from Croker’s Boswell in a footnote (A Notebook of Edmund Burke and William Burke (Cambridge UP 1957), p.60, n.1) - [Available at Questia - online.] Cf. also Johnson’s posthumous praise of Oliver Goldsmith, infra.

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Thomas Russell (United Irishman): ‘Burke contends for the state’s not having any right whatsoever over the property of individuals. The French seem to hold otherwise…. Private property is above power [in England]. In France absolute power is supposed in the nation. That must be exercised by some small body. An individual may be obnoxious to them and what is his security?’ (Journals and Memoirs of Thomas Russell, 1791-95, ed., C. J. Woods, IAP 1991.)

Thomas Paine: ‘It is power, and not principles that Mr Burke venerates’ (Rights of Man, Penguin Edn. 1986, q.p.) Further speaks of ‘the tragic paintings by which Mr Burke has outraged his own imagination’ and adds that he now ‘seeks to work upon that of his readers’ (Ibid., p.49); ‘[I]n the rhapsody of his imagination, he has discovered a world of windmills, and his sorrows are, that there are no Quixotes to attack them’ (p.50.) Paine complains that Burke often uses ‘theatrical exaggerations for facts’ while ‘omitting some facts, distorting others, and making the whole machinery bend to produce a stage effect’ (ibid., p.59; all quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC 2004, pp.75-78.)

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge: ‘We all remember Burke’s curious assertion that there were 80,000 incorrigible jacobins in England. Mr. Colquhoun is equally precise in the number of beggars, prostitutes, and thieves in the City of London. Mercetinus, who wrote under Lewis XV, seems to have afforded the precedent; he assures his readers, that by an accurate calculation there were 50,000 incorrigible atheists in the City of Paris! Atheism then may have been a co-cause of the French revolution; but it should not be burthened on it, as its monster-child.’ (Bibliographical details: Literary Remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, London: William Pickering 1836, Vol. I, [“Omniana”,] p.305; end sect. - and note that “Magnanimity”, follows immediately, as infra.)

The Friend - No. 2 (8 June 1809): ‘I have extracted the passage that BURKE whose latter exertions have rendered his works venerable as oracular voices from the sepulchre of a Patriarch, to the Upholders of the Government and Society in their existing state and order; but from a Speech delivered by him while he was the most beloved, the proudest name with the more anxious Friends of Liberty; while he was the Darling of those, who believing mankind to have been improved are desirous to give to forms of government a similar progression.’ (The Friend; / A / Series of Essays / By S. T. Coleridge (London: Gale and Curtis 1812, p.18; see other edns. [e.g., 1863].) [Available at Google Books - online.]

Note - the passage quoted is: ‘Whenever we improce, it is right to leave room for a further improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence, because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas it not reformations, in what men more zealous than considerate, call making clear work, the whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested; mixed with so much imprudence and so much injustice; so contrary to the whole course of human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it, are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recealled from its exile in order to become a corrective of the correction. Then the abuse assumes all the credit and popularity of a Reform. The very Idea of purity and disinterestedness in Politics falls into disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the unapt and violent nature of the remedies.’ (Burke’s Speech on presenting to the House of Commons (on 11th February, 1780.) A Plan for the Better Security of the Independent Parliament.)

Coleridge, The Watchman (Tues. 1 March, 1796)
When men of low and creeping facuties wish to depreciate works of genius, it is their fashion to sneer at them as “mere declamation.” However accurate the facts, however just the inferences, yet if to these be added the tones of feeling, and the decorations of fancy, “it is all mere declamation.” Whatever is dull and frigid is extolled as /cool reasoning; and where, confessedly, nothing else is possessed, sound judgement is charitably attributed. This mode of evading an adversary’s argument is fashionable among the aristocratic faction, when they speak of the French writers; and has been applied with nauseous frequency to the writings of Edmund Burke by some low-minded sophisters who disgrace the cause of freedom. Mr. Burke has always appeared to me to have displayed great vigor of intellect, and an almost prophetic keenness of penetration; not can I think his merit diminished, because he was securd the aids of sympathy to his cause by the warmth of his own emotions, and delighted the imagination of his readers by a multitude and rapid [3] succession of remote analogies. It seems characteristc of true eloquence, to reason in metaphors; of declamation, to argye /by/ metaphors.

With such notions of the matter and manner of Mr. Burke’s former publication, I ought not to be suspected of party prejudice, when I declare the woeful inferiority of the present work - Alas! we fear that this Sun of Genius is well nigh extinghished: a few bright spots linger on its orb, but scarcely larger or more numerous than the dark maculae visible on it in the hour of its strength and effulgence. A tender and pleasing melancholy pervades those passages in which he alludes to his Son; and renders the fiercencess and vulgarity of the rest more wonderful. [...]

The remaining parts of the letter consist of attacks, first on Frenchmen and French principles; secondly, on geometry, chemistry,and metaphysics; thirdly, on the Duke of Bedford [Bedford’s ancestor, in the reign of Henry VIIIth], and lastly, on a defence of the pension.

Firstly, therefore, of the attack on Frenchmen and French principles. David Hartley enumerates among the causes of Madness, an intense and long-continued attention to one particular subject, falling in with an original bodily disposition. The too frequent recurrency of one particular set of ideas made the vibrations belonging thereto [33 ...]

[Quotes Burke on the practice of geometricians and chemists which “comes nearer to the cold malignity of a wicked spirit that to the frailty and passion of a man. It is like that of the principle of Evil* himself, incorporeal, pure unmixed, dephlegmated, defecated evil!” “The Geometricians and the Chemists being, the one for the dry bones of their diagrams, and the other from the soot of their furnaces, dispositions that make them worse than indifferent about those feelings and habitudes, which are the supports of the moral world.” (p.34.)

*Coleridge asks in a footnote, ‘Quere, is Edmund Burke a Manichean?’

[Coleridge does not agree and reminds the reader that Plato set over the door of his academy the Greek words ‘let no one, who is unacquainted with geometry enter here’ in Enfield’s translation,].

The Watchman, ed. Lewis Patton, in Collected Works of S. T. Coleridge, Vol. 2 [Bollingen Foundation] (Princeton UP; London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1970) - available at Google Books - online.

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Lord Byron (George Gordon), Preface to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: A Romaunt (1812)

‘[...] Whatever other objection may be urged to that most unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attributes – “No waiter, but a knight templar.” By the by, I fear that Sir Tristram and Sir Lancelot were no better than they should be, although very poetical personages and true knights “sans peur”, though not “sans reproche”. - If the story of the institution of the “Garter” be not a fable, the knights of that order have for several centuries borne the badge of a Countess of Salisbury, of indifferent memory. So much for chivalry. Burke need not have regretted that its days are over, though Maria Antoinette was quite as chaste as most of those in whose honours lances were shivered, and knights unhorsed.’

London 1812

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Joseph Napier, Address to the College Historical Society (pamphlet of June 1828) [Library of Herbert Bell, Belfast]: ‘The noble and elevated style of Chatham, the philosophic imagery of Burke, the skilful rhetoric of Pitt, the pathetic and overpowering eloquence of Sheridan, the philanthropic vigour of Fox, and the commanding and captivating brilliance of the lamented Canning, were not accidental attributes alone of natural genius, but the result of diligent and laborious study … In our own country, famed for its native eloquence, we find that all its illustrious orators received their primary impulse from … the College Historical Society. [17] … I may appeal with satisfaction to the names of our eminent countrymen, Swift, Goldsmith, and Edmund Burke. Names, which shed lustre on the University …. &c. [ibid., 19.]

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Karl Marx (on Burke): ‘The sycophant - who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic laudator temporis acti against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies at the beginning of the American troubles, he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy - was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois. “The laws of commerce are the laws of Nature, and therefore the laws of God.” No wonder that, true to the laws of God and Nature, he always sold himself in the best market.’ (Quoted on Wikipedia’s “Edmund Burke” page - online, where the quotation from Burke is referenced: E. L.C. [presum. Correspondence, pp.31-32.

Further (in Das Capital): ‘The sycophant - who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic laudator temporis acti against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies at the beginning of the American troubles, he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy - was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois.’ (Capital, I, Moscow 1959, p.760, n.1; quoted in C. C. O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992, p.597.)

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Matthew Arnold, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”, first pub. in National Review (Nov. 1864), and rep. in Essays in Criticism, Macmillan & Co., 1865. 

This was the grand error of the French Revolution; and its movement of ideas, by quitting the intellectual sphere and rushing furiously into the political sphere, ran, indeed, a prodigious and memorable course, but produced no such intellectual fruit as the movement of ideas of the Renascence, and created, in opposition to itself, what I may call an epoch of concentration. The great force of that epoch of concentration was England; and the great voice of that epoch of concentration was Burke. It is the fashion to treat Burke’s writings on the French Revolution as superannuated and conquered by the event; as the eloquent but unphilosophical tirades of bigotry and prejudice. I will not deny that they are often disfigured by the violence and passion of the moment, and that in some directions Burke’s view was bounded, and his observation therefore at fault. But on the whole, and for those who can make the needful corrections, what distinguishes these writings is their profound, permanent, fruitful, philosophical truth. They contain the true philosophy of an epoch of concentration, dissipate the heavy atmosphere which its own nature is apt to engender round it, and make its resistance rational instead of mechanical.

