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Worlds Classics 






A Selection 

Edited, with an Introduction 














[The grouping is intended to mark both the chronological 

gaps and the years of special interest.] 

To Richard Shackleton . . 9 Jan. 1744 1 

To the same .... 1 Nov. 1744 4 

To the same .... 25 Jan. 1745 6 

To the same .... 3 Feb. 1746 8 

To the same .... 26 Apr. [1746] 10 

To the same .... 12 July 1746 11 

To the same . . . .21 Mar. 1746-7 12 

To Richard Shackleton 
To the same 

To Richard Shackleton 



31 Aug. 1751 
28 Sept. 1752 


To William Gerard Hamilton 
To the same 
To John Hely Hutchinson . 


To J. Monck Mason 
To Henry Mood . 
To the Marquis of Rockingham 
To the same 


10 Aug. 1757 20 

Mar. [1763] 22 

[1763] 25 

[1763] 28 

1765 31 

18 May 1765 34 

21 Aug. 1766 38 

1 Aug. 1767 40 


To the Marquis of Rockingham 

To Richard Shackleton 

To the Marquis of Rockingham 


To the Marquis of Rockingham 
To the same 
To the same 
To the same 
To the same 
To the same 
To the same 
To the same 


To Richard Shackleton 
To the Marquis of Rockingham 
To the same 
To Arthur Young 


To Charles Townshend 
To the Bishop of Chester 
To Charles Townshend 
To [the Bishop of Chester] 


To William Dowdeswell 
To the same 

To the Marquis of Rockingham 
To the Duke of Richmond . 
To the Marquis of Rockingham 
To the same 
To a Prussian Gentleman 


18 Aug. 1767 44 

1 May 1768 46 

18 July 1768 48 

2 July 51 

9 July 54 

30 July 59 

Sept. 61, 65 

9 Oct. 67 

29 Oct. 
6 Nov. 

15 Aug. 

8 Sept. 

23 Sept. 

21 Oct. 




17 Oct. 91 

9 Nov. 92 

24 Nov. 94 

1771 95 

27 Oct. 136 

7 Nov. 140 

11 Nov. 146 

17 Nov. 149 

19 Nov. 157 

23 Nov. 158 

1772 162 


1773 PAGE 

To the Marquis of Rockingham . 10 Jan. 165, 174 

To Richard Burke, Jun., and T. King . Feb. 176 


To the Marquis of Rockingham . . 2 Feb. 178 

To the Duke of Richmond . . . Sept. 180 
To the Marquis of Rockingham . , 16 Sept. 183 

To the same 5 Dec. 189 


To James Barry .... 15 Jan. 192 

To William Burgh .... 9 Feb. 194 

To the Marquis of Rockingham . . 4 Aug. 196 

To Arthur Lee 22 Aug. 198 

To the Marquis of Rockingham . . 23 Aug. 199 

To the Duke of Richmond ... 26 Sept. 206 

To the Marquis of Rockingham . . 17 Oct. 209 


To Richard Champion . ... . Mar. 210 

To John Bourke 11 July 211 


To a Member of the Bell Club, Bristol 31 Oct. 1777 213 

To Richard Champion ... 14 Apr. 1778 217 

To John Noble .... 24 Apr. 1778 219 

To Richard Shackleton . . 25 May 1779 221 

To Dr. John Curry ... 14 Aug. 1779 225 


To Richard Shackleton . . . 6 May 227 

To the same June 229 

To the Lord Chief Justice of the Common 

Pleas 15 June 231 

To Joseph Harford .... 27 Sept. 234 





To Sir Thomas Eumbold 
To William Burke 

To Philip Francis 

To Henry Dondas 
To Charles James Fox . 
To William Windham . 
To Monsieur Dupont . 
To Philip Francis 
To Captain Mercer 
To William Windham . 


To the Hon. John Trevor 
To the Chevalier de la Bintinnaye 
To the Chevalier de Eivarol . 
To Eichard Burke, Jun. 
To the Queen of France 
To Eichard Burke, Jun. 


To Eichard Burke, Jun. 

To William Weddell . 

To Eichard Burke, Jun. 

To the same 

To Lord Grenville 

To William Burke 

To Eichard Burke, Jun. 

To the Comte de Mercy 
To Eichard Burke, Jun. 
To Emperor Woodf ord 
To Eev. Dr. Hussey . 



23 Mar. 1781 240 

24 April 1782 244 

10-23 Dec. 246 

25 Mar. 1787 252 
[Nov. 1788] 255 

24 Jan. 1789 257 

. Oct. 1789 266 

20 Feb. 1790 279 

26 Feb. 1790 284 

21 Dec. 1790 290 

Jan. 291 

Mar. 294 

1 June 298 

16 Aug. 304 

. 314 

. 26 Sept. 317 

26 Jan. 
31 Jan. 

23 Mar. 
18 Aug. 

9 Sept. 


Aug. 1793 361 

10 Jan. 1794 371 

13 Jan. 1794 372 

18 May 1795 377 



To Dr. Laurence 18 Nov. 383 

To the same 25 Dec. 388 

To the same 28 Dec. 390 

To Thomas Keogh .... 17 Nov. 391 

To Rev. Dr. Hussey .... Dec. 395 


To Dr. Laurence . . . . 10-12 Feb. 410 

To the same 12 May 414 

To Arthur Young .... 23 May 423 

INDEX . .... 425 


THIS volume is merely a selection from the published 
correspondence of Edmund Burke ; and it is mainly 
intended to illustrate the ample selection of his writings 
and speeches already printed in this series. For this 
purpose it has been necessary somewhat rigidly to 
exclude all correspondence of a personal or literary 
character. A few early letters have been printed to 
illustrate a Burke who could, at least in some degree, 
unbend ; and some verses have been allowed to appear, 
not because they do not endanger Burke's reputation, 
but because they amply demonstrate that even he was 
once young. But, for the most part, it is upon his 
favourite topics of Ireland, America, and the French 
Revolution that these letters dwell. 

It is important to emphasize how comparatively small 
a selection of what might be printed this volume is. 
The official edition of Burke's correspondence occupies 
four large octavo volumes ; l and it is itself a collection 
based upon the somewhat curious principle that what 
letters had by any chance appeared elsewhere in print 
should find no place there. The result is that Burke's 
correspondence is, even in its printed form, scattered 
among a large number of volumes. In 1827 there was 
printed a collection of his letters to his friend Dr. French 
Laurence, the lawyer ; 2 a further large number will 

1 Correspondence of the Right Honourable Edmund 
Burke . . . Edited by Earl Fitzwilliam and Sir Richard 
Bourke, K.C.B. 4 vols. London, 1844. 

2 The Epistolary Correspondence of the Eight Hon. 
Edmund Burke and Dr. French Laurence. London, 1827. 


be found in the quasi-official life by Sir James Prior. 
A pamphlet on Canning's attitude to the Catholic 
claims 1 prints some of Burke's correspondence with 
his son upon this subject. Other letters may be found 
in the lives of Lord Charlemont 2 and of the first Earl 
of Minto. 3 This, it may be added, is only a portion of 
the printed sources ; and it does not include the 
manuscript material. Letters of Burke must appear 
in the archives of some of the leading Whig families 
of the time the Saviles, the Fitzwilliams, and the 
Portlands. We have few of his letters to Fox, practically 
none to Sheridan ; and letters from him, not printed, 
have been offered for sale in booksellers' catalogues in 
recent years. An ample edition of his correspondence 
would be a great historical service. 

For it would illustrate upon a massive scale what can 
be only partially revealed by this selection. It would 
prove, if proof be needed, the consistency of his princi- 
ples no less than the amazing accuracy of his insight. 
It would reveal how instant was his generosity and how 
abiding was Ms affection. Faults, indeed. Burke had ; 
and his correspondence is hardly less suggestive there 
than in relation to his virtues. No one can read through 
Ms private letters without a sense that he was overawed 
by rank not seldom to the detriment of Ms judgement. 
Particularly when he writes to emigres of high birth, he 
seems to be composing on his knees. Obviously, too, 
he was a man of emotions so profound that, where they 

1 E. Therry, Letter to Rt. Hon. Q Vanning, 1826. 

a Hardy (P.), Memoirs of the M, of the Earl of Charle- 
mont, 1810. 

* Countess of Minto, Life and Letters of first Lord Minto 
1731-1806, 1874. 


were deeply touched, the rationalism that appears so 
striking in his analysis of the American Revolution 
deserts him completely. A good case, indeed, might be 
made out for the thesis that what there is of liberalism 
in Burke derives rather from the impulse of compassion 
than from any logical sense of right. The conservative 
is obvious all through the correspondence ; perhaps 
nowhere more completely than in his almost entire 
inability to detect the implications of economic dis- 
harmony. Neither in the letters nor in the treatises is 
there any such insight into the consequences of th 
property-relation as distinguished Harrington at the 
end of one revolution or Madison at the close of another. 
Burke, as this correspondence amply illustrates, 
accepted without question the implications of the 
system within which he worked ; and it was for its 
repair rather than for its reconstruction that he was 
chiefly concerned. 

Books on Burke are relatively few in number when 
the great part he played is borne in mind, Macaulay 
once thought of writing upon him, but could not do 
justice to his subject * if I am to be under the necessity 
of counting lines and pages '.* The classical discussion 
is in the two volumes of Lord Morley, of which the 
first, a purely critical study, is by all odds the best 
treatment he has received. 2 There are some sound 
remarks upon him in the second volume of Sir Leslie 
Stephen's great History of English Thought in the 

1 Correspondence of Macvey Napier, p. 466, 

2 Bwke . Q Cntical Study (1867) now out of print and 
scarce ; BurJce (English Men of Letters Series, 1888). It 
is greatly to be hoped that the first essay will soon be 
available to students. 


Eighteenth Century ; and Professor John MacCunn has 
written a very useful summary of his teaching. 1 Nor 
should the brilliant essays of the late Mr. E. J. Payne 2 
be neglected. Intended only as introductions to a select 
edition of his works, they display learning and critical 
acumen in a high degree. The fullest biographical 
treatment is still that of Sir James Prior; 3 but it is 
marred by an excessive partiality for its subject and by 
a grotesque ill-arrangement. 


London School of Economics and Political Science. 

1 TJie Political Philosophy of Burke (London, 1908). 

2 Burke's Select Works, edited by E J. Payne. 3 vols. 
(Oxford. 1904). Por a very different treatment cf. my 
Political Thought pom Locke to Bentham (London, 1920), 
Chapter VI. See also the interesting sketch in H. N. 
Brailsford, Shelley, Godwin, and their Circle (London, 
1914), Chapter I. 

3 Memoir of the Life and Character of the Right Hon. 
Edmund Burke. Third and enlarged edition (London, 


Dublin. January 9, 1744. 

You find me as good as my promise in sending some 
more of my rhymes to trouble you ; and what I said 
to you in former favour, that I am like the rest of my 
brother pettifoggers, you find now to be true. What 
I send you here is a day of my life, after the manner 
I usually spend it. I have put it in verse for two 
reasons ; the chief and principal of which is to engage 
you to answer it in like manner ; and the other is 
that the subject being in itself dry and barren, and, of 
course, no pleasant reading, I have laid out what 
ornaments I could spare on it, in the small time I have 
to do any thing for your amusement. Thus far by way 
of proem or preface ; proceed we now to the matter in 
hand and to begin : 

Soon as Aurora from the blushing skies 
Bids the great ruler of the day to rise, 
No longer balmy sleep my limbs detains ; 
I hate its bondage and detest its chains. 
Fly 1 Morpheus, fly ! and leave the foul embrace ; 
Let nobler thoughts supply thy loathsome place ; 
Let every dream each fancied joy give way 
To the more solid comforts of the day. 
See, through the lucid substance of yon glass, 
Sol's radiant beams enlighten as they pass ; 
Dispel each gloomy thought, each care control, 
And calm the rising tumults of the soul. 
See, how its rays do every thought refine, 
And fire the soul to raptures half divine. 
Led and inspired by such a guide, I stray 

1 The son of Burke' s old schoolmaster, Abraham 

237 B 

2 EDMUND BURKE [174=4 

Through fragrant gardens and the pride of May. 
Sweet month ! but oh ' what daring muse can give 
Words worthy thee, and words so like to live ! 
While each harmonious warbler of the sky 
Sends up its grateful notes to thank the high, 
The mighty Ruler of the world below, 
Parent of all, from whom our blessings flow. 

Teach me, lark ' with thee to greatly rise, 
T' exalt my soul and hit it to the skies ; 
To make each worldly joy as mean appear, 
Unworthy care, when heavenly joys are near. 

But oh ! my friend, the muse has swelled her song, 
From business has detained you quite too long. 
Avails my morn's description aught to you, 
Who morn and even in perfection view ? 
And now the sun, with a more piercing ray, 
Advises me I must no longer stay. 
All dull, with mournful heavy steps I go ; 
The unwilling town receives me entering slow. 
Returning home, I nature's wants appease ; 
Then, to the college fate your friend conveys. 
But here the muse nor can, nor will, declare, 
What is my work, and what my studies there 
('Tis not her theme : she still delights to sing 
The gently rising mount and bubbling spring I ) 
But oft amid the shady parks I rove, 
Plunged in the deep recesses of the grove. 
While, oh ! embroiled beneath the trees I lie, 
Fann'd by the gales you voluntary fly, 
Oh ! would some kinder genius me convey 
To those fair banks where Griece's 2 waters stray, 
Where the tall firs o'ershade his crystal floods, 
Or hide me in the thickest gloom of woods ; 
To bear me hence, far from the city's noise, 
And give me all I ask, the country's joys. 
Now Sol's bright beams grown fainter as he goes, 
Invite the whole creation to repose ; 
Each bird gives o'er its note, the thrush alone 

1 Helicon and Parnassus. 

2 A river that runs near Ballitore. 


Fills the cool grove when all the rest are gone. 
Harmonious bird ! daring till night to stay, 
And glean the last remainder of the day. 
The slowly moving hours bring on at last 
The pleasing time, (how tedious was the past 1) 
Which shews me Herbert ; he, since thou art gone, 
My sole companion, 'midst the throngs of town. 
By the foul river's side we take our way, 
Where Liffey rolls her dead dogs to the sea ; 
Arrived, at length, at our appointed stand, 
By waves enclosed, the margin of the land, 
Where once the sea with a triumphing roar, 
RolTd his huge billows to a distant shore. 
There swkm the dolphins, hid in waves unseen, 
Where frisking lambs now crop the verdant green. 
Secured by mounds of everlasting stone, 
It stands for ever safe, unoverthrown. 

Neptune, indignant thus to be confined, 
Swells in the waves and bellows in the wind ; 
Raising in heaps his ponderous wat'ry store, 
Hangs like a mountain o'er the trembling shore. 
Now ! now he bursts, and with a hideous sound, 
That shakes the strong foundation of the ground ; 
Dreadful, with complicated terrors falls, 
Discharging vengeance on the hated walls 2 . 
The walls, secured by well compacted stone, 
Repel the monarch with a hollow groan. 
'Tis here we sit, while in joint prospect rise, 
The ocean, ships, and city, to our eyes. 
Enchanting sight ! when beauteous Sol half way 
Merges his radiant body in the sea ; 
And just withdrawing from our mortal sight, 
Lengthens the quivering shadow of his light. 
But now inspired by what exalted muse, 
What lofty song, what numbers shall I choose ? 

1 Two lines, nearly obliterated in the original, are here 

* The north wall. 


Or how adapt my verses to the theme, 

Great as the subject, equal and the same ? 

Or how describe the horrors of the deep, 

Lulled into peace, and loftiest waves asleep ? 

Not e'en a breath moves o'er the bjoundless flood, 

So calm, so peaceful, and so still it stood ' 

The sun withdrawn, and the clear night o'erspread 

In all its starry glories above our head ; 

While moon, pale empress, shines with borrowed light, 

Mils the alternate throne and rules the night ; 

And other worlds, descrying earth afar, 

Cry, ' See, how little looks yon twinkling star 1 ' 

It is not mine the glorious view to sing, 

These mighty wonders of the Almighty King ; 

But let my soul, in still amazement lost, 

From thought to thought, and maze to maze, be tost. 

The advent'rous task a muse like yours requires, 

That warms your pen, and fills your breast with fires. 

Thus far the muse has, in a feeble lay, 
Show'd how I spend the various hours of day : 
The story placed in order by the sun, 
Shows where my labours ended, where begun. 

E. B. 

Arran Quay, November 1, 1744. 

MY dear Zelim's kind epistle had not been so long 
unanswered by his Mirza, but for the hurry of business 
which has constantly attended me^since I received it, 
so that the post slipped over unknown to me. But we 
don't stand on forms and ceremonies, like other cor- 
respondents. We know that it is not forgetfulness nor 
neglect of one another that can make a gap in our inter- 
course. The joy of receiving a letter wipes away the 
impatience of waiting for it. It is so with me, and I dare 
say with you too. I am in a rhyming humour ; and 
I believe I can express my sentiments to you better in 
verse than prose, on that head ; and so take the best 
I can make in the time. 


As when some cloud in the ethereal way 
Darkens the sun, and robs us of the day ; 
Its hated shadow grief projects around, 
And spreads a gloomy horror on the ground ; 
With universal cry all nature mourns, 
No joys can taste until her light returns. 
But when to humble prayers indulgent heaven 
A blast to clear the troubled skies has given ; 
Each bar removed, with a redoubled blaze 
The golden sun pours forth his glorious rays ; 
With dazzling beams the wide horizon shines, 
Brighter than India covers in her mines ; 
Mankind confesses joy with new delight, 
Drown'd in the glorious ocean of the light. 
So souls made one by friendship's sacred band, 
Possession must by absence understand : 
The joys are doubled which we miss awhile ; 
Lost treasures found with greater lustre smile. 

I must, my dear Zelim, beg pardon for having taken 
up so much time with trifles, and promise that in the 
rest of my letter I shall treat of something of more 
importance ; and first to answer yours. I am of your 
opinion, that those poor souls who never had the 
happiness of hearing that saving name, shall in no 
wise be damned. But, as you know, my dear Zelim, 
there are several degrees of felicity a lower one, which 
the mercy of God will suffer them to enjoy ; but not any 
thing to be compared to that of those who have lived 
and died in Christ. This is sincerely my belief of those ; 
but I assure you that I don't think near so favourably 
of those sectaries you mentioned ; many of them 
breaking, as they themselves confess, for matters of 
indifference, and no way concerned in the only affair 
that is necessary, viz. our salvation ; and what a great 
crime schism is, you can't be ignorant. This, and the 
reasons in my last, and if you consider what will occur 
to yourself, together with several texts, will bring you 
to my way of thinking in that point. Let us endeavour 
to live according to the rules of the Gospel, and He that 


prescribed them, I hope, will consider our endeavours to 
please Him, and assist us in our designs. This, my 
friend, is your advice, and how hard is it for me to 
follow it 1 I am in the enemy's country the townsman 
is beset on every side. It is here difficult to sit down 
fco think seriously. Oh ! how happy are you who live 
in the country ! I assure you, my friend, that without 
the superior grace of God, I will find it very difficult to 
be commonly virtuous. I don't like that part of your 
Letter wherein you say, * you had the testimony of 
welldoing in your breast.' Whenever such notions 
rise again, endeavour to suppress them. It is one 
of the subtlest stratagems the enemy of mankind uses 
to delude us, that, by lulling us into a false peace, his 
conquest may be the easier. We should always be in 
no other than the state of a penitent, because the most 
righteous of us is no better than a sinner. Pray read 
the parable of the pharisee and the publican who prayed 
in the temple. You see that I tell you what I think 
amiss in yours why don't you use the same freedom 
with mine ? Do, I beg you, because we shall be both of 
us improved by it. I have a great deal to say ; but as 
this is a holiday, and I am going to the college, to 
evening prayers, I must write no more, but defer it till 
another time. I was going to say something of natural 
philosophy, something of which I now read ; and as you 
have lately been studying astronomy, I beg of you to 
communicate to me some of your observations, by 
which we may mutually improve. -n -p ^ 

Dublin, January 25, 1745. 

I RECEIVED your favour, the product of ill-humour ; 
yet will I endeavour to answer it the best I can, though 
every thing around conspires to excite in me a contrary 
disposition: the melancholy gloom of the day, the 
whistling winds, and the hoarse rumbling of the swollen 
Liffey, with the flood which, even where I write, lays 
close siege to our whole street, not Dermittms 1 anv to 


go in or out to supply us with the necessaries of life ; 
yet the joy of conversing with my friend can dispel 
the cloudiness of the day, lull the winds, and stop the 
rapid passage of the flood. How happy was the time 
when we could mutually interchange our thoughts, 
and pour the friendly sentiments of our hearts, without 
obstruction, from our lips, unindebted to the pen, and 
unimpeded by the post ! 

No one, perhaps, has seen such a flood here as we 
have now. The quay wall, which before our door is 
I believe about x feet high, is scarce discernible, 
seemingly only as a mark 2 to show us where the bank 
once bounded the Liffey. Our cellars are drowned, 
not as before, for that was but a trifle to this ; for now 
the water comes up to the first floor of the house, 
threatening us every minute with rising a great deal 
higher, the consequence of which would infallibly be 
the fall of the house ; and, to add to our misfortune, 
the inhabitants of the other quay, secured by their 
situation, deride the poor prisoners; while, from our 
doors and windows, we watch the rise and fall of the 
waters as carefully as the Egyptians do the Nile* but 
for different reasons. It gives me pleasure to see 
nature in those great, though terrible scenes. It fills 
the mind with grand ideas, and turns the soul in upon 
herself. This, together with the sedentary life I lead, 
forced some reflections on me which, perhaps, otherwise 
would not have occurred. I considered how little man 
is, yet, in his own mind, how great ! He is lord and 
master of all things, yet scarce can command anything. 
He is given a freedom of his wiH ; but wherefore ? Was 
it but to torment and perplex him the more ? How 
little avails this freedom, if the objects he is to act 
upon be not as much disposed to obey as he to command ! 
What well-laid, and what better-executed scheme of his 
is there, but what a small change of nature is sufficient 
to defeat and entirely abolish ? If but one element 

1 The number is torn out by the seal. 
a The words e a mark ', in this sentence, are an inser- 
tion ; the paper having been torn here also by the seal. 


happens to encroach a little on the other, what con- 
fusion may it not create in his affairs ! what havoc ! 
what destruction ! The servant destined to his use 
confines, menaces, and frequently destroys this mighty, 
this feeble lord. I have a mind to go abroad to-day my 
business and my pleasures require it ; but the river has 
overflown its banks, and I can't stir without apparent 
danger of my life. What, then, shall I do ? Shall I 
rage, fret, and accuse Providence of injustice ? No ; 
let me rather lament that I do not what is always right ; 
what depends not on the fortuitous changes of this" 
world, nor the blind sport of fortune, but remains 
unalterably fixed in the mind ; untouched, though this 
shattered globe should fall in pieces, and bury us. in the 
ruins. Though I do lead a virtuous life, let it show me 
how low I am, and of myself how weak ; how far from 
an independent being ; given as a sheep into the hands 
of the great Shepherd of all, on whom let us cast all our 
cares, for He careth for us. 

My friend will excuse this long, and, perhaps, im- 
pertinent discourse, because I always like that the letter 
should contain the thoughts that, at that time, employ 
me. If you don't like this method, advertise me of it, 
and I shall mend. 


February 3, 1746. 

I received both your favours ; and answered, in a 
former letter, your question concerning examinations. 
Be assured that whatever sensations you had at parting 
were fully answered by mine. However, I can't call 
what I then felt, and do in part feel now, directly grief ; 
it was rather a kind of melting tenderness tinged with 
sorrow, which took me wholly up, while I was alone, in 
thinking on the company I had so lately left ; a con- 
templation too delightful to let me taste anything like 
grief. And why should we grieve 1 We had made the 
best use of the time we were together, and omitted 


nothing in our power to make it entertaining and 
improving. And now we must break off, because the 
necessity of our affairs requires it ; and we still live in 
hope to see and converse with one another again, on the 
same footing. Our parting, if I may make such a com- 
parison, is like the sensation a good man feels at the 
hour of his death. He is conscious that he has used his 
time to the best advantage, and now must, through the 
condition of human nature, depart. He feels, indeed, 
a little sorrow at quitting his friends, but it is very much 
allayed by considering he shall see them all again. You 
need not fear our friend Faulkner? at least, yet awhile. 
Your mentioning him makes me think what motives 
men have in general for esteeming indifferent things 
not from their real value, but from the names that 
overawe their j udgement . Had any one now overlooked 
our letters, they should find five hundred faults, and 
think, may be, one part entirely ridiculous. But let 
us once get a reputation by our writings, or otherwise, 
they shall immediately become most valuable pieces, 
and all the faults be construed into beauties. Pope 
says, all the advantage arising from the reputation of 
wit, is the privilege of saying foolish things unnoticed ; 
and it really is so, as to letters, or anything committed 
to writing. But I don't think it holds good with respect 
to conversation ; for I have observed, that where a man 
gets a reputation for being a little witty, all shun, fear, 
and hate him, and carp at and canvass his most trifling 
words or actions. You must forgive me, if this letter 
be heavy and dull. You know the writer is known by 
his writing. Many things conspire to make me so ; 
for I have been within all day, read, wrote, and ate my 
dinner, which last generally most effectually damps my 
spirits for a while. Now I mention my writing, I have 
done some part of my poem, even so far as the invoca- 
tion, which is this : how like you it ? 

Ye beauteous nymphs who haunt the dusky wood, 
Which hangs recumbent o'er the crystal flood, 
Or risen from water, as the water fair, 
'Mong the cleft rocks divide your amber hair ; 
B 2 

10 EDMUND BUBKE [1746 

Oft, as delighted with my rural lay, 
Earnest you listened all the summer's day, 
Nor thought it long ; with favour hear my vow, 
And with your kind assistance help me now. 
And you, whose midnight dance in mystic round, 
With a green circle marks the flow'ry ground, 
Oh 1 aid my voice, that I may wake once more 
The slumbering echo on the Mulla's shore. 
Thou chief of floods, Blackwater, hoary sire ! 
With all thy beauties all my breast inspire, 
To trace the winding channel of thy course, 
And find the hidden wonders of thy source. 

April 26, for fear I should forget 1745. 1 

I received your English manuscript, in answer to my 
Arabian, which I hope you have since been able to 
decipher. I protest, when I wrote it, I thought that 
though it was not as good, yet it was as legible a hand 
as any in the world. You see how blind we are to our 
own imperfections. I shall, however, try to mend it, 
and give you no just cause of complaint ^for the future. 

This Pretender, who gave us so mutsh disturbance 
for some time past, is at length, with his adherents, 
entirely defeated, and himself (as some say) taken 
prisoner. This is the most material, or rather, the only 
news here. "Tis strange to see how the minds of the 
people are in a few days changed. The very men who, 
but a while ago, while they were alarmed by Ms progress 
so heartilycursed and hated those unfortunate creatures, 
are now all pity, and wish it could be terminated with- 
out bloodshed. I am sure I share in the general com- 
passion. 'Tis, indeed, melancholy to consider the 
state of those unhappy gentlemen who engaged in this 

1 It is so dated in the original MS, letter; yet it is 
certain the date of the year should be 1746. The Pre- 
tender did not land in Scotland until July, 1745, and the 
battle of CuUoden was fought on the 16th April, 1746. 


affair (as for the rest they lose but their lives), who have 
thrown away their lives and fortunes, and destroyed 
their families for ever, in what, I believe, they thought 
a just cause. My friend, you put a wrong construction 
on what I called indolence in my letter. It was no more 
than a simple sloth which, indeed, hindered me from 
doing much good, but threw me into no ill action that 
I know of, extraordinary. Neither do I think I keep 
bad company. I am, however, much obliged to you 
for your good advice, and if you could, without trouble, 
I should be glad you'd continue it. Advice never 
comes so acceptably, nor is it like to do so much good, 
as from one who has our interest at heart, and which 
proceeds from a desire of improving, not reproaching 
us I hope I am such. 




Dublin, July 12, 1746. 

You may excuse, indeed, my long silence, if you 
know the cause of it, since nothing but the most 
dangerous illness my mother ever had, could prevent 
my writing to remove the^ distrust you seem to have 
expressed, in a late letter, of my friendship. In all my 
life, I never found so heavy a grief, nor really did I well 
know what it was before. You may well believe this, 
when I tell you, that, for three days together, we 
expected, her death every moment ; and really I was so 
low and %eak myself for some time after, that I could 
not sit down to write ; but now ? as the cause is re- 
moved, and my mother (thank God !) on the mending 
hand, I shall be no longer silent. I can't, however, 
pretend to say you shall hear often from me, till you see 
me, which will be about the end of next week, when 
your name-sake, 1 whom you will once more take into 
1 Richard Burke, younger brother of Edmund. 

12 EDMUND BURKE '[1746 

your protection, may answer your questions viva voce. 
Now I am upon that subject, I am surprised at what 
Mr. Bayley reported about my father's quarrelling with 
yours. I always heard him, at all times, when he had 
occasion to mention him, do it with all the regard and 
gratitude that so great care and merit deserved ; and 
furthermore, I can say, that he intended to send him 
back at the expiration of his quarter, as my mother told 
your aunt ; and the only cause of his removal for that 
time was to divert my mother, as she was beginning 
to relapse into her old disorder, and not for any mis- 
understanding. I am glad Sisson's company was 
agreeable to you. I wish you may every day meet 
friends as pleasing ; for really, after all, whatever 
motives it may be founded on, ' Nil ego praetulerim 
jucundo sanus amico,' as has been said a thousand times 
before. I have got a good many new acquaintances, and 
some odd too, whose characters may divert us when we 
meet. e Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, 
voluptas, gaudia, discursus, nostrae sunt delicae.' 1 
I spend three hours almost every day in the public 
library, where there is a fine collection of books the 
best way in the world of killing thought. As for other 
studies, I am deep in metaphysics and poetry. I have 
read some history. I am endeavouring to get a little 
into the accounts of this, our own poor country. I'll 
hear from you next post, how you spend your time, and 
what.'s your present study. I have done now, and am 
with compliments, 

Yours, &c. 

Ormond Quay, March 21, 1746-7. 

YOUR last favour which I received, gave me the 
greatest pleasure ; in which you mention your sending 
me another, which 1 received not. In this you say, 

1 This passage of Juvenal, which Burke has altered by 


you answered my queries : I beg you will answer them 
in your next. I think you take no bad method to 
fix the substance of your letter in my memory ; by 
making some parts of it so dark, as to oblige me to read 
it over three or four times ; and in this too, you do 
me a piece of service, for possibly, were it quite clear, 
I might pass over it without due consideration ; and 
by that means lose abundance of pleasure and advantage 
that I might gain from a more attentive perusal. Such 
as, to mention one I don't yet very well understand ; 
' it was imported hither from the country of Job, 
alias, the land of Uz.' To mention more would be to 
show my own stupidity : though I have now come to 
the understanding of all the rest. You ask me if I 
read ? I deferred answering this question, till I could 
say I did ; which I can almost do, for this day I have 
shook off idleness and begun to buckle to. I wish 
I could have said this to you, with truth, a month 
ago. It would have been of great advantage to me. 
My time was otherwise employed. Poetry, Sir, nothing 
but poetry, could go down with me ; though I have 
read more than, wrote. So you see I am far gone in 
the poetical madness, which I can hardly master, as 
indeed, all my studies have rather proceeded from 
sallies of passion, than from the preference of sound 
reason ; and like the nature of all other natural appe- 
tites, have been very violent for a season, and very 
soon" cooled, and quite absorbed in the succeeding. 
I have often thought it a humorous consideration to 
observe, and sum up, all the madness of this kind 
I have fallen into, this two years past. First I was 
greatly taken with natural philosophy ; which, while 
I should have given my mind to logic, employ6d me 
incessantly. This I call my furor mathematicu.s. But 
this worked off, as soon as I began to read it in the 
college ; as men, by repletion, cast off their stomachs 
all they have eaten. Then I turned back to logic and 

substituting nostrae sunt deliciae, for nostri est farrago 
l%idti, is in the 1st Satire, v. 86. 


metaphysics. Here I remained a good while, and with 
much pleasure, and this was my furor logicus ; a disease 
very common in the days of ignorance, and very un- 
common in these enlightened times. Next succeeded 
the furor historicus, which also had its day, but is now 
no more ; being entirely absorbed in ike furor poeticus, 
which (as skilful physicians assure me), is as difficultly 
cured as a disease very nearly akin to it ; namely, the 
itch. Nay, the Hippocrates of poets says so expressly : 
e tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacosthes.' [Lib. i. 

r T Dr. pa. 12.] Bat doctors differ, and I don't despair 
cure. Now, to what you shall read ; which shall 
be, non juveni naris oltesae, but curvatae. I must 
confess I would recommend Sallust, rather than Tully's 
epistles ; which I think are not so extremely valuable. 
Besides, Sallust is indisputably one of the best historians 
among the Romans ; both for the purity of his language, 
and elegance of his style. He has, I think, a fine, easy, 
and diversified narrative, mixed with reflections, moral 
and political, neither very trite and obvious, nor out 
of the way and abstract ; which is, I think, the true 
beauty of historical observation. Neither should I pass 
by his beautiful painting of characters. In short, he 
is an author that, on all accounts, I would recommend 
to you. As for Terence and Plautus, what I fancy you 
will chiefly get by them, as to the language, is some 
insight into the common manner of speech used by the 
Romans. One excels in the justness of his pieces, the 
other in the humour. I think a play in each will be 
sufficient. I would recommend to you Tully's orations, 
excellent indeed. You will pardon, if I have been 
too dogmatical ; but remember that what I say is 
always with this restriction; that it is submitted to 
your better judgement. Dunkin's Boeotia is, I think, 
to be reckoned among the bad pieces ; and is, in my 
opinion, the worst thing I ever saw of his. 



Monmouth, August 31, 1751. l 

If having very little to say was sufficient excuse 
for my silence, I fear I should continue it much longer. 
The truth is, I have been so long an invalid and a 
traveller (a sort of people to whom great allowances 
must be made), that I was always either too weak, 
or too much hurried, to set about anything. But 
though I omitted to write, I have not forgot how 
much, on every account, I am indebted to your friend- 
ship. I don't think it necessary, when a man writes 
to his friend, that he should make his letter a gazette 
for news ; or puzzle himself for something deep and 
philosophical ; or is obliged, under penalties and pains, 
to be witty. It is enough, in my opinion, to give our 
friend some proof that we still keep him in our memory, 
and receive the same from him ; and I assure you 
I think, in this plain intercourse of honest sentiments, 
there is more satisfaction and more merit too, than in 
any affected compliments, let them be ever so fine, 
which none can admire, but those who don ? t know 
how they are produced, and on what occasions. 

I hope your little family is well; I believe you 
are so good a husband and father, as to talk of it 
with pleasure, and that you think me so much your 
friend as to hear it with satisfaction ; though I am 
no father, nor ever was, except of some metaphorical 
children, which were extremely short-lived, and whilst 
they lived (as you know) too scandalous to be owned. 
I hope my present studies may be attended with more 
success ; at least, I have this comfort ; that though 
a middling poet cannot be endured, there is some quarter 

1 Burke entered his name at the Middle Temple in 
April, 1747, and appears to have gone to London to keep 
law terms in 1750. During the time required for this 
purpose, he passed the vacations and any intervals of 
leisure, in travelling about England, generally in company 
with his friend and distant relative, Mr. William Burke. 

16 EDMUND BURKE [1751 

for a middling lawyer. I read as much as I can (which 
is, however, but a little), and am but just beginning to 
know something of what I am about ; which, till very 
lately, I did not. This study causes no difficulty to 
those who already understand it, and to those who 
never will understand it ; and for all between those 
extremes, God knows they have a hard task of it. 
So much is certain, though the success is precarious ; 
bui; that we must leave to Providence. I am now at 
Momnouth, where I live very satisfactorily, am well, 
and know, by experience of the contrary, what a 
blessing that is. I wish you may not labour too 
much for your constitution ; which now, at least, 
you are obliged to take care of. My most sincere 
respects to your father, mother, spouse, aunt, and 
sister ; and believe me your very affectionate friend 
and servant, 


Direct to me at Mr. Hipkis's, Ironmonger, in Mon- 
mouth ; my service to Hobbs : Dennis has acquainted 
me of his good intentions towards me. 