  But Burke is so great because, almost alone in England, he brings thought to bear upon politics, he saturates politics with thought. It is his accident that his ideas were at the service of an epoch of concentration, not of an epoch of expansion; it is his characteristic that he so lived by ideas, and had such a source of them welling up within him, that he could float even an epoch of concentration and English Tory politics with them. It does not hurt him that Dr. Price and the Liberals were enraged with him; it does not even hurt him that George the Third and the Tories were enchanted with him. His greatness is that he lived in a world which neither English Liberalism nor English Toryism is apt to enter; – the world of ideas, not the world of catchwords and party habits. So far is it from being really true of him that he “to party gave up what was meant for mankind,” [See Goldsmith, "Retaliation" - as supra] that at the very end of his fierce struggle with the French Revolution, after all his invectives against its false pretensions, hollowness, and madness, with his sincere convictions of its mischievousness, he can close a memorandum on the best means of combating it, some of the last pages he ever wrote,–the Thoughts on French Affairs, in December 1791,–with these striking words:

The evil is stated, in my opinion, as it exists. The remedy must be where power, wisdom, and information, I hope, are more united with good intentions than they can be with me. I have done with this subject, I believe, forever. It has given me many anxious moments for the last two years. If a great change is to be made in human affairs, the minds of men will be fitted to it; the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every hope will forward it: and then they who persist in opposing this mighty current in human affairs, will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate.

  That return of Burke upon himself has always seemed to me one of the finest things in English literature, or indeed in any literature. That is what I call living by ideas: when one side of a question has long had your earnest support, when all your feelings are engaged, when you hear all round you no language but one, when your party talks this language like a steam-engine and can imagine no other,–still to be able to think, still to be irresistibly carried, if so it be, by the current of thought to the opposite side of the question, and, like Balaam, [13] to be unable to speak anything but what the Lord has put in your mouth. I know nothing more striking, and I must add that I know nothing more un-English.

—Available at The Fortnightly Review (April 2017) > Archives [rep. from National Review] - online [accessed 27 April 2017].

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Alfred Cobban, Edmund Burke and the Revolt against the Eighteenth Century, a study of the political and social thinking of Burke, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey (Allen & Unwin 1929; 2nd ed. 1960), 274pp + index. ‘Burke … invent[ed] … the theory of party government … one of the first to appreciate the significance of the emergence of the “people”, and nationalist] while he feared the emergence of the people on the political stage, [he] welcomed the “nation” perhaps half-consciously as a means of side-tracking the dangerous democratic implications involved in the idea of the “people”. He and those who followed him went a long way towards making nationality the criterion of statehood. Wordsworth [and the lake poets] continued … not nationalists of the modern brand’ [ix-x]; grossly unfair to Warren Hastings; Chps. incl. II, ‘Burke and the Heritage of Locke’; III, ‘Burke and the Origins of the Theory of nationality’, including a section on “Ireland”, pp.101-07, Burke advocates passive resistance and economic self-dependence [‘the resources of a persevering dissatisfied obedience, are much greater than those of almost any other force’, from Letter to Canning in 1792, ed. R. Thierry, p.41; also ‘absolute Independency would be fatal to this kingdom’, Letter to the Free Citizens of Dublin, 1749; and called Great Britain ‘my adopted, my dearer, and more comprehensive country.’ [105]

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George M. Trevelyan, History of England (1st ed. 1926; Illustrated ed., 1956), remarks on Burke, an undue admiration of things as they were [475]; ‘denounced the whole policy of the war and called for concession to save the unity of the Empire before it was too late’ [555]; ‘The short ministry of Rockingham Whigs that summer left a deep impression for good on our public life, because it passed Burke’s Economic Reform Bill, which greatly reduced the patronage of government in sinecures and places, and rendered it impossible for anyone ever again to bribe Parliament wholesale, as Walpole, Newcastle, and George III had done. The Augæan stables were swept out.’ [557] ‘Burke had scotched the snake of Parliamentary corruption with his Economic Reform Bill, but neither he nor his Tory adversaries wished to kill it by reducing the number of rotten boroughs’ [558] ‘traffic in sinecures … less flagrant’ [560] ‘Burke’s Economic Reform Bill of 1782, by reducing the power of corruption in Parliament, had acted in some measure as a substitute for electoral redistribution and reform.’ [562] ‘The extremism of Burke’s Thoughts on the French Revolution and Paine’s Rights of Man certainly did not make for mutual understanding’ [563]. ‘In these circumstances [Fox’s move for abolition of rotten boroughs] the quarrel of the Reforming Whigs with Burke and half the members of their own party was bitter and complete. But whereas the Whigs who followed Burke were merged among the other supporters of the Tory Ministry, the Whigs who followed Fox remained the nucleus of the party, and the keepers of its traditions’ [568]; ‘[Pitt] never satisfied Burke by regarding the war [against France] as a crusade, nor did he consider it our business to dictate a form of government to France.’ [574].

George M. Trevelyan (History of England, 1926; 1956 Edn.) - cont.: ‘[Hastings] saved British rule in India in spite of all, but not without making the kind of mistakes which a strong man is likely to make in difficult emergencies. For these acts, much exaggerated and misconstrued by the malignity of Francis and the imagination of Burke, Fox, and Sheridan, he was impeached in Westminster Hall. […] his acquittal […] Burke preached the right ideal of our obligations to the Indians, but misunderstood the relation of Hastings’ governorship to the problem.’ [594]; ‘[…] the whig seceders who followed Burke into the anti-Jacobin camp.’ [632]

Sir Philip Magnus, Edmund Burke: A Life (London: John Murray 1939): ‘To Burke, religion was the basis of a state, and rank and property were suitable qualifications for public office’. (q.p.)

Lola Montez, Lectures of Lola Montez (Countess of Landsfeld): Including her Autobiography (London: Published for Gilbert, 14 Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row 1858) - “Heroines in History”: ‘[...] And this is as true of modern as of ancient courts, liousseaii asserts that “all great revolutions were owing to women.” The French revolution, the last great and stirring event upon which the world looks back, arose, as Burke ill-naturedly expresses it, “amidst the yells and violence of women.” We accept the compliment which Burke here pays to the power of woman, and attribute the coarseness of his language to the bitter repugnance which every Englishman of that day had to everything that was French. / 0, Mr. Burke, it was not by “yells and violence” that the great women of France helped on that mighty revolution - it was by the combined power of intellect and beauty. Ts’or will women who get together in conventions for the purpose of berating men, ever accomplish anything. They can affeect legislation only by quiet and judicious counsel, with such means as control the judgment and the heart of legislators. And the experience of the world has pretty well [126] proved that a man’s judgment is pretty easily controlled when his heart is once persuaded.’ [For longer extracts from Montez’s Lectures, see under Montez, infra.]

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Modern Writers

Liam Barry, Our Burke Legacy: A Survey of Some of His Works; and A Broad Analysis from the Literary Aspect (Cork: Paramount Printing House 1952): ‘[An] elaborate pamphlet style was scarcely appropriate for a disquisition on it. More fitting was the unambitious Letter form with its intimate personal atmosphere and loosely arrange sequence of ideas. In the Essay formality is almost indispensable; familiarity is taboo, the key must be uniformly high. Not so with the letter. In this the writer finds himself more at liberty to change his style from time to time, to use homely phraseology or take lofty flights according as he sees fit. With his greater latitude of expression he can vary his effects almost as much as the orator can by altering the pitch of his voice. In the midst of Burke’s sonorous declamation in the  “Reflections” we frequently light upon passages written in a familiar style, and though, in these instances his arguments and his philosophy appear to lack their proper setting, the sentiments expressed must have reached a greater number of readers, and been more likely to impress them, than would have been the case if Burke had confined himself to a uniform level of bookish philosophy or formal rhetoric.’ (pp.72-73; quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC 2004, p.94.)

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Ross J. Hoffman, ‘Burke and His Native Land’, review of of Edmund Burke and Ireland, by Thomas D. H. Mahoney, Harvard UP 1960), in Modern Age (Winter 1960-61). pp.89-91: ‘[...] Professor Mahony seems to have ignored the interesting genealogical studies of Basil O’Connell, who has thrown new light on Burke’s concern fof the safety of his Nagle relatives in the repression of Whiteboy crimes in the 1760’s. The basis for stating that Jane Nugent, Mrs. Edmund Burke, was a Catholic who conformed to the Church of England after her marriage is very unsound; it consists only of a statement of Burke’s Quaker friend, Shackleton, that found its way into the press. Because Burke never denied it, as he never denied or affirmed any statement in the newspapers about himself or his family, Sir Philip Magnus - most erratic of Burke’s biographers - wrongly deduced that it was true. The fact is - and until Magnus wrote, this never was denied - that Jane Nugent, like her husband, was the issue of a mixed marriage, her Catholic father, Dr. Christopher Nugent, baving been united with a Presbyterian woman. As was then common insuch marriges, the sons were raised in the religion of the father and the daughters received the faith of the mother; thus Dr. Nugent’s son, John, became Catholic and Jane was Protestant, for the same reason that Burke’s sister, Juliana, was Catholic. Other instances of an incautious reliance on Magnus might be cited. Nor do thes few exceptions exhaust the critiscism [sic] that may fairly be made of Professor Mahoney’s work. The writing lacks grace, sometimes even grammatical accuracy. [...]’ (p.91.)

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James Boyd White, When Words Lose their Meaning (Chicago UP 1968): remarks that ‘the vital part of Burke’s method in Reflections […] is to create the objects of persuasion’ - viz., the British Constitution and The French Revolution (p.192); Burke ‘was using a language of feeling, not merely the abstract faculty’; ‘for him as for us, there is an intimate connection between the organisation of language and the organisation of community’ (p.199.) Discussing Burke’s contention that the regicide of 1649 not Glorious Revolution of 1688 is the true antecedent of the French Revolution, White writes: ‘in insisting on this distinction between two kinds of revolution […] Burke separates into two what others wrongly see as one […]. In this way he creates a historical and rhetorical world that is both more complex than that of his opponents and one that is more clearly defined.’ (p.202; all quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC 2004.)

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Gerald W. Chapman, Edmund Burke, The Practical Imagination (Harvard UP 1967): ‘Burke had the imagination to seize a contemplative order of history which was imperfectly conscious, obscurely felt.’ (p.3.) Further: ‘The idea of the organic is implicit insofar as the term implies a recognition that reality presents itself as a fabric of actualising possibilities requiring the human mind to make endless reconciliations of possession and emergence, each emergent as it is assimilated, modifying the whole tenor of the possessed, by an endless feeling attention to incursions of novelty, like showers of meteoric light within the atmosphere of the familiar.’ (Ibid., p.11; quoted in Will Murphy, op. cit., 2004.; pp.87-88]

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, ed., with introductory essay Reflections on the French Revolution [and Selected Writings] (1968). O’Brien sees in Burke a ‘suppressed sympathy for revolution’ arising from his mixed parentage and his experience of Ireland. Selected remarks on ‘Burke’s buried layer’, &c.): [Burke’s] response to the French Revolution was linked, from the beginning, to his position in relation to Ireland.’ (Irish Affairs, 1988, Introduction, p.xxi..) ‘The Irish Catholics are indeed a nation. The Ulster Protestants know they don’t belong to that nation and don’t want to be dominated by it (though of course they enjoyed dominating it, as long as they could). The Irish Catholics – while continuing to pay some lip-sevices to the “United Ireland” ideals – don’t in their hearts regard the Ulster Protestants as belonging to the same nation with them either. What the Catholics want is their land back, which is what the Protestants want to stop the Catholics having. What we are witnessing is a kind of smouldering holy war over ancestral land, carried on under a cloud of confused and misleading slogans. The holy war was already going on, and hundreds of years old, in his [Burke’s] day. After his day, with some help from him, the balance shifted in favour of the Catholics. he would have welcomed the shift in the balance, but surely not the continuation of the holy war after the shift in the balance.’ (p.xxxiii.) Further, ‘[the Whigs] owed the whole of their creed, the whole coherence of their principles, the whole of that enlightenment, the rational love of liberty, that antipathy to arbitrary ideas, on which rests their just claims to the gratitude of their descendants. Burke, from 1770 to 1790, was in the politics of the eighteenth century what Wesley was in its religion.’ (The Great Melody, pp.xxxix.) ‘The revolution Society’s proceedings had to impinge painfully on the ‘buried layer’ of Burke’s psyche. In particular, the language of the resolution carried by the Society immediately after Price’s sermon reminded him of just how anti-Catholic the glorious Revolution, which he was committed to revere, has been. It made his Jacobite ancestors walk, and reproached him for having betrayed his people.’ (Introd., French Rev., p.396 [?recte The Great Melody].)

Burke’s great melody: A. N. Jeffares appraises W. B. Yeats’s reflections on Burke with the following summary observation: ‘Burke devoted his political life to the emancipation of the House of Commons from the control of George III, the emancipation of the American Colonies, the emancipation of Irish trade, parliament and Catholics, the emancipation of India from the rule of the East India Company, and he opposed the Jacobinism of the French Revolution.’ (See Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, Macmillan 1984, p.283 [notes on “The Seven Sages”].)

Conor Cruise O’Brien, Introduction, Letters and Speeches on Irish Affairs (London: Cresset Press 1988), xxxxi, 439pp.; CONTENTS: Introduction to Cresset Lib. Edn, vii [includes rem., ‘Those who hate Burke - from Marx to Sir Lewis Namier and beyond - generally depict Burke as a mere time-serve, a man whose flowery language and fancy theories simply serve to distract attention from sordid self-interest in political practice. It is hard to reconcile that with what happened at Bristol. Nothing could be less time-serving than those letters and that speech. These constitute what a modern politician would call a “suicide note”. They were not quite that; more a question of a self-inflicted and incapacitating wound. Burke was able to carry on with a parliamentary career for what a later age would call the “rotten borough” of Malton, through the patronage of Lord Rockingham. Yet his political career can never be the same again. Up to 1789 he enjoys the status of a representative of a great commercial city. After 1780 he can be dismissed as the hanger-on of a great lord or - as Namier puts it - “a racecourse acquaintance of the Marquis of Rockingham.” and Burke knew what he was risking […; &c.]’; pp.xx-xxi]; ‘The careful reader is likely to be puzzled occasionally by the question of Burke’s personal relation to his main subject matter, the condition of the Irish Catholic. Burke is something of a ventriloquist; we are not always sure what direction his voice is coming from. / For example, Burke speaks of himself more than once as an English. Burke was not in fact English, as the term was used in his own time, or earlier, or later. He was born in Ireland of Irish parents and his ancestry, as far as is known, is entirely Irish and of native, settler stock. His English contemporaries do not take him to be English. John Wilkes said that Burke’s oratory “stank of whiskey and potatoes”; an ethnic eureka, if ever there was one. […]’ [Cont.]

Conor Cruise O’Brien (Letters and Speeches on Irish Affairs, 1988) - cont.: ‘The question of where Burke’s voice is coming from is most crucial in relation to his religion … According to the law, Edmund Burke was a member of that Irish Protestant Ascendancy which he so detested […] in fact his connections with the Irish Catholic people were about as close as it is possible to be without actually being an acknowledged Catholic.’ (xxviii-xxix); ‘Burke, I believe, felt an abiding loyalty - and one which cost him dear - to the people from whom he came, and from whom he might seem to have defected. But it is a loyalty tinged with horror, a horror which can, though on rare occasions, take on a Swiftian intensity.’ (p.xxxi). ‘It may be tempting to try to relate Burke’s writings on Ireland to our own late twentieth century debate about Ireland, such as it is. On the whole, this is a temptation that ought to be resisted.’ (xxxvii). Tracts on the Popery Laws [recte Tracts Relative to the Laws against Popery in Ireland, of which a ‘Plan’ and portions of Chps. II, III, and IV only are extant; no title was attached to these manuscript remains, but the familiar title, ‘Tract on Popery Laws’ appears below Chap. I in Arnold’s edition]; A Letter to Sir Charles Bingham, Bart., on the Irish Absentee Tax [70]; A Letter to the Honourable Charles James Fox [84]; Two Letters to Gentlemen of Bristol (Sir Sam. Span; Messrs. - and Co.) [97, 108]; Speech at the Guildhall, Bristol 1780; Letter to a Peer of Ireland on the Penal Laws against Irish Catholics [182]; Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, MP, 1792 [206]; A Letter to the Right Hon. Edmund Pery [279]; Letter to Thomas Burgh [288]; Letter to John Merlot [317]; Letter to William Smith [322]; 2nd Letter to Langrishe [334]; Letter to Richard Burke [343]; Letter on the Affairs of Ireland, 1797 [373; correspondent unfound; dictated from his couch in Bath, where he had gone on medical advice in March]; PRIVATE LETTERS, to Duke of Portland [390]; to Rev. Dr. Hussey, 1795 [394]; to the Same [401]; to Thomas Keogh [410]; to Rev. Dr. Hussey (early Dec.) 1796 [416]; to Rt. Hon. William Windham [436]; to Dr Laurence [438]. NOTE that C. C. O’Brien counsels prefatorily that the texts be read in their chronological order rather than the order printed, which varies from the former in respect especially of the positioning of the ‘First Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe’, and the second letter to Dr. Hussey, which ante-dates the Letter on the Affairs of Ireland (as the personal communications about his manner of dictation and his failing health indicate).