Turlaine* September 28, 1752. 

I have several letters to write this day, and must 
begin every one of them with an apology for not 
having written before. I think I have greater occasion 
to apologize to you than to any one, because I love 
you better, and have used you much worse ; but 
I know that though my fault should require a great 
deal to be said, your good nature will dispense with it. 
You will believe I could not forget you j and if you 
do, my business is done, for that is all, in short, I can 
say in my defence. I have now before me your letter, 
which I received about this time last year, in Mon- 
mouth. I now sit down to answer it at Turlaine, in 
Wilts. You have compared me, for my rambling 


disposition, to the sun. As the simile was about the 
sun, it was probably a compliment ; if so, I thank you 
for it, If it was rather a reproof, why, I thank you 
too ; it may possibly do me more good. But, sin- 
cerely, I can't help finding a likeness myself, for they 
say the sun sends down much the same influences 
whenever he comes into the same signs. Now I am 
influenced to shake off my laziness and write* to you 
at the same time of the year, and from the same west 
country, I wrote my last in. 'Tis true, I am not 
directly at the same place ; but you know, to those 
who are at a vast distance, things may be a great way 
asunder, and yet seem near. But not to run this 
allusion quite out of breath, since I had your letter, 
I have often shifted the scene. I spent part of the 
winter, that is the terni-time, in London, and part in 
Croydon, in Surrey. About the beginning of summer, 
finding myself attacked with my old complaints, 
I went once more to Bristol, and found the same 
benefit. I thank God for it, and wish I had grace to 
take, in its full extent, your very friendly and rational 
advice. I don't know whether I said much to you of 
our adventures at Monmouth ; they would almost 
compose a novel, and that of a more curious and 
entertaining kind, than some of those we are enter- 
tained with from the press. I assure you, we found 
discourse for that town and the adjacent country 
whilst we stayed there, and even when we left it. 
Whilst we stayed, they amused themselves with 
guessing the reason that would induce us to come 
amongst them ; and when we left them, they were 
no less employed to discover why we went away 
without effecting those purposes they planned for us. 
The most innocent scheme they guessed was that of 
fortune-hunting; and when they saw us quit the 
town without wives, then the lower sort sagaciously 
judged us spies to the French king. You will wonder 
that persons of no great figure should cause so much 
talk ; but in a town very little frequented by strangers, 
with very little business to employ their bodies, and 

18 EDMUND BURKE [1752 

less speculation to take up their minds, the least thing 
sets them in motion, and supplies matter for their 
chat. What is much more odd is, that here, my 
companion 1 and I puzzle them as much as we did 
at Monmouth ; for this is a place of very great trade 
in making of fine cloths, in which they employ a vast 
number of hands. The first conjecture which they 
made was that we were authors, for they could not 
fancy how any other sort of people could spend so 
much of their time at books ; but finding that we 
received from time to time a good many letters, they 
conclude us merchants ; and so, from inference to 
inference, they at last began to apprehend that we 
were spies, from Spain, on their trade. Our littb 
curiosity, perhaps, cleared us of that imputation ; 
but still the whole appears very mysterious, and our 
good old woman cries, ' I believe that you be gentle- 
toen, but I ask no questions ; ' and then praises herself 
for her great caution and secrecy. What makes the 
thing still better, about the same time we came hither 
arrived a little parson, equally a stranger ; but he 
spent a good part of his hours in shooting and other 
country amusements got drunk at night, got drunk 
in the morning, and became intimate with everybody 
in the village. He surprised nobody : no questions 
were asked about him, because he lived like the rest 
of the world : but that two men should come into a 
strange country, and partake of none of the country 
diversions, seek no acquaintance, and live entirely 
recluse, is something so inexplicable as to puzzle the 
wisest heads, even that of the parish clerk himself. 
We are, however, as satisfactorily fixed as we can 
wish. We live in a pretty large house, which we have 
almost to ourselves. Our landlady has been once 
a rich woman, but happening to go down in the world 
on the accession of the Hanover family to the throne, 
she attributes all her misfortunes to that event. It 
is the pleasantest thing in the world to hear the good 
folks' opinion of state affairs. In short, they are 
1 Mr. William Burke. 


hearty Jacobites ; that is, a sort of people, whose 
politics consist in wishing that right may take place ; 
and their religion, in heartily hating Presbyterians. 
Our family consist of the old gentlewoman, an old 
woman, her sister, and a young fellow, her son, who 
is a great scholard, and knows what is what, and 
therefore much esteemed by some of the neighbouring 
squires, I have troubled you, perhaps, with too many 
trifling particulars, but they may possibly give you 
a better idea of our people than a more laboured 
description. As for this country, though the soil is 
generally poor in our part of it, it is extremely pleasant, 
sweetly diversified with hills and woods intermixed 
with villages. We have one point of view from which 
we can reckon six steeples. The country is very 
populous, and it is the only one I ever saw where 
children are really an advantage to their parents, for 
I have seen little girls of six or seven years old at the 
wheel, and I am told that they can earn three shillings 
and sixpence a week each, which is more than their 
keeping can amount to, though I hear them say that 
trade is decaying amongst them, and that formerly 
they had greatsr prices. I had a letter from Dennis 
some time since. He mentions nothing of his affairs, 
but seemed angry with me for my long silence. I wrote 
Mm an answer to excuse myself. I wish him very 
well, and would gladly know how the world goes with 
him. As for you, I suppose you have long since been 
a second time a father. I wish most sincerely all 
manner of happiness, both to the children and the 
father and mother. Pray rainember me in the best 
manner to her that I have last mentioned. Assure 
your father and mother that I have the most grateful 
and affectionate remembrance of them, and give my 
hearty services to all friends. Believe me, with great 
sincerity, Dear Dick, 

Your friend and servant, 

20 EDMUND BUKKE [1757 


Batter sea, August 10, 1757. 

If you will not pardon my long silence without an 
apology, I am satisfied that no apology I can make 
will induce you to pardon it. I have broken all rules ; 
I have neglected all decorums ; everything, except 
that I have never forgot a friend whose good head 
and heart have made me esteem and love him ; and 
whose services to me have caused obligations that are 
never to be broken. What appearance there may have 
been of neglect* arose from my manner of life : 
chequered with various designs ; sometimes in London, 
sometimes in remote parts of the country ; sometimes 
in France, and shortly, please Ood, to be in America. 1 
During that time, however, of my silence, my inquiries 
about you have been warm and frequent, and I had 
the pleasure (you will, I hope, believe it a sincere one) 
of hearing that you are not deficient in success in the 
world, nor in domestic satisfaction. I do not know of 
any djsappointment that vexed me so much, as having 
missed seeing you when you were in London. Your 
letter came to Mr. Burke's, in Sergeant's Inn, while 
I was in the country, and they did not forward it 
to me, expecting me in town every day. But when 
I arrived and found your letter, I found, at the same 
time, that you were returned to Ireland. Oppor- 
tunities of that kind happen so seldom, and are of 
such value, that it is very mortifying to miss them. 
This letter is accompanied by a little performance of 

1 Burke was not called to the bar ; nor does it appear on 
what account he declined the profession for which he was 
intended, and for the practice of which he had, to a certain 
degree, prepared himself. He thought of removing to 
America, two or three years previous to the date of this 
letter to Shackleton; but gave up the project at that 
period, on its being objected to by Ms father. It is said 
he was offered some considerable employment in the 
state of 3STew York. 


mine, which I will not consider as ineffectual, if it 
contributes to your amusement. It lay by me for 
a good while, and I at last ventured it out. It has not 
been ill received, so far as a matter on so abstracted 
a subject meets with readers. Will you accept it as 
a sort of offering in atonement for my former delinquen- 
cies ? x If I would not have you think that I have 
forgot you, so neither would I have your father, to- 
whom I am under obligations that I neither can nor 
wish to shake off. I am really concerned for the 
welfare of you all, and for the credit of the school 
where I received the education that, if I am anything, 
has made me so. I hear with great satisfaction the 
account of Kearney's being chosen a fellow in our 
college. My brother Dick is now with me, and joins 
me very sincerely in the sentiments I have for you, 
your father, and your mother ; and, shall I add, for 
Mrs. Shackleton ? for I will not suppose myself a 
stranger to one who is so nearly related to you. I am 
now a married man myself ; and therefore claim some 
respect from the married fraternity. 2 At least, for 
your own sake, you will not pretend to consider me 
as the worse man. I do not know whether it ever 
falls in your way to see Dr. Sleigh : he was not at 
school in my time, but I knew him in London, and 
I have known few more ingenious and valuable men. 
You see, my dear Shackleton, that I write you a 
rambling letter, without any connexion, just as the 
matters come into my head ; but whatever I write, 
or in whatever way, believe me it is dictated by the 
sincerest regard to you, from him who is your truly 
affectionate and obliged friend, 


1 The work to which Burke here alludes, is Ms Philoso- 
phical Inquiry into the Ongin of our Ideas of the Sublime 
and Beautify}, first published -in 1756. His Vindication of 
Natural Society appeared in the same year. 

2 Early in this year (1757), Burke married Miss Jane 
Mary Nugent, daughter of Dr. Christopher Nugent, an 
eminent physician then residing at Bath. 

22 EDMUND BURKE [1763 


March, 1763. 

I am now on the point of acquiring, through your 
friendship, an establishment, 1 which I am sensible is 
as much above my merits as, in any other channel, it 
may be above my reasonable expectations. I should 
think myself inexcusable in receiving this pension, and 
loading your interest with so heavy a charge, without 
apprizing you of those conditions on which, alone, 
I am able to take it ; because, when I have taken it, 
I ought no longer to consider myself as possessed of 
my former freedom and independence. 

I have often wished to explain myself fully to you 
on this point. It is against my general notions to 
trust to writing, where it is in one's power to confer 
otherwise. But neither do you hear, nor do I speak, 
on this subject, with the same ease with which we 
converse on others. This is but natural ; and I have 
therefore chosen this method, as less liable to mis- 
understanding and dispute ; and hope you will be so 
indulgent, as to hear me with coolness and attention. 

You may recollect, when you did me the honour 
to take me as a companion in your studies, you found 
me with the little work we spoke of last Tuesday, as 
a sort of rent-charge on my thoughts. I informed you 
of this, and you acquiesced in it. You are now so 
generous ^and it is but strict justice to allow, that 
upon all occasions you have been so), to offer to free 
me from this burden. But, in fact, though I am 
extremely desirous of deferring the accomplishment, 
I have no notion of entirely suppressing that work ; 

1 The establishment to which Burke here alludes, was 
a pension of 300 per annum, from the Irish Treasury ; 
granted in this year by Lord Halifax, then lord lieutenant 
of Ireland, upon the application of his Excellency's secre- 
tary, Hamilton, and through the influence of Colonel 
Cunninghame and the Primate Stone. 


and this upon two principles, not solely confined to 
that work, but which extend much farther, and indeed 
to the plan of my whole life. 

Whatever advantages I have acquired, and even 
that advantage which I must reckon as the greatest 
and most pleasing of them, have been owing to some 
small degree of literary reputation. It will be hard 
to persuade me that any further services which your 
kindness may propose for me, or any in which my 
friends may wish to co-operate with you, will not be 
greatly facilitated by doing something to cultivate 
and keep alive the same reputation. I am fully 
sensible, that this reputation may be at least as much 
hazarded, as forwarded by new publications. But 
because a certain oblivion is the consequence, to writers 
of my inferior class, of an entire neglect of publication, 
I consider it such a risk as sometimes must be run. 
For this purpose, some short time, at convenient 
intervals, and especially at the dead time of the year, 
will be requisite to study and consult proper books. 
These times, as you very well know, cannot be easily 
defined ; nor indeed is it necessary they should. The 
matter may be very easily settled by a good under- 
standing between ourselves ; and by a discreet liberty, 
which I think you would not wish to restrain, nor 
I to abuse. I am not so unreasonable, nor absurd 
enough, to think I have any title to so considerable 
a share in your interest as I have had, and hope still to 
have, without any or but an insignificant return on 
my side ; especially as I am conscious that my best 
and most continued endeavours are of no very great 
value. I know that your business ought, on all 
occasions, to have the preference ; to be the first and 
the last, and, indeed, in all respects, the main concern. 
All I contend for is, that I may not be considered as 
absolutely excluded from all ftther thoughts, in their 
proper time and due subordination ; the fixing the 
times for them, to be left entirely to yourself. 

I do not remember that, hitherto, any pursuit has 
been stopped, or any plan left defective, through my 

24 EDMUND BUEKE [1763 

inattention, or through my attention to other matters ; 
and I protest to God, I have applied to whatever you 
have thought proper to set me, with a vigour and 
alacrity, and even an eagerness, that I never felt in 
any affair of my own whatsoever. If you have not 
observed this* you have not, I think, observed with 
your usual sagacity. But if you have observed it, and 
attributed it to an interested design, which will cease 
when its end is in any degree answered, my mind 
bears me witness that you do not do me justice. 
I act almost always from my present impulse, and 
with little scheme or design ; and perhaps, generally, 
with too little. If you think what I have proposed 
unreasonable, my request is that you will, which you 
may very easily do, get my Lord Halifax to postpone 
the pension, and afterwards to drop it. We shall go 
on as before, until some other more satisfactory 
matter occurs. For I should ill brook an accusation, 
either direct or implied, that I had through your 
friendship acquired a considerable establishment, and 
afterwards neglected to make any fair return in my 
power. The thought of this has given me great pain ; 
and I would not be easy without coming to some 
explanation upon it. In the light I consider things, 
it can create no great difficulty ; but it may possibly, 
to you, appear otherwise. Let this be how it will, 
I can never forget the obligations the very many and 
great obligations which I have already had to "you ; 
and which, in any situation, will always give you 
a right to call on me for anything within my compass. 
If I do not often acknowledge my sense of them, it is 
because I know you are not very fond of professions, 
nor am I very clever at making them. You will take 
in good part this liberty; which, sincerely, is not 
made for the purpose of exercising my pen imper- 
tinently. Two words from you would settle the point, 
one way or another. 

I am y with the utmost truth, ever yours, 




Your letter, which I received about four o'clock 
yesterday, seemed not to have been written with an 
intention of being answered. However, on considering 
the matter this morning, I thought it respectful to 
you, and, in a manner, necessary to myself, to say 
something to those heavy charges which you have 
made against me in our last conversations ; and which 
with a polite acrimony in the expression, you have 
thought proper to repeat in your letter. 

I should, indeed, be extremely unhappy, if I felt 
any consciousness at all of that unkindness, of which 
you have so lively a sense. In the six years during 
which I have had the honour of being connected with 
you, I do not know that I have given you one just 
occasion of complaint ; and if all things have not 
succeeded every way to your wishes, I may appeal to 
your own equity and candour, whether the failure was 
owing to any thing wrong in my advice, or inattention 
in my conduct ; I can honestly affirm, and your heart 
will not contradict me, that in all cases I preferred 
your interest to my own, I made you, and not myself, 
the first object in every deliberation. I studied your 
advancement, your fortune, and your reputation in 
everything, with zeal and earnestness ; and sometimes 
with an anxiety, which has made many of my hours 
miserable. Nobody could be more ready, than I was, 
to acknowledge the obligations I had to y~ou ; and if 
I thought, as in some instances I did, and do still 
think, I had cause of dissatisfaction, I never expressed 
it to others, or made yourself uneasy about them, 
I acted, in every respect, with a fidelity which, I trust, 
cannot be impeached. If there be any part of my 
conduct in life, upon which I can look with entire 
satisfaction, it is my behaviour with regard to you. 

So far as to the past : with regard to the present, 

1 Letter tandatedin the original, but obviously of this time. 

26 EDMUND BUEKE [1763 

what is that unkindness and misbehaviour of which 
you complain ? My heart is full of friendship to 
you ; and is there a single point which the best and 
most intelligent men have fixed, as a proof of friendship 
and gratitude, in which I have been deficient, or in 
which I threaten a failure ? What you blame is only 
this ; that I will not consent to bind myself to you, 
for no less a term than my whole life, in a sort of 
domestic situation, for a consideration to be taken out 
of your private fortune ; that is, to circumscribe my 
hopes, to give up even the possibility of liberty, and 
absolutely to annihilate myself for ever, I beseech 
you, is the demand, or the refusal, the act of unkind- 
ness ? If ever such a test of friendship was proposed, in 
any instance, to any man living, I admit that my con- 
duct has been unkind ; and, if you please, ungrateful. 
If I had accepted your kind offers, and afterwards 
refused to abide by the condition you annex to them, 
you then would have had a good right to tax me with 
unkindness. But what have I done, at the end of 
a very long, however I confess unprofitable, service, 
but to prefer my own liberty to the offers of advantage 
you are pleased to make me ; and, at the same time, 
to tender you the continuance of those services (upon 
which, partiality alone induces you to set any value) 
in the most disinterested manner, as far as I can do 
it, consistent with that freedom to which, for a long 
time, I have determined to sacrifice every considera- 
tion; and wMch I never gave you the slightest 
assurance tjhat I had any intention to surrender ; 
whatever my private resolves may have been in case 
an event had happened, which (so far as concerns 
myself) I rejoice never to have taken place ? You are 
kind enough to say, that you looked upon my friend- 
ship as valuable; but hint that it has not been 
lasting. I really do not know when, and by what 
act, I broke it off. I should be wicked and mad to do 
it ; unless you call that a lasting friendship, which all 
mankind would call a settled servitude, and which no 
ingenuity can distinguish from it. Once more, put 


yourself in my situation, and judge for me. If I have 
spoken too strongly, you 'will be so good as to pardon 
a man on his defence, in one of the nicest questions to 
a mind that has any feeling. I meant to speak fully, 
not to offend. I am not used to defend my conduct ; 
nor do I intend, for the future, to fall into so bad 
a habit. I have been warmed to it by the imputation 
you threw on me ; as if I deserted you on account 
solely of your want of success. On this, however, 
I shall say nothing, because perhaps I should grow 
still warmer ; and I would not drop one loose word 
which might mark the least disrespect, and hurt 
a friendship which has been, and I flatter myself 
will be, a satisfaction and an honour to me. I beseech 
you that you will judge of me with a little impartiality 
and temper. I hope I have said nothing in our last 
interview which could urge you to the passion you 
speak of. If anything fell which was strong in the 
expression, I believe it was from you, and not from me, 
and it is right that I should bear more than I then 
heard. I said nothing, but what I took the liberty 
of mentioning to you a year ago, in Dublin : I gave 
you no reason to think I had made any change in my 
resolution. We, notwithstanding, have ever since, 
until within these few days, proceeded as usual. 
Permit me to do so again. No man living can have 
a higher veneration than I have, for your abilities ; 
or can set a higher value on your friendship, as a great 
private satisfaction, and a very honourable distinction. 
I am much obliged to you for the favour you intend 
me, in sending to me in three or four days (if you do 
not send sooner) ; when you have had time to con- 
sider this matter coolly, I will again call at your door, 
and hope to be admitted ; I beg it, and entreat it. 
At the same time do justice to the single motive which 
I have for desiring this favour, and desiring it in this 
manner. I have not wrote all this tiresome matter, 
in hopes of bringing on an altercation in writing, which 
you are so good to me as to decline personally ; and 
which, in either way, I am most solicitous to shun. 

28 EDMUND BURKE [1763 

What I say is, on reviewing it, little more than I have 
laid before you in another manner. It certainly 
requires no answer. I ask pardon for my prolixity, 
which my anxiety to stand well in your opinion has 

I am, with great truth, 
Your most affectionate and most obliged 
humble Servant, 





It is so necessary for me to apologize for my long 
silence, and I am so unable to satisfy even my own 
ideas with any apology I can make, that I have twenty 
times begun to write, and as often desisted from my 
undertaking. The truth is, a certain awkwardness, 
arising from some late events, has added a good deal 
to my difficulties on this occasion. To write upon mere 
matters of indifference, when the very turning of my 
thoughts towards you filled my mind with those that 
were very interesting, would have given my letter an 
air of coldness and constraint very foreign from my 
natural manner, and very unlike the style in which 
I should always wish to converse with you. On the 
other hand, if my letter were to go impressed with the 
genuine feeling of my heart when it was full of resent- 
ment and of resentment which had for its most 
just object one with whom I suppose you live in 
confidence and friendship, it might have had an 
appearance of disrespect ; an appearance as contrary 
to the real sense I have of the honour you do me by 
your friendship, as any air of reserve would be to that 
openness and candour, which, I suppose, first recom- 
mended me to your regard, and which, I am sure, can 

1 Subsequently provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and 
a privy-councillor in Ireland. The letter is not dated, but 
is evidently of this period. 


alone make me worthy the continuance of it. On 
some deliberation, I think the safer course is to speak 
my mind freely; for, as Mr. Hamilton's calumnies 
(circulated by agents worthy of him) made it necessary 
for me to open myself to others, it might seem some 
sort of distrust of your equity, or my own innocence, 
if I held back from you, who know both the parties, 
and do not want sagacity to look into their true 
characters. I do not expect that you should honour 
me with an answer to this part of my letter, because 
a neutrality is all I can in reason expect ; and, on 
this subject, I am perhaps less reasonable than I wish 
to be thought upon others ; nothing less than whole 
approbation being sufficient to content me, and I can 
construe silence into what I please. 

You are already apprized, by what Mr. H. has 
himself caused to be reported, that he has attempted 
to make a property a piece of household goods of 
me, an attempt, in my poor opinion, as contrary to 
discretion as it is to justice ; for he would fain have 
had a slave,, which, as it is a being of no dignity, so it 
can be of very little real utility to its owner ; and he 
refused to have a f aithf ul friend, which is a creature 
of some rank, and (in whatever subject) no trivial or 
useless acquisition. But in this he is to be excused ; 
for with as sharp and apprehensive parts, in many 
respects, as any man living, he never in reality did 
comprehend, even in theory, what friendship or affec- 
tion was ; being, as far as I was capable of observing, 
totally destitute of either friendship or enmity, but 
rather inclined to respect those who treat him ill. In 
spite of some knowledge and feeling of this part of his 
character, but actuated by a sense of what is owing to 
close connexion (upon whatsoever principles it might 
have been entered into), how faithful, how attached, 
and how zealous I have been to him you were yourself, 
in part, a witness ; and though you could be so only 
in part, yet this was enough, I flatter myself, to let 
you see that I deserved to be considered in another 
manner than as one of Mr. H.'s cattle, or as a piece of 

30 EDMUND BUBKE [1763 

his household stuff. Six of the best years of my life 
he took me from every pursuit of literary reputation, 
or of improvement of my fortune. In that time he 
made Ms own fortune (a very great one), and he has 
also taken to himself the very little one which / had 
made. In all this time, you may easily conceive how 
much I felt at seeing myself left behind by almost all 
my contemporaries. There never was a season more 
favourable for any man who chose to enter into the 
career of public life ; and I think I am not guilty of 
ostentation, in supposing my own moral character, 
and my industry, my friends and connexions, when 
Mr, H. first sought my acquaintance, were not at all 
inferior to those of several whose fortune is, at this 
day, upon a very different footing from mine. 

I suppose that, by this, my friend Mr. Ridge Jbas 
informed you of the nature of the agreement which 
originally subsisted between that gentleman and me. 
He has, I suppose, let you into the manner in which 
it was fulfilled upon Mr. Hamilton's side how that 
gentleman shifted and shuffled with me, in order to 
keep me 'in a state of perpetual dependence; never 
made me an offer of indemnity for all his breaches of 
promise, nor even an apology, until he imagined it was 
probable that others were inclined to show me more 
attention than he did ; and then, having presumed to 
put a test to me which no man, not born in Africa, ever 
thought of taking, on my refusal, broke off all con- 
nexion with me in the most insolent manner He, 
indeed, entered into two several negotiations after- 
wards ; but both poisoned, in their first principles, by 
the same spirit of injustice with which he set out, in his 
dealing towards me. I, therefore, could never give 
way to Ms proposals. The whole ended by Ms possess- 
ing himself of that small reward for my services, 
which, I since find, he had a very small share in pro- 
curing for me. Alter, or, indeed, rather during his 
negotiations, he endeavoured to stain my character 
and injure my future fortune by every calumny his 
malice could suggest. This is the sum of my con- 


nexion with Mr. Hamilton. However, I am much 
obliged to Mm for having forcibly driven me from that 
imprisonment with him, from which, otherwise, I might 
never have had spirit enough to have delivered myself. 
This I thought it necessary to say to you, on the 
subject of a man with whom you still live in friendship, 
and with whom I have had, unfortunately, so close 
a connexion. You cannot think that, in using this 
freedom, I mean to deviate in the slightest degree 
from the real respect I ever entertained for your 
character, or from the gratitude I ought to feel for 
your obliging behaviour to me whilst I was in Ireland. 
Nobody has spoken, at all times, and in all companies, 
with more justice to the importance you may be of 
to any government, from your talents and your 
experience in business ; and though, from my situation 
in life, my opinion must be of very- little consequence 
to your interest, it will speak for the fairness of my 
intentions with regard to you. 



I am hardly able to tell you how much satisfaction 
I had in your letter. Your approbation of my conduct 
makes me believe much the better of both you and 
of myself and, I assure you, that that approbation 
came to me very seasonably. Such proofs of a warm, 
sincere, and disinterested friendship, were not wholly 
unnecessary to my support, at a time when I experi- 
enced such bitter effects of the perfidy and ingratitude 
of other much longer and much, closer connexions. 
The way in which you take up my affairs, binds me to 
you in a manner I cannot express ; for, to tell you 
the truth, I never can (knowing, as I do, the principles 
upon which I always endeavour to act) submit to any 
sort of compromise of my character ; and I shall never, 
therefore, look upon those who, after hearing the 

1 Ancestor of the Earls of Rathdowne, and at this time 
in the barrack office in Dublin. 

32 EDMUND BURKE [1765 

whole story, do not think me perfectly in the right, 
and do not consider Hamilton as an infamous scoundrel, 
to be in the smallest degree my friends, or even to be 
persons for whom I am bound to have the slightest 
esteem, as fair or just estimators of the characters and 
conduct of men. Situated as I am, and feeling as 
I do, I should be just as well pleased that they totally 
condemned me, as that they should say that there 
were faults on both sides, or that it was a disputable 
case, as I hear is (I cannot forbear saying) the affected 
language of some persons. Having let you into this, 
perhaps, weak part of my character, I must let you 
into another, which is, I confess, full as weak, and 
more blameable ; that is, some degree of mortification, 
which I cannot avoid feeling, at the letters I receive, 
almost daily, and from several bands, from Dublin, 
giving me an account of a violent outcry of ingratitude 
which is there raised against me. If the absurdity of 
an accusation were a sufficient antidote against the 
poison of it, this would, I suppose, be the most innocent 
charge in the world ; but if its absurdity weakens the 
force of it to the conviction of others, it adds to my 
feeling of it, when I reflect that there is any person, 
who Has ever seen my face, that can listen to such 
a calumny. H,'s emissaries do more for him than he 
has ever attempted to do for himself. He charges me 
with receiving that pension during the king's pleasure 
(in getting me which he had the least share of four 
who were engaged in it), not as a favour, but as the 
consideration of a bargain and sale of my liberty and 
existence. It cannot be at once a voluntary benefit 
claiming gratitude, and a mercenary consideration 
exacting service. They may, if they are contented to 
speak a consistent falsehood, accuse me of breach of 
faith ; but they can never say, without nonsense, as 
well as injustice, that I am ungrateful, until they can 
prove that some favour was intended to me. In regard 
to tlxeir own understanding, they will be so gracious 
as to drop one or the other of the charges. In modesty 
they ought to drop both of them ; unless serving their 

1765] TO J. MONCK MASON 33 

friend -with six of the best years of my life, whilst he 
acquired at their expense a ministerial fortune ; and 
then, after giving him my labour, giving him also 
a pension of 300 a year : unless these be thought as 
great faults to him, as perhaps they were toward the 
pubhc ; and unless- those delicate friends of his do not 
think their late grateful, sincere, disinterested secretary 
has got enough on their establishment. You cannot 
avoid remarking, my dear Mason, and I hope not 
without some indignation, the unparalleled singularity 
of my situation. Was ever a man, before me, expected 
to enter into formal, direct, undisguised slavery ? 
Did ever man before him confess an attempt to decoy 
a man into such an illegal contract, not to say anything 
of the impudence of regularly pleading it ? If such an 
attempt be wicked and unlawful (and I am sure no 
one ever doubted it), I have only to confess his charge, 
and to admit myself his dupe, to make him pass, on 
his own showing, for the most consummate villain 
that ever lived. The only difference between us is, 
not whether he is not a rogue, for he not only admits 
but pleads the facts that demonstrate him to be so, 
but only whether I was such a fool as to sell myself 
absolutely, for a consideration which, so far from being 
adequate, if any such could be adequate, is not even 
so much as certain. Not to value myself as a gentle- 
man, a freeman, a man of education, and one pre- 
tending to literature, is there any situation in life so 
low, or even so criminal, that can subject a man to the 
possibility of such an engagement ? Would you dare 
attempt to bind your footman to such terms ? Will 
the law suffer a felon, sent to the plantations, to bind 
himself for his life, and to renounce all possibility 
either of elevation or quiet ? And am I to defend 
myself for not doing what no man is suffered to do, 
and what it would be criminal in any man to submit 
to ? You will excuse me for this heat, which, wiU, in 
spite of one, attend and injure a just cause ; whilst 
common judgements look upon coolness as a proof of 
innocence, though it never fails to go along with guilt 


34 EDMUND BURKE [1765 

and ability. But this is the real state of the affair. 
Hamilton, indeed, I hear has the impudence to pretend 
that my leaving him and going to Mr. T. is the cause 
of our rupture. This is, I assure you, an abominable 
falsehood. I never had more than a very slight 
acquaintance with Mr. T. till long after our rupture. 
O'Hara, through whom a part of the negotiation 
passed, will let you see that our rupture had no sort 
of relation to him. But Ridge will explain this point 
to you at large. You will show this as much as you 
like to any of our common friends., meaning that 
Hamilton should know in what a manner I speak of 
him on all occasions. 

You are, my dear Mason, by your Bedford con- 
nexion, involved in the support of Lord W.'s 1 Govern- 
ment (and I could heartily wish that your task were 
less difficult) ; with an unsupported and beggared 
Lord Lieutenant, attended with officers, to do business 
at a doubtful time, the best of them with middling 
ability, and no experience. My Lord Lieutenant 
himself is a genteel man, and of excellent natural 
sense, as is universally said. I wish it may turn out 
for your advantage, and that the barrack-board may 
be, not a bench, but a step of the stairs. You know, 
I suppose, that Hamilton endeavoured by his con- 
nexion with the Thynnes, to intrude into that family ; 
and wanted to stipulate, for a month or six weeks' 
service, to get for a cousin of his a deanery; but 
I imagine they hear on all hands , . . 2 


May 18, 1765. 

I thank you for your very kind and most obliging 
letter. You are a person whose good offices are not 
snares, and to whom one may venture to be obliged, 

1 Lord Weymouth; appointed lord lieutenant of 
Ireland in May 1765. 

2 The draft from which this is taken is incomplete. 

3 Mr. Henry Mood, at this time a member of the Irish 

1765] TO HENRY FLOOD 35 

without danger to Ms honour. As I depend upon your 
sincerity, so I shall most certainly call upon your 
friendship, if I should have any thing to do in Ireland. 
This, however, -is not the case at present, at least in 
any way in which your interposition may be employed, 
with a proper attention to yourself, a point which 
I shall always very tenderly consider in any applica- 
tions I make to my friends. 

It is very true that there is an eternal rupture 
between me and Hamilton, which was, on my side, 
neither sought nor provoked. For though his conduct 
in public affairs has been for a long time directly 
contrary to my opinion, very reproachful to himself, 
and extremely disgustful to me ; and though, in 
private, he has not justly fulfilled one of his engage- 
ments to me, yet I was so uneasy and awkward at 
coming to a breach, where I had once a close and 
intimate friendship, that I continued with a kind of 
desperate fidelity to adhere to his cause and person ; 
and when I found him greatly disposed to quarrel 
with me, I used such submissive measures as I never 
before could prevail on myself to use to any man. 
The occasion of our difference was not any act what- 
soever on my part ; it was entirely upon his ; by a 
voluntary, but most insolent and intolerable demand, 
amounting to no less than a claim of servitude during 
the whole course of my life, without leaving to me, at 
any time, a power either of getting forward witli 
honour, or of retiring with tranquillity. This was 
really and truly the substance of his demand upon me, 
to which I need not tell you that I refused, with some 
degree of indignation, to submit. On this, we ceased 
to see each other, or to correspond, a good while before 
you left London. He then commenced, through the 
intervention of others, a negotiation with me, in 
which he showed as much of meanness in his proposals. 

House of Commons, and subsequently one of the vice- 
treasurers of Ireland, and a privy-councillor in both, king- 
doms. He sat in the English House of Commons from 
1783 to his death in 1791. 

36 EDMUND BURKE [1765 

as he had done of arrogance in his demands ; but as 
all those proposals were vitiated by the taint of that 
servitude -with which they were all mixed, his negotia- 
tion came to nothing. He grounded those monstrous 
claims (such as never were before heard of in this 
country) on that pension which he had procured for 
me tKrough Colonel Cunninghame, the late Primate, 
and Lord Halifax; for through all that series of 
persons this paltry business was contrived to pass. 
Now, though I was sensible that I owed this pension to 
the goodness of the Primate, in a great degree, and 
though, if it had come from Hamilton's pocket, 
instead of being derived from the Irish Treasury, I had 
earned it by a long and laborious attendance, and 
might, in any other than that unfortunate connexion, 
have got a much better thing, yet, to get rid of him 
completely, and not to carry even a memorial of such 
a person about me, I offered to transfer it to his 
attorney, in trust for him. This offer he thought 
proper to accept. I beg pardon, my dear Mood, for 
troubling you so long, on a subject which ought not 
to employ a moment of your thoughts, and never shall 
again employ a moment of mine. 

To your inquiry concerning some propositions in 
a certain assembly, of a nature injurious to Ireland, 
since your departure, I know none of that kind, 
except one made by a Mr. Shiffner, to lessen the 
number of ports of entry in Britain and Ireland 
allowed for the trade of wool and woollen-yarn of the 
growth of the latter country. This attempt was 
grounded on the decrease of the import of those commo- 
dities from Ireland, which they rashly attributed to 
the greater facility of the illicit transport of wool from 
Ireland to France, by the indulgence of a number of 
ports. This idea, founded in an ignorance of the 
nature of the Irish trade, had weight with some 
persons ; but the decreased import of Irish wool and 
yarn being accounted for upon true and rational 
principles, in a short memorial delivered to Mr. Towns- 
hend, he saw at once into it with his usual sagacity, 

1765] TO HENRY FLOOD 37 

and he has silenced this complaint, at least for this 
session. Nothing else was done or meant., that I could 
discover, though I have not been inattentive ; and 
I am not without good hopes, that the menaces in 
the beginning of the session will end as they began, 
only in idle and imprudent words. At least, there is 
a strong probability that new men will come in, and, 
not improbably, with new ideas. At ijiis very instant 
the causes productive of such a change are strongly at 
work. The Kegency Bill has shown such want of 
concert and want of capacity in the ministers, such 
an inattention to the honour of the Crown, if not such 
a design against it such imposition and surprise upon 
the king, and such a misrepresentation of the disposi- 
tion of Parliament to the Sovereign, that there is no 
doubt there is a fixed resolution to get rid of them all 
(unless, perhaps, of Grenville), but principally of the 
Duke of Bedford. So that you will have much more 
reason to be surprised to find the ministry standing 
by the end of next week, than to hear of their entire 
removal. Nothing but an intractable temper in your 
friend Pitt, can prevent a most admirable and lasting 
system from being put together ; and this crisis will 
show whether pride or patriotism be predominant in 
his character ; for you may be assured, that he has it 
now in his power to come into the service of his 
country, upon any plan of politics he may choose to 
dictate, with great and honourable terms to himself 
and to every friend he has in the world ; and with 
such a stretch of power, as will be equal to everything 
but absolute despotism, over the king and kingdom. 
A few days will show whether he will take this part, 
or that of continuing on his back at Hayes, talking 
fustian, excluded from all ministerial, and incapable 
of all parliamentary service ; for his gout is worse than 
ever, but his pride may disable him more than his 
gout. These matters so fill our imaginations here, 
that with our mob of six or seven thousand weavers, 
who pursue the ministry, and do not leave them quiet 
or safety in their houses, we have little to think of 

38 EDMUND BURKE [1765 

other things. However, I will send you the new 
edition of Swift's posthumous works. I doubt you 
can hardly read this hand ; but it is very late. 
Mrs. Burke has been ill, and recovers but slowly. t She 
desires her respects to you and Lady Frances. Julia is 
much obliged to you : Will. Burke always remembers 
you with affection ; and so does, 
My dear Flood, 

Your most affectionate, humble servant, 


Pray remember me to Langrishe, and to Leland and 
Bowden. Dr. Nugent desires his compliments to you 
in the strongest manner. He has conceived a very 
high esteem for you. 