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Conor Cruise O’Brien (Letters and Speeches on Irish Affairs, 1988) - cont.: Bibliographical references incl. 10-page entry on Burke in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago 1911), which understates Burke’s contribution to Catholic Emancipation [ac. O’Brien] in calling it ‘courageous advocacy’ when in fact it was a leading part in organising their repeal, is by John Morley; bibl., Morley, Edmund Burke, a historical study (1879); N. C. Phillips, ‘Edmund Burke and the County Movement 1779-1780, in Rosalind Mitchelson, ed., Essay in Eighteenth Century, from The English Historical Review [approved by CCOB] (p.301); Harvey C Mansfield Jr., Statesmanship and Party Government, a study of Burke and Bolingbroke (Chicago UP 1965) [refuses to treat the ‘double Cabinet’ literally but takes its rhetoric seriously]; William O’Brien, Edmund Burke and Ireland (Dublin 1924); T.H.D. Mahony, op. cit. [neither give adequate attention to the nature of Burke’s predicament]; Gerald W. Chapman, Edmund Burke, The Practical Imagination (Harvard UP) 1967); Harvey Mansfield, Jnr., Selected Letters of Edmund Burke (Chicago UP 1984) [organised thematically]; James K. Chandler, Wordsworth’s Second Nature, A Study of the Poetry and Politics (Chicago 1984); A.T. Power [untitled], in Endurance and Emergence, Catholics in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, ed. TP Power and Kevin Whelan (Dublin 1990), pp.100-127; A. T. Power, [another title], in Brehons, Sergeants, and Attorneys, Studies in the Irish Legal Profession, ed. Dáire Hogan and W. N. Osborough (Dublin 1991), pp.153-174; James Prior, Life and Character of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke (Lon 1836) [states that ‘an ancestor of Mr. Burke’s family is said to have been Mayor of the city of Limerick in 1646]; T.H. D. Mahoney, Edmund Burke and Ireland (Harvard 1960) [useful for Irish activities of the mature Burke but no more satisfactory than biographies with regard to the nature of Burke’s family involvement with the Ireland of the Penal Laws]; C. C. O’Brien, ‘Edmund Burke and the American Revolution’, in America and Ireland 1776-1976, The American Identity and the Irish Connection, Proceedings of the United States Bicentennial Conference of Cumann Merriman, Ennis, August 1976, ed. David Noel Doyle and Owen Dudley Edwards (Greenwood Press); also in Scotland, Europe and the American Revolution, in New Edinburgh Review collection, ed O. D. Edwards and George Shepperson (Edin. 1976); C. C. O’Brien, ‘Warren Hastings in Burke’s Great Melody’, in Geoffrey Carnall and Colin Nicholson, eds., The Impeachment of Warren Hastings, Papers from a Bicentenary Commemoration (Edinburgh UP 1988); C.C. O’Brien, Nationalism and the French Revolution’, in The Permanent Revolution, The French Revolution and its Legacy, ed. Geoffrey Best (Fontana 1988); Basil O’Connell, ‘Edmund Burke, Gaps in the Family Record’, Studies in Burke, Vol. ix, no. 3 (1968), pp.946-49 [this item is labouriously repeated in full at the foot of pp.7, 8, and 9]; Arthur Samuels, Early Life, Correspondence and Dairies [var. Writings] of Edmund Burke (Cambridge 1923) [shows that Burke’s academic career could hardly have been more distinguished than it was … and refutes the contrary view of earlier biographers]; Basil O’Connell, ‘Burke’s reconciliation with his father’, in Burke Newsletter, II, vol. VIII, no. 2 (1966-67), pp.714-15. [Discusses Burke’s marriage to Miss Nugent]; Conor Cruise O’Brien, ‘Burke and Marx’, in New American Review, vol. I, no. I (1966); Carl B. Cone, Burke and the Nature of Politics: The Age of the American Revolution (Kentucky UP 1957); William O’Brien, Edmund Burke as an Irishman (Dublin 1924) [believes rumours of Burke’s Catholicism set in motion by Hamilton]; James Cunniff, ‘Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Coming Revolution in Ireland’, Journal of the History of Ideas’, xlviii (Jan-Mar 1986) [believes that Burke urged Fitzwilliam on towards Catholic Emancipation.]

Conor Cruise O’Brien (Letters and Speeches on Irish Affairs, 1988) - cont.: NOTE, C. C. O’Brien calls Letter To A Noble Lord Burke’s devastating argumentum ad hominem (The Great Melody, 1992, pp.535, 538]; focuses on Burke’s critique of abstraction [see QUOTS from Letters on a Regicide Peace). Further, Of Four Letters on a Regicide Peace, two were published on 26 Oct. 1796, the other two posthumously [545]. The first deals with Auckland’s pamphlet promoting peace on the basis that the Directory has been instrumental in the fall of Robespierre. [548] In the second he more fully meditates the lessons of human history. He distinguishes the French Revolution from all others on the basis that ‘It is with an armed doctrine that we are at war.’ [554]; quotes Burke on manners (‘what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarise or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation …’) [554]; also cites the phrase ‘economy of truth’ [559]; By the time of writing the 4th Letter on a Regicide Peace, the English ambassador Lord Malmesbury had been contemptuously expelled from France (1 Dec. 1796). Note bibl., Letters 2, 3 & 4 figure respectively as ‘Letters 1, 2, & 3’ in Collected Works, Vol. VI, while Letter I appears as No. 4. [O’Brien, 1992, 545; 552; 559; 562] Those two published in his lifetime went through 13 editions soon after their issue on 20 Oct. 1796. NOTE also Cruise O’Brien on Letter on the Affairs of Ireland, 1797, printed in Works, Vol. VI, pp.415-29; also printed as ‘To Unknown’, Feb. 1797 (Vol. IX, Corr., pp.253-63; taken from C. C. O’Brien, 1992, and believed by him to be to Thomas Hussey [a Catholic priest]. In effect, his political testament on the subject; speaks of ‘mischiefs which must sooner or later arise from subjecting the Mass of the people to the capricious and interested domination of an exceeding small faction and its dependencies. [577] Letter to Laurence, his literary executor, ‘[ …] those who consider the dominion of the glorious empire given by in incomprehensible dispensation of the Divine providence into our hands as nothing more than an opportunity of gratifying for the lowest of their purposes, the lowest of their passions […; his own] endeavours to rescue this dull and thoughtless people from the punishments which their neglect and stupidity will bring upon them for their Sytematick iniquity and oppression [… &c.]’ (Corr., IX, pp.62-63; to Laurence, his executor; C. C. O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992, 581-82.) [Cont.]

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Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992): ‘To be brought up in Ballyduff, was to share directly in a considerable part of experience of the Irish, Gaelic-speaking Catholic people and to be at least somewhat affected by Irish Catholic interpretations of history, and aspirations for the future.’ (p.22.) ‘Burke all his life retained an interest in the Irish language and its literature. He played an important part in the preservation of its monuments, and in rendering them accessible to scholars. In 1765 he discovered in the library of his friend Sir John Sebright at Beechwood, in Hertfordshire, some important early manuscripts in Irish. Realising their value, he borrowed them and sent them for evaluation to the Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin. Sebright later presented them to the college library. They are recognised as being the main foundation of the Library’s collection of Irish manuscripts. Catalogue of Irish MSS in the British Museum, intro. to Vol. III. Bibl., W. D. Love, ‘Edmund Burke and the Irish Historiographical controversy, in History and Theory, II, pp.180-198; and Love, ‘Edmund Burke, Charles Vallancey, and the Sebright MSS’, in Hermathena XCV (1961), pp.33-35 (O’Brien, c.p.27). Further: ‘Of the 1641 rebellion, Burke said, under suspicion of sympathy with the Jacobite cause, “That the Irish Rebellion of 1641 was not only (as our silly things called Histories call it) not utterly unprovoked but that no History, that I have ever read furnishes an Instance of any that was so provoke”, and that “in almost all parts of it, it has been extremely and most absurdly misrepresented.”’ (Corr. II, pp.282, 284-85.)

Further, O’Brien quotes a letter explaining the strategy behind the Catholic Relief Act of 1788 to one Unknown (Corr III, p.455), whom O’Brien conjectures may have been Sir Lucius O’Brien, who helped carry a similar measure through the Irish parliament. [76 & ftn.]. Further, Burke’s management of the first repeal of the Penal Laws attracted the notice of the Catholic Committee, who voted to present him with 500, which he refused in a letter to John Curry, with the urging that the money be used ‘to give some aid to places of education for your own youth at home, which is indeed much wanted’. (14 Aug. 1779, Corr. IV, 118-20.) O’Brien remarks that Burke was writing in the persona of a benevolent Protestant as Curry was writing on behalf of the Committee. [77; cont.].

Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992) - cont. O’Brien comments on a quotation from ‘On Conciliation’ [‘it was [not] English arms …’; see infra.] that Burke enter[ed] into the frame of mind of an English Whig […] and even offers us an idyllic view of Ireland, as it might appear to a Whig constitutional lawyer, who had never visited the place, and who accepted the penal laws as perfectly in order. […] Burke here temporarily talk himself out of existence. The metaphor of the Great Melody is not applicable to this passage’ [152]; ‘the dark side of the Burkean moon’ [178]; Note: O’Brien later writes, ‘this is a persona he assumes at times of stress, as in the “Ireland” passage of Conciliation […] &c’. [201] Further: O’Brien quotes these aphorism, among others, as instances of gravitas in the speech On Conciliation, ‘If you do not succeed, you are without resource; for, conciliation failing, force remains; but, force failing, no Further hope of reconciliation is left.’ ‘I do not know a method of drawing up an indictment against an whole people’. ‘Man acts from adequate motives relative to his interest and not on metaphysical speculations.’ [153] Further (on the Tracts relative to the Laws against Popery, early 1769 [O’Brien]), intended for circulation […] not for publication, his major public statement being Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, 3 Jan. 1792 [Works, IV, pp.241-306]. Further remarks that Burke never alluded to the Irish Volunteers directly. [178] With what O’Brien calls ‘the lucidity of fascinated malice’, Walpole put his finger on the nub of the matter, ‘The Irish have 28,000 men in arms […] I dare say that Mr Edmund Burke does not approve of these proceedings, for [179] the 28,000 are all Protestants.’ (Oct. 1779; Corr., vol. 28, p.469). Further, On the day when Lord North caved in to the Free trade demands (15 Dec. 1779), The Dublin Evening Post reported the ‘almost unaccountable conduct of the Opposition […] our Countryman Edmund Burke endeavoured to raise every obstacle to prevent their being carried through the House - but finding every means ineffectual, stole away mute, and was followed by the whole squad’. (23 Dec. 1779; quoted in M. R. O’Connell, op. cit., p.198) [196] O’Brien argues that Burke saw Grattan’s demand for freedom as bogus since it involved freedom for the dominant caste, perpetuating the disenfranchisement and oppression of the Catholic party [201]. O’Brien calls 1784 the nadir of Burke’s political fortunes, following a loss of 89 seats to the coalition, and ‘deeply depressing’ [336]. Quotes further, ‘I think I can hardly overrate the malignity of the principles of Protestant ascendancy, as they affect Ireland; or of Indianism, as they affect these affect Asia; or of Jacobinism as they affect all Europe, and the state of human society itself. The last is the greatest evil. But it readily combines with the others, and flows from them.’ (Burke, 26 May 1795; Corr., VIII, p.254.) [The same quoted on p.528.]