Dublin, August 21, 1766. 


I have let slip a post since my arrival in Dublin, 
without paying my respects to you on your arrival 
at Wentworth. I am ashamed of the appearance of 
a neglect so contrary to my duty, and (I hope you 
will believe) to my sentiments. The truth is, I wished 
to learn a little of the "bon-ton of this place, relative to 
the late and present administration, before I troubled 
you with a letter. This great town is, indeed, at 
present, only a great desert ; but amongst those who 
remain, there is but one opinion with regard to your 
lordship. They are loud in declaring that no minister 
ever went through employment, or retired out of it, 
with so much true honour and reputation. About the 
new system, there is much doubt and uneasiness. 
There is still a little twilight of popularity remaining 

1 Charles, second Marquis of Rockingham, who came into 
office at the head of the Treasury, in 1765, and appointed 
Bnrke his private secretary. 


round the great peer, 1 but it fades away every moment ; 
and the people here, who, in general, only reflect back 
the impressions of London, are growing quite out of 
humour with him. We have odd accounts from thence, 
of which it is not very easy to find the solution. I begin 
almost to fear, that your lordship left town a little too 
early. I think your friends must, since then, have 
wanted your advice on more than one occasion. Am 
I to attribute the resignation of Saunders to his having 
received some new instance of disregard from the great 
disposer ? I thought it was a settled point, that none 
should go out without the concurrence of the party. 
But gentlemen, who are really such, do not easily 
submit their feelings to their politics. After this, 
can Keppel, or any of the rest, stay in ? And is 
Lord Egmont's resignation the effect also of temper ? a 
That event, I own, surprises me. It looks as if Mr. Pitt 
would find that the offer of privy-seal of Scotland was 
by no means sufficient for Lord Bute. 3 Nothing but 
weakness appears in the whole fabric of his ministry ; 
yet I do not see what strength the party is likely to 
derive from thence. His necessities and Ms anger 
may drive him into the arms of the Bedfords ; for, 
I confess, I think he is gone too far to think of returning 
to the good ground which he originally declined to 
stand upon. I saw in the Chronicle an account of the 
address ; 4 and, I confess, I have seldom in my life 
been more thoroughly mortified. It was not very long ; 
it was really simple, neat, and elegant. The abstracting 

1 The Earl of Chatham. 

2 Lord Egmgnt, who came in with the Marquis of 
Rockingham, as First Lord of the Admiralty, does not 
appear to have quitted office until the 16th Sept. 1766, 

3 The privy-seal of Scotland was given to the Right Hon. 
James Stuart Mackenzie, brother to Lord Bute, on the 
30th of August, 1766. 

4 Mr. Burke probably alludes to an address presented 
to the Marquis of Rockingham on the 6th of August in 
this year, by a deputation from the merchants of London, 
trading to the West Indies and North .America. 

40 EDMUND BUEKE [1766 

(which, by the way, was not very well done), did great 
mischief to it. I do not like your lordship's method of 
putting your popularity into your cabinet, like a curious 
medal. It is current coin, or it is nothing. I am really 
vexed ; as I think, properly managed, it would have 
led the other towns. May I flatter myself, that when- 
ever your lordship has a leisure moment, I may be 
favoured with your remembrance and your directions ? 
You would not do me justice, if you thought any person 
attached to your interest, your honour, or your satis- 
faction, with a warmer zeal than, 

My lord, 
Your most obedient, and ever obliged, 

humble servant, 


I beg your lordship will present my humble respects, 
with those of Mrs. Burke, to Lady Eockingham. 
I hope the air of Wentworth has re-established her 
health. I just hear that they are negotiating with 
Yorke ; l I fear for him, 


Parson's Green. August 1, 1767. 


I hope you have by this time got over a little of 
your Yorkshire bustle, after escaping so much to your 
credit from the bustle of Westminster. 2 Your lordship's 
conduct has certainly been very honourable to yourself, 
and very pleasing to your friends. If we may judge 

1 The Hon. Charles Yorke, second st>n* of Lord Chan- 
cellor Hardwieke. 

2 Mr, Burke here alludes to overtures for a union of 
parties, by the junction of the Marquis of Eockingham 
and the Duke of Bedford, with the Chatham and Grafton 
administration. The negotiations were broken off by 
Lord RocMngham's refusal to take office, unless with his 
whole party, and the appointment of a leader in the 
House of Commons. 


from appearances, the consequences which have 
attended it are not very displeasing to your enemies. 
His majesty never was in better spirits. He has got 
a ministry weak and dependent ; and, what is better, 
willing to continue so. They all think they have very 
handsomely discharged any engagements of honour 
they might have had to your lordship ; and, to say 
the truth, seem not very miserable at being rid of you, 
They are certainly determined to hold with the present 
garrison, and to make the best agreement they can 
amongst themselves ; for this purpose they are 
negotiating something with Charles Townshead. 1 
Lord Bute is seldom a day out of town : I cannot 
find whether he confers directly and personally with 
the ministry, but am told he does, I saw General 
Conway 2 a day or two after you left us. I never knew 
him talk in a more alert, firm, and decided tone. There 
was not the slighest trace of his usual diffidence and 
hesitation. He lamented your lordship's mistake in 
not coming into administration at this juncture. But, 
I declare, his conversation did, to me, more thoroughly 
justify your non-acceptance, than anything I had 
heard, either from yourself or others, on that subject, 
as it laid open more clearly the ideas upon which they 
went in treating with you. Their plan, in short, was, 
that your lordship, with a few only of the chief of your 
friends, should take offices ; and that the rest should 
wait those vacancies which death, and occasional 
arrangements, might make in a course of time. He 
dwelt much upon the advantages which had attended 
this method of proceeding, when Mr. Pitt acceded to 
the old administration in 1757. Though I felfc in- 
dignation enough at this comparison of times and 
persons, I could hardly help laughing at the notion 
of providing for a party, upon a system which supposed 
the long and steady continuance of the same admirristra- 

1 The Bight Hon. Charles Townshend, at this time 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. He died in September of 
this year. 

2 Henry Seymour Conway, brother of Lord Hertford. 

C 3 

42 EDMUND BURKE [1767 

tion. I told him that your lordship's opinion of the 
duty of a leader of party was to take more care of his 
Mends than of himself ; and that the world greatly 
mistook you if they imagined that you would come in 
otherwise than in corps ; and that after you had thought 
your own whole bottom too narrow, you would con- 
descend to build your administration on a foundation 
still narrower ; and give up (for that it would be) many 
of your own people, in order to establish your irrecon- 
cilable enemies in those situations which had formerly 
enabled, and would again enable them to distress, 
probably to destroy you. That, beyond this, he was 
not less fond of a "system of extermination than you 
were. I said a great deal, and with as much freedom 
as consisted with carrying on the discourse in good 
humour, of the power and dispositions of the Bute 
party, the use they had made of their power in your 
time, and the formidable increase and full establish- 
ment of that power, which must be the necessary 
consequence of the part which our former friends in 
office seemed just now inclined to take. This discourse 
had no sort of effect. The Bute influence had lost all 
its terrors. An apprehension of Grenville's x coming 
in, was the ostensible objection to every thing. Much 
moderation towards the king's friends, and many 
apologies for every part of their conduct. In the end 
he said (I think, directly, but I am sure in effect), 
that as long as the Duke of Graf ton 2 thought it for 
Ms honour to stay in, he could not resign. I have 
troubled you with this conversation, as it seemed to 
me very fully to indicate the true spirit of the ministry. 
I am quite satisfied that if ever the court had any real 

1 The Bight Hon. George Grenville, brother of Earl 
Temple, and First Lord of the Treasury from April 1763 
to July 1765, when he gave way to the Marquis of 
Rockingliam. He died in 1770. 

2 Augustus Henry, third Duke of Grafton, then First 
Lord of the Treasury, which office His Grace held until 
1770. He was Privy Seal in the Rockingham administra- 
tion of 1782. 


intention that your lordship should come in, it was 
merely to office, and not to administration ; to lower 
your character, and entirely to disunite the party. 
This you have escaped. All of the party who are 
capable of judging, and supplied with materials for it, 
will rejoice in your escape ; but there are some who 
feel anxious and uneasy, as if an opportunity of getting 
into power had missed upon mere points of delicacy. 
Lord Edgecumbe wrote lately to Lord Besborough : 
the Princess Amelia is down with him. He is frightened 
out of his wits : all his information comes from that 
quarter. Does not your lordship think, that a word 
from you to set the matter to rights, as to the rupture 
of both negotiations, might be useful with regard to 
him f He is wofully impatient. You see, my lord, 
that by giving you so free an account of my conversa- 
tion with Conway, this letter is only for yourself. 
Lord John Cavendish 1 might, indeed, have given you 
the whole of it, as well as of his own ; but I apprehend 
that he will have an opportunity of conveying this to 
your lordship, before he can see you. Be so good as 
to present my humble respects to my Lady Rocking- 
ham; and believe me, with the truest esteem and 

My dear lord, ever yours, 

Hopkins has the green cloth, Lowndes's brother the 
excise, and Bradshaw is secretary to the treasury. 
Wedderburne 2 is gone the north circuit : he told me 
he would wait on your lordship at Wentworth. 

1 Lord John Cavendish came into office as a Junior 
Lord of the Treasury with the Boekingham administra- 
tion, in 1765, and went out with his party in the following 
year. He came again into place with Lord Roeldngham, 
in 1782, when he was appointed Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, which post he also filled in the coalition ministry. 

2 Afterwards Earl of Rosslyn, and Lord High Chancellor 
of England. 



Parson's Green, August 18, 1767. 

I was just on the point of writing when I received 
your letter by Lord Albemarle. I am glad he was 
with you at Wentworth, and that you had an oppor- 
tunity of confirming him in the sentiments which so 
handsomely arose in his own breast, on the first 
representation of the late business. Upon my word, 
everything I see of that family, increases my opinion 
(originally no small one) of their honour, spirit, and 
steadiness. I found the admiral 1 at Goodwood, and 
came to town with him. He is very right, and the 
more laudably so, as he is not without a strong feeling 
of the inconveniences attending a protracted opposition 
from the craving demands of friends and dependents, 
who will very little enter into the motives to a conduct 
which stands between them and all their wants and 
expectations. He had a good deal of talk with the 
Duke of Richmond, and I had some. I saw in him 
many signs of uneasiness, but none of wavering. His 
grace cannot be persuaded of the propriety of not 
accepting the late offers, or, at least, of not having 
gone further than you did, so as to put all the ministers 
in the wrong, by driving them to avow more of a closet 
system, than they would willingly profess to the world. 
There was great good opinion (amounting to veneration) 
of your lordship, much satisfaction in the principles of 
the party, but still a leaning to Conway, and a dislike 
to the Grenvilles, which operate powerfully towards 
the doctrine of acceptance. He fears that the corps 
which will neither unite .with the other squadrons in 
opposition, nor accept the offers made by administra- 
tion, must, in the nature of things, be dissolved very 
speedily, and perhaps not very reputably, as being, 

1 The Hon. Augustus Keppel, brother to George, third 
Earl of Albemarle. 


to appearance, destitute of anything like a certain 
object. I combated tMs opinion in the best manner 
I could. The duke said nothing to me of the part he 
should take in the next session. I did not, indeed, at 
ail lead the conversation that way, thinking the ground 
delicate, and that, in matters of this sort, men are 
more safely trusted to the natural operation of things, 
as they strike their own minds, than to any engage- 
ments. Keppel went farther, and to him he was more 
explicit. He seemed greatly at a loss for what you 
meant to pursue ; but was extremely willing to take 
a warm and vigorous part with your lordship, in case 
you could come to settle some distinct plan of political 
and parliamentary conduct. Keppel has no doubt of 
him ; I have as little hesitation about his honour, but 
he has an anxious, busy mind. Work must be cut 
out for him, or he will not be satisfied easily. If this 
be done, I am persuaded he will be faithful and resolute ; 
and I am sure he is an essential part of the strength of 
your body. The admiral joins in my opinion of the 
necessity of your lordship's writing to him, once or 
twice, during the recess : some attentions of this sort 
will be expedient to continue Mm in affection to the 
cause, and to counterbalance the influence of Lord 
Holland, always the king's friend, and of General 
Conway, newly adopted into that corps, and probably 
with all the zeal of a new convert. It is no reflection 
on his grace to suppose that, in some way or other, 
these influences so natural, and in some respects so 
little blameable, should have their weight. 

I beg pardon, for having run on so long upon thi& 
topic. When I know Mr. Dowdeswell's L time, I will 
obey your lordship's commands without delay. Of 
the Grenvilles I hear nothing. In spite of themselves, 

1 The Bight Hon. William Dowdeswell, Member of 
Parliament for Worcestershire, a Privy Counsellor, and 
Chancellor of the Exchequer during tlie Rockingham 
administration of 1765-6. He was afterwards considered 
the leader of the Kockingham party in the House of 

46 EDMUND BURKE [1767 

they are compelled for a while to be quiet, and to 
play no tricks. Conway is gone fairly to the devil. 
Lord Frederick Campbell is secretary to the lord 
lieutenant. This is Conway's job. Conway is also to 
have Lord Townshend's ordnance ; but for the present, 
I hear, declines the salary, I hear too, that Pynsent 
is to be sold ; but I don't know who the purchaser is. 
The Duke of Newcastle grumbles as usual. There is 
one point in which I incline to join with him, that of 
elections. Surely, if there be, as there are, monied men 
in the party, they ought not to let the venal boroughs 
get engaged in the manner they are likely to be. Adieu, 
my dear lord ; you will be so good as to forgive this 
tedious letter, to present my humble respects to my 
Lady Rockingham, and to believe me, with the greatest 
esteem and affection, ever your lordship's most obliged,, 
and most obedient humble servant, 


Lord Chesterfield has been ill, and dangerously so ; 
but I am told is recovering. If he should die this time, 
the county of Buckingham would become suddenly 
vacant. Lord Verney, on this idea, desires to know 
what your wishes on this subject would be, and in 
what way his interest (always at the service of the 
cause) may be useful. 

Gregories, near Beaconsfield, May> 1, 1768. 


I thank you heartily for your letter, and even for 
the reproaches which it contains." They are, when of 
that kind, vary sure, and not the most unpleasing, 
indications of a real affection. Indeed, my neglect of 
writing is by no means justifiable, and does not stand 
well in my own opinion ; but I am sorry to say it, 
I }iave never been quite correct and finished in my 
style of life ; and I fear I never shall. However, if 
J keep the principal parts tolerably right, I shall, 


I hope, meet pardon, if not something more, from 
such friends as it is the great blessing of my life to 
have had, in every stage of it. As to the neglects of 
one who is but too much my brother, I have nothing 
to say for him. He may write himself, if he pleases ; 
and he has nothing to prevent him but too much 
idleness, which I have observed fills up a man's time 
much more completely, and leaves Mm less his own 
master, than any sort of employment whatsoever. 

I am much obliged to Mr. Beauchamp for his kind 
opinion of me, and to your partial representations as 
the cause of it. I am willing to do my best to forward 
Dr. Dunkin's subscription. You may easily believe 
that your wishing well to it, will be sufficient to engage 
my endeavours (as far as they can go) without any 
further inducement. But Dunkin deserved some rank 
among the poets of our time and country ; and I agree 
with you in thinking his son an ingenious and worthy 
man. I cannot, I fear, do a great deal. I am always 
ready to subscribe myself, and, perhaps, in general, 
too ready to put forward subscriptions, which weakens 
my interest when I want to use it on some extra- 
ordinary occasions. I don't say this as in the least 
declining the business you recommended, for I will 
certainly do all I can. 

I know your kindness makes you wish, now and 
then, to hear of my situation. As to myself, I am, 
by the very singular kindness of some friends, in a way 
very agreeable to me. Again elected on the same 
interest, 1 1 have made a push, with all I could collect 
of my own, and the aid of my friends, to cast a little 
root in this country. I have purchased a house, with 
an estate of about six hundred acres of land, in 
Buckinghamshire, twenty-four miles from London, 
where I now am. 2 It is a place exceedingly pleasant ; 

1 In the Parliament which met on the 10th May, 1768, 
Mr. Burke was again returned for Wendover, through the 
interest of Lord Verney. 

2 This place, called Gregories in the more ancient deeds, 
and Gregories or Butler's Court in some of later date, 

48 EDMUND BURKE [1768 

and I propose (God willing) to become a farmer in 
good earnest. You, who are classical, will not be 
displeased to hear that it was formerly the seat of 
Waller the poet, whose house, or part of it, makes at 
present the farm-house within an hundred yards of 
me. When yon take a journey to England, you are 
obliged, by tenure, to come and pay due homage to 
the capital seat of your once favourite poet, 

I am glad to find my venerable old friend, your 
father, still preserves his health, and the even tenor 
of his mind. At her age, no friend could have hoped 
for your mother anything but the Euthanasia ; and 
in such circumstances, it must have been a great 
comfort to you that she had it so perfectly. 

Mrs. Burke preserves an affectionate and grateful 
memory of Mrs. Shackleton's kindness to her when 
she was in Ireland, and joins us all in the heartiest 
salutations to you both. 

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me 

most sincerely yours, 



Gregories, July 18, 1768. 

I intended to have written by the Duke of Portland, 
who was so kind as to spend a part of a day with us, 
but I am afraid I shall not be able to avail myself of 
the opportunity. Some company came upon me after 
his grace's departure, who have taken up my time, so 
that I fear he will be set out for the north, before I can 
send this to him. Indeed, I have little worth your 
hearing to communicate. Such accounts as I picked 
up when I was last in town, will rather serve as an 
excuse for my troubling your lordship, than at all 
contribute to your information concerning the present 

continued from this time in the family of Burke, until the 
death of his widow, in 1812. 


posture of things. Lord Shelburne still continues in 
administration, though as adverse and as much disliked 
as ever. The minister for Turin is not yet declared. 
I hear it said, and I believe with truth, that his majesty 
declined having anything to do with the decision of 
this business, but recommended them to settle it 
among themselves, as well as they could. This does 
not seem to be much out of character ; nor is it, 
I think, the most favourable symptom in the world 
to the power of the Duke of Grafton, who continues, 
as I hear, his old complaints of his situation, and his 
genuine desire of holding it as long as he can. At the 
same time, Lord Shelburne gets loose too. I know 
that Lord Camden, who adhered to him in these late 
divisions, has given him up, and gone over to the 
Duke of Grafton. The Bedf ords are horridly frightened 
at all this, for fear of seeing the table they had so well 
covered, and at which they sat down with so good an 
appetite, kicked down in the scuffle. They advised 
that things should not be brought to extremities. They 
find things not ripe, at present, for bringing in Grenville; 
and that any capital remove just now, would only 
betray their weakness in the closet and in the nation. 
Will. Burke met Dr. Hay : they had a great deal of 
very serious conversation, not to say earnest and eager, 
on the part of the doctor. I mention it, rather to show 
the disposition of that faction, and the tone of their 
politics, than because I am sure it was meant as an 
opening to any future negotiation. Hay expressed 
a great desire of seeing you in government, upon 
proper terms, with the Bedfords; lamented the 
exclusive and prescriptive spirit of your party, which 
he feared would make such a union difficult; and 
said, that if it were not your own fault, it would be 
extremely easy to form a strong and permanent system. 
George Grenville was mentioned as a very proper 
matter of consideration, but he did not insist over 
much on that point ; did not know why it should be 
an indispensable condition that your lordship should 
be at the head of the treasury ; and why some other 

50 EDMUND BURKE [1768 

great situation, with a fair proportion of power, might 
not answer the purpose as well ; that if Grenville was 
particularly exceptionable, another middle person 
might have the treasury : who was that middle 
person ? They had him in their eye, but would not 
name him before they knew that the general proposition 
would be accepted. He spoke of the ministry as 
a strange incoherent composition, that certainly would 
not stand. This he considered as a matter beyond 
dispute. On W. Burke's relating this conversation to 
me, I fancy their middle man to be the same they had 
in their thoughts this time twelvemonth Lord Gower, 1 
for they spoke much the same language, however ill 
the epithet of middleman agreed with their idea. 
But on talking with Fitzherbert, on a certain rap of 
the knuckles which the Butes had given to the Bedfords, 
he said he wondered at it, because he knew that their 
style was to talk very civilly of the Butes, and even 
to go so far as to name the Duke of Northumberland 2 
as a proper person for the treasury, in case of the Duke 
of Graftbn going out. This -seems, if true, to let in 
a little light upon Hay's system. Will. Burke told 
him, that he did not conceive what man they could 
name so worthy as your lordship, of the joint confidence 
of parties, who had never been known to deceive any 
party or any individual, or who to conduct government 
better, from the confidence which the whole mercantile 
interest had in you ; besides the large and respectable 
following of individuals. The junction they seemed 
to wish, he said, had been in their own power last year, 
but that they were too hungry to accept it ; that it 
would, among others, have brought them this advan- 
tage, it would have acquired them a little character. 
The truth is, the Bedfords will never act any part, 
either fair or amicable, with your lordship or your 

1 One of the Duke of Bedford's party, who had joined 
the Chatham and Grafton administration in the last year, 
1767; being appointed president of the council, which 
office he still held. 

2 Hugh, first Duke of Northumberland. 


friends, until they see you in a situation to give the 
law to them ; and all attempts towards it, before 
that time, will be not only useless but dangerous. 
I have plagued you a good deal with political chat, 
which you have, so far as it is authentic, probably 
received already in a much better manner. 

We have had incessant rains. My clover is got in, 
in a tolerable manner, but at a heavy expense. About 
fourteen or fifteen acres of natural grass are down 
already, under a deluge of rain. The farmers here 
apprehend a poor harvest, as the corn has suffered 
a good deal whilst in the flower. I have just got an 
account from my friend in Ireland, that the bull will 
be exceedingly acceptable. At the same time that 
I return my thanks for him, I must entreat your 
lordship to order him to be sent to Mr. Felix Doran, 
a merchant and a friend at Liverpool, who will transmit 
him to Dublin. 

Your lordship will be so good as to present my 
respects to Lady Rockingham ; and to believe me, 
with the most sincere attachment, 

My dear lord, 

Your most affectionate and obedient 
humble servant, 



Gregories, Sunday night, half after 10, 

My 2, 1769. 

I am beyond expression obliged to your lordship for 
your very full, very satisfactory, and very friendly 
letter, which I found at home on my return from my 
evening walk. I wish, indeed, that so great a pleasure 
to me had been purchased at the expense of less fatigue 
to yourself, for I know and feel what an irksome task 
the writing of long letters is ; and there was nothing 

52 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

I was so much surprised at, in the late Duke of 
Newcastle, as that immense and almost incredible ease, 
with which he was able to dispatch such an infinite 
number of letters. That employment seemed to be 
a sort of recreation to Mm. I am glad that your 
lordship's recreation at Harrowden was of another 
kind. I am sure it must be extremely serviceable, as 
well as delightful to you, to have enjoyed that interval 
of ease between the hurry of London and the hurry of 
Yorkshire ; and it was extremely well thought on, to 
cut this moment of perfect tranquillity out of your 
busy hfe. I really think such moments ought to be 
caught and improved as often as possible. 

I am very glad to find that something is to be done 
in Yorkshire relative to the late determination. 1 I am 
quite pleased with your lordship's plan for the in- 
structions in every particular, provided instructions 
(or thanks, which are tantamount but more respectful,) 
should be the mode proposed. But I confess I am, 
when the objects are well chosen, rather more fond 
of the method of petition, because it carries more the 
air of uniformity and concurrence ; and, being more 
out of the common road, and yet, I apprehend, 
constitutional enough, it will be more striking and 
more suitable to the magnitude of the occasion. There 
is a further reason which weighs with me even more 
than the former. I observe, that the court cares very 
little what becomes of the people in ministerial situa- 
tions, whether they are odious or not, or whether they 
get through their business easily and gracefully, or 
struggle .with the most embarrassing and scandalous 
difficulties. What they suffer makes no impression ; 
but I observe them to be much alarmed with whatever 
is brought directly into the king's presence. Nothing 
can tend more to bring the whole system into disrepute 
and disgust with him, than to see with his own eyes 
and hear with his own ears the effect it has upon the 

1 The rejection of Wilkes, and return of Luttrell, for 
Middlesex, by the House of Commons, 


people. His feeling in this manner the ill consequences 
of the system will, I am persuaded, be the only means 
of bringing on that only change which can do good, 
I mean the change of the whole scheme of -weak, 
divided, and dependent administrations. However, 
I beg pardon if I have urged this too much. The 
grand point, to be sure, is a strong and natural expres- 
sion of dislike to our elections for Middlesex. I -would 
just submit, whether giving thanks (so far as regards 
this question) for what is passed, be sufficient ; but 
that something of a request with regard to redress and 
prevention, in so interesting and important a point of 
public liberty, should be strongly pressed. I am sure 
I am far from thinking your lordship's expressions on 
this subject to be too warm. The address ought to 
be firm and full of vigour ; and I rather think that 
the thanks for the nullum tempus, both the first and 
the last, were rather too short and general. I am no 
great friend, in general, of long-winded performances ; 
but certainly the very length of these things greatly 
aids the impression in several instances. The Surrey 
address is solely confined to the Middlesex election, 
which is certainly the best of two extremes. I call 
this an extreme, because, certainly, our voting the 
civil list debt 1 without account, besides other pro- 
ceedings, merit a very large share of censure, and 
might, at least, be involved in general terms. I forgot 
to mention a thing that just struck me, relative to 
that hint of general warrants. Your lordship sees 
that it will require some delicacy to keep up that 
very right idea of your lordship's, c that they should 
recollect to what party they are obliged for that 
determination,' without seeming to put a studied 
affront on G. G., with whom an appearance of union 
at this time, and on this measure, may be very 

I had yesterday, on my return from town, a note 
1 A sum exceeding 500,000 was granted to pay off a 
debt on the civil list, without due inquiry or the production 
of papers. 

54 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

from the Duke of Richmond. It was to tell me that he 
proposed to dine with me on his way from Park-place. 
I was unluckily in London, and so missed of him. 

Sir W. Meredith's pamphlet is out, and, I believe, 
liked ; but I know very little of what is said and done. 
My brother has got a present of an anonymous fowl 
from the West Indies. It is not ugly, and may be 
curious ; he has sent it to Grosvenor Square, and 
takes the liberty of requesting Lady Rockingham's 
acceptance of it. 

I am afraid of detaining your servant longer. If 
anything should occur, I may trouble your lordship 
with it another time. 

Surely your lordship's sentiments about Sir George 
Colebrooke are as proper as possible ; and I beg you 
will not think I presumed to press upon you things of 
that nature, when I knew your hands to be previously 
so very full. I ought to ask a thousand pardons for 
troubling you in any way about them ; but they 
would have been apt to attribute my refusal to apply 
to ill-nature, or a worse motive, if worse there be. 
A thousand thanks for what you have done, which 
was more by a great deal than I could in reason have 
expected. Adieu, my dear lord, and do me the justice 
to believe me, with the truest and heartiest affection, 
Your lordship's ever obliged and obedient 
humble servant, 



Gvegories, Sunday, July 9, 1769. 

I was on the point of sitting down to trouble your 
lordship with a word or two more, on the subject of 
your last letter, when I heard from Will. Burke that 
he had seen Lord Chatham pass by, on his return from 
St. James's, and that he had certainly been in the 
closet. He did not continue there above twenty 


minutes, ID is not yet known whether he was sent for, 
or went of his own mere motion. If he was sent for, 
the shortness of the conference seems to indicate that 
nothing at all has been settled. If he was not sent for, 
it was only humbly to lay a reprimand at the feet of 
his most gracious master, and to talk some significant, 
pompous, creeping, explanatory, ambiguous matter, in 
the true Chathamic style, and that's all. If, indeed, 
a change is thought on, I make no doubt but they will 
aim at the choice of him, as the puller-down of the 
old, and the architect of the new fabric. If so, the 
building will not, I suspect, be executed in a very 
workmanlike manner, and can hardly be such as your 
lordship will choose to be lodged in, though you should 
be invited to the state apartment in it ; which, how- 
ever, will not be the event, whether the arrangement 
is made agreeably to the inclination of Lord Chatham, 
or of those who employ him. The plan of the court 
(coinciding sufficiently with his dispositions, but totally 
adverse to your principles and wishes ), would be to 
keep the gross of the present ministry as the body of 
the place, and to .buttress it up with the Grenvilles and 
the Shelburne people. This arrangement would partly 
resist, and partly dissipate the present storm. It 
would give them a degree of present strength, much 
wanting in this ugly crisis of their affairs, and which, 
it would be admitted, is considerable, without subject- 
ing them to the effects of that plan of connexion which 
is the greatest of all possible terrors to the Bute faction. 
Whatever they may do, or threaten at court, I should 
fancy your lordship's conduct will not be affected by 
it one way or the other. If I have any guess, from 
public appearance or private information, it is steadily 
adverse (as far as there is steadiness in any of its 
dispositions) to your lordship, to your friends, and to 
your principles. Your strength is of another kind, and, 
I trust, a better. 'The sole method of operating upon 
them, because they have no other standard of respect, 
is by fear. They will never give your lordship credit 
for your moderation. Your doing but little, will be 

56 EDMUND BUKKE [1769 

attributed to your not being in a situation to do more. 
With regard to your own friends, a certain delicacy of 
management (which is one of the things in which you 
excel) is certainly very proper, and much in the tenor 
of your whole conduct ; but so far as the court is 
concerned, the most effectual method seems to be far 
the best, and I could wish your lordship to choose such 
time, place, and manner for carrying through the 
business concerning the right of election, as will have 
most of a sober and well-conducted energy in it, 
without the smallest regard to their opinions or their 
representations. Far from shunning the appearance of 
a lead in this business, it would be every way better, 
that they thought the whole manoeuvre as much owing 
to your lordship's weight in your county, and to your 
activity in exerting it, as to the general sense and 
inclination of the people, merely left to themselves. It is 
the true terror of those who take the lead in the scheme 
of private influence, to find that the people have their 
leaders too, in whom they repose a perfect confidence. 
I had lately a short letter from the Duke of Eich- 
mond. As the disposition to do something relative to 
the right of election seems to spread and grow warmer 
every day, he desires to know from me what your 
inclinations were with regard to this point. I informed 
his grace of the substance of your lordship's letter, in 
the shortest manner I was able ; that you were far 
from adverse to some proceeding, but that you wished 
it on a plan more limited than that of the Middlesex 
and London, and confined nearly, if not entirely, to that 
single interesting point, that you seemed to prefer the 
method of instruction to that of petition (at least in 
your own county), but that you had said nothing of 
a definitive resolution upon that subject in your letter 
to me. As to the rest, 1 wrote pretty nearly in sub- 
stance the same to his grace that I had done to your 
lordship. Might I presume to sugge'st, that just at this 
time he may possibly expect to hear from your lordship, 
by the first safe conveyance. If the letter be given to 
his porter, it will be sent by th,e coach to Goodwood. 


I saw a person who may be supposed to talk pretty 
much the language of the Butes, when I was in town 
last Wednesday. The ministers are extremely alarmed 
at the late proceedings in London and Surrey ; and 
not less so at the late advices from America. In this 
staggering situation, I imagine, they would derive great 
comfort, and some support, by finding a slur cast upon 
the mode of petitioning. They have great terror from 
the circumstance of bringing the discontents of the 
people directly home to the king. From instructions 
they have but little apprehension ; they are a good 
deal worn out, and as such are hardly fit to be em- 
ployed on a business, new, unprecedented, and nation- 
ally alarming ; and they know besides, I suppose, from 
experience, that nothing much affects at ... but what 
is directly seen and heard ; and, in truth, this is the 
case of most weak and inexperienced people. It is 
from the fears of the adversary that sometimes one 
must take a direction for the operations against him. 
I beg pardon for opening this affair again to your 
lordship, especially as you have friends near you, 
among whom it will be discussed to your satisfaction 
in every particular. Your lordship has seen the 
Buckinghamshire advertisement. Lord Verney opened 
the matter to the grand jury by telling them that 
several respectable gentlemen and freeholders had 
applied to him to propose a meeting on the judgement 
in favour of Colonel Luttrell, that he had declined 
taking it upon him, as member for the county, but 
that in that capacity he was very willing to attend the 
meeting, and to act in conformity to their determina- 
tion. There was some, though but a feeble, opposition 
to the meeting. When it came to the question, eleven 
were for it, only three against. One was neuter. The 
sheriff refused to advertise, on which they agreed to do 
it without him. The meeting is put off until, I think, 
the twelfth of September or thereabouts. This measure 
of delay I attribute to the politics of Stowe. 1 The 

1 The seat of Richard, second Earl Temple, elder 
brother of Mr, George Grenville. Grenville, who was 

58 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

reason, assigned- is that the freeholders should be able 
to get their harvest in, and come in greater numbers, 
and with less inconvenience to the meeting. But the 
former, I imagine, to be the true reason, unless, perhaps, 
they may be willing to see what course is taken in 
Yorkshire before they begin to move. 

I got a letter, since I began this, from Charles 
Townshend (Tommy's brother). He says that Pitt 
seemed to be in remarkable good humour, on coming 
out of the closet. I hear, too, that Lord Hertford, 
whose eldest hope has been for a long time talking 
opposition language in all companies, has been at 
Stowe. If this be true, it is probably settled for 
a family system, which, in my opinion, precludes all 
possibility of a good event. Had the first offer gone 
elsewhere, they might have fallen into a plan of yours, 
with credit to themselves, and possibly with advantage 
to the public. This could not be the event, either in 
point of reputation or safety, if under the direction of 
Lord Chatham, and the lead of the Grenvilles, your 
lordship and your friends were to make a part of an 
arrangement. The court alone can profit by any move- 
ments of Lord Chatham, and he is always their resource, 
when they are run hard. I never attempt to write any- 
thing like news to your lordship that, when it is done, 
I do not begin to think myself very foolish, considering 
my own distant situation, and the lingering method 
of conveyance. You have all this, undoubtedly, more 
fully and authentically from others, as well as much 
earlier. However, I take my chance, and am with the 
greatest respect and affection, 

My dear lord, 

Your ever obedient and obliged 
humble servant, 

Prime Minister in 1763, was brother-in-law to Lord 
Chatham, by the latter's marriage with Lady Hester 



Beaconsfield, July 30, 1769. 