Further: ‘Another auditor at three of the four days of Burke’s address was Edmund Malone, who wrote an account of it to Lord Charlemont, ‘I suppose you have heard much of Burke’s astonishing performance on the business of Hastings. I had the good fortune to hear him on the first, second and fourth day; but could not get a ticket on the third, when he gave so pathetick a description of the tortures that had been practised in India. All the papers have made sad stuff of his most delicate touches, on a point of so nice a nature that nothing but the most consummate art could have guarded him against ridicule.’ (Corr., V, p.379) Note that Burke’s material is taken from Patterson’s report on the behaviour of the tax-collectors in Devi Singh’s fief. [373] Pitt’s negative attitude to Burke and the impeachment [378] Burke’s colleagues growing resentful of their involvement with it. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire’s diary records, ‘Sheridan who is heartily tired of Hastings trial, and fearful of Burke’s impetuosity says that he wishes Hastings would run away and Burke after him.’ (Corr., V, 757, n.4) [379] Burke defends the word ‘murder’, 4 May 1789. [381] By the second half of 1789 the French Revolution already to replace India as Burke’s chief preoccupation. [383.]

Further: Letter to a Member, a sort of afterthought to Reflections, includes Burke’s great onslaught on Rousseau, whom the Assembly members are bent on imitating. ‘We have had the great professor and founder of the philosophy of vanity in England. As I had good opportunities of knowing his proceedings almost day to day, he left no doubt in my mind, that he entertained no principle either to influence his heart, or to guide his understanding, but vanity.’ (Writings, VIII, pp.312-316.) [435] Burke predicts the execution of Louis, ‘[T]hey will assassinate the king when his name will no longer be necessary to their designs; but not moment sooner. They will probably first assassinate the queen, whenever the renewed menace of such assassination loses its effect upon the anxious mind of an affectionate husband.’ (Writings, VIII, p.309) [437]; ‘In studying Burke, I have found that, whenever there is an unexpected silence, a failure to refer to something obviously relevant, or a cyroptically guarded formulation, the probable explanation is usually to be found at the “Irish layer”: the suspect and subterranean area of emotional access to the forbidden world of emotional Catholicism’ [450]. (Note: This text summarised more fuller in Ricorso, “Archives”, infra [121KB].)

Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992) - cont.: Burke set out to convince Langrishe and others than Further resistance to Catholic enfranchisement would drive the Catholics into the arms of the radical Dissenters and ultimately of the French. [477] Burke argues that the wording of the Coronation Oath in no way favours all Protestant denominations above Catholic ones, but only the established church, and that it does not preclude assent to any arrangement for Catholic franchise established by law. He goes on to distinguish between the general principles of the Glorious Revolution and some of its practices in Ireland. [478-79] ‘I shall not think that the deprivation of some millions of people of all the rights of citizens, and all the interest in the Constitution, in and to which they were born, was a thing conformable to the declared principles of the Revolution […] In England it was the struggle of the great body of the people for the establishment of their liberties, against the efforts of a very small faction, who would have oppressed them. In Ireland it was the establishment of the power of a small number, at the expense of the civil liberties and properties of the far greater part, and at the expense of the political liberties of the whole. […] To insist on everything done in Ireland at the Revolution would be to insist on the severe and jealous policy of a conqueror, in the crude settlement of a new acquisition, as a permanent rule for its future government.’ [479-80.]. Note uncensored feelings concerning the history of Ireland, in letter to Richard Burke; ‘fictitious tenures to dispossess whole unoffending tribes and their chieftains […] ruins of castles and churches […] estates of the old Irish nobility and gentry […] confiscated […] lands of their country […] put up to a mean and scandalous auction in every goldsmith’s shop in London, or chopped in pieces and cut into rations, to pay the mercenary soldiery of a regicide usurper. &c.’ (Letter to Richard Burke on Protestant Ascendancy of Ireland, Works VI, p.408) [484]. Further, On 21 December 1792, in debate, Sheridan, opening for the Whigs, appealed to the French authorities for ‘justice, mercy and magnanimity’. Burke would have none of this, ‘…The truth was, the king was in the custody of assassins, who were both his accusers and his judges, and his destruction was inevitable.’ (Parl. Hist., XXX, III, 20 Dec. 1792) [494].

Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody (1992), cont.: Bibliography listed as supra, with remarks: The Appeal is unaccountably omitted from The French Revolution, 1790-94 in vol. VIII of The Writings and Speeches. [431] It defends Burke’s own consistency in the third person, and was published anonymously. Appraising the defence, which he reproduces fully (Works, IV, 1899, pp.92-103) [440-46]. Further, comments, ‘having read everything that Burke is known to have written, and everything that he is recorded as having said […] I find this defence […] fully justified.’ [446] Further, ‘The Letter to a Member, a sort of afterthought to Reflections, includes Burke’s great onslaught on Rousseau, whom the Assembly members are bent on imitating. Quotes: ‘We have had the great professor and founder of the philosophy of vanity in England. As I had good opportunities of knowing his proceedings almost day to day, he left no doubt in my mind, that he entertained no principle either to influence his heart, or to guide his understanding, but vanity.’ (Writings, VIII, pp.312-316.) [435] Burke predicts the execution of Louis, ‘[T]hey will assassinate the king when his name will no longer be necessary to their designs; but not moment sooner. They will probably first assassinate the queen, whenever the renewed menace of such assassination loses its effect upon the anxious mind of an affectionate husband.’ (Writings, VIII, p.309) [437] Tracts, Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (Paris, 27 Apr. 1791; London 21 May 1791.) Appeal from the New Whigs to the Old Whigs (London 3 Aug. 1791.) 1792, Heads for Consideration on the Present State of Affairs (Dec. 1792). The Appeal is unaccountably omitted from The French Revolution, 1790-94 in vol. VIII of The Writings and Speeches. [431] It defends Burke’s own consistency in the third person, and was published anonymously. Appraising the defence, which he reproduces fully (Works, IV, 1899, pp.92-103) [440-46].

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Edward Grierson, The Imperial Dream: The British Commonwealth and Empire 1775-1969 (Newtown Abbot: Victorian (& Modern) History Book Club 1973): ‘The causes of the War of American Independence have been endlessly debated. Grenville’s Stamp Act was certainly among them, as was Townsend’s budget of 1767 and the system of the Navigation Acts which Burke in his great speech on American taxation in 1774 castigated as “wholly restrictive” and as leading a “condition of as rigorous servitude as made can be subject to.” But these were only symptoms of a feaver which Burke himself never clearly comprehended. Unknown to him and unrealised as yet by its thirteen component parts [of the future United States], a nation had been born and had reached the age of indiscretion. The mainland colonies had outgrown their apron strings: the fundamental cause of their estrangement from Britain lay in this simple and inescapable fact. / It is one of the oddities of history that in the Age of Reason itself hardly anyone in Britain realised this. [Cites James Harrington in the Preface to Oceania predicting that colonies will wean themselves, Turgot’s dictum on ripe fruit, and Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations attacking the whole system of Monopoly [or Merchantilism] as unwholesome - vis., ‘Under the present system of management, therefore, Great Britain derives nothing but loss from the dominion which she exercises over her colonies.’] (p.22.) [See further quotations from Grierson on American affairs - infra.]

[Note: Grierson further quotes the ‘famous passage’ in which Smith ‘looked prophetically into the future of Anglo-American relations’ [Grierson, p.23]: ‘By thus parting good friends, the natural affection of the colonies to the mother country ... would quickly revive. It might dispose them not only to respect, for whole centuries together, that treaty of commerce which they had concluded at parting, but to favour us in war as well as in trade, and, instead of turbulent and fractious subjects, to become our most faithful, affectionate and generous allies.’ (Adams, Wealth of Nations, q.p.; p.23.)