I have had a letter from Mr. Dowdeswell, in which 
he spoke of being here, or meeting me at some third 
place, in a few days. He has written something which 
he wished me to see before its publication. I dare say 
it will be able and useful. Dr. Blackstone has answered 
Sir W. Meredith's pamphlet. I have not yet seen it ; 
but it is more hot and bitter, by far, than able and 
satisfactory, according to the accounts I have had. The 
spirit of petitioning extends and strengthens. Cornwall, 
Wilts, and Worcester, have appointed meetings. The 
ministry move heaven and earth to prevent the pro- 
gress of this spirit, and in some places they have 
succeeded. Rigby got it under in Essex. I am told he 
has made the same efforts, with the same effect, in 
Norfolk ; and he is now gone, with his friend, the 
provost, to oppose it in Northampton, though that is 
a county in winch I should but little suspect & spirit 
of that kind, so that his work will probably be easy. 
I assure your lordship by everything that I can find, 
that both friends and foes look with very anxious eyes 
towards Yorkshire. The one very eagerly expecting, 
the other heartily dreading, some motion of yours. 
I hear the language of the courtiers is, that your 
lordship has put a stop to the design of petitioning in 
your county, and they have commended you for it; 
but I trust you will not long suffer the disgrace of their 
praises. Charles Fox called to see me, and I gathered 
a good deal of the tone they hold from him. He talks 
of the Bedfords in his old strain of dislike ; but the 
ministry is much more united by the union of the other 
parties ; things grow more distinct ; the ministry "be- 
comes more formed ; and the necessity of firmness and 
perseverance is every day more evident. I do believe 
that the Duke of Grafton has got new and stronger 
assurances than ever of support, and that the court is 

60 EDMUND BUBKE [1769 

fully determined to abide by the plan of the last session. 
If the humour of petitioning should become anything 
like general, they must, notwithstanding all their pre- 
tended support, union, and firmness, abandon the field 
with disgrace. They will not dare at least to take any 
step toward punishing those who have been active in 
that obnoxious measure. But it is their intention, and 
it will be in their power, in case the petitioners should 
be comparatively few, to make an example of terror to 
all future attempts of expressing the sense of the 
people, in any other way than by the votes of the House 
of Commons. I never looked upon this method of 
petition to the Crown as a thing eligible, but as a matter 
of urgent and disagreeable necessity. The course of 
thanking the members for their votes expresses, indeed, 
a dissatisfaction in the procedure of the House of 
Commons ; but it expresses also a submission to it ; 
but if we mean to get redress, we must strengthen the 
hands of the minority within doors, by the accession of 
the public opinion, strongly declared to the court, 
which is the source of the whole mischief. I cannot, 
for my life, see what can be done very effectual, as long 
as this parliament and this ministry subsist. I was 
surprised not to see so much as the thanks of your 
grand jury to your members in the newspaper. I should 
have sent it, but that I was not sure, by your not 
having published it yourselves, that you had not some 
reason for keeping it back. I should have thought the 
very purpose of these things to be the most extensive 

As to what I was doing myself, 1 1 find it more difficult 
to bring it to the present state of things, than to produce 
something altogether new. Various matters have so 
dissipated me, as to hinder me from a vigorous pursuit 
of this object. I had some nation of casting it into the 
form of a letter, addressed to a person who had long 
been in parliament, and is now retired with all his old 

1 This refers to the Thoughts on the Cause of the Present 


principles and regards still fresh and alive ; I mean 
old Mr. White. 1 I -wish to know whether your lordship 
likes this ? Whether you do, or do not, you will take 
no notice of my design. Before I conclude I ought to 
tell you that Lord Chatham passed by my door on 
Friday morning, in a jimwhiskee drawn by two horses, 
one before the other ; he drove himself. His train was 
two coaches and six, with twenty servants, male and 
female. He was proceeding with his whole family 
(Lady Chatham, two sons, and two daughters) to 
Stowe. He lay at Beaconsfield, was well and cheerful, 
and walked up and down stairs at the inn without 
help. I long very much to wait upon your lordship ; 
but until I have given Dowdeswell a meeting, it will 
be impossible. I have a fine turtle, at least I am told 
so. I believe it better to send it to York, to meet your 
lordship at the races, than to have it directed to Went- 
worth. Present my humble duty to Lady Rockingham ; 
her ladyship may now renew her coquetries with 
Lord Chatham. The equipage that he now drives is 
quite gay and youthful, and they may begin, as 
formerly, a negotiation about carriages and horses. 
With the greatest affection and attachment, 

My dear lord, 

Your ever obedient and obliged 
humble servant, 


Gregories, September, 1769. 

While I wait with some degree of earnestness for the 
longer letter you proposed to honour me with, permit 
me to thank you for the short one. It gave me as 
much satisfaction as I have received from almost any 
circumstance in my life. I do assure your lordship, 
that the supposed inaction of Yorkshire was a matter 

1 Probably John White, M.P. for Retf ord. 

62 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

of greater pleasure to enemies, and of despair to friends 
of every sort, than can be well expressed. The well- 
wishers of the cause now begin to brighten up and to 
entertain livelier hopes. I send you, enclosed, a letter 
which I had a little time ago from Whately. 1 He is 
now with me. On conversation with him, I find it to 
be true, which indeed I partly suspected, that a long 
day was fixed for the Buckinghamshire petition, in 
order to observe what steps were taken in other places ; 
and to press the business or to relax in the pursuit, 
according to the spirit in which it should be prosecuted 
elsewhere, especially within the region of your lord- 
ship's influence. But upon seeing the Yorkshire ad- 
vertisement, they have prepared a number of handbills 
to be circulated at and after the races, and are re- 
solved, at the same time, not to omit private applica- 
tions for attendance. They are confident of a numerous 
and respectable meeting ; though my opinion is, that 
they have been rather too late and too languid, con- 
sidering that there are in this county strong and active 
interests against us. I have seen the draft of the 
petition. 3? or the substance it is very well ; nothing 
very poignant in the expression, but nothing faulty that 
I could find. Some points, besides the great object 
of the petition, are hinted at ; but there is nothing 
more than a hint, properly and judiciously enough put, 
as I apprehend. They have not yet quite settled the 
plan of the procedure. There is to be a meeting for 
that purpose to-morrow at the races ; but the present 
idea is, that Mr. Hampden should move the petition, 
and that, if it should be carried, the Members of 
Parliament for the county, and resident in it, should 
present it to the king. Other gentlemen they did not 
choose to apply to on this occasion, for fear of creating 
a jealousy by a preference of one to another. I thought 
that, by all means, some gentlemen not in Parliament 
should be added, lest it should look solely like a man- 
oeuvre of politicians, and not the genuine sense of the 

1 Probably Thomas Whately, the well-known writer 
on landscape gardening. 


county. It is a loss of which I am very sensible, that 
the distance makes it impossible for me to have your 
lordship's advice upon every step of my conduct, but 
I shall act as nearly upon your general ideas as I can. 
I perceive that Lord Temple and Mr. Grenville seem 
prodigiously desirous of my paying them a visit. With 
regard to the former, I have promised it, in case of my 
going to Biddlesden, and did not decline it with regard 
to the latter, but promised nothing. I think they wish 
to mark in some very public manner, that they are on 
no ill terms with your lordship ; and I expect, in con- 
formity to that plan, a good deal of attention from 
Lord Temple at the meeting. I shall avoid going too 
far, not knowing how all this may end ; and, indeed, 
because I do not find that your lordship has at all 
settled how far you intend coalition with them. On 
this hand, I would not choose a very shy and cold 
behaviour, for fear of defeating any part of the end for 
which we met at the Thatched House, or showing any- 
thing of disunion, or mutual dislike, in the presence of 
the common enemy. This kind of behaviour requires 
a delicacy of management, for which I do not feel 
myself well qualified, having ever liked a decided 
situation of friendship or enmity ; but that is not 
always in my choice. I mentioned to Whately, in 
confidence, the doubts which prevailed among your 
lordship's friends, concerning the object to what the 
petition ought to be directed ; that some of them were 
of opinion that the application should be made to the 
House of Commons, and not to the Crown. He told 
me that Mr. Grenville had originally entertained doubts 
pretty nearly of the same nature ; but that he is now 
entirely in favour of a petition to the Crown, because 
that measure being free from any objection merely 
constitutional, and happening to be that which was 
first adopted, it would break the unity and firmness of 
that chain of proceeding in the several counties and 
towns (upon the preservation of which the whole 
efficiency of this measure may very probably depend), 
if we were to vary from the original mode of address ; 

64 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

that variation, with the departure also from the 
latitude of the original plan, amounting to no less than 
a condemnation of the whole measure, as far as it has 
been hitherto pursued. I confess myself entirely of the 
same opinion. It must be of infinite importance, that 
the whole stream of the petitions should, as much ^as 
possible, run one way. In an affair of this sort, it will, 
besides, be necessary to be as simple as we can. Every 
new controversy will embarrass us ; and in the meet- 
ings which may and ought to follow that of Yorkshire, 
if that county takes a road of its own, there will be two 
questions ; one on the merits, the other on the mode. 
They will have two patterns to follow ; and the disputes 
which may arise on the preference of these modes, 
cannot fail of creating difficulties, which may frustrate 
the ^hole design. There is another point, too, which 
a little affects me. If a petition is prepared to Parlia- 
ment, it supposes that the other petitions, directly or 
obliquely calling for a dissolution of Parliament, ought 
to have an effect ; and/ after all, what reason is there 
to believe that the same Parliament which has so 
haughtily rejected the petition from Middlesex, will 
listen to one from any other county ? If a petition to 
the Crown be voted, so far you proceed in concert with 
other places ; and it is no inconsistency to add, if that 
should be thought proper, petitions also to the Houses of 
Lords and Commons. I find that the people here 
expect that the other counties in which your lordship's 
friends have a powerful interest, should follow your 
pattern with speed and vigour. Lancashire is by no 
means wholly in the hands of Lord Strange, 1 so as to 
prevent the exertion of a strong spirit there, as well as 
in Liverpool and Lancaster ,* to say nothing of what 
may be done in the city of York, Nottinghamshire, 
Derbyshire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, &c., &c. It 
grows very late, and I must set off for the little meeting 
at the races early to-morrow. Whately is gone. Your 
lordship will excuse the blots, the paper, the inaccura- 
cies of every kind. I am just this moment ill-furnished 
1 The eldest son of Edward, eleventh Earl of Derby. 


with materials or time for writ-ing. I shall be -more 
explicit on my return. In the meantime I am, with the 
most real affection and attachment, 

My dear lord, 
Your ever obliged and obedient 

humble servant, 



Gregories, September, 1769. 

Our meeting was held yesterday ; the ostensible 
particulars of which Lord Temple took care to transmit 
immediately to the newspaper. I shall not, therefore, 
trouble your lordship with them here. Very little pains 
were taken to form a striking appearance on the day ; 
however, it proved beyond expectation. Aubrey x was 
the only person who seemed to have acted rightly ; he 
came into the town on horseback at the head of sixy- 
five freeholders. However, when we got into the town 
hall it was quite full ; there were not fewer, I imagine, 
than four hundred, many of them substantial people, 
who came forward to the work with a good countenance 
and an alacrity equal to that of the third regiment of 
guards. 2 Everything had been done to traverse us ; 
the terrors of the House of Commons were held over 
many, and the word was : * The king will despise your 
petitions, and then what will you do ? Will you go 
into rebellion ? * &c,, &c. The Tories in general stayed 
away. O'Brien, 3 in his speech, let fly at the Earl 
of Bute, and was rather for giving a more Whiggish 

1 Subsequently Sir John Aubrey, at one time Memlber of 
Parliament for Wallingf ord. 

2 Alluding to the employment of the military in 
St. George's Fields, in the spring of the preceding year. 

3 Probably Murrough O'Brien, Esq., afterwards Earl 
of Inchiquin ; created in 1800, Marquis of Thomond. He 
died in 1808. 


60 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

complexion to the meeting, than would be quite pru- 
dent in a county where the others were so strong, and 
in which some of them voted with us, though they did 
not choose to appear on this occasion. But on the 
whole he did very well. No Grenville, except George's 
eldest son, 1 a very sensible boy, and as well disposed to 
a little faction as any of his family. We were told we 
should have had Harry Grenville, 2 but Lord Temple 
found out that he was no freeholder in the county. 
His lordship, after dinner, made an apology for 
George's absence, declaring that he highly approved 
the principles of the meeting, but thought he should be 
able to defend it with the greater weight if he were not 
present at it. This was awkward, and awkwardly 
delivered. At the dinner it was thought necessary that 
the gentlemen should not dine all together ; accord- 
ingly, Lord Temple stayed at one house, and Lord 
Verney and some more of us went to the other. In 
order to preserve a harmony in our toasts, they sent 
them to us from the house we had left, where they had 
been devised. An attempt was made to insinuate 
a great deal of Grenvilleism into the meeting. However, 
something was done a little to balance it ; and a toast 
that had been sent down in an improper mode, about 
Yorkshire, was dressed by Aubrey and O'Brisn in 
somewhat a better manner. What think you of the 
three united brothers ? 3 The freeholders dined, as we 
did all, at a market-ordinary, for which we paid our 
shillings. Afterwards wine was given at the expense 
of Lord V. and Lord T . The first part was neces- 
sary, because the freeholders had been informed that 
there was to be no treating : and they were to be 
induced to come by the moderation of the expense. 
The other was proper to conclude the day cheerfully, 
and it had a very good effect. I take it the signature 

1 George, afterwards tHrd Earl Temple, and first 
Marquis of Buckingham. 

a A brother of Lord Temple. 

8 Lord Chatham, and his brothers by marriage, Lord 
Temple and Mr. George Grenville. 


will be general. Above three hundred signed upon the 
spat. We have not, I believe, two thousand m the 

county. . . . 

Believe ine, with the sincerest and most cordial 
attachment, rny dear lord, 

Your ever obedient and obliged 
humble servant; 



Gregories, October 9, 1769. 


Tommy Townshend called here on his return from 
a tour to the westward. We had a good deal of in- 
different with some political conversation. He talked, 
as all the world does, of the union of the parties in 
opposition as a thing very happy and very certain. 
I threw out a good many doubts of the possibility of 
a cordial or safe union for us under the direction of the 
brothers, or of their ever consenting to act with us 
under any other direction. Each of them had ambition 
and pretensions enough when they were separate ; 
united, their aims would certainly not be less, and their 
demands would be higher and more plausible. He did 
not see these difficulties in so strong a light as I did. 
I hinted that the brothers, having proclaimed their 
resolution to act together to the whole world, and in 
the strongest terms (to say nothing of the other two), 
we had not the least knowledge of the dispositions of 
Lord Chatham, or of what he would have pass for his 
dispositions, with regard to your lordship and your 
connexion, and that past experience had informed 
us of nothing but his enmity to your whole system of 
men and opinions. He has had some conversation with 
Lord Chatham, but seemed very reserved in delivering 
au opinion on his sentiments, if, in reality, he has had 
an opportunity of forming any. Lord Chatham, he 

68 EDMUND BUBKE [1769 

said, took every opportunity of speaking in the highest 
terms of Sir Chas. Saunders and Admiral Keppel, not 
only as great men in their profession, but as persons 
of the greatest honour and integrity. The frequent 
mention which was made of them, persuaded Towns- 
hend that he wished them to take some opportunity 
of paying him a visit, as it were to congratulate him on 
the restoration of his health ; and that he desired it, 
with a view of opening himself to them with more 
fullness and confidence in relation to your party. 
Townshend being a mutual friend, and having been 
formerly an internuncio between you, I consider what 
he said to him as an oblique message* He desired me 
to communicate these conversations with Lord Chat- 
ham ; I said I would to your lordship, but not to 
Keppel and Saunders ; but told him that the better 
way for him would be to call upon you himself, and to 
talk over the matter, when your lordship should return 
from Newmarket. Very possibly you have already seen 
him, and have heard more than I relate. I take Towns- 
hend to be a very honest and safe man, and yet, consider- 
ing Ms connexion with Lord Chatham, perhaps I opened 
to him my own political creed with too little reserve ; 
however, I told him that they were only my private 
sentiments, unauthorized by your lordship or any of 
the principal persons in your connexion; indeed, they 
were perhaps more than it would be prudent for any 
person of weight to deliver to any other than very 
confidential people just at this moment; and yet 
I foresee that it will be necessary to declare something 
like them strongly and openly. But at this minute 
your lordship has, undoubtedly, a very delicate game 
to play, in which you cannot disavow this supposed 
union without giving great advantages to the common 
enemy ; or admit too much of it, without the risk of 
putting yourself in the power of your allies, on the one 
hand, or giving them a pretence to charge you with 
breach of faith, on the other. I beg to put your lordship 
in mind of little Stuart, in his pursuit of the secretary- 
ship to the arts and commerce. When I showed his 


letter to Sir George Savile., 1 at Doncaster, I had no 
answer. I hope he is not engaged. The Quarmes are 
members. If your lordship should desire me to come 
to London, I have nothing to prevent it. I am, with 
the greatest truth, my dear lord, 

Your ever obliged and obedient 
humble servant, 





I send you a good part of what I have been medi- 
tating about the system of the court, and which you 
were so earnest to see carried into execution. 2 I thought 
it better to let you see what was finished, rather than 
to postpone it until the whole was completed. The 
design appears distinctly enough, from what has been 
done. If you and your friends approve of it, you will 
be so good to send it back, with your observations, as 
soon as possible, that it may go to the press ; when 
I have got through the concluding part, you shall have 
that also, and on its return, it shall follow the rest. 

It will be a matter very proper for the consideration 
of your lordship and your friends, whether a thing 
of this nature should appear at all. It is, in the first 
place, a formal attack upon that object which has been 
nearest and dearest to the court since the beginning 
of the reign ; and of course, if this thing should be 
supposed to express your sentiments, must put you 
on terms irreconcilably bad with the court and every 
one of its adherents. I foresee, at the same time, that 
the other bodies who compose the opposition, will 
desire c not to be comprehended in these declarations ', 

1 Member for Yorkshire, and a distinguished supporter 
of the Rockingharn party. 

2 The pamphlet published in the next year under the 
title of Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents. 

70 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

as G t G. said, upon such an occasion, two years 
ago, so that you irritate, past forgiveness, the court 
party, and you do not conciliate all the opposi- 
tion. Besides, I axn very far from confident, that the 
doctrines avowed in this piece (though as clear to me 
as first principles) will be considered as well founded, 
or that they will be at all popular. If so, we lose upon 
every side. 

As to myself, I am indifferent about the event. 
Only, for my credit, (as I fear from some particular 
opinions, and from this extensive previous communica- 
tion, I shall be considered as the author,) I wish, that 
if our friends approve the design, I may have some 
tolerable support in Parliament, from ths innumerable 
attacks it will bring upon me. If this be successful 
with the public, I shall have enough of odium ; I could 
wish it a little divided, if the sentiments should belong 
to others as well as to myself ; for it is upon this 
presumption, and with this view only, that I mean to 
publish. In order that it should be truly the common 
cause, make it at your meeting what you please. Let 
me know what ought to be left out, what softened, 
and what strengthened. On reading it to Will, and 
Dick, they thought some things a little too ludicrous. 
I thought much otherwise, for I could rather wish 
that more had occurred to me (as more would, had 
my spirits been high), for I know how ill a -long detail 
of politics, not animated by a direct controversy, 
wants every kind of help to make it tolerable. 

The whole is, in a manner, new cast, something 
to the prejudice of the order, which, if I can, I will 
rectify, though I fear this will be difficult. The former 
scheme would no ways answer, and I wish I had 
entirely thrown it aside, as it has embarrassed me 
a good deal. The whole attack on Pitt's conduct must 
be omitted, or we shall draw the cry of the world upon 
as, as if we meant directly to quarrel with all mankind. 

My brother x is ordered to Grenada, though his 3eg 

1 Mr, Richard Burke. 


is not yet in a condition, as his surgeons tell Mm, and 
as he feels, to conflict with that climate. If he goes, 
he goes I fear to death ; if he stays, he loses Ms place, 
with the mortifying circumstance of accommodating 
an enemy. This is not pleasant to me. 

You will present my compliments to your company, 
with whom, though absent, I am present in spirit ; 
I am, to them and to your lordship, what ever I ought 
to be, most sincerely and affectionately your attached 
and obedient humble servant, 


I forgot to mention an application to me from a Mr, 
Tyson on the part of a Mr. Mackinnon, a gentleman 
of Antigua, of considerable fortune, who lives at 
Southampton. He has some notion of attacking the 
members there, and has sent this Mr. Tyson to declare 
his attachment to your lordship's interests in politics. 
As I must understand his intention, I told Mm (hat 
your lordship's friends had resolved, as a general 
maxim, on not promising an election support, in a par- 
liamentary character, to any person directly or in- 
directly ; this, as strong as I could. I have since been 
desired to know what your lordship's answer is. May 
I venture, from you, to repeat what I told him, as 
a general principle of the party ? 


Gregories, Sunday, October 29, 1769. 


I am infinitely obliged to your lordship for your long 
and satisfactory letter, which I concealed or com- 
municated in the manner I thought most agreeable 
to your wishes, I found Lord Albemarle had not 
received the copy your lordship intended for him; 
I therefore showed him mine, and let Mason make 
a copy of it for Keppel and Saunders, when tl*ey 
should come to town. I showed it, besides, to Lord J. 

72 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

Cavendish and Lord Frederick. They all concurred very 
nearly in sentiment with your lordship, upon every 
particular. There was some doubt, whether our two 
friends ought not to pay the visit which, it seems, is 
desired, in order to hear at least what style he 1 uses, 
and what sentiments he would be believed to entef tain ; 
but they will do nothing without your desire. For nay 
own part, the more I think of it, the more perfectly 
I am convinced that we ought to take no sort of notice 
of him, but to proceed exactly as if no such man 
existed in the world. For though, according to Lord 
Camden's phrase, Lord Chatham has had a wonderful 
resurrection to health, his resurrection to credit and 
consequence, and to the power of doing mischief 
(without which last his resurrection will be incomplete), 
must be owing to your lordship and your friends. 
It ought never to be forgotten, how much the late 
Duke of Newcastle hurt himself, in his interest very 
often, in his reputation almost always, by his itch of 
negotiation. If Lord C. has anything to communicate 
to these gentlemen, he may send for them. This union 
of the three brothers will distract the country as much 
in future as their dissensions did formerly. I quite 
agree with your lordship, that Grenville is the most 
temperate and manageable of the three ; but he is no 
longer George Grenville, a disengaged individual, but 
one of the triumvirate, to whom, by the way, he brings 
all the following that they possess. Nothing can be 
said of him, but what can be said, with equal truth, 
of the other two, from whom, I really believe, he will 
never disconnect himself. All these considerations 
make me wish, as ardently as your lordship's partiality 
can do, that my little scheme was in a way of being 
speedily completed. I see, I feel, the necessity of 
justifying to our friends and to the world, the refusal, 
which is inevitable, of what will be thought very- 
advantageous offers. This can only be done by 
showing the ground upon which the party stands, and 
how different its constitution, as well as the persons 
1 Lord Chatham. 


who compose it, are from the Bedfords, and Grenvilles, 
and other knots, who are combined for no public 
purpose, but only as a means of furthering, with joint 
strength, their private and individual advantage. I am 
afraid I shall never compass this design to my mind. 
Hitherto I have been so variously distracted, that 
I have made but little progress, indeed none ; but 
to-day I began to set to work a little seriously. But, 
in order to produce something which, by being timely, 
may be useful, I must beg to be excused from going to 
Yorkshire in the next month. This would break me 
to pieces, and I think I may do more service here. 
Perhaps I may be able to send something for your 
consideration at that meeting. 

Your lordship's conversation with the king's friend 
was curious. I can be at no loss for the person. I am 
told he talks very loud opposition ; but let him, or the 
rest of his corps, talk what language they will, it will, 
translated into plain English, signify nothing but 
a, repetition of the old system ; nor can it be thought 
that by sending for Lord Chatham, they mean any- 
thing else than to patch a shred or two, of one or more 
of the other parties, upon the old Bute garment, since 
their last piecing is worn out. If they had been 
dissatisfied with the last botching of Lord Chatham, 
they would not have thought again of the same work- 
man. Perhaps, for that reason (if anything of the 
kind is worth a second thought), it might be as well 
not to suggest anything of our dislike of that person 
to any one of the sacred band : as their opinion of our 
disunion will rather fortify the court In its resolution 
of employing him in the formation of another of their 
expedient administrations. Indeed, as far as I can 
guess at their designs, by the discourses of last winter, 
or the beginning of summer (for lately I have heard 
nothing), they had no one point at heart but the 
perpetual exclusion of your lordship, and your whole 
system. Therefore, any look towards courts or 
courtiers, their liking or their displeasure, can be no 
plan for us. I am infinitely pleased with the resolution 
D 3 

74 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

in Derbyshire ; not so much for the addition of the 
voice of that county, but as its silence would, and 
indeed did, look like a renunciation of the conduct held 
in other places. I have no kind of doubt of a sufficient 
majority in Lancashire against all the interest and all 
the efforts of Lord Strange. The difficulty will be in 
the calling of the meeting : but I should think that 
half a dozen principal gentlemen would be sufficient ; 
and the trading and manufacturing towns would do 
the rest. Besides, I take it for granted, that our 
friends, Sir IT. Standish and Sir Peter Lyster, would 
exert themselves. I see, by the paper, that something 
is likely to be stirred in Lincolnshire. Your lordship, 
no doubt, recollects how necessary the co-operation of 
Lord Scarborough and Lord Monson will be, to the 
success of a petition there. Nothing, as yet, of Notting- 
ham ; Cumberland likewise sleeps. Is it not most 
certain, that the latter county might be easily brought 
into a petition on the Duke of Portland's giving it his 
countenance ? 

Since I began this letter, which was two or three 
days ago, I have done something, not wholly to dis- 
please myself, in the beginning of the pamphlet. It 
was necessary to change it wholly from the manner 
in which you saw it ; and I think the change has not 
been for the worse. Unluckily, I am broke off from it 
for about a week. Lord Verney seems a little hurt 
that I have not been to see him. I shall go to him 
to-morrow, and stay till Saturday. While I am there, 
I propose to pay a visit at Stowe. Not coming directly 
from Yorkshire, it will have no appearance of a political 
advance : and not shunning the visit, will not look 
as if a hostile air was meant to be preserved, if the 
conversation should veer, as it must, towards politics. 
This is the line I intend to preserve to the best of my 
power. There has been much talk of the chancellor l ; 
his opinions, dispositions, going out, or staying in ; 
but for my part, I look upon it all in the usual strain, 
of distressing the ministers into some bargain advan- 
1 Lord Camden. 


tageous to him ; or in the style of Lord Chatham's 
politics 9 to keep hovering in air, over all parties, and 
to souse down where the prey may prove best. It is 
thought Wilmot * will be chosen to succeed him, if they 
cannot make up matters among themselves ; and 
I think they have it in their power to make it worth 
his while to accept. I long to hear how they go on in 
Ireland, and imagine I shall soon have a good account : 
if I should learn anything satisfactory, your lordship 
shall have it in a short time, Stuart will, I hope, 
succeed in his little pursuit. He has been a great 
attender on that society ; but if he had never set his 
foot within their doors, he has but too much abilities 
for their paltry business. I heard, accidentally, 
a report which gave me much concern, of your lordship 
being ill, and confined to your bed ; but being informed 
it was nothing more than a boil, and knowing what 
good effects such eruptions have on your health, I was 
at length rather pleased. I beg leave to present my 
respects to Lady Rockmgham. Believe me, my dear 
lord, with the greatest truth and affection, 

Your ever obedient and obliged humble servant, 


I have just received George Grenville's speech, which 
I send to your lordship. It is not yet published. 


Beaconsfield, November 6, 1769. 

Will. Burke and I spent the best part of last week 
with Lord Verney, and in a manner much to our 
satisfaction. We paid a morning visit to Stowe, where 
we found Lord Temple alone. We passed about three 
hours in the gardens. I was prepared to find them 
grand and extensive, but insipid ; however, it turned 

1 Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Chief Justice of the Common 


76 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

out otherwise. I thought many parts very interesting, 
and the whole as well managed as one could expect, 
from grounds which had been improved upon two very 
different ideas ; and where the revolution of taste had 
signalized itself upon the same objects. Be they what 
they may, it was impossible that the gardens or 
gardening should engross us entirely during our walk. 
We had a great deal of political conversation. He 
was in good humour, and his manner was fair and open. 
Without seeming offended, the turn of his discourse 
indicated at times that he had heard of your lordship, 
and your friends, expressing a disrelish to their junto, 
though he did not speak out upon it so clearly, as to 
make me quite satisfied that this was his meaning, 
He said that as we had got to see one another, and to 
act together, he hoped there would be no retrospect, 
no charge, and no recrimination. That we had done 
each other a thousand acts of unkindness ; let us make 
amends by a thousand acts of friendship. He was of 
opinion that, let what would happen, the great point 
for us, and the country, would be, to get rid of the 
present administration, which could only be effected 
by the appearance of union and confidence. He said, 
and he repeated it, that, to be sure, there was no 
treaty, expressed or implied, to bind the parties in 
honour to one another, or to any measure, except the 
establishment of the rights of the freeholders. In 
everything else, we were both free : c we were both 
free to play the fool as much as we pleased, mark that.' 
He said these last words with a good deal of emphasis. 
Lord Chatham, he told us, was exceedingly animated 
against the Ministry. He was uneasy that the meeting 
of Parliament was postponed ; lest a fit of the gout 
should intervene, though no moderate fit should keep 
Mm from the House of Peers on the first day of the 
session. His opinion is, that the affair of the Middlesex 
election should be taken up in that house, as well as 
the House of Commons. I can draw no certain infer- 
ence from the last part of our discourse with Lord 
Temple, as it was rather in a matter of general specula- 


tion, than the business of the day. We talked of the 
court system, and their scheme of having dependent 
administrations. I spoke of this as the reigning evil ; 
and particularly mentioned the favourite idea, of 
a king's making a separate party for himself. He said 
this latter did not seem so bad a thing, if Lord Bute 
had not spoiled it. I said I thought it was mischievous., 
whether Lord Bute had a hand in it or not, and equally 
so. He contented himself with repeating his observa- 
tion, as I did by repeating mine, and we said no more 
upon this subject. On the whole, I was glad to find 
that we understood one another thoroughly, on the 
nature and extent of our coalition ; which once being 
mutually explained, will not render it necessary to say 
anything upon it publicly, so as to give an advantage 
against us to the common enemy. I forgot to mention 
anything to your lordship on the revolution in the 
India House. Indeed, I do not wonder that I should, 
the misfortunes which my friends have met with there, 
make it a subject on which I do not like to turn my 
thoughts. Sullivan has gone over to the court. When 
I was told this, I said to my informer, as I do to your 
lordship, that I could not blame him. His consequence 
in the India House is much more material to him than 
his rank in Parliament ; and as the whole opposition, 
in a manner, disclaimed and persecuted Mm, what tie 
bound him from disclaiming them, and looking for 
support wherever he could find it ? How he has 
arranged with Lord Shelburne, with whom he was 
generally supposed in connexion, I know not ; but 
nobody else had any claim upon him. Neither Lord 
Olive's conduct in the Grenville administration, nor the 
attachment he has chosen since, put him one bit higher 
with me ; indeed, he has not so much to be said in his 
favour. As to Sir George Colebrooke, he is just what 
I always thought him. He has shown himself even 
an enemy to poor Thibot Bourke ; but in the present 
circumstances, his conduct is natural to people of his 
constitution, and we must submit to it. I turn rather 
to a better subject, which this brings to my mind. 

78 EDMUND BURKE [1769 

It is Dempster's conduct on the occasion. He thought, 
as I do, about Sullivan's coalition. He told him that 
it should make no difference in his line in the India 
House ; that there he would as firmly stand by him, 
as he would continue to oppose his new friends in 
Parliament ; that his political connexion was with 
your lordship only, and would always be so, but that 
if Mr. Sullivan should find that course of conduct 
prejudicial to his interests in Leadenhall Street, that 
he woulct, at an hour's notice, disqualify for the 
directorship. This was what I expected from Dempster, 
in an affair like this ; not to sacrifice one duty to 
another, but to keep both if possible, if not, to put it 
out of his power to violate the principal. 

When I got home I returned to my business, which 
I did not quite neglect whilst I was at Lord Verney's. 
I find I must either speak very broad, or weaken the 
matter, and render it vulgar and ineffectual. I find 
some difficulties as I proceed ; for what appear to me 
self-evident propositions, the conduct and pretences 
of people oblige one formally to prove ; and this seems 
to me, and to others, a dull and needless labour. 
However, a good deal of it will be soon ready, and you 
may dispose of it as you please. It will, I am afraid, 
be long. On my coming home I found, by woful 
experience, that one of the news-printers has got 
a country-house at Beaconsfield. The old man that 
milks my cows and the old dairy-maid had married, 
and he has made a flaming paragraph of it. I suppose 
I shall be the subject of news enough, if this be the 
case. But I have sent a formal message, to beg 
myself off in the particular of my family here. I do 
not hear a word of news worth your notice. The 
speech I enclosed to you in my last 1 is to be the subject 
of some animadversions from Wilkes. This, I am told, 
is a half-secret. I am sorry, just now, that he should 
abuse him ; for if it be well done, the ministry will 
triumph ; if ill, Wilkes will lower himself, which will 
please them no less ; besides, it may be thought that 
1 A printed speech of Mr. George Grenville. 


he is encouraged by me, or some of your lordship's 
friends. Will, takes this to town, whither he goes to 
correct the sheets of Dowdeswell's pamphlet. I have, 
I believe, tired you ; and so shall take my leave, by 
assuring you that I am, with the most cordial attach- 

ment ' My dear lord, 

Your ever obliged and obedient 
humble servant, 

I hope the Lord Cavendishes have taken care to 
secure a full meeting at Derby. It will be very 
awkward if they should have neglected this essential 
step. Dowdeswell has desired me to go to Yorkshire 
with him on the 13th. I foresee, that if I do, this 
business of mine will come to nothing, so I think I must 
decline it, for I really think something of the sort 
wanting ; besides, we are to present the petition on 
Friday se'nnight. Your lordship will be so good as to 
present Mrs. Burke's and my respects to Lady Rock- 


August 15, 1770, 

My wife has had a very long illness ; it was a slow 
fever, with frequent appearances of amendment and 
frequent relapses. She was confined to her bed for 
above two months, and reduced in strength and in 
flesh beyond anything that can be imagined. But, 
I thank God, she is now up again, in good spirits, and 
getting forward in strength as fast as can be expected 
from the miserable lowness into which she was fallen. 
As to poor Richard, he is, I hope, by this safe in 
Grenada. His health was not very good, and the 
strength of his broken leg by no means thoroughly 
restored at his departure. But he was to look for no 
favour or indulgence from our present rulers, who even 
attempted to take his employment from him ; but in 

80 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

this lesser, as in many greater instances of their 
malignity, they defeated their own purpose by the 
bungling method of the execution ; and from shame, 
they found themselves obliged to restore him to his 
office, but under strict orders for departure, notwith- 
standing the testimony of the king's surgeon concerning 
the state of his leg. I think we may hear from him 
about the end of this month or early in the next. 
He goes into a bad climate, among worthless and 
disagreeable people ; but I hope the goodness of 
Providence, in his favour, is not yet exhausted. How- 
ever he may partake of my own inattention in writing, 
I do assure you he never failed to remember you with 
the sincerest affection. I am glad that you find some 
entertainment in the * Thoughts '. They have had, 
in general (I flatter myself), the approbation of the 
most thinking part of the people, and the courtiers 
admit that the hostility has not been illiberal. The 
party which is most displeased, is a rotten subdivision 
of a faction amongst ourselves, who have done us 
infinite mischief by the violence, rashness, and often 
wickedness of their measures. I mean the Bill-of- 
Rights people ; 1 but who have thought proper at 
length to do us, I hope, a service, by declaring open 
war upon all our connexion. Mrs. Macaulay's per- 
formance was what I expected ; there are, however, 
none of that set who can do better ; the Amazon is the 
greatest champion among them. Mrs. Shackleton is 
very stout in daring to encounter her ; but she would 
find herself unequal, for no heroine in Billingsgate can 
go beyond the patriotic scolding of our republican 
virago. You see I have been afraid to answer her. 
As to our affairs, they remain as they have been ; the 
people, in general, dissatisfied ; the Government feeble, 
hated, and insulted : but a dread of pushing things to 
a dangerous extreme, wlu'le we are seeking for a remedy 
1 The society styled Supporters of the Bill of Rights ' 
was established in February, 1769, by Wilkes, Sergeant 
Glynn, Alderman Sawbridge, and other persons, for the 
most part connected with the city of London. 


to distempers which all confess, brings many to the 
support, and most to a sort of ill-humoured acquies- 
cence, in the present court scheme of administration. 
As to our friends, we continue our old ground ; a good 
harmony subsists, at least in appearance, between the 
capital members of opposition. Lord Chatham behaved 
handsomely in rejecting the idea of a triennial Parlia- 
ment, which the jury of London, at the instigation of 
the Bill-of-Rights men, thought proper to fasten upon 
him in order to slur us, and to get some name of 
consequence to patronize their madness. I suppose 
you have seen his answer in the papers. Indeed, the 
idea of short parliaments is, I confess, plausible 
enough ; so is the idea of an election by ballot ; but 
I believe neither will stand their ground when entered 
into minutely, and with a reference to actually existing 
circumstances. If no remedy can be found in the 
dispositions of capital people, in the temper, spirit 
(and docility too) of the lower, and in the thorough 
union of both, nothing can be done by any alterations 
in forms. Indeed, all that wise men even aim at is to 
keep things from coming to the worst. Those who 
expect perfect reformations, either deceive or are 
deceived miserably. Adieu, dear Shackleton. Re- 
member Mrs. Burke, and all of us, with much regard to 
your wife and your father ; and believe me, 

Most faithfully yours, 



Gregories, September 8, 1770. 


Yesterday Mr. Bullock was elected, without opposi- 
tion, for Wendover. Mr. Collins left the place early 
that morning without standing the poll ; after having 
made fruitless efforts for some days before. By this 
feeble attempt, I hope the borough is more and 
more confirmed to Lord Verney ; and a few common 

82 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

arrangements will, I trust, be sufficient to keep it so. 
I wish your lordship joy of another friend in Parlia- 
ment. The event of this election has removed no small 
burden from my mind. 

I have been informed by the St. James's Chronicle, 
that the gentlemen of Yorkshire are determined upon 
a meeting. The advertisement is signed respectably. 
The circumstance of the sheriff's refusal to concur, 
seems rather fortunate. It gives an opportunity to 
show how strongly the sense of the weightiest people 
of the county inclined against the court doctrine of 
election and reprobation. I make no doubt that your 
plan will be judiciously settled, and spiritedly pursued. 
If no step at all had been taken during the summer, I 
should be apprehensive that such a stagnation would 
have been little less than fatal to the cause. The 
people were very much and very generally touched 
with the question on Middlesex. They feel upon this, 
but upon no other ground of our opposition. We never 
have had, and we never shall have, a matter every way 
so well calculated to engage them, and if the spirit 
which was excited upon this occasion were suffered to 
flatten and evaporate, you would find it difficult to 
collect it again, when you might have the greatest 
occasion for it. Opposition is upon narrow and delicate 
ground, especially that part of opposition which acts 
with your lordship ; you and your friends having 
exceedingly contracted the field of operation upon 
principles of delicacy, which will in the end be found 
wise, as well as honourable. However, the scantiness 
of the ground makes it the more necessary to cultivate 
it with vigour and diligence, else the rule of exiguum 
colito will neither be good farming, nor good politics. 

I do not take the liberty of throwing out these hints, 
from any opinion that it is necessary to use extra- 
ordinary means to keep the spirit alive in Yorkshire, 
but from a strong conviction of the propriety at least 
of extending it to other places, and among other 
interests, who have hitherto acted with you in this 
point. People will be apt to attribute a want of com- 


raunication to one of these two causes ; either that 
the business was undertaken in Yorkshire, and carried 
contrary to your lordship's wishes, or that your confi- 
dence is entirely alienated from your political con- 
federates. The former, I take it for granted, cannot 
be true, and if it were, cannot in policy be assigned as 
the ground of your reserve. The latter, when you 
have no complaint to make of the other parts of opposi- 
tion, might be considered as a style of proceeding less 
fair than has been usual with your lordship, and would 
give them the more colourable pretence of complaint, 
as it is known that the first proposal for a coalition in 
this business came from your lordship through Mr. 
Dowdeswell ; and however you might be supposed free 
to show what reserve or confidence you pleased upon 
other matters, they would think that they had little 
less than an actual right to expect communication in 
all steps relative to the Middlesex decision. If it 
should be thought proper that other parts should follow 
the example of Yorkshire, this communication would 
become the more necessary, that time and means 
might be furnished for proper dispositions. If your 
lordship should think it right to let the matter rest 
upon the Yorkshire proceeding, people may be desirous 
of knowing the grounds upon which it went so far, and 
yet was to be carried no further. I am informed that 
the idea entertained in Yorkshire is, that of an instrac- 
ti 8 0n to the county members. To me it appears that 
every objection which lay to that method last year 
exists, with at least equal power, in the present. I say 
this on a supposition that I have a right idea of the 
plan of the instructions. A motion to be made in 
Parliament for censuring those who advised the king 
not to listen to complaints against that identical 
Parliament itself ! What arguments could be used in 
support of such a motion ? It really appears to me 
with a very unparliamentary air. If indeed the 
members should be instructed to move a Bill for 
rescinding that obnoxious judgement, and providing 
in future for the right of election, and if such a Bill 

84 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

should not be carried, to decline a further attendance 
on Parliament, this would have a more practicable 
aspect, in the former part of it, and some appearance 
of spirit and energy in the latter. The other plan could 
only appear intended for the purpose of a day's angry 
debate, and that, in my humble opinion, but upon 
very indifferent ground. I have gone further than I 
intended in a matter, in which I am but indirectly 
concerned, and of which I am but an indifferent judge ; 
but your lordship has often, with great goodness, borne 
the imprudent officiousness of my zeal. Just as I had 
written thus far, your lordship's messenger brought me 
your very obliging letter, which gave me some insight 
into matters on which I was a good deal in the dark. 
If it were a certain thing, that a concurrence would be 
had among gentlemen to retire from Parliament, and 
to take the sense of their counties upon the subject of 
that rash ministerial boasting (which your lordship 
very judiciously takes it for granted would be used), 
to be sure, your plan would revive, much more effec- 
tually than that of your friends in Yorkshire, the 
spirit which, for some time past, seems to have been 
decaying in every part of the kingdom. But the doubt 
is, whether the precedent languor would not have 
communicated itself from the county to the Parlia- 
ment, and to every member of it ; I mean to those 
county members, or to most of those, who act in your 
system. Possibly what is done in Yorkshire may, when 
objected to as a partial movement, be still a method oi 
bringing things about in a manner agreeable to your 
lordship's original ideas. 

Lord Temple was not at the races Lady Temple 
had been taken ill in Dorsetshire. I did not go to these 
races. I saw Aubrey, who very civilly came to us at 
our election at Wendover. He told me that Lord 
Temple rather thought a meeting unadvisable ; but 
that he would take a hearty part in promoting one, 
provided Lord Verney and we were of a different 
opinion. I wished Aubrey to inform Lord Temple, 
that in a business of so much delicacy, and where such 


a variety of interests were concerned, no step ought 
to be taken from complaisance to anybody, but from 
a full and unanimous sense of the prudence and expe- 
diency of the measure. Lord Verney agreed to this., 
though he is much for stirring something. I just saw 
Charles Lowndes at the same place, who likewise came 
with the same kmd intentions. He is a right man, and, 
I make no doubt, much yours. 

I have seen but few people this summer. Among 
those few, were some of the courtiers. The court is 
fully resolved to adhere to its present system. ; but 
that if, contrary to their expectation, it should be found 
impossible to go on with the present instruments, they 
wiU send to Lord Chatham, not to your lordship or the 
Grenvilles. They are well acquainted with the differ- 
ence between the Bill of Rights and your lordship's 
friends, and they are very insolently rejoiced at it. 
They respect and fear that wretched knot beyond any- 
thing you can readily imagine, and far more than any 
part, or than all the other parts of the opposition. The 
reason is plain : there is a vast resemblance of character 
between them. They feel that, if they had equal spirit 
and industry, they would, in the same situation, act 
the very same part. It is their idea of a perfect opposi- 
tion. Will. Burke has seen Lord John Cavendish in 
town. His lordship is of opinion that some further 
explanation of the common sentiments of the party 
would be advisable. Perhaps it may; but I must 
talk a great deal to you, as well as to him, before I 
attempt it. It is a business of great delicacy of 
infinite delicacy. It is not here a matter of account 
and calculation not of a custom-house, and treasury, 
and counting-house ; but a talk of liberty and popu- 
larity, in which nonsense will always double-distance 
the utmost speed of experience and reason. How well 
these villains deserve the gallows for their playing the 
court-game against us at this season i I had a short 
note from the Duke of Manchester ; Lord Mayor wishes 
to see me. I take it for granted, it is to know whether 
you would have anything done in the city. I must beg 

86 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

some immediate advice from your lordship. The great 
difficulty will be, to prevent the traitors from bringing 
in speculative questions to supplant our business. 
I wish, for the moment, what I never wished before 
that I was a freeman of London. 

I will write to Dowdeswell ; and, if possible, I will 
be with your lordship at the time you mention. Will. 
Burke has seen Mtzherbert, who teHs him that Parlia- 
ment will not meet in November. Charles Fox thinks 
it will. Which is- the best authority ? I am sorry to 
hear of the very variable state of Lady Rockingham's 
health. I hope the settled autumn which seems coming 
on will be of service to her. Mrs. Burke is coming on 
tolerably in strength, considering the length and heavi- 
ness of her disorder. 

I forgot to mention that Lord Chatham has been 
three days at George Grenville's. He went through 
Wendover, on his return, the day of election. Be so 
good as to present Mrs. Burke's, and my humble duty, 
to Lady Rockingham. Believe me to be, with the 
greatest truth and attachment, my dear lord, 

Your lordship's most affectionate and obliged 

humble servant, 


Beaconsfield, September 23, 1770. 

I despair of being able to wait upon you this summer 
in Yorkshire. I believe that, just now, the attempt 
would be to little purpose. I take it for granted that 
you will be* at Newmarket very shortly. If, in the 
interval between the meetings, your lordship should 
come to town, or should wish me to go to Newmarket, 
or to meet you at your house in Northamptonshire, the 
ride to the furthest of these places is not very long. I 
propose to set out on a tour which will carry me towards 
Mr. Dowdeswell's. If your lordship would have a con- 


cihabuhtm, he would, I dare say, be ready to make one 
at your place of appointment. I saw the lord mayor 
a day or two ago. He seemed strongly convinced of 
the necessity of doing something to remove the ill 
impressions which were made by the unfortunate 
candour of one ill-timed speech. He is certainly a man 
of strong principle and of good natural sense, but his 
experience in the world is but moderate. There was a 
fine opportunity lost (the finest in the world) of taking 
the city out of the worst hands in the world, and of 
putting it into good ones. I "suppose the Duke of 
Manchester has given you a full account of our first 
conversation, so that I shall only trouble your lordship 
with the substance of the last. He had not seen Lord 
Chatham ; but he is determined to speak to Mm before 
he calls any meeting of the common council or the 
livery. This is certainly right ; and I think he is equally 
right in the style in which he proposes to speak upon 
the subject. Though he has not seen Lord Chatham, 
he could easily guess by a conversation he had had with 
Sawbridge, how Lord C. is disposed. His lordship is 
earnest that something should be undertaken, but not 
until the proceedings m Yorkshire are known. It 
agrees with our idea of taking up the two points of the 
right of election, and the bringing evil counsellors to 
justice ; but would have something added concerning 
verdicts and juries. This is, I dare say, by far the 
most favourite point with Lord Chatham ; partly from 
political views, and partly from his personal animosity 
to Lord Mansfield. But as the gratification of this 
animosity and the compassing of those political 
purposes, are much more his affair than your lordship's, 
I did all in my power to possess our friend with the 
absolute necessity of declining to engage in any matter 
of law, however specious, until we should have an 
opportunity of consulting those of the profession who 
act with your lordship. I said that the matter was of 
so much weight, and those gentlemen of that conse- 
quence and character, that it would neither be dignified 
in the party, nor respectful to your law Mends, to 

88 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

engage rashly, and without consultation, in points of 
such delicacy ; especially as it was the characteristic 
of your lordship and your friends, never to take up 
anything as a grievance when you did not mean in 
good earnest to have it reformed. He came into these 
ideas very fully. With regard to the instruction, he 
says, that he finds it objected to as a feeble and languid 
measure, preposterously succeeding others of infinitely 
greater vigour. To be sure, this is one of the obvious 
evil effects of the violence and precipitation, to call 
them by no worse names, of some of our late allies, who 
destroyed the series of all regular operation by begin- 
ning with the extremes. However, so the fact is ; 
languor following this violence will be as irregular and 
as ill-timed as the violence itself, and would be, to all 
appearance, as injudicious, with less excuse from 
fervency of spirit. The solution which he proposed was, 
to add to the first instruction concerning the right of 
election, a desire that in case the House should perse- 
vere in refusing to satisfy the electors upon that subject, 
their members might discontinue their attendance in 
Parliament. Not knowing your lordship's intentions, 
I did not undertake to propose that measure ; at the 
same time, as it coincided entirely with my invariable 
opinion, confirmed by everything that happens, I could 
by no means think of opposing it. I suppose your 
lordship has heard that the * Society of the Bill of 
Rights ' is hastening to its dissolution : sit iUi terra levis* 
I say nothing, because I hear nothing certain of the 
cause of their violent warlike preparations. 1 In the 
midst of all this tempest the ministers, I am told, seem 
much at their ease ; they are much out of town, and 
everything goes on in a vast hurry without any method 
or arrangement. Why they have taken these steps, I 
know not ; but I am strongly of opinion, that they do 
not portend a war, at least, unless the report be true, 
that a French squadron has sailed into the Axchipelago. 
I have lately read a good part, not the whole, of a 
1 Occasioned by the dispute with Spain, on the subject 
of Falkland's Islands. 


pamphlet on the late verdicts. It is called * a Letter 
to Almon '. They give it to Lord Camden. If it be 
his, I think his rancour far outran his judgement. 
Though there are good hits in it, and some part, as I 
imagine, very sound doctrine, he would certainly have 
answered his purpose much better if he had shown less 
malevolence and personal enmity in the cause. Has 
your lordship yet seen it ? I wait with impatience the 
result of the Yorkshire meeting. I hope my Lady 
Buckingham's health is restored, and that your lord- 
ship's continues. All here are well, thank God 1 With 
great truth and attachment, I am, my dear lord, 
Your ever obedient and obliged friend and 
humble servant, 



Beaeonafidd, October 21, 1770. 

I am sure you will have the goodness to excuse the 
trouble I am going to give you ; and to which your 
knowledge and your communicative character must 
necessarily make you subject. 

When I had the pleasure of seeing you last year, 1 
told you that I had sown about an acre of carrots for 
a trial. My soil is gravelly-loam, tolerably deep, but, 
in some places, a little stiff. As the seed was sown late, 
the ground not very well prepared, and the year in 
general, I am told, not favourable to that vegetable, 
my crop was but indifferent. So far with regard to the 
husbandry of that article : with regard to the eco- 
nomy, the success was worse. I attempted to fatten 
two middle-sized bacon-hogs with carrots ; after 
having been two months, or near the matter, in the 
sty, I found, that as they were young, they had grown 
pretty considerably, but continued as lean as when I 
put them up. I was obliged to have recourse to barley- 
meal, and in a short time they became as fat as I could 
1 The celebrated agriculturist. 

90 EDMUND BURKE [1770 

wish, though, to all appearance, no way helped by the 
previous use of carrots. 

He is but a poor husbandman, who is discouraged 
by one year's ill-success, where he acts upon good 
authority or pursues a rational principle. Last spring, 
I sowed two acres with the same seed. The ground 
had received a year's fallow, one good trench-ploughing, 
and two or three turnings, in the common way ; it was 
dunged early in the winter, so that the earth was 
pretty well pulverized, and the dung thoroughly rotted 
and mixed, by the spring. In the summer they were 
twice hand-hoed, I fear not suniciently, but the crop 
is very large, and the carrots, though not so sightly as 
the sand carrots, full as rich in colour, or, indeed, 
rather higher and finer ; a most aromatic smell, firm, 
and admirably tasted. I have sent two wagon-loads 
to London, for which I had six pounds, fifteen. The 
back-carriage of coal-ashes has paid my charges. I 
take it that the crop is, notwithstanding the many and 
heavy expenses attending it, better than a crop of 
wheat, according to the usual product of this part of 
the country. So far I am satisfied. Now comes the 
domestic use. Somewhat more than a fortnight ago, 
I put up two porkers of the Kensington breed. They 
have not made the smallest progress on the boiled 
carrots, with which they have been fed very plentifully. 
Last year, the bailiff attributed the failure to the carrots 
having been over-boiled ; this year they have been 
boiled less ; hitherto the event has been the same. The 
price of barley and peas is this year so high, that I 
should wish to persevere, if there was the least chance 
for succeeding; as I have a very great quantity of 
carrots, and the London market will take off only those 
which have a handsome appearance. Now, Sir, let 
me beg that you will be so obliging as to point out 
what degree of boiling the carrots ought to have, or 
where you may suspect that my error lies. The year 
is so far advanced, that I scarce dare to beg the favour 
of seeing you here. I have had a very uneasy summer, 
from a long illness of Mrs. Burke, or I should have 


endeavoured at that honour before. Once more I 
request your pardon for this trouble ; and am, with 
great truth and esteem, Sir, 

Your most obliged and obedient humble servant, 


I am to tell you, that whilst I failed in fattening by 
carrots, I have this year killed one fine porker of 20 Ib. 
the quarter, and two of sixteen each. From barley- 
meal, each fattened perfectly, in little more than 
three weeks. 


October 17, 1771. 

I am much obliged to you for the kind part you have 
taken, on the report of our friend Mtzherbert's con- 
versation about the author of Junius. You have done 
it in a' manner that is just to me, and delicate to both 
of us. I am indeed extremely ready to believe, that 
he has had no share in circulating an opinion so very 
injurious to me, as that I am capable of treating the 
character of my friends, and even my own character, 
with levity, in order to be able to attack that of others 
with the less suspicion. When I have anything to 
object to persons in power, they know very well, that 
I use no sort of managements towards them, except 
those which every honest man owes to Ms own dignity. 
If I thought it necessary to bring the same charges 
against them into a more public discussion than that 
of the House of Commons, I should use exactly the 
same freedom, making myself, in the same manner, 
liable to all the consequences. You observe very 
rightly, that no fair man can believe me to be the 
author of Junius. Such a supposition might tend, 
indeed, to raise the estimation of my powers of writing 
above their just value. Not one of my friends does, 
upon that flattering principle, give me for the writer ; 
and when my enemies endeavour to fix Junius upon 
me, it is not for the sake of giving me the credit of an 

92 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

able performance. My friends I have satisfied ; my 
enemies shall never have any direct satisfaction from 
me. The Ministry, I am told, are convinced of my 
having written Junius, on the authority of a miserable 
bookseller's preface, which I have read since I saw you, 
in which there are not three lines of common truth or 
sense, and which defames me, if possible, with more 
falsehood and malignity, than the libellers whom they 
pay for that worthy purpose. This argument of theirs 
only serves to show how much their malice is superior 
to their discernment. For some years, and almost 
daily, they have been abusing me in the public papers ; 
and (among other pretences for their scurrility) as 
being the author of the letters in question. I have 
never once condescended to take the least notice of 
their invectives, or publicly to deny the fact upon which 
some of them were grounded. At the same time, to 
you, or to any of my friends, I have been as ready as 
I ought to be, in disclaiming in the most precise terms, 
writings, that are as superior perhaps to my talents, 
as they are most certainly different in many essential 
points from my regards and my principles. I am, with 
the greatest truth and affection, 

My dear Sir, 
Your most obedient and humble servant, 


I only wait my brother's arrival to pay my visit to 


Mudyer Street, November 9, 1771. 

You will have the goodness to excuse this second 
trouble, on the disagreeable subject of our last Thurs- 
day's conversation. The discourse naturally spread 
out into great extent and variety, with regard both to 

1 Dr. William Markham, afterwards Archbishop of York. 


things and persons. This may tend to embarrass the 
single point I had in view, and the single light in which 
I desire it may be considered. I spoke of the many 
stories I had heard ; but as it is possible that their 
authority may be disputed, I give no great attention to 
them, and rather request that no sort of mention may 
be made of them. If your lordship should choose to 
speak to Lord Mansfield, I wish you would inform him, 
that though I perfectly despise the attempt of the 
court writers to fix upon me performances to which 
I am a stranger, as a colour for the infamous abuse 
they throw upon me so systematically ; yet, that I 
do find myself extremely hurt in perceiving that his 
lordship has not thought proper to discountenance the 
blending a vindication of his character with the most 
scurrilous attacks upon mine ; and that he has per- 
mitted the first regular defence that I have ever seen 
made for him to be addressed to me, without the least 
proof, presumption, or ground, for the slightest suspicion 
that I had any share whatsoever in that controversy. 

I am not such a child as to suffer myself to be per- 
suaded that the writers of these papers are not in the 
pay of the Treasury ; I cannot conceive it possible 
that Lord Mansfield can be ignorant of the existence 
of such papers. I cannot believe that he does not know 
they are written in a style injurious to me. The public 
does certainly think that, being written by persons 
apparently zealous for his honour, they are not dis- 
agreeable to him. There is no man who can doubt that 
the slightest intimation from his lordship, that such 
a mode of defence was displeasing to him, would long 
since have put a stop to the impudent licence of the 
instruments of administration. 

It may be magnanimity in Lord Mansfield to despise 
attacks made upon himself ; but I cannot conceive 
it essential to that character for Ms lordship to suffer his 
vindication to be converted into a vehicle of scandal upon 
a person who has hitherto been, at least, not his enemy. 

I beg to be understood, that I do not speak as being 
in the least affected by the general hostility of the 

94 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

writers of these papers, or their employers, which I 
hope I have in some degree merited, and which I wish 
them to continue, as some sort of proof that I have 
not been inactive in the performance of my duty. 
I am, with the, &c., 



November 24:, 1771. 

I received your letter at the proper time, but delayed 
my answer to it until I had twice consulted my pillow. 
Surely, my situation is a little vexatious, and not a 
little singular. I am, it seems, called upon to disown 
the libels in which I am myself satirized as well as 
others. If I give no denial, things are fixed upon me 
which are not, on many accounts, very honourable to 
me. If I deny, it seems to be giving satisfaction to 
those to whom I owe none and intend none. In this 
perplexity all I can do is, to satisfy you, and to leave 
you to satisfy those whom you think worthy of being 
informed, I have, I dare say, to nine-tenths of my 
acquaintance, denied my being the author of Junius, 
or having any knowledge of the author, as often as the 
thing was mentioned, whether in jest or earnest, in 
style of disapprobation or of compliment. Perhaps 
I may have omitted to do so to you, in any formal 
manner, as not supposing you to have any suspicion of 
me. I now give you my word and honour that I am 
not the author of Junius, and that I know not the 
author of that paper, and I do authorize you to say 
so. This will, I suppose, be enough, without showing 
my letter, which might have the air of being written 
for the satisfaction of other persons than I mean 
to give it to. I wish the satisfaction of fair or friendly 
men ; it would be vain to look to others. Most heartily 
I thank you for your friendly attention, and your good 
news ; and am, with great truth and affection, &c, 


1771] TO 95 



When your lordship is pleased so severely to censure 
almost every part of my conduct and character, 
I should be without all comfort if my conscience did 
not as clearly acquit, as you have decisively condemned 

I assure you, I wish to stand well in your opinion, 
and do not 7 even now, easily reconcile myself to the 
loss of it. I will, therefore, my lord, first endeavour 
to clear myself of 'that great and prolific fault, the 
source of so many others, with which your lordship 
charges me, the * not bearing to receive instruction 
from, my friends, and not being able, to distinguish 
admonition from reproach, '. 

My lord, when your lordship informs me (using 
what you tell me is the s language of the world ', and 
adopting that supposed language, )* that such arrogance 
in a man of my condition is intolerable } ; your phrase 
does, to my poor understanding, imply some contempt 
of my condition, and a very iS opinion of my temper 
and character ; and, therefore, might pass with a man 
professing no better than mere human feelings, as 
reviling rather than advice. I say nothing of the term 
of * ridiculous folly } , and that suppressed epithet which 
is so very easily supplied, and can be supplied by none 
but a very offensive term. 

These, my lord, and some other expressions, together 
with a general sweeping censure of my whole conduct, 

1 This paper, (the draft of which is corrected in 
Mr. Burke's own handwriting,) is in the form of a letter, 
which, judging from internal evidence, was doubtless 
addressed to Dr. William Markham, then Bishop of 
Chester, and afterwards Archbishop of York. It appears 
to be in answer to a letter of remonstrance from the 
bishop on Burke's public conduct, couched in no measured 
language, as the quotations given in the reply sufficiently 

96 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

might well make me consider your lordship's letter as 
designed to mortify, not to instruct me. The former 
effect, whether you intended it or not, it did most 
perfectly accomplish. 

You think I ought to show myself more of a philo- 
sopher in bearing such treatment. It is certain I have 
endeavoured, all my life, to train my understanding 
and my temper in the studies and habits of philosophy. 
In some few things, I fancy I am grown almost a stoic ; 
but your lordship's unkindness has attacked me on 
a side on which I was absolutely unguarded, and I bear 
it like a girl. 

If I do not act a proper part in life, it is not, as 
your lordship is resolved to suppose, for want of 
sufficient admonition. If my enemies had been silent 
(your lordship knows they are not), there are those 
of another description near me, who behold my faults 
with all the anxious sensibility of real affection. They 
are not more disinterested friends and sanguine 
advocates, than they are strict and faithful monitors, 
that keep watch on every action of my life. Such are 
those very persons whose warmth your lordship sup- 
poses to scare away truth from approaching me. Let 
those who see them and me together, judge between 
your lordship and them. But passing them by, when- 
ever your lordship did me the honour of your advice, 
if I was not always prudent enough to profit of it, 
be so good as to recollect what expression of heat 
from me attended the occasion, or what distant and 
unfriendly coldness followed it. Till the moment of 
your letter, do you remember a single angry word 
that ever passed between us ? 

Your lordship has fixed a period for your ceasing to 
exercise that part of the office of friend which consists 
in counsel. Pardon me, my lord, your goodness has 
been much more extensive than you imagine it. I 
could put you in mind of another obliging interposition 
of your advice, a good while after that period, and on 
a point, too, of public conduct ; I mean the advice you 
gave me in relation to the payment of the civil-list 

1771] TO 97 

debts. It is true, I was of an opinion different from 
that of your lordship,* and acted upon my own ; but 
you must know that, very soon after (as soon, indeed, 
as I could see you), we were apparently, as we ought 
to have been, on the very best terms that can be 

Your lordship, looking about for my faults with 
more solicitude than I deserve to be honoured with, 
rests in particular upon my having been formerly 
6 hurt at your advice, to bring down the aim of my 
ambition to a lower level, and not to look at an office ', 
to which, it seems, at one time I had aspired. I don't 
recollect the conversation ; very possibly your lordship 
did give me some such advice. Presently I will speak 
to the matter of it ; but you will think, I dare say, on 
comparing facts and circumstances, that I could hardly 
have been seriously angry with you on that occasion ; 
for if I was not angry with those who gave me neither 
that office nor any other office, but if, on the contrary, 
I have adhered to them with the most zealous and 
affectionate steadiness, in all their fortunes, is it to 
be conceived that I could show any real resentment 
to your lordship my close and confidential friend 
only for advising me not to look upon only one of 
those objects, none of which I could f obtain from my 
ministerial friends ? No my lord ; the thing is 
impossible ; your memory must have failed you. 
But if your lordship would persuade any body that 
my feelings on that occasion could bear a resemblance 
to those which tear my heart to pieces on this here 
are your two letters ; and if this were your usual 
style of admonition, will mankind be astonished if 
I always felt it on the naked nerve, and with the 
quickest and sorest sensibility ? But it was not j 
it was far from it. You never said such things, and 
I never had feelings, in any sort, like my present. 
Yet even now, with such letters on my table, am 
I irritated to any improper rudeness, or do I go an 
inch beyond the immediate matter of my grievance ? 

I know not what is contained in private cabinets, 


98 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

but I have never seen published in any collection, in 
any age, one resembling those which I have received 
from your lordship, except one which was written as 
a letter of consolation from Sir Francis Bacon to Lord 
Chief Justice Coke, upon the latter's falling under the 
displeasure of the court. This consolatory epistle does 
almost come up to the asperity of your lordship's late 
letters to me. 

So far as to my impatience of admonition : now, 
as to the conversation relative to Lord Mansfield. 
I must beg you, my lord, not to suppose me capable 
of that 'jejune, puerile, inconclusive, disjointed reason- 
ing ' you attribute to me. Be so obliging as to dis- 
tinguish in my conversation with you at Kew-green, 
the two most different things in the world ; the reports 
which I related as the first causes of my uneasiness, 
from the matter I wished you to touch in your discourse 
with Lord M. as what appeared to me irrefragable 
presumption, equal to proof, that his lordship did not 
discourage these attacks upon me. It is very true, 
that your lordship did not think I had any ground to 
be displeased with Lord M., and you did frequently 
divert the argument from the presumption I mentioned 
as my ground for complaint, to the town-talk which 
I related to you^ merely as matter of conversation. On 
that account, and on that only, and to prevent that 
confusion of distinct matters into which (whatever 
I could do) I saw you inclined to run, I wrote your 
lordship the letter you mention, and which you do not 

But, under favour, what I asserted of your lordship's 
not having shown any disapprobation whatsoever of 
the style and temper of my message, which afterwards 
raised such a storm, is strictly true. Your lordship 
does not dispute this fact ; it made the whole of my 
assertion, and your letter demonstrates the truth of it. 
As to the particular communication or message, I really 
think it more agreeable to the statement given in my 
last letter, than to that mode in which your lordship 
recollects it ; but this being a matter of memory, your 

1771] TO 99 

lordship is at liberty to take it even in your own way. 
Let it stand in the broad glare of light into which you 
have put it, and I can hardly think that Lord M. himself 
(the very party concerned) could hold it so shocking an 
offence, that, considering myself (though at a very 
respectful distance) his friend, I thought it not right 
in him to suffer me to be abused in a manner beyond 
all example, as the author of libels upon him, when 
I was sure he might have prevented it ; and that he 
ought not to be surprised if I acted no longer in that 
character. My situation was ridiculously vexatious ; 
publicly abused on one side for the civil things I did 
say of him, and on the other, tore to pieces for attacks 
which I never made upon him. 

I hope I am not mistaken ; but I would not put 
to the account of civility to Lord Mansfield anything 
that ought not fairly to be entered to that article. In 
my parliamentary vote, I never have consulted any- 
thing but the intrinsic merits of the measure itself, 
or its extrinsic tendency to do good or evil upon the 
whole. For this, he is no ways obliged to me, but I 
have more than once gone beyond the necessity of my 
argument to speak as handsome things of him, as the 
extent of my very limited powers would allow. My 
kinsman, Mr. William Burke, has done the same. 

If Lord Mansfield (I do not know that he is) be 
exalted on one side, in such transcendent stateliness 
as utterly to disregard my civilities, I hope his dignity 
is evenly and equitably balanced; and that on the 
other side, he could not violently resent the threat 
(as your lordship calls it) of discontinuing those 
civilities on which he sets so slight a value. This is 
but the equality essential to a great character. But 
if he be as wise a man as I think him, and such a lover 
of fame as he declares himself to be, he will not agree 
with your lordship in imagining the public testimony 
of an honest man, (not of the less value if that man 
should take totally a different line of politics), to be so 
' very contemptible in the possession, or so very 
ridiculous in the loss ' ; nor will he consider it as 

100 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

so ' horribly unnatural ' in any man who thinks that 
his voluntary and disinterested civilities have been 
met with injurious returns, if he, in his anger, should 
1 threaten to withhold them * in future. Few persons 
are altogether so stately, and I trust your lordship is 
mistaken in your opinion of Lord Mansfield. 

But supposing that my message (as your lordship 
calls it) were as ill-conceived and improper as you 
state it, you were under no necessity of delivering that 
message. You did not deliver it ; you were not obliged 
to deliver any message at all. The whole passed in 
private conversation between us two. How could this 
justify that torrent of reproach with which, on cold 
deliberation, you have chosen to overwhelm mymanners , 
disposition, principles, connexions, friendships, and 
relations ; the whole tenor of the pubHc and private 
conversation of my life ? Was this necessary, my lord ? 
Most men, in my situation, would think it an oppor- 
tunity eagerly taken, but not very happily chosen, of 
breaking by a quarrel a long friendship, which, if the 
contrariety of our sentiments made it no longer agree- 
able, in wisdom ought to be rather gently and gradually 
unravelled, than to be so very rudely and unartificially 
rent asunder. This, you know, was the advice of one 
of our great masters in the science of life and morals, 
upon occasions of this unhappy nature. 

I have done, for ever, with this business. In what- 
ever light it appears to your lordship, most people 
would think it a trifling error at the worst. But your 
second letter has opened a much higher order, and 
a much greater number and variety of charges against 
me. These are, indeed, so very grave and so very 
numerous, that you have given me a right to be a little 
burdensome and tedious to you in my answer to them. 
That answer ought to be full and satisfactory : first, 
because I had already frequently vindicated myself 
on several of these subjects. You remember the 
accusation perfectly, but by some accident very 
sinister to me, you absolutely forget the defence. I 
think it, therefore, necessary to place it distinctly and 

1771] TO 101 

permanently before you ; in order that a memory, in 
this one instance a little imperfect, may not be the 
means of misleading the best judgement in the world. 

In the next place, I would not, for any consideration, 
that my son should happen to meet such horrid offences 
charged on me, and on his nearest relations, by my 
seventeen years' friend ( by the very person who 
answered for him at the font ) without letting Mm 
know that I was able to say something in our defence. 
I would not have him come into life, oppressed by my 
imputed faults from my reputed friends ; that the 
innocent child may know, as I trust the world will 
know and acknowledge, that he has not crept into 
it from a c hole of adders ', to which your lordship 
(I leave you to'feel with what ^humanity and justice) 
has thought proper to compare "his father's house. 

My lord, I may have very little to leave him but the 
character, the friends, I would add (if I did not fear 
your lordship's charge of arrogance) the example of 
his father. It is most essential to him that these 
should not be rendered vile, cheap, or odious, in the 
opinion of mankind. In order to do him this indis- 
pensable justice in order to leave this little inheritance 
clear and unencumbered to him, I will consider your 
lordship's heavy accusation under the three heads into 
which it seems to be divided. 

First my conduct in conjunction with my political 
connexions ; secondly certain matters which your 
lordship charges to my particular account ; and lastly 
the various crimes which your lordship has collected 
from the private conversations of my nearest friends 
and relations. To all these I shall answer fully, dis- 
tinctly, and, I trust, satisfactorily. 

Your lordship, assuming the persons of others whose 
opinions you do not condemn, considers the measures 
of my party, ' in which I have been so forward to take 
a lead, as running the extreme line of wickedness '. This 
is what your lordship states as the description of our 
measures ; and as to our morals, you describe us (still 
stating the opinion of others, of which you express no 

102 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

disapprobation), ' as persons who first used their 
sovereign basely, and then sought their justification 
in slandering his character.' Heavy charges, both on 
persons and actions ! 