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David McCracken, ‘Rhetorical Strategy in Burke’s Reflections’, in The Yearbook in English Studies, ed. T. J. B. Spencer (MHRA 1971), Vol. I, pp.120-24: ‘Although Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is most often read as the fullest and best statement of Burke’s political wisdom, his aim in writing was above all persuade an audience rather than to express a credo. In considering Burke’s ideas as well as his literary merit, we cannot afford to ignore his expertise as a rhetorician, especially with respect to two important rhetorical elements — the ethos of the speaker and the appeal to an audience. Some of the most curious and memorable qualities of the Reflections stem from Burke’s handling of the speaker and audience: the fact that it is in the form of a volume-long letter, that the correspondent is never identified, that it is presented not as logical, conclusive argument but rather as “reflections”, that it is highly emotional, and that the tone varies greatly—from passionate rapture over the splendour of the French Queen to indignant attacks on “philosophical fanatics”, from ironic scorn to lengthy, elaborate arguments replete with arithmetical evidence. Behind these qualities lies Burke’s conscious rhetorical strategy of establishing and manipulating four distinct groups: (1) his own character as speaker, (2) the young French nobleman, his correspondent, (3) philosophical fanatics, both English and French, and (4) true Englishmen.’ (p.121.) ‘[..] Bukrke characterises himself in explicit contrast to the English philosophical fanatics like Price. He writes, of course, as a public man and expects his reputation and past action to carry some weight with his readers. At both the beginning and the end he points to his own love of liberty and his “struggle for the liberty of others”. But he understates his established authority and by no means trusts to it alone; instead, he elaborately builds up a character within the work.’ (p.122.)

David McCracken, ‘Rhetorical Strategy in Burke’s Reflections’, in The Yearbook in English Studies, ed. T. J. B. Spencer, (MHRA 1971) - cont.: ‘By treating the real issue, the safety of English establishments, indirectly instead of directly, Burke avoids a head-on confrontation which could, by recognition of their power, give added authority and encouragement to English revolutionaries or sympathizers. Instead of trying to win his English readers’ approval by direct argument, he uses rhetorical devices to manoeuvre them into acceptance of what he says by virtue of their common nationality. The actual rhetorical conflict is Burke, with his lonely anti-revolutionary view, versus the mass of Englishmen who are not immediate followers of Price. In a masterful, if unconventional, way, Burke has transformed this into an ostensible rhetorical conflict of all true Englishmen (including Burke, the great mass, of Englishmen, and any other readers who can be manoeuvred behind Burke) versus a young Frenchman seeking advice, with a few English followers of Price set apart in a special hell of isolation and absurd fanaticism which Burke concocts for revolutionaries. The persuasive power of the Reflections rests in large part on Burke’s success in creating these rhetorical groups and establishing the relationships between them.’

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850, Vol. 1 (1980), [quotes Burke on Marie Antoinette, as supra 14]; ‘The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature … is astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror …’ (Sublime and Beautiful, Pt. 2, sect. 1, p.57, JL Boulton, ed., Notre Dame UP, 1968); ‘no passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. For fear being apprehension of pain and death, it operates in a manner that resembles actual pain. Whatever therefore is terrible, with regard to sight, is sublime too … (Pt 2, sect. 2., p.57 [sic]); All general privations are great because they are all terrible; Vacuity, Darkness, Solitude and silence …’ (Idem, 2.6, p.71.) Infinity has a tendency to fill the mind, with that sort of delightful horror, which is the most genuine effect, and truest test of the sublime’ (Idem, sect. 8, p.73); ‘.. Stonehenge, neither for disposition nor ornament, has anything admirable; but those huge rude masses of stone, set on end, and piled each on other, turn the mind on the immense force necessary for such a work. Nay the rudeness of the work increases this cause of grandeur, as it excludes the idea of art, and contrivance … (Idem, sect. 12, p.77); the noise of vast cataracts, raging storms, thunder or artillery, awakes a great and awful sensation in the mind.’ (Idem, sect. 18, p.82) [et al.]. Burke’s discussion is based on Longinus’s definition in his Treatise on the Sublime [sic], transmitted to neo-classicism by Boileau; building thus on classical foundations, Burke evolves an essentially romantic view of the sublime as the effect of nature. [~57-59]. Bibl. [Rafroidi Vol. 2, 1980], Phil. Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757); Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790); A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (1791); A Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe on the Roman Catholics of Ireland (1792), etc. , in Complete Works, 12 vols, London 1887, rep. by Olms, Hildesheim (West Germany), and Letters currently by Cambridge UP. Commentaries include G[erald] W. Chapman, The Practical Imagination (Harvard 1968).

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P. J. Marshall & Glyndwr Williams, The Great Map of Mankind: Perceptions of New Worlds in the Age of Enlightenment (Harvard UP 1982): ‘If depictions of a stagnant Asia flattered Europe as a whole, they were especially flattering to Britain: oppressive despontisms and obscurantist religions, the normal “moral” elements in Asian immobility, were but the “Popery” and “slavery” of authoritarian Catholic Europe writ large.’ ( pp.149-50; quoted in Hermione De Almeida, George H. Gilpin, Indian Renaissance: British Romantic Art and the Prospect of India (Hants: Ashgate Publ. Ltd. 2005), p.316, n.67.0

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), Edmund Burke wrote a description of his experience as a candidate for matriculation in 1744, adding a message to one of the teachers who had prepared him in Ballitore, ‘Tell Master Pearce, for his Comfort, that I was examined in Ars in Praes’ (being a mnemonic for the parts of the Latin verb). He won a prize and took a Foundation scholarship in classics. [50] Edmund Burke describes the education basis of the pervasive classicism of the Anglo-Irish world, in a letter to Samuel Parr in 1787 (Copeland et al. eds., Correspondence, 1958-70, vol. v., 337. [91] Stanford ascribes classical models to Burke Aristotle and Cicero [93]. Bibl, RH Murray, Edmund Burke (Oxford 131) [discusses his classical interests]; e Barker, The Politics of Aristotle (Oxford 1948), pp.lxi-lxii considers the sources of his political theory; JAK Thomson, Classical Influences on English Prose (London 1956) [considers Burke, Swift and Goldsmith in the light of this title]. Further: Burke, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756), derived in conception from the pseudo-Longinus, influenced Lessing in composing Laokoon (1766). [124]

W. B. Stanford (Ireland and the Classical Tradition, 1984) - cont.: Burke, in a letter to the Provost when being offered an hon. degree by the University in 1790, mentioned ‘those principles of Liberty and morality […] which are infused and have always been infused together into the minds of those who have had the happiness of being instructed in it.’ (TW Copeland, et. al. eds., Correspondence of Edmund Burke, 9 vols, 1958-70, vi, 192. [211-12]. As a speaker in the Historical Club, which he founded, Burke spoke twice as a Roman [‘Brutus on the death of Lucretia’, and as ‘a Roman Senator against Caesar at the time when he took command in Gaul’] and once as a Greek [‘Ulysses on his embassy to Menelaus to recover Helen’]. (See T. S. C. Dagg, College Historical Society, a History 1770-1920 (Cork: [priv.] 1969). Burke’s Vindication of Natural Society (1756) roundly denounced the political and moral instability of the Athenians, preferring Romans, ‘Rome has a more venerable aspect that Athens, and she conducted her affairs, so far as related to the ruin and oppression of the great part of the world, with greater wisdom and uniformity’. Boswell records that Burke argued against Johnson that Virgil was superior to Homer. (Life of Johnson, Chap. xlii, 1777-78; ftn.) NOTE, In a preface to the second edition, Burke dropped the veil of irony, and declared that the book was written ‘to show that, without exertion of any considerable forces, the same engines which were employed for the destruction of religion might be employed with equal success for the subversion of government.’(See Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992, p.449-50].

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Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael […; &c.] (Amsterdam: Rodopi 1986), Thomas Leland was exhorted by O’Conor and by Burke, and supplied with MSS by these as well as Lord Charlemont, he began preparing his History of Ireland in 1769. Burke found a London publisher for Curry’s Historical memoirs, having drawn up an address for the Catholic Committee in 1764 [vide Curry to Burke, 8 June 1765]; Burke wrote the Sir Hercules Langrishe that the penal laws ‘divided the nation into two distinct bodies, without common interest, sympathy, or connexion’ (Burke, Works, 1856, vol. 6 p.22). [411]. Langrishe’s contention ‘that the Roman Catholics should enjoy everything under the State, but should not be the State itself’ withered under the clear gaze of Edmund Burke (letter to Langrishe, 3 Jan 1792; and published in the same year; also in Burke Letters, Speeches and Tracts on Irish affairs, ed. Matthew Arnold, 1881, pp.206-278). In his Tract on the Penal Laws [sic; recte ‘Popery Laws’], Burke held that the penal laws, in repressing the majority, sinned against the basic Lockean principle of ‘equity and utility’ (p.27). Bibl., For Burke’s part in the Leland controversy, see Walter D. Love, ‘Edmund Burke and an Irish historiographical controversy’, in History and theory 2 (1962), pp.180-198; Love, ‘Edmund Burke, Charles Vallancey and the Sebright manuscripts’, in Hermethena 95 (July 1961), pp.21-35. [Note var. spelling Seabright in Ward and Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor, 1988, p.413.] NOTE also that Burke refused a vote of 500 guineas from the Catholic Committee, advising them to devote it to the education of Catholics at home instead.