My lord, if by accident you believe that such charges, 
on such men as compose our party, are groundless 
pray, why could you not imagine with equal justice, 
aided by a little of not unbecoming partiality, that my 
particular part in those actions, reported from the same 
bad authority, was not more blameable than that of 
the rest of our party ? But if your lordship (as you 
seem to do) rather inclines to give credit to these 
imputations, then, rny lord, I do freely and cheerfully 
take my share in the measures. I take it with such 
numbers and such persons, both of our own and other 
bodies, that I am as well defended as respectable 
authority and lawful example can make me. Your 
lordship ought to pity me, under the influence of so 
plausible and irresistible a seduction. 

But, my lord, I do not secure a presumption in my 
favour, merely in the number and weight of the present 
opposition. If we have c run the extreme line of 
wickedness ', there are but few now in his majesty's 
service who have not pushed us very hard in the race. 
Some have gone over one part, some another ; some 
almost over all the course, along with us. I can recollect 
but a very few who can escape much better than I can, 
unless error is to be rectified by inconsistency of 

Whenever your lordship, or anybody else, shall 
distinctly specify any one of those measures, be it 
what it may, I will engage to call out some person 
now high in his majesty's service and favour, to whom 
I will commit the cause, who must either disgrace 
himself or fully vindicate our proceedings. If you do 
not harshly censure this ministerial advocate, permit 
me to say, that your lordship's jastice must necessarily 
suffer us to escape. It is not, I am sure, the fortune 
and situation, but the actions of men. which become 
the subjects of your indignation. I am really afraid 

1771] TO 103 

to join in your lordship's censure of our conduct, lest 
I should lean too heavily on some respectable persons 
in authority, and thus again become taxed with 'ill- 
treating some of the highest people in the kingdom '. 

You do not think I am going into the business of 
six years this is infinite. No ; I shall go upon 
general but very satisfactory grounds. If the measures 
we have carried into legislative acts be so extremely 
wicked, why does not the court, with the power of the 
nation in their hands, redress the mischief by repealing 
our acts and regulations ? If the measures we have 
proposed and lost were so wicked, we were wicked only 
in the intention, we have failed in the act. If the 
nation likes our proceedings, it enjoys the benefit of 
them. Posterity must judge of their intrinsic value, 
and of the prudence, the reach of thought, the decorum, 
consistency, moderation, and justice, with which they 
were conceived and conducted, from the beginning to 
the end. 

Upon the merit of the ministerial conduct, that 
of the opposition must finally stand or fall. The 
matter of some part of it is not left to the representa- 
tions of those that your lordship lives with. I must 
suppose you have not read the grounds upon which 
the opposition to some of the capital measures of 
administration have been justified ; works which ought 
to be perused by every one, before he peremptorily 
attributes * the extreme line of wickedness ' to the 
conduct of large bodies of men. 

As to ' my forwardness in taking the lead in the 
measures of the party ', I am not sure that I perfectly 
understand the nature of the charge. I am no leader, 
my lord, nor do I ever answer for the conduct of any 
one but myself. If your meaning be that I commonly 
make the motions, or am forward in laying the grounds 
for opposition, your lordship is certainly misinformed, 
I generally speak in justification of the vote I am to 
give, very late in the debate. But if, by forioardness 
and lead, you mean nothing more than that I do, with 
all my heatt, all my soul, and all my strength, support 

104 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

the measures I believe to be right, the fact is un- 
doubtedly true. But before the fact itself, or the 
earnestness with which it is pursued, be clearly 
censurable, the measures must be proved to be wrong, 
or to be unimportant. My lord, it is not my interest 
in my own case, nor my disposition in any case, to 
receive the assertions of my enemies as competent proof 
of either ; and as yet I have heard nothing else. 

After stating by an aposiopesis, the force of which 
mode of speech no one better understands than your 
lordship, that our party has ' run the extreme line of 
wickedness ' in the same mode you speak of them as 
having e used the king basely, and then seeking their 
justification in slandering his character '. 

My lord in one thing you do me great justice. 
You say that my opinion differs very widely from 
yours upon this subject. It does indeed ; it differs 
as widely as the remotest extremes can differ. To 
speak fully to the point is difficult ; to be wholly silent, 
impossible. The charge is heavy, and it is as general 
as it is heinous. Like the former, on the measures of 
the party, it points to no one circumstance of action, 
time, or place, which can particularize it. No defence 
can, therefore, be made, but by opposing to it the 
denial of both the propositions of which the charge is 
compounded ; and by showing, as far as general 
presumptions can go, the utter improbability of the 
existence of any truth in either of them. Indeed, 
my lord, you have been cruelly abused and imposed 
upon. I am sure I shall think myself happy, if the 
subject of my defence, however it may fail for myself, 
may be obliquely and accidentally the means of un- 
deceiving you, in a mistaken opinion of the best 
characters in the kingdom. 

Before I say a word further, I must observe that 
your lordship is the very first from whom I ever knew 
that such a charge was made. I never heard it in any 
conversation ; I never read it in any of the numerous 
publications on the part of the court. I have always 
heard Lord R-ockingham and his friends censured for 

1771] TO 105 

a behaviour, rather too reserved and managed for the 
purposes of opposition. But I make no doubt that 
such discourses as you mention are held. They are held 
very improperly. They are held with more mischief 
to the persons, in whose favour they seem to be uttered, 
than even to those whom they intend to injure. 

Will you permit me to speak on this business with 
a frankness suitable to its importance. Indeed, my 
lord, his majesty's servants have, in my humble 
opinion, made too free with the sacred name of their 
master, both in their apologies for themselves, and in 
their accusations of others. I wish the gentlemen of 
the court to consider seriously how well they consult 
an honour in which we have all of us so great an interest, 
and in which they have so peculiar and religious a trust, 
when they can affirm that Lord Rockingham and his 
friends have treated the king basely. 

By the tenor of the sentence, I must conclude that 
this charge of base treatment is fixed at the time when 
Lord Rockingham and his friends had the honour to 
serve the crown. Your lordship will recollect that 
Lord Rockingham was called into the closet a full 
year after his removal from office, and pressed to 
resume it with large offers for himself and for his 
friends, and even with powers still more extensive. 
Do these perons, so affectedly zealous, reflect in what 
manner they consult the personal glory of their 
sovereign, when they represent him as showing such 
favour to, and putting such confidence in, those who 
were capable of treating him with baseness ? Do they, 
in such a charge, consult the future connexion that 
ought ever to exist between the glory and the possible 
interest of their master, in case the convenience of 
his service should, once more, induce him to call any 
of those eminent persons, who are charged with having 
treated him basely, into employment ? But if they 
choose, on a supposition of the validity of the charge, 
to suppose that such an arrangement is impossible, is 
it then altogether for the king's advantage to persuade 
such and so large bodies of men, that they are pro- 
B 3 

106 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

scribed, and, as it were, disinherited by the common 
protector and father of all his subjects ? 

Besides, let me say, that though on every account 
the character of the sovereign ought to be preserved in- 
violate, and that, too, with the utmost care and tender- 
ness, yet there are other characters to be preserved 
also ; characters in which, though the subject has not an 
equal, he has yet a very considerable interest. Your 
lordship will hardly think it altogether prudent (I will 
go no further, for I dare not return a word of the hard 
language I received), wantonly to toss great names in 
people's faces, in order to put them out of countenance, 
and to oblige them either from shame to abandon their 
defence, or from warmth to say things which may be 
misinterpreted into a criminal disrespect. The former 
is hardly fair in argument, nor is the latter in morals, 
though it often may be meant innocently, as in this 
case I am ready to believe. It has the air of insidiously 
drawing men upon dangerous ground, in order to 
entrap them on it ; and this, if I were in your lord- 
ship's place, and armed with your authority from 
station and knowledge, I would certainly say to those 
who have the levity to hold such discourses. 

I would also submit to your lordship's consideration, 
whether it be right to set the people upon too many 
inquiries into these matters, that trench so nearly upon 
anecdote ? Certainly, my lord, the last thing the'people 
of England will suspect in Lord Buckingham and his 
great friends, is anything whatsoever of baseness, either 
done or suffered. They will inquire whence and how 
this surprising charge has arisen ; and possibly, in the 
course of such an inquiry, their censure may fall not 
lightly upon those who are capable of abusing either 
their ears, or the ears of their sovereign, with such 
a gross charge upon the best subjects that he has. 

Any prince might glory in having such subjects. 
He might well rejoice in finding that the persons who 
have always been the truest to the succession of his 
family, are most distinguished among his people for 
their unspotted honour and integrity, for their dis- 

1771] TO 107 

interested love of their country, and for every virtue, 
public and private. No wise king of Great Britain 
would think it for his credit to let it go abroad that he 
considered himself, or was considered by others, as 
personally at variance with a Lord Bockingham, a 
Duke of Richmond, a Duke of Portland, an Earl of 

D , the families of the Cavendishes, with a Savile, 

a Dowdeswell, and a very long train of names, who 
are the ornaments of his country in peace, and to 
some of whom he owes some of the greatest glories of 
his own, and his predecessor's reign, in all the various 
services of the late war. The public will not lightly 
believe, that the close connexions of the late Duke of 
Newcastle and the late Duke of Cumberland, have been 
capable of using basely a king of the Brunswick 

As little will any one credit the other part of the 
charge, that they sought their justification in traducing 
his majesty's character. Till this day they have never 
heard of this charge of base treatment, and, therefore, 
most certainly never could be put to this justification* 
But if you mean that they use it in defence of their 
measures in opposition, surely you cannot imagine that 
they are so miserably put t6 it for argument, as to have 
no other way of defending themselves but by traducing 
any character whatsoever. If they are alleged to have 
used such justification in parliamentary debate, the 
time and occasion ought to be marked. If in writing 
the piece ought to be shown, and ought with some 
probability to be carried home to them. If in con- 
versation the informer ought to appear, and make 
good the matter he relates. In no other way than, one 
of these three, can these persons have committed the 
offence your lordship mentions to be charged upon 

Avoiding all offensive terms, or any kind of recrimina- 
tion on their accusers, I simply say they deny the truth 
of the charge, and I trust nobody can bring a shadow 
of proof for it. I am sorry that amongst your lord- 
ship's numerous friends, you could find no one man 

108 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

under personal obligations to the leader of that respect- 
able party, who might long since have removed those 
impressions from your lordship's mind, and rendered 
my poor defence unnecessary. 

I have said all I mean to say in vindication of my 
having gloried in my political connexions, and in the 
part I have taken along with them. My principles, 
indeed the principles of common sense, lead me to act 
in corps. Accident first threw me into this party. 
When I was again at liberty, knowledge and reflection 
induced me to re-enter it ; principle and experience 
have confirmed me in it. Your lordship will find 
it difficult to show where a man, who wished to act 
systematically in public business, could have arranged 
himself more reputably. By arranging myself with 
them, I trust I have given some sort of security to the 
public for my good behaviour. That versatility, those 
sudden evolutions, which have something derogated 
from the credit of all public professions, are things not 
so easy in large bodies, as when men act alone, or in 
light squadrons. A man's virtue is best secured by 
shame, and best improved by emulation in the society 
of virtuous men. Most of my public proceedings have 
been in the strictest concurrence with that party ; and 
to your lordship's candour and mature consideration, 
I hope I may safely leave both the party and its 

I now pass to the separate account you have opened 
with myself, for matters of my own private conduct. 
Here, my lord, you accuse me of maltreating the 
greatest men in the kingdom ; you particularize, &c. ? 
&c., and you seem to think that I have not sufficiently 
' distinguished myself from useless declaimers who are 
valued only for bear-garden talents ' ; and that I have 
given the world an c impression of me, as a man capable 
of things dangerous and desperate '. 

This is the pecuhurn of blame, which your lordship 
has portioned out to me, and separated from the 
common stock. Pardon me, if I think you have your 
accounts of me from men of little moderation ; indeed, 

1771] TO 109 

from a kind and class of enemies, far below the 
common generosity of that adverse character. Has 
your lordship then found me, in the innumerable con- 
versations that we have had together for many years 
(which I now remember with a melancholy pleasure), a 
' useless declaimer ' and distinguished by ' bear-garden ' 
talents ? If your lordship has not found this in my 
conversation, (you will not affirm that you have,) why 
will you so easily give credit to those, who assert that 
I am of another character wherever you do not happen 
to see me ? 

My lord, I have written some trifles. They are, 
indeed, full of imperfections, but they are not altogether 
* useless declamations ' ; nor have they, I think, a 
great deal of the scurrilities of the ' bear-garden '. 
Some of them are written, too, on a subject of public 
controversy. But there I am safe enough. What a 
man writes, defendfe or accuses itself ; what he speaks, 
is but too much at the mercy of narrators, and I have 
fallen amongst the very worst of that odious band. 

Hypocrisy is no cheap vice ; nor can our natural 
temper be masked for many years together. I have 
not Hved, my lord, at any period of my life, nor do I 
live 1 at present, in societies where the talents your 
lordship alludes to are in any sort of request. I live, 
and have lived, in liberal and humanized company ; 
who, as they could never endure such a character, 
would be infinitely surprised at this imputation upon 
a person whom, at least, they tolerate. 

As to some little occasional sallies out of serious 
business, which you have been ready to commend in 
other men, and which, when not ill-executed, have been 
commended by all ancient and modern critics, I am 
sure they are not without their use in popular debates. 
For my own part in them, I can only say, that if I could 
receive any comfort under your lordship's displeasure, 
I have the consolation not to be equally ill-thought of 
by everybody. You know, I am sure, a person of rank, 1 
long removed from public business in which he had 
1 The Earl of Chesterfield. 

110 EDMUND BUEKE [1771 

much distinguished himself, and who was equally 
distinguished for the elegance of his manners and the 
well-bred felicity of his wit, has a great deal more than 
once repeated, without any very harsh censure, some 
of the trifles which less grave occasions have drawn 
from me in the house. He has even condescended to 
say most obliging things to myself upon the subject. 
That person, I assure your lordship, is not so poor in 
the resources of real politeness, as to be driven to supply 
his deficiencies out of the fund of ill-placed flattery. 
He is no way connected with me, in party or otherwise. 
He is too considerable to be one of my admirers ; and 
all I shall say is, he did not find in any of my little 
pleasantries, the relish of that celebrated academy 
from which your lordship is pleased to derive them. 

The attacks I have made are specified to be on 
Mr. Grenville, Mr. Rigby, Sir William Bagot, 1 and 
Lord Barrington. 2 You could lengthen, you say, the 
catalogue ; certainly you could ; for I have had 
rather more altercations than are mentioned in this 
list, and your lordship as certainly supposes me the 
aggressor in all of them. As to the first, I only desire, 
in common justice to me, and even to Mr. Grenville, 
that his court friends will not be too superfluously kind 
to his memory ; that they will not resent any injuries 
done to him, for which he had no resentment himself. 
Perhaps your lordship does not know, that I had the 
honour of being on the best terms with Mr. Grenville, 
which continued uninterrupted to his death ; that he 
gave to my kinsman, William Burke, and to me, a 
pressing invitation to his house in the country , that 
in his house in town, upon a business too which most 
people would think delicate, we had a long conversa- 
tion, wherein, without any dereliction of principle on 
either side, we settled the matter to mutual satisfaction ; 
and that he afterwards was so obliging as to enter upon 

1 Sir William Bagot, Member of Parliament for Stafford- 
shire, afterwards Lord Bagot. 

2 William Wildman, Viscount Barrington, at this time 
Secretary, at- war . 

1771] TO 111 

a very curious and interesting conversation, relative 
to many of the most essential particulars of his ministry 
and life. His brother, Lord Temple, is known to cherish 
the most affectionate reverence for his memory. I have 
the pleasure to assure your lordship, that I am at this 
instant in intimacy and on terms of friendship with 
Lord Temple, who most assuredly would not do me 
that honour, if he thought my difference in opinion 
with him, or his brother, had ever carried me to lengths 
unjustifiable among gentlemen. 

As to my supposed attack on Mr. Rigby, your lord- 
ship is then of opinion that, of course, I must have been 
the aggressor, and that it is impossible the known 
urbanity of Mr. Rigby's style of debating could have 
given just offence. I am at your lordship's mercy on 
the subject, and no disculpation can avail me ; only 
I am to do justice to the very handsome behaviour of 
your friend, Mr. Rice, on that occasion. 

Sir William Bagot, my lord, made two several 
wanton and utterly unprovoked attacks upon me ; 
I did nothing more than repel them ; the first time 
with great good humour, at neither time with ill- 
temper or ill-manners. On the latter occasion, Lord 
John Cavendish, a man not more remarkable for his 
firmness than his great moderation, interrupting my 
defence, declared if I had not spoken on the first 
occasion, he would have done it* himself, and have 
taken nearly the same ground. Sir William Bagot 
seemed sensible that he had gone too far ; he made 
some apology for it. I could name a line of witnesses 
to you on this business, above all suspicion of partiality 
to me, who know I was not the aggressor in the begin- 
ning of the dispute, nor the most bitter in the prosecu- 
tion of it ; and whether, on the whole, I did any dis- 
credit, on so unexpected a provocation, to my own 
character or to good manners, the House, who heard 
me with every mark of approbation, must judge. Since 
that time I have often met Sir William Bagot on various 
business, and neither of us appeared to have any 
remembrance of the altercation. But my offence, it 

112 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

seems, is perfectly recorded elsewhere, along with the 
rest of my indelible transgressions. 

You are kind enough to tell me, as the end of the list, 
of my execrations of Mr. Yorke during his last illness. 
I wish, my lord, you had not put my patience and 
prudence to so sore a trial. But they will endure even 
that test. No man honoured Mr. Yorke, living and 
dead, more than myself. I hold his memory in a 
reverence that is almost superstitious. I know; him to 
have possessed a wonderful erudition in all kinds. I 
knew him to be a person of the purest principles and 
morals, and of a strict and punctilious sense of honour, 
and that he was one who felt for fame with but too 
fatal a sensibility. Let me add, that I have myself a 
large part in his loss : he was much my friend. I say 
so, because I should count it impious to distrust the 
frequent professions of regard which I had from him. 
When your lordship gives me leave to know, that you 
hold me utterly incapable of the base act you charge 
upon me, I will tell you what it was that gave rise to 
that most malicious of all calumnies. Till then, I 
must content myself with assuring you, that the story, 
as you have heard it, is absolutely false. 

Now, my lord, at the black tail of this black catalogue 
of accusations, let me stir up the principle of candour, 
which all this slander has, for a moment, smothered in 
you, and ask you seriously, whether you believe that, 
in coming into the House of Commons, I entered like 
a wolf into a fold of lambs ' ; and with ferocious and 
savage fury, ' snapped now at one, now at another ' of 
those meek and passive creatures, without mercy, fear, 
or shame ? t . 

Does not your lordship think it possible that, in such 
a place, where such matters are agitated as will call out 
all of the wild beast that lurks in human nature, there 
are other animals with fangs and claws besides me ? 
Does your lordship think it absolutely incredible, that 
attempts might be made to putt me down, and that I 
may have been necessitated to make some strong efforts 
to keep myself up ? Do you seriously think that the 

1771] TO 113 

understandings of your narrators are better disciplined 
in the duties and decorums of public life than mine ? 
Do you imagine that they are not equally liable to 
passions similar to mine, which may mislead them in 
the representation, possibly in the conception of my 
conduct ? Have they not interests far more consider- 
able than mine, which may as naturally bias them from 
the straight line of their duty ? You were e overborne ', 
you say, when you did me the very great honour of 
becoming my advocate, ' by the number of charges 
against me.' I am sorry that you threw up your brief 
so early, and that I lost, on such an insufficient ground, 
all the advantage of your lordship's goodness and 
ability ; because it is evidently not the number, but 
the truth of the charges, that ought to prevail in any 
equal tribunal. If it should be otherwise, nothing will 
save me, either now or in future ; for you may be very- 
sure that, as many as my actions are, just so many will 
be the charges of my enemies. Did your lordship ever 
hear of a man, acting in public, who was free from 
them ? If I were, with all expressions of tenderness, 
friendship, and compassion, to write down but one-half 
of the language of their enemies, concerning any given 
public persons whom you know and esteem, I am very 
much afraid, if I sent it to you, your lordship would 
think it little else than a libel ; if I sent it to any of 
themselves, you would think it a gross insult. 

Suppose that one of the best friends they have, were 
to make such a collection, for the instruction and 
entertainment of Lord Chatham or Lord Mansfield, 
the Duke of Grafton or of Lord North. They are 
greater men than I ; they have the advantage of 
their dignity. Worse things have been said of them. 
Your lordship does not think that the eminence of 
their station ought to make the hearing of truth less 
necessary to them, or make it less proper for them to 
hear it with temper. In what light would you consider 
such a communication to these persons : even though 
it were made lest they should happen not to be apprised 
of the tone of their enemies, or be unacquainted with 

114 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

the language of an uniform series of five years 5 daily 
newspapers ? 

I know well enough what my enemies say : I know 
too what my conscience answers to their malice. My 
public conduct, co -extensive with my largest relation, 
must be my glory or my shame. Has your lordship 
found one single part of it to be praiseworthy ? 

If I act in party, you more than insinuate that the 
party runs the extreme line of wickedness ; if I act 
alone, then I have some wickedness of supererogation 
beyond that line ; some eccentric crimes to answer for. 
In every altercation I am the aggressor ; my debate is 
declamation ; my railing, the bear-garden ; in my 
motions, I show myself capable of things dangerous 
and desperate ; the daily conversations of my friends 
and relations, are guilty of all the malignity of treason ; 
my house, by the deductions of no exceptionable logic, 
easily taken for ML hole of adders. 

My lord, all this and more-, are your sentiments of 
me, I trust expressed in anger, and in the vehemence 
of a mistaken zeal ; from which no talents, nor situa- 
tion, will always exempt even men of piety and virtue. 
If, indeed, you censure many material parts of my little 
public system, I do not wonder that you condemn the 

My principles are all settled and arranged, and 
indeed, at my time of life, and after so much reading 
and reflexion, I should be ashamed to be caught at 
hesitation and doubt, when I ought to be in the midst 
of action, not as I have seen some to be, as Milton says, 
* unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.' However, 
this necessary use of the principles I have will not make 
me shut my ears to others which, as yet, I have not, 
only I wish to act upon some that are rational. 

' I ill-treat the first men in the kingdom.' If you 
show me that in no case this may be my duty, I will 
confess I am in the wrong. I am a respecter of autho- 
rity ; but, my lord, I execute my share of an important 
magistracy ; and I conceive that it may happen to be 
part of my office to accuse, and even very ill-treat, the 

1771] TO 115 

first men in the kingdom. Would your lordship have 
me so treat clerks in office, who transcribe letters, or 
sergeants of the guard, who execute orders ? 

4 I attacked Lord Barrington : ' I did so ; and, 
let me add, I attacked Lord Weymouth as much as 
him ; and I attacked Lord Hillsborough as much as 
either, though on another ground. But I did this in 
a regular, sober, constitutional manner. However, 
I bear your censure the better, as I am absolutely 
satisfied that, to this minute, you neither know a single 
ground on which I made the attack, nor the temper with 
which I conducted myself, in any of the proceedings 
upon which you charge me. I never made more than 
two motions. As to that on St. George's Fields, I did 
in effect repeat it ; and I never slept so happily as after 
I had discharged myself of that accusation. I now 
give over the pursuit, not as blameable, but hopeless. 
It was, indeed, very nearly what your lordship calls it, 
a proceeding ' dangerous and desperate ' ; desperate 
as to hope of success, dangerous, as it has been a 
means of forfeiting your good opinion. To its object 
it proved very innoxious ; it has not diminished a 
shilling of Lord Barrington's salary. But if it had 
succeeded, I have no doubt that very salutary effects 
to the public would have followed from it. 

I acted to the best of my judgement. It would be 
hard to find a bad motive for my conduct in this 
particular. I am a man of none but civil talents, such 
as they are ; and I can have no views from a state of 
disorder and confusion ; no, not more even than your 

Your lordship tells me * it is not what pretensions 
I may have, but what the world will choose to allow 
me.' What pretensions, my lord, am I making to 
anything that the world has to allow or to refuse ? 
I make no pretensions, my lord, but those which, with 
God's blessing, no power can take from me ; those of 
doing my duty agreeably to my own ideas, within the 
laws of the land, and the rules and orders of the body 
to which I belong ; and I will do that duty with such 

116 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

vigour, or such remission, as I may think will best 
answer the purpose of my trust. If by pretensions you 
mean places, I solicit none, and I really think I never 
shall; though I would very gladly serve the Crown, 
and be of use to my own family, if I could do it with 

Your lordship, whose mean opinion of me I lament, 
but cannot avoid, formerly thought it (as you now tell 
me) insanity in me to look to an employment then 
vacant. This matter of mad ambition give me leave 
to explain. 

Lord Rockinghaxn, as you observe, and as I knew, 
was on the point of being turned out of office. I had 
observed, what I might do without great sagacity, that 
the having filled any considerable place, did raise the 
credit and authority of men much higher than any 
other circumstance whatever. Looking for what has 
happened, a long minority, I thought the name of 
such an employment might be of some use, for (as 
your lordship may, if you please, guess) I never meant 
to keep it. However mad this idea may have been, it 
only floated on my mind. I talked to a friend or two, 
and beat the thing backward and forward in conversa- 
tion. The ministry was changed a very few days after. 
It was no formed project : I never so much as spoke 
to Lord Rockingham upon it; this he knows, and 
there is the whole of my madness. 

Your lordship at that time, you say, advised me 
to make ' a seat at the Board of Trade my object '. 
I dare say you did, though I confess I forget the 
conversation. It is undoubtedly a very honourable 
employment, and much above my deserts ; if the 
parallel was only between that office and those deserts . 
That place was, however, not my object ; among other 
reasons for one that was very obvious, that there was 
then no vacancy. The employment, to which I wished 
the nomination, was open. 

Your lordship thought, and still seems to think me 
insane, in wishing that employment upon another idea ; 
because I had then only been private secretary to 

1771] TO 117 

a minister. This oblique insinuation I might leave 
where I found it, if I did not think that your lordship 
grounded your opinion on very mistaken principles, 
whatever the merit of the particular matter then in 
question might have been. I must, therefore, beg 
leave again humbly to express my sentiments, though 
they should again be treated as the effect of frenzy. 

I did not ground my pretensions on any supposed 
rank of private secretary. This employment I knew, 
as well as anybody did, formed no pretension ; because 
it was no known office, nor bears any rank whatsoever 
in the State. But I conceived then, and still do so, 
that the rule of preferment in the offices of this kingdom, 
is not MEBE official gradation. The rank in office is to 
be rated by the rank which men hold in Parliament, and 
by that only. This rank, though not exactly definable, 
is very easily understood ; and the name and thing 
have been much in the mouths of all public men. If 
the rule of official rank were any other, the consequence, 
according to my ideas, would obviously tend to the 
utter relinquishment of any but the most slavish and 
passive conduct, in all those who ever look to the 
service of the State. Indeed, it would be fatal to the 
State itself. 

On your lordship's standard I must have very low 
hopes, or none at all. I have no more official pretensions 
now than I had the first hour of my election. I there- 
fore, my lord, refuse to admit your lordship's rule, and 
I am authorized not only by reason but by practice. 
Many have made their first step as high as that you 
allude to, and much higher, and all from parliamentary, 
not official ground. I do not name them, for fear of 
your lordship's censure of arrogance in the comparison. 
But, my lord, other gentlemen held actually that very 
office afterwards which I wished for only in designation ; 
who, though I very highly respect them, I will not 
believe stood higher on parliamentary ground than 
I did. 

I think, my lord, very poorly of Ned Burke or his 
pretensions ; but, by the blessing of God, the just 

118 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

claims of active members of Parliament shall never be 
lowered in the estimation of mankind by my personal 
or official insignificance. The dignity of the House 
shall not be sunk by my coming into it. At the same 
time, my lord, I shall keep free from presumption. If 
ever things should stand in such a situation as to entitle 
me to look to office, it is my friends who must discover 
the place I hold in Parliament, I never shall explain it. 
Rank is not my object for my own sake, I assure you ; 
for if ever I were to ask for employment (as I shall not), 
vanity would not be my guide in my requests. Some 
service to my own honest interests, and to those of 
others, would be my rule. For I protest most solemnly 
that, in my eye, situated as I am, and thinking as I do 
of the intrinsic dignity of an active but independent 
member of Parliament, I should look upon the highest 
office the subject could aspire to, as an object rather of 
humiliation than of pride. It would very much arrange 
me in point of convenience ; it would 'do nothing for 
me in point of honour. 

To purge away all further symptoms of insanity, in 
not admitting your lordship's rule of official gradation, 
permit me to say, that even at the time you allude to, 
I was not very young, but as much a man as I am now, 
and as fit for any kind of business. I was as little 
inclined to the course of changing about with every 
wind, without regard to men or things ; and when you 
combine these two circumstances, of time of life and 
some aim at uniformity of conduct, the madness would 
be in acting upon the ground taken from official grada- 
tion, and not from parliamentary rank ,* even if such 
ground had been thought of in this country, or that 
rule had been laid down for any man in it except myself. 
My friends know whether I have harassed them with 
requests, or whether my pretensions ever deranged 
their business, or disturbed their quiet. Till they 
complain, every one else, methinks, may well be silent. 

I could say a great deal on the ground of men's 
pretensions in this country, but there is more than 
enough for both of us. Your lordship has compelled 

1771] TO 119 

me to speak more than I wish, upon places and employ- 
ments. It is a subject not often in my thoughts, nor 
likely to be greatly my concern, even though your 
lordship has removed the terrors of the proscription 
which hung over me, by securing me an asylum in my 
native insignificance. This humble cottage, which is 
not to be shaken even pulsante Caesarea manrt, I take 
refuge in most joyfully. Your lordship is so conde- 
scending, to offer to enter it along with me, but I beg 
you to go no further than the door ; it is, indeed, a 
sort of lodging as unsuitable to your dignity as to your 

Your lordship tells me that my ideas of that pro- 
scription had arisen only from my imagination having 
outrun my judgement. I have no such races between 
my imagination and my judgement, as your lordship, 
who speaks the language of my enemies"like a native, 
is pleased to suppose. They have no king's plate before 
them to animate the contention. They are a pair of 
slow and orderly beasts of very little figure, but fit 
enough to draw together, and, I trust, to pull them- 
selves and their poor master out of all the mire into 
which our enemies have endeavoured to plunge us. 
It was neither my arrogance, nor my irregular imagina- 
tion, that induced me to think as I did. Your lordship 
told me c that I might put it out of tJie 'power of any 
possible administration to serve me '. Who is there 
but the king, who can restrain the powers of any 
possible administration ? And when you assured me 
that ' this was most certainty true ', I did believe you 
said it upon some good authority ; I did not say whose 
authority it was. It was, my lord, my ignorance of 
courts, not my arrogance, that made me put this plain 
interpretation upon plain words. Por, knowing those 
of high place only by hearsay, I have read, that mon- 
archs in former days had sometimes been, by advisers 
very unlike themselves, induced to turn the tremendous 
majesty of their resentments on objects as low and 
unworthy as myself. Your lordship wiH, therefore, 
pardon this error, in which there was nothing worse 

120 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

than, what is inevitable to a man of iny condition, 
a want of knowledge of the great world. "This probable 
proscription thai; I had so much dreaded, I am now, it 
seems, only to understand as your lordship's own con- 
jecture, arising from the favourable light under which 
you have been, for some time, accustomed to behold 
my conduct. As to e your having no pain in doing ill- 
natured things ', I knew and felt a man of the very 
reverse character ; but in your lordship's letters, I 
know nothing of my old friend but the handwriting, 
which I know but too well. 

After giving the testimony of my enemies, as grounds 
of charge against me, your lordship comes to their 
assistance, towards the close of your letter, with a little 
of your own ; and this too for a purpose, which, even 
after all I had read, did not a little astonish me. It 
was in justification of the libellers for having fixed on 
me as the author of Junius, from a resemblance whieh 
your lordship supposes my house bears to e an hole of 
adders *. My lord, I am sorry to find that these writers 
have so able an advocate, which, though they stand 
in need of, I have not at all the charity to wish them. 
But since these worthy gentlemen are under your 
lordship's protection, I say not one word against them, 
except that, in this instance, they did not reason logi- 
cally, nor draw their conclusions in any good form. 
For, passing that most obliging simile of ' the adders' 
hole ' as not in strict argument, I did not c furnish the 
premises ' your lordship supposes ; and if I had, the 
conclusion of these gentlemen was irregular. IPor, 
supposing all your lordship says was not very greatly 
mistaken, how does it follow from the discourses of 
my friends, that I am the author of Junius, as these 
worthy persons peremptorily assert ? Let me advance 
a step further, and suppose that the discourses which 
your lordship charges on my friends were not theirs, 
but my own ; it must be proved that no other persons 
have held similar discourses, before the singular propo- 
sition of the conclusion could be valid against me. 
Hardly as your lordship thinks of us, you will scarcely 

1771] TO 121 

assert that we have a monopoly of such discourse. 
Indeed, there is no putting this argument in any way 
in which it will do ; and I must still think as I did 
before, that these gentlemen or their employers did not 
act in a manner altogether justifiable in drawing such 
a conclusion, from any premises with which your letter 
supposes them to have been furnished. Nothing but 
your good nature, which is always in existence, but, 
unfortunately for me, transferred to my worst enemies, 
could make you entertain a better opinion of that sort 
of logic. 

My lord, this part of your letter is indeed very 
serious. The crimes are high, the accuser of great 
authority, and the persons accused my nearest and 
dearest friends. You would think me, I am sure, the 
basest of friends, the worst of brothers, and the most 
unworthy and unnatural of all men, if I took in very 
good part, and as an act of kindness, your lordship's 
charges against them. 

My lord, Mr. William Burke, the first you set to the 
bar, has had the closest and longest friendship for me ; 
and has pursued it with such nobleness in all respects, 
as has no example in these times, and would have 
dignified the best periods of history. Whenever I was 
in question, he has been not only ready, but earnest 
even, to annihilate himself ; and he has not been only 
earnest but fortunate, in his endeavours in my favour. 
Looking back to the course of my life, I remember 
no one considerable benefit in the whole of it, which I 
did not, mediately or immediately, derive from him. 
To him I owe my connexion with Lord Rockingham. 
To him I am indebted for my seat in Parliament. To 
him it is I must refer all the happiness and all the 
advantages I received from a long acquaintance with 
your lordship. For me he gave up a respectable 
employment of a thousand pounds a year, with other 
very fair pretensions. He gave up an employment 
which he filled with pleasure to himself, with great 
honour to himself, and with great satisfaction to Ms 
principal in office. Indeed, he both held and quitted 

122 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

it with such a well-arranged discharge of all his duties, 
that a strict friendship subsists between him and the 
principal he left, from that moment even to this, amidst 
all the rage and confusion of parties. But he resigned 
it to give an example and an encouragement to me, 
not to grow fearful and languid in the course to which 
he had always advised me. To encourage me, he gave 
his own interest the first stab : Paete, non dolet. This, 
my lord, was true friendship ; and if I act an honourable 
part in life, the first of all benefits, it is in great measure 
due to him. He loved your lordship too, and would 
have died for you, I am thoroughly persuaded he 
would. He had the most ardent affection for you, and 
the most unbounded confidence in you. If there was 
any difference in his regard for you and me, it is, that 
there were certain disparities which made him look up 
to you with greater reverence. Such a friendship can 
grow in none but a soil favourable to, and producing 
every kind of virtue ; and, accordingly, he has nothing 
like a fault about him, that does not arise from the 
luxuriance of some generous quality: Do not c dis- 
inherit your son ' for anything Will. Burke is capable 
of doing. I look with pleasure and with the most 
auspicious hopes, and with, I am sure, very unaffected 
good wishes, on your growing family. But if I was 
their father, my prayer in their favour would be for 
half his virtues. I would ask for no more, because I 
would wish a good man to be happy and prosperous 
in the world, 

' My lord, I owe this honest testimony, all I can return, 
for a friendship of which I can never make myself 
deserving. As to him, my lord, I am not capable of 
telling you in what manner he felt your charges. He 
answers nothing to them ; he only bids me tell you, 
that never being able to suppose himself in a situation 
of serious controversy with your lordship, much less as 
the culprit in a criminal accusation for a matter of state, 
brought by you upon his private conversation, he knows 
not what to say. He is at your mercy. He really 
cannot put his pen to paper on this subject, though he 

1771] TO 123 

has two or three times attempted it. Permit me, my 
lord, on this very serious head, to lay before your 
lordship a very few matters for your consideration. 
I feel myself as averse to stating this matter to your 
lordship, in a style of controversy, as my friend is 
incapable of it. Will your lordship, then, have the 
goodness to consider that the conversations of your 
friend, to which your lordship gives, in your passion, 
such very hard names, have passed entirely between 
you and him, that they have passed m the freedom of 
friendship, in the openness of the most unreserved 
confidence. Is it true, that no one was witness to 
anything capable of such a construction, out of the 
inmost recesses of your own family ? Does your lord- 
ship recollect, that there was any stranger present in 
any mixed company, either at your house or elsewhere, 
who heard any such conversation ? Now, my lord, if 
there be no such witness out of your own family 
(te consule], might it hot be rather the entire confidence 
that Mr. Burke reposed in your honour, than any 
indiscretion, which had induced him to enter with you 
into topics in themselves delicate and extremely 
capable of misconstruction ? I never will believe the 
loosest flow of the heart, in all its temporary feelings, 
to be indiscreet in conversation with you. 