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Robert E. & Catherine Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor (1988), references to Burke include his involvement in passing John Curry’s Critical Review to Smollett; note also the general sympathy of style between the two writers, Burke and O’Conor, and the lather’s advocacy of the former’s History of America (Dublin 1777); writings on America (p.353); ‘our friend Ned Burke’ (Oct. 1777; p.357). Bibl, The Works of Edmund Burke (London: G. Bell & Sons 1916) [cited in Ward & Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor, 1988, p.270. n.2.); also Walter Love, ‘Edmund Burke and an Irish Historiographical Controversy’, in History and Theory, 2 (1962), pp.183-187 [giving account of antagonism between contributors to Vallancey’s Collectanea]. NOTE reference to Seabright [sic; and sic also in O’Reilly, as her cited; but given as Sebright in ODNB &c.] library of Irish MSS, examined by O’Conor in 1769 while in the hands of Dr. Leland. (p.413, n.4, citing Burke, 5); and note quotation from letter of Burke to Vallancey regarding two-volume publication of Irish annals, ‘until something of the kind […] is done, the ancient period of our history which precedes official records cannot be said to stand on any proper authority’ [Burke, Letter of 15 Aug. 1783; also printed in Burke, Letters, 5, 108-110, Further calling O’Conor a ‘judicious antiquary’ who had recommended 20 years previously that the Annals be published] (Letters of Charles O’Conor, 1988, pp.429-30, and n.5); and note that O’Conor later refers to ‘our great countryman Mr Burke’ in support of a publication scheme for the Annals (ibid., p.431). [Cont.]

Robert E. & Catherine Ward (Letters of Charles O’Conor, 1988) - O’Conor quotes Burke on himself: ‘I shall tell you … what a judicious antiquary about twenty years ago told me concerning the chronicles in verse and prose upon which the Irish histories and the discussions of antiquaries are founded, that he wondered that the learned of Ireland had never printed the originals of these pieces with literal translations in Latin or English by which they might become proper subjects of criticism and by a comparison with each other, as well as by an examination of each within itself, they might serve to show how much ought to be retained and how much rejected.’ (letter to Thomas O’Gorman, 14 July 1784; ibid., p.442); in first extant letter to J. C. Walker, he professes to admire Flood’s speech on the Question of Attachments; ‘surely on that question our countryman Mr Burke must desert that extraordinary demagogue’ [i.e., Fox, who denounced with Lord North the bill promoted by Pitt that Irish goods should pass to England without increase of duty, 22 Feb. 1784] (Letter to J. C. Walker, 22 Dec. 1784; Letters, p.451); ‘I return thanks for Mr Burke’s speech on the affairs of the East India Company. His eloquence charms, but it distresses at the same time. In his historical details we find a large kingdom turned into graves for human carcasses, desolation and silence through an extent of 300 miles; the mercy, so to speak, of killing men, women, and children all at once suspended for the unexampled cruelty of seeing them perish slowly by hunger! Good God! Can such wickedness be compatible with human, with British feelings! [… &c.] (Letter to Walker, 20 Nov. 1785; p.455); Further, ‘her ode on Carolan’s Stafford is elegant, but too paraphrastical. I would therefore wish that Stafford came out in your own version’ (Letter to Walker, 20 Nov. 1785; p.457); ‘Burke, the great Burke, is now amongst you’; ‘I am sorry that the great Burke has left your city without recognition of the credit he has done to his native country by his talents … and some services also’ (Letters to Walker, 21 Oct. and 22 Nov. 1786; pp.476, 477).

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Stanley Ayling, Edmund Burke (1988), Burke founds The Reformer (13 numbers 1747-48), launched against ‘the Empire of Dullness’ in the belief that ‘the poverty of this kingdom can be no excuse for not encouraging men of genius’). It includes verses in the manner of the Dunciad by Burke, ‘Ye students who to college do run,/Not to learn Wit or Wisdom, but to shun;/Say, if by clubbing each his blockhead’s head/Any can tell me whither Wit is fled;/For a Reward, he who resolve the best/This doubt shall have the Brains of all the rest.’ (Samuels, 162-3). [7] Further, Burke attended Smock Alley where the indignant manager and victim was Sheridan’s father - ‘a pitiful fellow’, Burke reckoned. (Corr., I, p.102.) [8] ALSO, In Letters to the Citizens of Dublin, and their companion-piece, The Naked Truth, Burke wrote, ‘Absolute independency would be fatal to this Kingdom’ (Samue[l]s 364); but also ‘the bounds of freedom and licentiousness of the press are delicate, nor can every hot-brained man determine them; [but] he who sets new limits to the press puts shackles on the arms of liberty and makes one great stride to her destruction.’ (Sam. 197) [9; see Charles Lucas, RX] Further, Engaged by Robert and James Dodsley to write An Abridgement of English History, with instalments amounting to 300, never completed. Dodsley’s published William Burke’s Account of the European Settlements in America (1757) in which Burke had a share. Commenced editing the Annual Register for the Dodsley’s in 1758, with a salary from 100 to 300; assisted by Thomas English, an Irishman, and later by Walker King and French Laurence, who came to edit his Works by the terms of his will. [16] Further, As secretary to William Gerard Hamilton, who was appt. Chief Sec. for Ireland, Burke is offered a pension on the Irish Treasury of 300, but insists on his independence, if not ‘get Lord Halifax to postpone the pension, and afterwards drop it.’ Later, Burke accused Hamilton of ‘tak[ing] to himself the very little one [i.e., fortune] I had made’, but in reality Burke’s pension was transferred to Robert Jephson in 1756, when their differences arose. [19-20] NOTE, ‘But I hate to think of Ireland, though my thoughts involuntarily take that turn, and whenever they do, meet only with objects of grief or indignation.’ (Corr., I, 162-3.) [19; cont.]

Stanley Ayling, Edmund Burke (1988) - cont: in discussing the financial affairs of ‘the Burke clan’, Ayling treats the companionship and commercial involvements of Edmund Burke his unrelated namesake friend William Burke, and his own brother Richard Burke, as the same both in relation to the careers of the second with the stock of the East India Company, and the purchase of Gregories. [Chp. 2 passim]; Ayling Further the involvements of Richard Burke, the brother of Edmund, in Granada, and his manner of gaining land there by ‘purchase’ from the Red Carobs - contested by the Black Carobs - and Edmund’s strenuous advocacy of his cause in Parliament and elsewhere. Richard was Collector, a lucrative post in which he incensed Governor Melville by those so-called land purchases which the Governor perceived as unfair to the natives and unscrupulous from an English government officer. Besides malversation of funds, Ayling adduces evidence of Richard Burke’s unwillingness to pay his large gambling debts. Wraxall, Memoirs (d. Wheatley, 1884) , contains account of Burke encouraging a Mrs Harneck to invest in the West Indies, and losing her fortune. [21] Ayling traces the finances of the Burkes. Crash in East Indian stock 1729; William Burke with Lord Verney suffer heavily [23-35] Buys Gregories for 20,000 in 1768 [34]; Johnson remarks, ‘non equidem invideo miror magis’, reflecting astonishment rather than envy. (Boswell, 3, p.310.) [34-35] Burke was never to abandon his belief that the right to vote sprang naturally from the rights of property. [103] Bibl, A Vindication of Natural Society, or A View of the Miseries and Evils arising to Mankind from Every Species of Artificial Society, in a Letter to Lord ***** by a late Noble Writer (1756) was a parody of Bolingbroke, the satirical intention was not seen, so that in a second edn. (1765) it was necessary to point it out. (Ayling, 1988, pp.13-14.)

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A. N. Jeffares, A New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats (Macmillan 1988), remarks that Burke devoted his life ‘to the emancipation of the House of Commons from the control of George III, the emancipation of the American Colonies, the emancipation of Irish trade, parliament, and Catholics, the emancipation of India from the rule of the East India Company’ and opposition to the Jacobinism of the French Revolution.’

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Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (Geography Publications 1989), Discussing the Catholic Relief measures of 1778, Wall shows that it was the predicament of Britain, with enemies in America and France, and Spain pending, which obliged the ministry to seek security and recruits from Catholics at home; and Further that the English catholic gentry were unwilling to stick their necks out (anticipating the backlash of the Gordon riots). Lord North addressed the Irish establishment, saying, ‘the penal laws of Ireland were the consequence of apprehension, which however groundless, always adopts the most cruel and severe policy. The Irish complained, and complained with justice; but it must be left to the candour of their own parliament to grant such indulgence to the Roman Catholics as their loyalty deserved.’ Burke declared the barbarous severity of the penal laws would lead to heavy emigration to America. The passage of the English bill, orchestrated by the government, passed both houses without a single division and received royal assent on 3 June 1778, setting an example to the Irish parliament. Burke wrote that the English bills (including the repeal of the bar on Catholic purchase of forfeited estates of 1702) were ‘ultimately intended’ for Ireland, ‘The whole was laid together for that purpose. Parliament wished to speak its sense, as clearly as it could without using authority, to Ireland.’ (Corr., iii. 455-56) [129] Note also , When the draft bill was passed by Commons on 20 June and sent to England, agitation against it was transferred there; Burke in communication with Curry urged the North administration to treat it as a Government measure, and to return it unaltered to Ireland […; c.130]. Bibl., op. cit., includes “Burke MSS” at Sheffield Public Libraries. Further, Before his death Burke had become convinced that this line [i.e., John Keogh’s Whiggish concentration on political issues, underscoring the affinities of Orange and Tory] could only provide a pretext for ‘Further oppression of the oppressed’. Constant clashes between opposing political factions could only lead to a deepening of divisions and an embittering of the relations between them. Burke believed that the only sensible course open to Catholics after 1793 was to reform their own mode of living. If the Catholic middle classes and landed gentry had concentrated on the economic rather than the political; if they had lived less extravagantly themselves; if they had invested their wealth in Irish industry and provided employment; if they had bettered the lot of the tenantry and the labouring classes by becoming improving landlords, they might have, in Burke’s opinion, made themselves ‘independent in fact’ before endeavouring to achieve ‘nominal independence’. But this would have been long and tedious and unspectacular &c. [170]; Further, ‘The Making of Gardiner’s Relief Act, 1781-82’, in Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, Collected Essays, ed. Gerard O’Brien, 1989], In a letter to Lord Kenmare Edmund Burke savagely attacked the proposal to establish sizarships at Trinity for aspirants to the Catholic priesthood, and expressed the hope that until institutions suitable for the purpose were provided at home they would not be prohibited from availing of ‘cheap and effectual education in other countries’ (21 Feb. 1782; Burke, Corr., iv. 421-22). this letter was shown to the chief secretary, Grattan, Pery, and Gardiner, and Kenmare reported to his that it had stopped ‘their proceeding on a crude and ill-digested plan for home education’ of the Catholic clergy. [143]. [See also Ogle, RX infra.]

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J. W. Foster, Colonial Consequences (Dublin: Lilliput 1991), Such trends were noticeably influenced by a new appreciation of the Irish landscape. […] Furthermore, the concept of the ‘sublime’ was now [73] beginning to create a matrix for the aesthetic appreciation of such landscapes. […] Especially Edmund Burke’s milestone An enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful (written around 1750, published in 1757) linked the sublime definitively with notions like Terror, Obscurity, Power, Vastness and Infinity (being his successive chapter headings) [Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael, 1986]. And Cf., J. W. Foster, ‘What had been merely literary motif became […] the landscape of feeling. The socio-aesthetic theories of Pope, Shaftesbury and Hutcheson […] gave way to Burke’s Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757) that took account of the asocial feeling of individual men and nature’s immensity independent of Mankind [stimulating] a generation of landscapers to seek irregularity and surprise. the Popean balance of art and nature titled towards nature. Sir Evedale Price’s Essays on the Picturesque (1794) simply added another watertight category […] to Burke’s beauty and sublimity. [19].

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Seamus Deane, ‘Montesquieu and Burke’, in Barbara Hayley & Christopher Murray, eds., Ireland and France - A Bountiful Friendship: Essays in Honour of Patrick Rafroidi (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), pp.17-29: Deane examines the acknowledged influence of the former on the latter, in relation to L’esprit des Lois, a document in which Montesquieu expressed admiration for the British constitution; cites Burke, Abridgement of English History (1757) and An Appeal from the New Whigs to the Old Whigs (1791). Remarks that ‘Burke learned from Montesquieu the art of analysing poltical systems in relation to their prevailing circumstances and … his capacity to produce, in epigrammatic form, general truths … which combined gravitas with elegance’ [17]. Deane identifies Book XIX as central to the Lois: ‘It is central because in it we learn the main differences between moderate and despotic systems. Despotism had neither past nor future; it is the instant production of the individual will. Moderate governments are essentially evolutionary systems, belonging in part to the physical world of nature and the historical world of culture. The are susceptible to analysis for an account of their differnt forms but they are organisms of such delicacy that any sudden intervention, any upsetting of the fragile balance of powers which generates their growth, leads to ruin and inevitable, to the rigidities of despotism. […] Burke exploits this to the full […] reads Montesquieu’s version of Oriental despotism as a prediction of totalitarian rule’ [20]. ‘Burke was too much a man of 1688, too much the long-term opponent of George III and “the king’s friends” to sponsor the cause of monarchy in so outright a fashion [as Montesquieu’s]’ [22] Catholicism less productive of liberty (Lois, XXIV, v.): ‘Que la religion convient mieux a une monarchie, et que la protestante s’accomode mieux d’une republique.’ Further remarks: ‘all these elements operate in Burke in a different manner and for a different purpose [23] Montesquieu may have thought the [British] Constitution beautiful, Burke sees it as sublime. [quoting Works, III, p.110 and Works, II, pp.542-43, as infra.] Cites concordia discors in Montesquieu; Deane argues [25-26] that Burke regarded the conception of separate powers in the British Constitution as a false analysis, and also had reservations about the balance of powers, which he considered “a contrivance full of danger” [quotes Works, II, 308-09, as infra.]

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Quotations from Burke (in Seamus Deane, ‘Montesquieu and Burke’, ed. Hayley & Murray, 1992):

‘To avoid the perfections of extreme, all of its several parts are so constituted, as not alone to answer their several ends, but also to limit and control the others; insomuch that […] you will find its operation checked and stopped at a certain point […] From thence its results, that in the British constitution, there is a perpetual treaty and compromise going on, sometimes openly, sometimes with less observation. To him who contemplates the British Constitution, as to him to contemplates the subordinate material world, it will always be a matter of the most curious investigation, to discover the secret of this mutual imitation.’ (Works, III, p.110.) ‘The hell-hounds of war, on all sides, will be uncoupled and unmuzzled. The new school of murder and barbarism, set up in Paris, having destroyed (so far as in it lies) all the other manners and principles which have hitherto civilised Europe, will destroy also the mode of civilised wared, which, more than anything else, has distinguished the Christian world.’ (Works, II, p.542-43; here 25.) ‘In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed and conflicting interests which you consider so great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, interpolate a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions.’ (Works, II, pp.308-09.) ‘And first of all the science of jurisprudence, the pride of the human intellect, which, with all its defects, redundancies, and errors, is the collected reason of ages, combining the principles of original justice with the infinite variety of human concerns, as a heap of old exploded errors, would no longer be studied. Personal self-sufficiency and arrogance … would usurp the tribunal.’ (Works II, p.367). ‘Corporate bodies are immortal for the good of the members, not for their punishment. Nations themselves are such corporations. As well might we in england think of waging inexpiable war upon all frenchmen for the evils which they have brought on us in the several periods of our mutual hostilities.’ (Works II, p.411).

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Seamus Deane (‘Montesquieu and Burke’, 1992) - cont.: ‘Burke fought against the priority of the king in the Constitution since Rockingham days. (p.27; quoting Works, II, p.367, as infra]. Deane comments: ‘the new theory of the individual was his chief enemy. [27] He wanted to preserve “the fiction of ancestry in a corporate succession”. In 1795, writing to William Elliot, Burke admitted Paine’s charge that he had defended the Constitution in its entirety, “… loaded with all its incumbrances, clogged with its peers, & its beef; its parsons and its pudding; its commons, its beer; & its dull slavish liberty of going about just as one pleases …” That was just the point, the constitution, the old constitution of France, the system of European civilisation … were in accord with the unpredictable and complex nature of human history and personality.’ (p.28.) Deane calls the use of Montesquieu in Burke and other followers an exemplary case of the reinvention of a text by the desire of its readers. [30].

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Seamus Deane, Strange Country (1997), on Burke’s imagination: ‘[it] needed the spectacle of ruin to stimulate it to an imaginative intensity that would be the more impressive precisely because it derived from a history that had been lost, displaced, a history that had no narrative but the narrative of nostalgia. Nostalgia was the dynamic that impelled the search for the future.’ (p.2.) Remarks that Burke makes the ‘annexation of Swift within the discourse of romantic nationalism possible’ (Ibid., p.6.) Further comparing Swift and Burke: ‘what is most interesting about them is the discrepancy between the conventional nature of the politics to which they adhered and the extraordinary rhetorical innovativeness of their attacks upon adversaries.’ p.3.) Further, ‘Travel literature favoured an epistolary convention that permitted the author to adopt various modes of address to a correspondent who could occupy a number of roles […]. It was […] designed merely to cater to a popular taste for the exotic and the extravagant. On the other hand, there was a kind of travel literature which, while acknowledging the differences in custom and practice between various societies, also revealed the uniform disposition of human beings to achieve a rationally benevolent form of social organisation which, underneath its appearance of difference, was ultimately comprehensible to and in accord with the principles of a universal human society that had been revealed more fully in European than in other societies.’ (p.5; quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC 2004.)

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R. B. McDowell, ed., Vol. IX, Writings and Speeches ( Clarendon Press 1991), quotes Burke speaking of Ireland as ‘the Country to which I am bound by my earliest instincts’(p.389), and remarks: ‘It is tempting to try and detect signs of how Burke’s preconceptions, reactions, and modes of thought and expression resulted from or were influenced by his Irish background and upbringing [and] probably any sensitive and intelligent young Irishman must have been influenced, albeit unconsciously, together with memories of a great if declining Celtic literary tradition associated with a heroic past, power, and family pride.’ Writings, IX, p.391.) Further, ‘Burke would have met many Gaelic speakers, and his contact with the Irish Gaelic world may help to explain some of the distinctive features of his prose - his vivid vocabulary, his profusion of epithets, his ready resort to metaphor, his exuberance in praise, denunciation, and ridicule, his infusion of poetry into the exposition of political practicalities.’ (Idem.) ‘[H] is strong sense of the value of social stability, and his pride of pleasure at being, after he settled in England, an inhabitant of a country where the possession of landed property, rights and privileges, opinions and healthy prejudices, were sanctioned by long-established custom, may well have been intensified by the contrast with Ireland, where the memories of recent settlement and civil war were still fresh.’ (Ibid., p.393.) ‘[It may have] struck Burke even as a boy that his kinsmen, though indubitably landed gentry, if not large-acred, did not possess the privileges which should have accompanied their status.’ (Ibid. 408; the foregoing quoted in Will Murphy, MA Diss., UUC, 2004.)

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