My lord, there is another consideration which I 
would beg leave to submit to you upon these supposed 
culpable conversations. I believe, if you call to mind 
times and circumstances, you will find that there could 
scarce have passed any private political conversation 
between Will. Burke and your lordship for near three 
years. A very hard statute was made concerning 
words, in the reign of King Pharles the Second ; but 
hard as it was, it limited the prosecution to be within 
. . . ; 1 otherwise, the statute would not have been 
hard but intolerable, and the reason is extremely clear. 
Words are fugitive ; and the lapse of a little time may 

1 This blank in the manuscript is, of itself, almost a 
proof that the letter never was sent. 

124 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

cancel such a variety of explanatory circumstances in 
the mind of the party accused, as extremely to enfeeble, 
perhaps entirely to destroy a very full defence. Besides, 
the memory of the informers may be full as fallacious 
as that of the party charged. If he has not set down 
the words, their true spirit may well have escaped Mm ; 
if he has, it furnishes a very just presumption that he 
has stored up this invidious matter for so long a time, 
not for the purposes of justice, but of malice. Your 
lordship will tell me that you are not now making 
a charge in a court of justice. Very true ; but permit 
me to say, that the equity and reason of these rules 
ought to be carried into all personal reproaches and 
revilings for supposed similar offences so long passed. 
When any person has not, at the time, expressed any 
disapprobation of these discourses, every principle of 
justice precludes him, and ought to stop his mouth 
for ever. Your lordship does, in effect, admit that you 
heard without any marks of disapprobation, discourses 
.to which your lordship now gives appellations that, 
for your own sake, I cannot bear to repeat. You say 
that a ' dislike of altercation and a respect to your 
profession,' hindered you from expressing your senti- 
ments at the time. May I presume to differ in this 
point, and to think that it was so far from being 
contrary to the duties and decencies of your sacred 
profession, that nothing was more strictly within both, 
than to give grave and sober counsel upon such occa- 
sions, to those with whom you condescended to live. 
If the immediate moment was too sudden, or the 
parties appeared too warm, advice upon the next day 
would have been prudent from a wise man, proper 
from a fnend, charitable from a divine, full as much 
so (pardon the weakness of my judgement) as to keep 
charges of this kind in your own bosom for upwards of 
two years, and then to produce those charges for the 
first time, in the spirit and language of the bitterest 
reproach, not against the speaker of the words, but 
against a third person (myself), in order to aggravate 
accusations against me, which you have carried on 

1771] TO 125 

with much earnestness, though without any provoca- 
tion, real or pretended. 

My lord, there was no reason drawn from profession 
or temper, (I beg leave to say,) for your silence and 
your forbearance at that time, that does not, as 
strongly at least, subsist against your reproaches and 
your warmth at this. If you thought these conversa- 
tions unadvised, it was a reason for advice ; if you 
thought they argued depravity, it was a reason for 
rupture. Far from it. After, long after, any period 
you can assign for such supposed conversation, much 
intercourse has passed between Will. Burke and your 
lordship ; and I do not remember that you have 
treated our common friend, at any time of our long 
acquaintance, with warmer demonstrations of affection; 
some of which, when you please, I will point out to 
your lordship's recollection. I therefore am obliged to 
conclude, that your lordship's memory has not done 
its office quite perfectly on this occasion ; and that the 
discourses which passed so long ago, were of a different 
nature from what you consider them in the moment of 
your present zeal and warmth. 

As to my brother, I am bound to do him justice at- 
the very least. He is too near to me to make it decent 
for me to speak what I think of him, and which others- 
would say with more propriety and with equal pleasure* 
I assure you, my lord, his majesty has not those who 
serve him in the highest, as he does in the lowest 
capacity, who are better affected to his government, 
or more capable of doing it honour or service. My 
lord, he heard with great astonishment, and some 
feeling, your lordship's criminal accusations, so heavy 
in the matter and unmanaged in the epithets. He 
would immediately have answered for himself, but 
I interposed, and took it into hands very equal to it, 
for it stands in no need of skill or ability. First, my 
lord, I must observe, as in the case of my kinsman, 
so in that of my brother, not one of the persons who 
make the charges upon me, do allege his conversations 
as the cause. This is your lordship's own, peculiar 

126 EDMUND BUKKE [1771 

and appropriate. My lord, please to recollect, in the 
next place, that no late discourses of his could possibly 
give offence, or furnish ground for the late presumption 
against me ; for the justification of which presumption 
your lordship has referred to those supposed discourses 
of his. He is but just returned to the kingdom, after 
an absence of two years. He was actually not returned 
to England at the time when this hue and cry of the 
court was raised against me. So far as to the late 
presumed public conversations ; in which, my lord, 
it is simply, not improbable, but absolutely im- 
possible he should have been the cause and ground of 
recent accusations against me. 

But if your lordship supposes that the impropriety 
and publicity of conversations in former days, has 
made such an impression as to produce this effect at 
such a distance of time, be so good as to recollect the 
extreme improbability of the charge. A great part of 
the time he spent in England was, from a melancholy 
accident, passed in his bed or chair ; some time he 
spent in Ireland. My lord, his acquaintance beyond 
my closest connexions is very limited. Who of those 
makes this charge upon him ? Who is it that charges 
him, except your lordship ? You, indeed, proceed 
against him in a manner, in which I do not so readily 
recognize your lordship's natural and usual generosity. 
You bring a charge upon him which, in your way of 
making it, it is impossible, in case of the most perfect 
innocence, that he should be able to refute. The charge 
(dropping the handsome epithet) is not for indecorum, 
or indiscretion, but for falsehood. The only defence., 
therefore (if the fact of the words were once admitted), 
would be to plead that the words were true. My lord, 
will you seriously say, that you would suffer him to 
allege any sort of proofs of the truth of such an assertion 
as you suppose ? Would you not consider the very 
attempt to be a new offence ; would you not consider 
it as an offence ten times heavier than the first ? 
Recollect that the informations for libels have lately 
been purged of the word false. This, if legally, was. 

1771] TO 127 

very properly done ; as the lawyers have been in 
a practice of not giving evidence to the falsehood, or 
admitting disculpatory testimony to the truth. I con- 
fess I should carefully imitate this proceeding of the 
lawyers, in my intercourse with mankind ; and would 
think it very unjust and improper in me, to accuse 
any man with a departure from veracity, where Ms 
attempt to prove the truth would be more dangerous 
to him than his admitting the falsehood with which he 
stood charged. But, my lord, my brother puts himself 
on his defence, and does totally deny the fact. Who, 
out of your own family, was present at any such 
discourse, at any time ? My brother never had the 
honour of being often in your lordship's company; 
when he was, he stood in some awe, though in no sort 
of fear of you. He has had very few political discourses 
with you, and never anything resembling a political 
dispute, but one. This was on your lordship's ending 
a conversation, of which I was (as I am now) the 
unhappy subject, with declaring that * party operated 
to eradicate every virtue out of the heart of man ', 
On that occasion he grew into some warmth, and 
retorted on other factions some of the charges your 
lordship had made upon me. This, my lord, he never 
mentioned to me, until his necessary justification drew 
it from him. He proceeded to justify the propriety of 
oppositions by the principles of the revolution, in which 
he said they were founded. So far from blaming that 
glorious event, or its sound principles he assumed 
them as the very ground of his argument. He asserts 
that he never had any other discourse with your lord- 
ship about the revolution. Consider, my lord, how 
easy it is, for a passionate recollection of a passionate 
debate, to confound matters strangely. Suppose, my 
lord, I was to say that the revolution could not be 
supported, if some lesser modes of opposition could not 
be also justified. My lord, I do say it, but I say it 
upon paper. This, in conversations of years' standing, 
the hearer might forget to have been an hypothetical 
proposition. The little piddling monosyllable 'if 

128 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

might slip out of the memory, and the thing stand in 
all the glare of a criminal offence ; so dangerous itis to 
mention such things without their necessary adjuncts, 
the time, the occasion, the posture of the debate, the 
purpose of the speaker; so dangerous, after a long 
time past, to mention them at all, in a style of accusa- 
tion or reproach. 

Supposing some impropriety in my brother's lan- 
guage, with regard to the persons in power ; I must 
beg leave to observe, that being uttered only to your- 
self, very vulgar generosity would as easily pardon the 
natural warmth of a brother, as I do from my soul, 
and most unaffectedly, forgive the reflection on me 
which gave occasion to that warmth in him. At any 
rate, this imprudence never went beyond the very 
inside of your own family. Both my friends, however, 
do insist upon it, that such discourses as your lordship 
supposes, may not be confounded with strong censures 
upon what are sometimes, though with great impro- 
priety, called the king's measures. However, it is the 
only comfort they have, if your lordship persists in the 
charge, that you charge them with nothing in which 
by your lordship's own account, they are not involved 
with the very best of men, and best affected subjects 
his majesty can boast of. 

With regard to these discourses of my brother and 
my friend, you say you 4 have done all you could ; 
you did not publish them.' I am always fond of doing 
justice to your lordship's actions ; you did very rightly 
and wisely. If your lordship takes the word ' pub- 
lishing ' in the vulgar sBnse, for making generally 
known, be pleased to reflect, if your lordship's idea be 
founded, that they themselves held these discourses, 
and very publicly, in other places (as you infer by an 
argument a fortiori from their private conversation in 
your house) ; then, my lord, your publication of what 
they said to you, would be the most idle and super- 
fluous piece of zeal in the world. They have saved you 
*the invidious and unpleasant task of revealing private 
conversation. If your lordship means by * publication * 

1771] TO 129 

(as the lawyers sometimes do) any communication, and 
would apply it, as a discovery, to persons in power, 
it would be a proceeding, I am sure, wholly shocking 
to the nobleness of your nature, to make any charge 
where, by the circumstances, it is impossible to oppose 
to it any kind of defence. But if you meant by pub- 
lication, a denunciation as a matter criminal, your 
lordship must have, while our laws stand in vigour, 
quite other sort of matter and other sort of proof, 
I assure you, than I think you could possibly bring 
on the occasion. 

Whilst I do justice to the rectitude of your conduct, 
I cannot acknowledge it as anything of favour, kind- 
ness, or friendship ; and, therefore, only wish you 
had not said ' you had done all you could ', for you 
could do nothing else in common sense and common 

Almost every word in the last page but one of your 
letter, carries a sting with it. You charge my friends 
with ... 

This is all full of various, odd, and complicated 
charges and insinuations, but all conveying matter of 
invidious, and, to us, most dangerous reflection, easily 
understood In the gross, though hard enough to be 
developed into the particulars. However, my lord, my 
desire of giving complete satisfaction to your lordship 
and to justice, induces me to bring it into distinctness 
as well as I am able. 

By the discourses which your lordship holds to be so 
obnoxious and imprudent, I must suppose your lord- 
ship must mean, that my friends have, at some time 
or other, thrown out some very severe strictures on 
the memory of those princes who have so long since 
demised. I am compelled, whether I will or no, to 
think this the gist of the accusation, because some 
gentlemen who have been considered, I know not how 
justly, as professed and very public advocates and 
1 The draft is here defective. 

130 EDMUND BURKE [1771 

admirers of that illustrious family, have had no sort of 
reason to think their persons to be obnoxious, or their 
discourses to be imprudent. Nay, some who were so 
attached to that family, as to hold close connexions 
with such as pretended, however falsely, to belong 
to it, have had no reason to repent of this their close 
connexion and enthusiastic attachment, I will not say, 
my lord, that my friends may not, in argument, where 
they thought things swayed too much to that side, have 
spoken rather disrespectfully (but they thought safely) 
of a king one hundred years dead ; and others have 
heard them do it. People will say many things in 
argument, and when they are provoked by what they 
think extravagant notions of their adversaries. Nay, 
it is not uncommon, when men are got into debates, 
to take now one side, now another, of a question, as 
the momentary humour of the man and the occasion 
called for, with all the latitude that the antiquated 
freedom and ease of English conversation among 
friends did, in former days, encourage and excuse ; 
and, indeed, in speaking to your lordship, they thought 
themselves, I dare say, equally safe, whether they 
commended or blamed any part, or all, of that indivi- 
dual family. As to me, my lord, on whom the light 
thrown on my friends is brought to reflect with 
undiminished lustre, I assure you that I, have always 
spoken and thought on that subject, with all that 
perfect calmness which belongs to it. My passions 
are not to be roused, either on the side of partiality, 
or on that of hatred, by those who lie in their cold lead, 
quiet and innoxious, in the chapel of Henry, or the 
churches of Windsor Castle or La Trappe. Quorum 
Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina. My opinion of the 
truth or falsehood of facts related in history, is formed 
on the common rules of criticism ; my opinion of 
characters, on those rules and the common principles 
of morality. I have no side in these matters, as your 
lordship has a little invidiously put it; but I will 
always speak what I think, without caring one farthing 
what is the Ion ton upon the subject, either at court 

1771] TO 131 

or in coffee-houses, until all honest freedom of dis- 
quisition, and all manly liberty of speech, shall, by 
legal or other power, be conclusively put an end to. 
Good reasons may exist for such a restraint, and 
perhaps we are at the eve of it ; but until the time 
does actually arrive, I shall cherish and cultivate in 
myself and those I love, a decent freedom of speech in 
public, all freedom of speech among confidential friends, 
where other principles than those of decorum are the 
lawgivers. To this freedom, your lordship's friends the 
ancients (in a language you understand much better 
than I do) gave an honourable name, and classed it 
among the virtues. But whether a virtue, or only an 
enjoyment, I assure your lordship that neither courts 
nor town halls, with all they could give of gold boxes 
or pensions, would indemnify me for the want of aa 
hour's use of it. You tell me that these historical 
discussions ' are usually held the tests of principles '. 
Possibly they may. I, however, do not apprehend 
that I am responsible for the opinions of the vulgar, 
till I adopt them. My lord, I have not learned my 
public principles in any such wild, unsystematic, and 
preposterous a mode. I have taken them from quite 
other sources than those of Mr. Carte or M. Rapirx de 
Thoyras, My principles enable me to form my judge- 
ment upon, men and actions in history, just as they do 
in common life, and are not formed out of events and 
characters, either present or past. History is a pre- 
ceptor of prudence, not of principles. The principles 
of true politics are those of morality enlarged ; and 
I neither now do, nor ever will, admit of any other. 

But when your lordship speaks of tests of public 
principles, there is one which you have not mentioned, 
but which, let me say, is far above them all; the 
actions and conduct of men. Let mine, and those of 
my friends, speak for our public principles. If the 
last six years are not enough, let us be on our trial for 
six more. That, indeed, is in the hands of Providence, 
not in ours. But I trust that He who has made honest 
fame a lawful object of prayer and pursuit, and the 

132 EDMUND BUBKE [1771 

possession of it to stand second in the order of his 
blessings, will give us means and will to live down all 
charges and aspersions. The principles that guide us in 
public and in private, as they are not of our devising, 
but moulded into the nature and essence of things, will 
endure with the sun and moon, long, very, long after 
Whig and Tory, Stuart and Brunswick, and all such 
miserable bubbles and playthings of the hour, are 
vanished from existence and from memory. My 
friends and myself may sink into errors, and even into 
considerable faults ; but I trust that th,ese principles 
will buoy us up again, so that we shall have something 
to set against our imperfections, and stand with the 
world, at least, not as the worst men or the worst 
citizens of our day. 

My lord, in charging us with indiscretion, together 
with the word c Stuarts ' you have coupled the revolu- 
tion. If I were to guess at a charge of indiscretion 
from the credit and fortunes of men, I should on this 
occasion suppose we had spoken too favourably of 
that event. But do you mean the contrary, and, 
under this and the foregoing words, seriously intend 
to insinuate a charge of Jacobitism ? Then, be it so. 
I am afraid that our enemies, who do not allow us 
common virtues, will hardly agree with you in giving 
us the credit of so amazing and supernatural a fidelity ; 
that, at the expense of fame and fortune, and every- 
thing dear to man, we should choose to be attached 
to a person when he is deserted by the whole world 
and by himself, when he has not (as I am told,) so 
much as a single Scotch, English, or Irish footman 
about him. Truly, we never were so wonderfully 
dazzled with the splendour of actual royalty, as to be 
captivated with what is not even the shadow of it, 
nor ever was so in my time* If you mean that not our 
attachments but our principles are of that sort, 
favourable to arbitrary power, truly, in our present 
connexions, we have brought those principles to the 
very worst imaginable market ; when the very best, 
in common opinion, was directly open before us. We 

1771] TO 133 

have built our Chalcedon, with, the chosen part of the 
universe full in our prospect. But, my lord, I must 
again attribute these reflections to an over- warmth in 
your temper, or an error in your memory, or to both. 
My brother, my friend, and myself, never have for 
a moment thought other of the revolution, than as of 
an act, just, necessary, and honourable to this nation, 
whose liberty and prosperity it has ensured to this 
time, and will for ages, if its true principles be well 
adhered to. Your lordship is more indulgent than we 
wish. I cannot admit that men have a liberty of 
taking, seriously and dogmatically, what side they 
please in this question. I do not mean in this, or in 
anything, to abridge any man's private liberty ; but 
I am sure, that man is not safely placed in any weighty 
public trust in this kingdom, who thinks of the revolu- 
tion in any other manner than that which I have 

This is no matter of historical criticism, it is a moral 
conclusion, on an undisputed fact. A man who con- 
demns the revolution, has no longer any obnoxious 
persons to hang his principles on, and, therefore, he 
and they may be made but too convenient to the 
executive powers of the time ; but, for this reason, 
he is much more dangerous than formerly to the 
constitution and liberties of his country. Let me add 
further, that a man who praises the fact of the revolu- 
tion, and abandons its principles, substituting the 
instrumental persons and establishments consequential 
to that event, in the place of its ends, is as bad as the 
former. To me, indeed, he seems to be infinitely 
worse, as he can have no sound moral principles of any 
kind, nor be a fit servant for honest government in any 
mode whatever. The one has lost his attachment, 
the last has deserted his principles ; and the last is, 
by far, the most culpable and the most dangerous. 
These are, and always were, my sentiments and 
expressions on the revolution, drawn from principles 
of public law and natural justice, well spun and firmly 
wove together, not patched out of parti-coloured rags, 

134 EDMUND BUBKE [1771 

picked from the filthy dunghills of old women's super- 
stitions and children's credulity, not from Fuller's 
warming-pan, or Oates's plot, Ferguson's manifesto, 
or Manwaring's massacre, no, nor from the paltry 
memoirs of that age, which I would as soon take for its 
history, as I would take the authority of The Whis- 
perer 1 for the events of this reign, or that of the 
pensioners of the present court for the character of 
Bang George the Second. 

I say nothing of Will. Burke's early habits, you 
know them. If I were to mention those of my brother, 
bis education, not so learned as yours, had been 
however, at least as much, in the utmost severity of 
Whig- principles ; but I say nothing of that infused 
education which is as nothing. We came both of us 
pretty early into our own hands, and our principles 
are of our own putting together. Those who do not 
like them, will have nothing to do with any of us. 
I thought, however, that we had, in the main, the 
same principles with those of your lordship, and that 
this similarity in the great lines was one of the grounds 
of your former kindness. 

I have spoken fully to the first part of the series of 
charges, on the principles of my friends, which are mine 
also. You mention at the end of the roll of obnoxious 
tenets, which my friends were so indiscreet as to utter 
in your company, in former times, the Irish rebellion, 
by which I suppose you mean the great rebellion of 
1641. I all along suspected that your lordship had 
mistaken my discourses with you, for those of my 
friends. This convinces me of it. Will. Burke, or my 
brother, most certainly never have spoken to you on 
the subject. They know little or nothing of the Irish 
history. They have never thought on it at all. I have 
studied it with more care than is common. I have 
spoken to you on the subject, I dare say, twenty times. 
This mustard-bowl is my thunder. * Me Me adsum 
qui feci: nihil ille nee ausus nee potuit.' Indeed, 
I have my opinion on that part of history, which I have 
1 A scurrilous publication of the day. 

1771] TO 135 

often delivered to you, to every one I have conversed 
with, on the subject, and which I mean still to deliver, 
whenever the occasion calls for it, which is that the 
Irish rebellion of 1641 was not only (as our silly things 
called ' histories ' call it) not utterly unprovoked, but 
that no history I have ever read, furnishes an instance 
of any that was so provoked ; and that in almost all 
parts of it, it has been extremely and most absurdly 

I assure you I am not single in that opinion. Several 
now living think so. The late Mr. Yorke thought so, 
and expressed himself so in debate in the House of 
Commons, on the nullum tempus Bill, as well as to 
myself in conversation. I really thought our history 
of Ireland so terribly defective, that I did, and with 
success, urge a very learned and ingenious friend 1 of 
yours and mine, in the university of Dublin, to under- 
take it. I dare say he will do it ably and faithfully ; 
but if he thinks that anything unfavourable to his 
principles will be deduced from telling the truth, or 
cares for vulgar malignity on that occasion, he is much 
more below the task than I can prevail on myself to 
think him. As to my principles on this subject, I must 
leave them to your mercy. I have told you what 
I know to be true in fact. If I were to reason on that 
event, and to affirm it justifiable, you might say 
I showed myself a friend to rebellion. If I blamed it, 
you might say I was attached to the doctrines of 
passive obedience. This is an ugly dilemma. I don't 
remember to have said either the one or the other ; 
but if people must make a conclusion concerning my 
character from what I did do, and shall say, on this 
subject, all that in charity and decency they ought to 
conclude is, that I am no lover of oppression, nor 
believer in malignant fables ; what they will conclude, 
is their affair, not mine. This was necessary to bring 
this charge, and, indeed, all the others, from my, 
friends to the true object, myself. 
1 Dr. Leland. 

136 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

Beaconsfield, October 21, 1772. 


Since I received your letter, I have done all in my 
power to arrange myself for a journey to Pull Court. 
I find it impossible. I must therefore content myself 
with giving you a short, and, I fear, a very imperfect 
sketch of the state of affairs, so far as it has come to my 
knowledge. I took it for granted, that you had seen 
Lord Rockingham in his progress northwards, or 
I certainly would have written to you long "before this. 
I know Lord Rockingham expected to meet you at 
Harrowden . By the turn of your letter I mus t presume 
that he was disappointed. 

The East India business is the principal cause of 
calling Parliament together before Christmas. Whether 
foreign politics furnish any additional reasons for this 
early meeting, I know not. Things both at home and 
abroad are in a critical situation. The East India 
Company, without any diminution, even with a consider- 
able increase of their trade, are not solvent. They owe 
eight hundred thousand pounds to the bank. In the 
present state of credit this money is wanted ; and 
the directors of this latter company would be very 
clamorous and troublesome, if they were not quieted 
by a persuasion that Government would do something 
to enable the East India Company to discharge this 
enormous debt, which is double the amount of the 
ordinary annual transaction between the two com- 
panies. In the last direction, when Mr. Purling was 
in the chair, the court accepted drafts from their 
servants in India that exceed a million. These drafts 
were, in their quantity, beyond all reason; and in 
their mode and principle, were in direct opposition to the 
orders which had been repeatedly given to the presi- 
dencies abroad. The drafts were chiefly for expenses 
incurred for building and fortifications. They ought 
most undoubtedly not to have been accepted, if the 


court of directors, or at least those in the department 
of treasury, had done their duty. Colebrooke values 
himself upon his freedom from any share in this 
unjustifiable acceptance, the chief cause of the difficulty 
that now embarrasses the company. The tea-agree- 
ment is now at its winding up, and has added some 
hundreds of thousands to the debt. It was certainly 
a most improvident bargain. The directors have had 
three schemes in contemplation. One, to increase their 
capital : a second, to borrow a million upon bonds : 
the third, that Government this year, instead of the 
discharge of other debts, would pay off 1,200,000, of 
what it owes to the company. This last scheme, some 
of them think, with time given for the tea-composition, 
and a reduction of about four per cent, dividend, would 
enable the company to go on until a reform of their 
affairs abroad can be effected by means of the super- 
vision, or by some other method. This seems to be 
the scheme most approved by the chairs. Others, with 
more resolution, and to all appearance with more sense, 
propose to reduce their dividend to six per cent., and 
thus to exonerate themselves at one stroke of the charge 
of four hundred thousand pounds, into which they had 
been tricked"i>y the court. Then they would stand 
upon equal terms with administration ; and as their 
whole chance of getting anything would depend upon 
relieving the company, the company might prescribe, 
instead of receiving, the terms of the agreement. Take 
what course they will, the difficulties wBl be very great. 
You will ask what the Treasury has been doing all tjiis 
time. While Lord North was in the country, his 
correspondence with the company was amicable, and 
in the style of mutual accommodation. But soon after 
his arrival in town, his manner was extremely altered. 
He promised an answer to the propositions of the court 
of directors in a week. Three weeks are elapsed, and 
there is no answer. Papers are daily ordered by the 
Treasury from the India House j and by their nature, 
they seem to be materials provided for an attack upon 
the company. In the meantime, the language of the 
F 3 

138 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

court-runners is to the last degree hostile to that body. 
I am told Lord Mansfield declares publicly, that the 
company is unequal to the magnitude of its circum- 
stances ; that the Crown ought to resume the powers 
of peace and war granted to them, and reduce the 
company to a mere trading corporation. Next to the 
grand object of the destruction of Wilkes, the leading 
object in the politics of the court is, to seize upon the 
East India patronage of offices. In this hopeful scheme 
they will be joined, in a manner, by the whole nation. 
Their grand difficulty is in the object itself, not in 
getting Parliament to concur in any act of violence. To 
the attainment of their end, mere despotic violence is 
not sufficient, or they would have attained it long ago. 
How Lord North will appear before the House, after 
suffering five years to elapse, without doing anything to 
enable the company to keep its agreement with Govern- 
ment, if they were deficient in power, or to compel 
them if they were fraudulent, or to release them if they 
were not in circumstances, I cannot guess ; other than 
that he is conscious he appears before a tribunal .where 
he is always to be acquitted, and the rest of the world 
always to be condemned. 

I hear of nothing else with which the Ministry mean 
to entertain their friends at the meeting. Lord Rocking- 
ham wrote lately to Keppel. He seemed strongly 
disposed to think, that to the Ministry and their friends 
the business ought to be left, and that we ought to be 
in no haste to go to the meeting. The Duke of Rich- 
mond is of that opinion ; and, indeed, as far as my 
poor sentiments go, I concur with them most heartily. 
I am tired of hearing, as an answer to all argument, 
6 You want our places.' The determined majority 
within doors, which, supporting no minister, is blindly 
devoted to the court, the treachery of our allies in 
opposition, and the unsystematic conduct of many of 
our friends, otherwise excellent and sensible men, 
makes the situation of active persons on our side of the 
question very humiliating and vexatious. Abroad, 
things are not a jot better. The people have fallen into 


a total indifference to any matters of public concern. 
I do not suppose that there was ever anything like 
this stupor in any period of our history. In this 
condition there is no dignity in carrying on a teasing 
and vexatious sort of debate, without any other effect 
than pelting ministers now and then, and keeping 
honest gentlemen from their dinners, while we make 
trifling and ineffectual divisions in the House, and the 
nation quietly acquiesces in those measures which we 
agitate with so much eagerness. When opposition has 
not some sort of correspondence with the feelings of the 
people at large, it only looks like personal discontent. 
This is the case at present ; and it is very absurd in us, 
who sacrifice everything to character, to give ourselves 
much trouble when our efforts are no longer seconded 
by the public sense ; and when all our labour tends 
only to lower that character for which we have con- 
tended. If anything can rouse the people to a sense of 
their situation, it is your absenting yourselves from 
business. To attend the House on great questions 
without saying anything upon them, may not always 
be easy, nor even safe. It may admit disagreeable 
constructions. Absence from those questions will 
scarcely admit of more than one construction, and that 
the true one. This mode of absence will have a better 
effect than a secession, (the time for which is past,) 
because, as you are not bound to anything, you may 
resume your attendance whenever the situation of 
things shall make an attendance advisable. Every- 
thing will, however, depend in this, as in all things, 
upon concert. The more I consider our circumstances, 
and the nature of the business which the House is to be 
engaged in, the fonder I grow of Lord Bockingham's 
measure, which appears to me politic, sober, and 
manly ; but, observe, that I am not apt to be long 
fond of anything which you do not thoroughly approve. 
We have not often differed hitherto, and I will take care 
that we shall differ as little in time to come. Think of 
this business, communicate with Lord Rockinghara 
upon it. and let there be a settled parole for our friends 

140 EDMUND BU&KE [1772 

by the middle of next month. You know, that if you 
and Lord Buckingham should, on consultation, adopt 
a plan of more activity, why, I am ready, and will 
certainly follow wherever you lead me. Our principles 
are the same, and it is of little consequence in what 
manner we conduct the campaign, when we are morally 
sure of being defeated. All we can do is to save our 

Pray let me hear from you, provided you cannot let 
me see you pretty soon. You will now think of quitting 
the country. I hope you do not forget that this place 
is not five miles from your road. Will. Burke gives you 
many thanks for your obliging invitation, but bids me 
tell you that nothing, except its being necessary to make 
you Chancellor of the Exchequer, could prevail on him 
to take such a journey on horseback. Adieu f and 
believe me with the greatest sincerity and affection, 
dear Dowdeswell, 

Your most faithful friend, and obedient ervant, 


Broad Sanctuary, November 7, 1772. 


I received your packet here, in town, where some 
business called me a few days ago. and where it still 
detains me. Your servant waits at Beaconsfield for my 
answer ; I could not dispatch him a moment earlier. 
Sir G. Savile is in town ; I took your paper to him last 
night. His nephew, Lord Lumley, was just preparing 
to set out for France, and we were not able to read over 
what you sent with any attention until this morning 
about eleven o'clock ; other matters unavoidably 
engaged me for the remainder of the day ; so that it is 
near nine in the evening before I am able to sit down 
to thank you for your ample and satisfactory communi- 
cation of your sentiments, on the very delicate situation 
in which we stand, and the very important and difficult 
business we have before us. You do not write on the 


subject like one who has not been used for some time 
to consider it ; at least, your fallow adds to your 
fertility ; for I am of Sir G. Savile's mind, who thinks 
your paper one of the ablest discussions of a public 
matter that he has ever read. I have not time to give 
you the detail of our conversation ; in many points he 
concurs heartily with you. In India politics, you know 
he has opinions of his own, and in consequence declines 
taking any active part in that business. 

I see as we proceed in the discussion of the nice and 
complex matter that makes the subject of your paper, 
that it will be absolutely impracticable to arrive at any 
fixed determination without a personal interview. At 
this time of the year, it cannot be either at Pull Court 
or at Wentworth. Harrowden is more central, and 
there Lord Rockingham might, without material 
inconvenience to any of them, collect the greatest part 
of his confidential friends. Whether you meet there, 
or not, it is clearly necessary that you should be both in 
town, in order to give weight to the final resolution you 
shall take, and to procure a general and timely com- 
munication to all your friends. Pressed as I am in time, 
forgive a hasty observation or two, on the subject of 
your letter. I have no leisure to send you anything 
regular or digested. In the main, I have the satis- 
faction of going along with you, in most of your reason- 
ings . t I believe that a great deal of the difference in 
opinion concerning the plan of non-attendance in this 
session, which prevails among Lord Kockingham's 
friends, has arisen from our not exactly understanding 
one another on the extent of the measure, and the 
motives for proposing it. It is not suggested from 
choice. It is upon the idea that nothing can be 
attempted in Parliament, with any hope of success ; 
and that the people without doors are cold and uncon- 
cerned in the contest which is carried on between us 
and the ministers. If either of these fail in fact, the 
measure is taken up on mistaken principles. If both 
considerations are founded, then it is to be shown what 
else it is that promises better 

142 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

Without all question, if this absence should appear 
the result of a supine indolence and neglect of duty, 
it must have the worst effect imaginable upon our 
character. If it cannot be made expressive of the 
strongest and most indignant feeling and resentment, 
of the whole train of conduct adopted by the majority 
of the two Houses, it were better to continue our 
tiresome attendance, our fruitless debates, and our 
feeble divisions for six years to come, in the manner 
we have dragged through them for the six years that 
are past. But I have not yet been able to persuade 
myself, that your absence from Parliament at the 
opening of the next session can pass by without making 
a strong impression on the public. Your character for 
diligence will not permit your absence to be thought 
the effect of inactivity ; your known integrity would 
render every imputation of corruption ridiculous ; and 
your number, weight, and consequence, would neces- 
sarily incite an inquiry into your reasons for a proce- 
dure so contrary to the usual tenor of your conduct. 
The Ministry and their partisans may be depended 
upon for an attack on you ; and this attack calling for 
an explanation, you will lay your reasons before the 
public with more grace, and probably with better 
effect than if they appeared previous to the step you 
had taken. It is always imprudent to suffer the previous 
public agitation of any measure that you are resolved 
to pursue : better take it first, and pledge your people 
for its subsequent justification. This is my idea of the 
spirit of the non-attendance proposed by Lord Rocking- 
ham and the Duke of Richmond. I concurred in it most 
heartily: not without a sense of the inconveniences 
which may attend it, but considering it as the only 
thing which remained for us to do. We have tried 
everything else. 

With regard to the extent of the plan, I never under- 
stood it to amount to a total secession ; and in this 
particular I think I have the happiness of approaching 
very near to some of your ideas. The absence, I 
thought, would be proper on their speech and address, 


and upon those points which are generally considered 
as the measures of Government/ and to which we are 
morally certain that the House is mortgaged to the 
court. The attendance upon other points will mark 
the distinction we mean to keep in view the more 

There is another point which you rather agitate 
(I imagine) than directly propose ; that of an absolute 
secession, and upon some definite measure. In this 
matter I have some difficulties. I do not look upon 
such a secession, upon any proposition now probably 
in view, to be at all practicable, because it supposes 
the existence of that very spirit which we want, and 
which, by the proposed step, we wish to excite. Our 
people who now hesitate upon a limited plan of absence, 
will never be brought to hear of an absolute retreat. 
Such a secession leaves us without a power of returning 
with any sort of decency, let opportunities invite, or 
circumstances demand it, never so strongly. I should, 
besides, very much doubt whether any merely political 
question, such as the convention in Sir Robert Walpole's 
time, or the compromise about Falkland's Islands 
which happened in our own, (even supposing them the 
worst in their kind,) no, nor hardly any prodigal grant 
to the Crown, can justify a secession from Parliament ; 
and though we should take that occasion to review 
former matters of grievance, and to make the whole an 
accumulated charge on the majority, certainly nothing 
in that mass would be much attended to, but that 
which was the immediate occasion of the breach ; and 
in spite of anything we could do to the contrary, the 
whole would be tried upon that single issue. Nothing 
can to my ideas ,make that formal, general, instan- 
taneous secession proper, but some direct act which 
shakes a fundamental part of the constitution ; and 
that, too, immediately and visibly. Such an act has 
been done, but we have very unfortunately, I think, 
let pass the time for making any effectual use of it. 
The mode proposed seems wefl suited to that profession 
of despair, which does not arise from the resentment 


of a single act, but of a series of conduct of a dangerous 
and unconstitutional tendency. It does not seem to 
me to be attended with the mischievous futility of 
a middle measure. It has strength sufficient for its 
magnitude. Everything which I say, in favour of this 
partial secession, is upon the presumption that the 
concurrence in it will be general. If this should not be 
the case, I very readily admit, nothing worse can be 
thought of. I join with you, too, in the absolute 
necessity of Lord Bockingham's being in town, if his 
health will at all admit it. I do not forget the disarray 
and confusion we were in upon the business of the 
Jury Bill. 

You seem to think that foreign affairs make a princi- 
pal part of the reasons of the court for calling us 
together before Christmas. As a speculation on the 
state of those affairs, you seem to be well-grounded in 
that supposition ; but I can find nothing, in the dis- 
course of those who disperse the court- word before the 
opening of the session, to support it. I doubt much 
whether they are yet come to anything like a resolution 
on that subject. 

With regard to the East India difficulties, they most 
certainly enter largely into our business. When I 
thought of the reduction of dividend, as a means for 
their immediate relief, I considered it not as a com- 
pulsory measure by authority of Parliament, but as 
an act of their own ; necessary, as I conceived, for 
disengaging them from the Ministry, and treating upon 
terms something more approaching to equality. But 
you have entirely satisfied me, that if the courtiers 
have a deeper and more regular design, thaa at this 
instant they profess, upon the company, the fall of 
stock will infinitely facilitate their project ; and that 
this reduction of dividend will have such an effect 
upon ,the stock is indisputable. On the whole, I can 
scarcely conceive a more delicate part than we have 
to act in this business. By an unhappy and rare 
conjunction of circumstances, the designs of the court 
coincide exactly with the frenzy of the people. The 


greater number of those who form an opposition, 
naturally take the colour of their opinions from the 
latter ; so that the management of your Mends 
becomes a matter of, at least, as much difficulty as 
the opposition to the enemy. You remark very rightly 
on the conduct of all parties in the East India Company 
upon the question of last year's committee, and on 
their behaviour in that committee. I agree with you, 
that without their own vigorous and unanimous efforts 
in their own cause, our endeavours will be of no service. 
In their present situation, nothing is more certain than 
that they will make no such efforts. They are divided 
into the most rancorous factions None of them mean, 
(I am persuaded, ) to make a direct sacrifice of the trust 
they have, in so large a part, of the rights as well as 
the properties of the subjects ; but their mutual blind 
passions and resentments will make them do it without 
intending it ; and the strong distress of their affairs 
has so frightened the body of the proprietors for their 
present and future dividends, that they are the less 
attentive to the preservation of their privileges of 
a higher order. They have no leader of ability, fore- 
sight, and honesty sufficient to state to them, in their 
general courts, the real politics of their situation. 
Sir G. Colebrooke is not in our hands, nor has he ever 
consulted with Lord Rockingham or any of his friends, 
upon one step which he has taken, or 'which he is to take. 
You have heard that he offered me the first place in 
a supervisorship of three, with great concurrence of the 
whole body of direction. I did not think it then right 
to accept the offer ; yet after such a mark of confidence, 
you might imagine that nothing, at least of parlia- 
mentary use, would be kept from me ; but the fact is, 
that he has acquainted me with nothing. He is shy 
and reserved; and while he has complied with the 
requisitions of the Treasury, at least as extensively as 
he ought, he has not communicated a single paper to 
me. It is true he did not refuse to send me copies of 
such papers as I should desire ; but he showed so little 
willingness in the business, that I have not yet thought 

146 EDMUND BUHKE [1772 

fit to trouble him, I "will see him before you come 
to town, and will collect either from him or from 
some others, such matter as may lead us better into 
the detail of their affairs. Without such instruc- 
tion, without better support from the company, 
and without a total change in the sentiments of 
almost all our friends, the absence from Parliament, 
which I think proper for the whole, will be absolutely 
necessary with regard to us. It is impossible for me to 
enter at large with you into all the matters you have 
discussed in your very masterly paper. You have my 
full powers to, decide for me as you please. When I see 
you, which I hope and request may be as soon as you 
can, I may learn more facts. I would say a great deal 
more, but I am hourly called away by the business 
that brought me to town. Pray urge Lord Kockingham 
to come to town ; all depends upon it. I send you 
back your observations, with a note or two of Sir G. 
Savile's upon them. I have no copy of your paper, and 
lest yourself should have none, I send it back to you ; 
but would very much wish to have a copy sent to me 
for the Duke of Richmond's use, and the satisfaction of 
some other friends. To conclude, let me again and 
again entreat that we may not be left at the opening of 
the session without a leader, or the least idea of a plan 
of conduct. The time gives you very little leisure for 

I am, my dear sir, 

Ever faithfully yours, 



Broad Sanctuary, November 11, 1772. 


By this time you have received the whole of Mr. 
Dowdeswell's thoughts and correspondence, on the sub- 
ject of your lordship's proposition. I confess, on the 


very first suggestion, I entered into it with great good 
hking : but one condition always attended my appro- 
bation ; that is, the unanimous, cheerful, and zealous 
concurrence of all your lordship's Mends. If the plan 
were by them unanimously adopted, manfully avowed, 
and resolutely adhered to, I do not entertain the 
slightest doubt that it would come up to the most 
sanguine expectations. But I find so little concurrence, 
that it seems to me the last degree of imprudence, in 
such a diversity of opinion, to hazard a measure, the 
whole effect of which depends upon unanimity. I 
thought it a mark of confidence that was proper, to show 
your lordship's letter to Lord G. Germain. He argued 
much, and truly not without cogency upon the subject. 
He looked upon a concurrence even of your lordship's 
particular friends, in any plan of non-attendance, as 
a thing absolutely impracticable. He did not think 
that we are strong enough, either in numbers or popu- 
larity ; or that there is enough of discontent among 
the people without doors to give the measure any sort 
of effect. He apprehends that we might rather run the 
risk of being forgotten by the public, than of exciting 
in them the spirit that we wish to raise. Besides that, 
there are so many other persons in opposition, not only 
unconnected, but extremely adverse, who would not 
fail to take advantage of our secession (however 
qualified) to succeed to our situations, and to accuse 
us of having meanly relinquished them, that we can 
never propose it with any hope either of credit or 
advantage. He was very sure, that neither of the 
Townshends, the father or the son, would enter into it ; 
as contrary to the opinions of both, and to all the 
feelings of the younger and more active of the two. 
I told him that your lordship (as he might, indeed, see 
by your letter) entertained the idea only as a matter 
to be considered. The fact is, Mr. DowdeswelTs idea 
of absence does not go to above a fortnight. Sir G. 
Savile is very doubtful ; Sir Charles Saunders and 
Lord F. Cavendish disapprove. Your lordship's 
northern friends are generally adverse, and none of 

148 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

them earnest for it ; so that the proposition, as far as 
the sense of your lordship's friends can be collected, is, 
upon the whole, disliked. Lord George Germain seems 
rather to approve of our course during the last session, 
where we lay by until fair opportunity of opposition 
offered ; but that our attendance, though inactive, 
ought to be regular, in order to show that, though we 
may be silent, we are nevertheless vigilant. I am 
persuaded that we cannot follow any plan of this kind 
in the approaching session. They will, because they 
must, lay something immediately before us, and we 
must immediately take our part in it. But nothing 
can be done without your lordship's early appearance 
in town, ten days at least before the meeting. This 
wish and opinion of mine is always in subordination to 
the care of your lordship's health, which is, and ought 
to be, our first consideration. 

The ministers, I believe, have nothing very precisely 
determined with relation to Indian affairs. *I am told, 
and I do not think it wholly improbable from many 
circumstances, that Lord North was against our meet- 
ing before Christmas, but that Lord Mansfield urged 
on the early summons. Notwithstanding Lord North's 
procrastinating disposition, he must do something with 
regard to the company's insolvency. He must, I think, 
accept of one, or other, of their propositions. Mr. 
Dowdeswell inclines to the scheme of the company's 
receiving the debt from Government, as the most eligible 
measure, and is, by all means, for keeping up the 
dividend. His reasons ar^ certainly cogent, but, as yet, 
we have the matter very imperfectly before us. 

I saw a letter to Sir Charles Saunders from Sir Charles 
Knowles. He speaks of the conclusion of peace between 
Turkey and Eussia as almost certain, and this will 
probably draw with it some sort of pacification of 
Poland, and may thereby ensure the continuance of 
peace in the rest of Europe, for some time longer. 
I cannot find that foreign affairs are intended to form 
any part of our business at the meeting. If your lord- 
ship gives me notice when you will be at Harrowden, 


I shall be glad to wait upon you there, but, indeed, I had 
much rather meet you in London. I am, with my best 
respects to Lady Rockingham, 

My dear lord, ever your lordship's most 

obliged and obedient Humble servant, 


I hear that Charles Fox's speedy coming into the 
Treasury is expected. This event would not, I hope, 
prove sinister to a very just claim ; 1 and would 
prevent much oppression to individuals, and, I am 
quite certain, a very considerable loss .to the public. 


November 17, 1772. 

I am much obliged to your grace for your very kind 
letter of the 15th, which I received by the machine. 
Whatever others might have imagined, I never thought 
your grace too tenacious of your opinions. If you had 
rather leaned to that extreme, I should not have 
esteemed you the less for it. I have seen so many 
wof ul examples of the effect of levity, both that winch 
arises from temper and that which is owing to interest, 
that a small degree of obstinacy is a quality not very 
odious in my eyes, whether it be complexional, or from 
principle. When a man makes great sacrifices to Ids 
honest opinion, it is no wonder that he should grow 
fond of it. I am sure that nothing can hinder -public 
spirit from being very suspicious, except great con- 
sistency. Those who do not much admire the security 
itself, nor perhaps the virtue it secures, will represent 
it as a mask, and perhaps the virtue as an obstinate 
and intractable disposition. Those who think in that 
manner of your grace, form that opinion on your 
steady attachment to your principles. They know 
nothing of your compliance and practicability^ in 

1 A claim, of Richard Burke's to some land in Grenada. 

150 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

carrying on business among your friends, I can bear 
witness that it has always been full as much as was 
necessary towards keeping a great system well com- 
pacted together in all its parts. I have known some 
good effects of that practicability. I agree, too, that 
there have been instances where we may now have 
reason to wish you had less facility. After all, every 
political question that I have ever known, has had so 
much of the pro and con in it, that nothing but the 
success could decide which proposition ought to have 
been adopted. People in a constant minority can have 
no success, and therefore, have not even that uncertain 
way of solving any problem of political conduct. 
I believe we have had more divisions among ourselves 
than we ought to have had, and have made many 
mistakes in our conduct, both as a body and as indivi- 
duals. Comparing our proceedings with any abstract 
standard, we have been very faulty and imperfect ; 
but if you try yourselves by a comparison with any 
other existing body of men, I believe you will find 
a more decent, regular, consistent, and prudent series 
of proceeding among yourselves, than among any of 
them, or all of them put together. Have you in any 
place where you have had an interest undone your- 
selves so completely, as a certain party which was lately 
in possession of the corporation of London ? a set of 
gentlemen who cannot plead innocence and simplicity 
as an excuse for their innumerable blunders. In the 
House of Lords, have the chiefs of you ever framed 
such injudicious motions, paid so little attention to 
your mutual honour, or contrived to reconcile your 
proceedings at one time to your declarations at 
another, with so little finesse and dexterity as some 
persons of very high name in this country ? You have 
not, like them, while they were miserably distracted 
among themselves, formed a thousand childish and 
mischievous plots, to break to pieces the only people 
who could possibly serve them, and in whom, if they 
had common sense, they would, for their own sakes, 
have placed great confidence, as well as have endea- 


voured to acquire the like from them, by every method 
of fair and conciliatory conduct. If you turn from 
them to the factions that make what is called adminis- 
tration, surely you are guiltless of that tissue of 
absurdities by which Government, that by mere abuses 
can hardly fee more than odious, has been rendered 
the most contemptible thing in the world. Look at 
home, one has much to complain of. Look abroad, 
one has ten times more. So that on the whole, I am 
inclined to think that the faults in your body are no 
more than the ordinary frailties of human nature ; 
some of them, too, inseparably attached to the cause 
of all your strength and reputation. You are, in 
general, somewhat languid, scrupulous, and unsys- 
tematic ; But men of high birth and great property are 
rarely as enterprising as others, and for reasons that are 
very natural. Men of integrity are curious, sometimes 
too curious, in the choice of means ; and great bodies 
can seldom be brought to system and discipline, except 
by instruments that, while you are out of Government, 
you have not in your power. However, with all these 
faults, it is better you should be rich, and honest, and 
numerous, than needy and profligate, and composed 
of a few desperate politicians ; though they have 
advantages in their own way, which you must always 
want. It is with such reflections I compose and com- 
fort myself, in the occasional dejections and vexations 
that I am subject to like other men, and which your 
grace has seen but too much of ; and they will in my 
cool moments always put me at ease, and reconcile me 
to everything you do, as long as I can act in public, 
whether I agree in opinion with the rest of you, or not, 
As to your grace's situation in the party and in the 
world, it would be the greatest injustice to Lord 
Buckingham, not to say that he sees and feels his 
obligations to you in their full extent, and has often 
spoke, as he ought, of the unparalleled part you have 
acted. His nearest and oldest friends are, much in the 
same degree, your own. There can be but one opinion 
on your conduct and abilities. With regard to others, 

152 EDMUND BURKE , [1772 

your grace is very sensible that you have not made 
your court to the world, by forming yourself to a flatter- 
ing exterior ; but you put me in mind of Mr. Wilkes's 
observation when he makes love, that he will engage 
in such a pursuit against the handsomest fellow in 
England, and only desires a month's start of his rival 
on account of his face. Your month is past ; and if 
your grace does not, every one else does remark, how 
much you grow on the public, by the exertion of real 
talent and substantial virtue. You know you have 
already some fruits of them, and you will gather in 
such fruits every day, until your barns are full as they 
can hold. One thing, and but one, I see against it, 
which is, that your grace dissipates your mind into 
too great a variety of minute pursuits, all of which, 
from the natural vehemence of your temper, you 
follow with almost equal passion. It is wise, indeed, 
considering the many positive vexations, and the 
innumerable bitter disappointments of pleasure in the 
world, to have as many resources of satisfaction as 
possible within one's power. Whenever we concentre 
the mind on one sole object, that object and life itself 
must go together. But though it is right to have 
reserves of employment, still some one object must be 
kept principal ; greatly and eminently so ; and the 
other masses and figures must preserve their due sub- 
ordination, to make out the grand composition of an 
important life. Upon these sound principles, which 
your grace would require in some of those arts that 
you protect, your public business, with, all its dis- 
couragements and mortifications, ought to be so much 
the principal figure with you, that the rest, in com- 
parison of it, should be next to nothing ; and even in 
that principal figure of public life, it will be necessary 
to avoid the exquisiteness of an over-attention to 
small parts ; and to over-precision, and to a spirit of 
detail, which acute understandings, and which, without 
great care, all precise reasoners are apt to get into ; 
and which gives, in some degree, a sort of hardness, 
and what you connoisseurs call the dry manner, to 


all our actions. Your grace has abundant reason not 
to be discouraged from the great exhibition that I wish 
to see you chiefly intent upon. In the course of public 
business, by degrees, your grace develops your true 
character. You would be in a bad condition, if, with 
the doors shut after the manner of the French, but 
on the principle of the English constitution, you were 
to be tried only by your peers. But this is not so ; 
business, by degrees, brings various kinds and descrip- 
tions of men into contact with you ; and they all go 
off with the best impressions, and communicate them 
to the world. Why have I rambled thus far ? Why, 
truly, because it became an amusement to my mind ; 
and that I see your grace wants some amusement too. 
But is the indulgence of a loquacious vein any amuse- 
ment ? I will try by going on further. I agree with 
your grace, that our condition is very bad. It is 
certainly so. It can be concealed, neither from friends 
nor enemies. The time for secession is past, and no 
other such opportunity is in prospect. It would have 
done, I am persuaded ; but none of our friends are 
to blame for this rejection of that idea. On the first 
proposal, Lord Temple, Lord Lyttelton, and Lord 
Oamden showed such invincible repugnance to it, that 
in your then situation it could not be thought of ; 
and it was impossible at that time to take a separate 
walk from them. With regard to the transaction of 
1767, I do recollect that I, as well as others, did, in 
some particulars, differ from your grace's opinion. 
I think you will do me the justice to believe, that it 
was not out of any particular regard to Bedford House. 
Indeed, independently of my former observations, 
I saw clearly, during the supper at Lord Buckingham's, 
the most unamiable dispositions ; a behaviour in some 
of them that was scarcely polite ; and a reserve, which 
wine, circulated briskly until the sunbeams drove us 
from it, was not able to dispel, though these people 
are not indeed candid, but naturally very loose and 
careless talkers. Bat I thought I saw too, that the 
whole treaty, on the part of the Duke of Grafton and 

154 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

Lord Camden, and much more another, was merely 
an imposition both on you and on Oonway; princi- 
pally meant to bring the latter to act the part he did 
afterwards ; and I can scarcely forbear being still of 
opinion, they never meant to bring you in, except on 
terms that, when they became explicit, you could 
neither have accepted nor rejected, without great 
detriment and disgrace to you. I conclude this, not 
only from the closet disavowal in the middle of your 
proceedings, but from a conversation with General 
Conway, a few days after all was broke off, in which 
he very frankly told me, that the intention never was 
to bring in the whole even of your body, but about 
half a dozen (I think) of the principal people ; and to 
let you make way for the rest as opportunities should 
offer. Constituted as the remaining part of the 
Ministry was, this was a novel plan of power which 
would enable you to serve your cause. Your grace, 
I dare say, recollects that we did all, in effect and 
substance, at last accede to your grace's opinion ; 
when, after a long consultation, protracted to near two 
o'clock in the morning, and after frequent messages 
backward and forward, your grace at length carried 
the ultimatum to General Conway, and never received 
an answer from that day to this. On the whole, I saw 
so little real intention towards you at that time, either 
in the Duke of Grafton, or Lord Camden, or General 
Conway, or in the first mover, that I cannot, without 
great difficulty, attribute our present condition to our 
rejection of the proposals of th,e court ; for, in effect, 
if they had been such as your grace thought them, the 
treaty never could have broken off on account of 
Bedford House, which had broken with you, and that 
in a manner equally insolent and scandalous, before 
that business concluded. Your grace remembers well 
the character of the Duke of Newcastle, who always 
treated with his enemies, in beginning by putting 
himself into their power, and by offering more than 
they would think of asking ; and whose jealousy, little 
short of frenzy, of Lord Bockingham, about objects 


which he neither would nor could have held, drove him 
headlong into any snare his adversaries laid for Mm. 
Lord Albemarle, too, had his attention to the Duke of 
Bedford ; but I must say with as great, as just sus- 
picions of him and his, as with attachment to you, 
on the total. Yet it was very necessary to look to 
both these persons ; and they, at least one of them, 
and the most material, required nothing more than 
an empty compliment ; and this the court knew, or 
might have known, as well as we did. But whether 
I am mistaken or not, the thing being passed, it only 
gives pain to attribute our misfortunes to our faults, 
where circumstances will not suffer our repentance 
to amend them. Bad they are indeed ! but where 
things are desperate with regard to power, they are 
not always in a situation the most unfavourable to 
character. Decorum, firmness, consistency, courage, 
patient, manly perseverance, these are the virtues of 
despair. They are worth something, surely; and none 
has profited so much of that situation as your grace, nor 
could you have shown of what materials you are made 
in any other. Persons in your station of life ought to 
have long views. You people of great families and 
hereditary trusts and fortunes, are not like such as 
I am, who, whatever we may be, by the rapidity of our 
growth, and even by the fruit we bear, and flatter 
ourselves that, while we creep on the ground, we belly 
into melons that are exquisite for size and flavour, 
yet still are but annual plants, that perish with oui 
season, and leave no sort of traces behind us. You, 
if you are what you ought to be, are in my eye the 
great oaks that shade a country, and perpetuate youi 
benefits from generation to generation. The imme- 
diate power of a Duke of Richmond, or a Marquis of 
Rockingham, is not so much of moment ; but if their 
conduct and example hand down their principles to 
their successors, then their houses become the public 
repositories and offices of record for the constitution ; 
not like the Tower, or Rolls-chapel, where it is searched 
for and sometimes in vain, in rotten parchments under 

156 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

dripping and perishing walls, but in full vigour, and 
acting with vital energy and power, in the character 
of the leading men and natural interests of the country. 
It has been remarked that there were two eminent 
families at Rome, that for several ages were distin- 
guished uniformly by opposite characters and prin- 
ciples, the Claudian and Valerian. The former were high 
and haughty, but public-spirited, firm, and active, and 
attached to the aristocracy. The latter were popular 
in their tempers, manners, and principles. So far the 
remark : but I add that any one, who looks attentively 
to their history, will see that the balance of that famous 
constitution was kept up for some ages, by the personal 
characters, dispositions, and traditionary politics of 
certain families, as much as by anything in the laws 
and orders of the State; so that I do not look upon 
your time or lives lost, if, in this sliding away from the 
genuine spirit of the country, certain parties, if possible, 
if not the heads of certain families, should make it 
their business, by the whole course of their lives, 
principally by their example, to mould into the very 
vital stamina of their descendants, those principles 
which ought to be transmitted pure and unmixed to 
posterity. Neither Lord Rockingham nor your grace 
have children : however, you do not want successors 
of your blood ; nor, I trust, heirs of your qualities and 
your virtues, and of the power which sooner or later 
will be derived from them. This I say to comfort 
myself, and possibly your grace, in the present melan- 
choly view of our affairs. * Although the field is lost 
all is not lost, 5 to give you a line of your Milton, who 
has somewhat reconciled you to poetry, and he is 
an able advocate. For the rest, I can only tell your 
grace, that . . . * 

1 Here the draft breaks off. 



Broad Sanctuary, Thursday, Nov. 19, 1772. 


I cannot attribute the opening of my letter to mere 
curiosity, except it were the interested curiosity of 
some base politician. I should think the villain might 
be traced, and in some way or other, the principal or 
the instrumental delinquent punished. A few days 
before I had received your lordship's by Mr. Thesiger, 
I wrote pretty largely by the same conveyance, on the 
subject of my conversation at Pall Mall, and on the 
opinions of such other friends as I could collect. 
They were, on the whole, adverse to the idea I sug- 
gested to them. As I have stated this matter o much 
at large, and as your lordship has received Mr. Dowdes- 
welPs long and able letter, it is not necessary to say 
more by this unconfidential conveyance. 

I am somewhat anxious about your lordship's pre- 
sence at the meeting. This wish is always in sub- 
ordination to the demands of your health. But as 
I hope you have not lately gone backward, I incline 
to flatter myself, that a journey hither would do you 
more good than harm. It would free us from a great 
awkwardness of situation. If this meets your lordsiup 
at Wentworth, it will be rather late for my purpose, 
which I might indeed have considered, when I sat down 
to write. If however, unluckily, I have not blundered 
so much as I hope I have, I have just to mention to your 
lordship that the East India Company had yesterday 
received a message from the Treasury, the report of 
whose contents immediately sunk the stock, I was 
told, seven per cent. : *as the message, which desired 
to know what plans for their relief the company had 
to lay before Parliament, conveyed in the end very 
strongly, an implication that they would not be per- 
mitted to make any dividend. This is all the news 

158 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

I hear. My respectful compliments to Lady Rocking- 
ham ; and believe me, with the greatest truth and 

My dear lord, 

Your lordship's most obedient, and 
obliged humble servant, 


Beaconsfidd, Monday , November 23, 1772. 


I came hither this day, in order to settle some little 
affairs, having been rather disagreeably detained in 
town for about a fortnight. A few hours after my 
arrival your lordship's messenger brought me your 
most obliging letter of the 20th. I am pleased that you 
have taken your final resolution of spending your 
holidays at Wentworth. As ' the session approaches, 
I see the probability of a full attendance of your friends 
almost vanish. Mr. Dowdeswell will not be in town at 
the meeting. I think it rather likely that the Duke of 
Richmond will continue in the country. On the whole, 
I am satisfied that your presence in London, with 
danger to your health, would hurt us all much more, 
both in our f eelings and our interests, than a temporary 
absence which may tend to give us a longer, a more 
effectual, and a more satisfactory use of your counsel 
and assistance. We will do the best we can, that is, 
we will do as little as we can. For, in truth, what is 
there left for us to do ? In the present state of the 
popular opinions, of the designs of the court, of the 
distractions of the company, what can one or two 
effect, utterly unsupported, if not directly thwarted, 
by nine-tenths of those who upon common occasions 
are the only friends we have to rely upon ? This is our 
state, and we must submit to it. 

Your lordship sees I confine my present consideration 


entirely to the affairs of the East India Company, 
because I am persuaded that, for the present, Ministry 
does not mean to bring any other before us. Sir 
George Colebrooke has at last lent me, for a day or 
two, copies of the papers which have been demanded 
by the Treasury. I have looked them over as carefully 
as the time would admit. I am more convinced than 
ever of the very flourishing state of their affairs, and 
that their present embarrassment is not from a defect 
of substance, but merely from a difficulty with regard 
to cash. Into this difficulty they never could have 
fallen by the mismanagements of their servants abroad ; 
though these have been, I make no doubt, very con- 
siderable and very culpable. It is the rapine of Parlia- 
ment, covered under the name of two agreements ; one 
for revenues in India, wliich never have existed, as 
a matter of profit, to either of the claimants ; another 
for a speculation upon teas, which had no foundation, 
and which it is downright extortion in the Government 
to exact, that has given theirs and public credit such 
a shock. In all the conversations I have had both 
with Colebrooke and with a person of very opposite 
character and designs (Mr. Gregory), I have no kind 
of doubt with myself that a million might and ought to 
be borrowed, and that there will then be sufficient fund 
for payment of interest at five per cent., leaving also 
an ample provision for sinking the principal, provided 
Parliament can prevail upon itself to give up a claim, 
which, while it has an existence, will never suffer the 
company or the nation to enjoy a moment's quiet or 
security. If this loan were authorized by Parliament, 
and the senseless claims abandoned, the proprietors 
could, with great safety to their capital, divide twelve 
and a half per cent., and continue to do so, while events 
suffer their trade to continue in its present situation. 
It is true, I was originally of another opinion ; but 
a view of the papers, which have been demanded for 
purposes wholly adverse to the company, and the 
most serious consideration of the affair, have made 
me alter my sentiments. If I do not misapprehend 

160 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

Mr. DowdeswelL, who first gave my mind this turn, he 
does not object to the reduction of dividend, as suppos- 
ing it a coercive measure of Government, but as a step 
dangerous to the rights of the company, though taken 
by themselves ; for by this measure the stock, already 
very low, will fall to the ground; and Government, 
under pretence of a composition or purchase, may with 
the greatest facility, and without any appearance of 
arbitrary power, take into their own hands the charter, 
and, with it, all the rights and possessions of the com- 
pany. It was the high dividend and high price of stock 
in 1767, that rescued the company out of their clutches. 
I would not have your lordship mistake me so far, 
as to think I would represent the keeping up the 
dividend at twelve and a half per cent., as a measure 
that, in the present disposition of Ministry, I conceive 
to be at all practicable. I only speak of it as what 
I seriously think appears, on the face of the papers, 
to be the only means of supporting public credit on 
a proper foundation; and of keeping the company 
out of the hands of any court projector, who may think 
of decorating the crown with the collected spoils of the 
East. The proprietors, however, who see no other way 
of getting rid of the encumbrance of the 400,000, are, I 
think, in general prepared to acquiesce in the reduction 
to six per cent. The court, I believe, have for the 
present given up all sort of hope of receiving that sum ; 
and, therefore, have rejected the first, and I really 
think the only propositions, that can be made for the 
relief of the company in the present exigency. They 
are so far from meaning, therefore, to keep up a forced 
dividend, either to themselves or to the proprietors, by 
improper borrowing, that I am apprehensive they have 
fallen into the very opposite extreme. They seem 
resolved to admit of no dividend whatsoever. Lord 
North sent a Treasury letter to the court of directors, 
calling on them to lay before him their ideas of a method 
of relief, and concluded with desiring to know * upon 
what foundation they intended to declare any divi- 
dend '. ^ This message came during some sales ; and the 


purport of it having been spread about, I hear caused 
a fall of seven per cent, in the price of stock. If this 
wicked project should be carried into execution, it is 
easy to see that there is an end of the company ; and 
a beginning of such a scene of frauds, impositions, and 
treasury jobbing of all sorts, both here and in India, 
as will soon destroy all the little honesty and public 
spirit we have left. 

I am not governed in my present opinions by any 
idea of our being tied down to a servile adherence to 
the maxims which we supported in 1767 ; since it is 
obvious, that, when we have no interest one way or 
other in the point, we might be allowed, without any 
suspicion of deserting our principles, to alter an 
opinion upon six years' experience, if six years' experi- 
ence had given us reason to change it. But the fact is, 
that we never denied, on the contrary, we always 
urged it to be the province and duty of Parliament to 
superintend the affairs of this company, as well as 
every other matter of public concern ; but we con- 
sidered it as a very different business to enter a house 
in order to regulate it, from breaking in in order to 
rob it. We considered it as the duty of Parliament to 
see that the company did not abuse its charter privi- 
leges, or misgovern its Asiatic possessions ; but we 
thought it abominable to declare their dividends in the 
House of Commons, and to seize their revenues into 
the hands of the Crown. These, I am sure, were our 
opinions then, and I see no sort of reason for altering 
them since that time. 

On foreign politics, I shall not trouble your lordship, 
until I hear something more of facts. I do not hear 
that they intend to engage us that way, at least not 
directly, on the meeting. Nor does the reduction 
of the seamen to 20,000, nor the ministerial attempts 
on the company, look like an intention of making 

I am infinitely obliged to Lady Rockingham for her 
ladyship's intention of honouring me with a letter. 
Nobody can be more sensible of her ladyship's goodness 

237 a 

162 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

and condescension, or more willing to obey her com- 

I will detain your messenger no longer ; I have, 
indeed, little to say, but what I never say but with the 
greatest truth, that I am, 

My dear lord, 

Your affectionate and obliged humble servant, 


On casting my eye over what I have written, I find 
I have expressed myself equivocally in one part. It 
might seem as if Sir George Colebrooke and Mr. 
Gregory had approved my ideas of borrowing, dividend, 
&c. This I do not know. I only mean to say that after 
conversing with them abundantly on the subject of 
the papers, &c., I am exceedingly confirmed in my 
opinion of what would be best to do, if I had in my 
choice what ought to be done. 



Permit me to return you my most sincere thanks for 
the honour of your very obliging letter. Nothing can 
be more polite than the offer of your correspondence, 
and nothing more acceptable than your specimen of it. 

I hope you will not look on the long delay of my 
acknowledgements, as a proof that I want the fullest 
sense of the great favour I have received. I owed 
you the best considered and the best informed judge- 
ment I could make, on the question which you proposed. 
The answer might affect your property, which you will 
give me leave to regard as a matter far from indifferent 
to me. After all, I am obliged to own to you, that the 
more I have inquired, and the more I have reflected, 
the less capable I find myself of giving you any advice 
on which I can venture to confide. I have never had 
any concern in the funds of the East India Company, 
nor have taken any part whatsoever in its affairs, 


except when they came before me in the course of 
parliamentary proceedings. Of late years, the inter- 
vention of the claims and powers of Government, the 
magnitude of the possessions in the East, which have 
involved the concerns of the company with the con- 
tentions of parties at home, and with the mass of the 
politics of Asia and Europe, together with many other 
particulars, have rendered all reasonings upon that 
stock a matter of more intricacy and delicacy, than 
whilst the company was restrained within the limits 
of a moderate commerce. However, one advantage 
has arisen from the magnitude of this object, and the 
discussions which have grown from its importance, 
that almost everything relative to it is become very 
public. The proceedings in Parliament and in the 
India House, have given as many lights to the foreign 
stockholders as to the inhabitants of this kingdom. 
Many persons on the Continent, as well as here, are 
more capable of giving you good information than 
I am ; I dare not risk an opinion. I am persuaded 
you will have the goodness to excuse a caution, which 
has its rise from my extreme tenderness towards your 

With regard to general politics, you judge very 
properly that we are more removed from them than 
you are, who live in the centre of the political circle. 
However, though situated in the circumference, we 
have our share of concern and curiosity. I am happy 
to receive that information which I have no right to 
expect, and no ability to requite. My situation is very 
obscure and private, and I have scarce anything to do, 
but with the minute detail of our own internal economy. 
To this I confine myself entirely. As to the grand 
machine, I admire its effects, without being often able 
to comprehend its operations, or to discover its springs. 
I look on these events as historical. .The distance of 
place, and absence from management, operate as 
remoteness of time. I am obliged to you for your 
account of his Prussian majesty's military arrange- 
ments. I make no doubt that a prince so wise and 

164 EDMUND BURKE [1772 

politic will improve his new acquisitions (for I am 
not to call them conquests) to the best advantage for 
his power and greatness. I agree no less with your 
observation, that it was extremely fortunate the three 
great allied Powers were able to find a fourth whieh 
was utterly unable to resist any one of them, and 
much less all united. If this circumstance had not 
concurred with their earnest inclinations to preserve 
the public tranquillity, they might have been obliged 
to find a discharge for the superfluous strength of 
their plethoric habits in the destruction of the finest 
countries in Europe. 

One great branch of the alliance has not been quite 
so fortunate. Russia seems to me still to retain, 
though under European forms and names, too much 
of the Asiatic spirit in its government and manners 
to be long well poised and secure within itself ; and 
without that advantage, nothing I apprehend can be 
done in a long struggle. Turkey is not prey, at least, 
for those whose motions are sometimes indeed preci- 
pitate, but seldom alert. The nature of the Turkish 
frontier provinces, an immense foss-ditch (if I may so 
call it) of desert, is a defence made indeed, in a great 
measure, at the expense of mankind, but still, it is 
a great defence ; and the applicability, if not the 
extent, of the Turkish resources are much greater 
than those of the northern enemy. It is not now likely 
that my paradoxical wish should be answered, or that 
I should live to see the Turkish barbarism civilized 
by the Russian. I don't wish well to the former 
Power. Any people but the Turks, so seated as they 
are, would have been cultivated in three hundred 
years ; but they grow more gross in the very native 
soil of civility and refinement. I was sorry for the 
late misfortunes of the Russians ; but I did not so 
well know how much of it they owed to their own 
obstinacy. Misfortunes are natural and inevitable to 
those who refuse to take advantage of the King of 
Prussia's lights and talents. You say that he was 
their Cassandra : if so, these people are inexcusable 


indeed ; surely nothing could be less remote than his 
predictions from the ravings of virgin simplicity. They 
were oracles directly from the very tripod of Apollo. 
The rest of mankind do more justice to the heroic 
intellect, as well as to the other great qualities of the 
king your master. 

Pray, dear sir, what is next ? These Powers will 
continue armed. Their arms must have employment. 
Poland was but a breakfast, and there are not many 
Polands to be found. Where will they dine ? After 
all our love of tranquillity, and all expedients to 
preserve it, alas, poor Peace ! 


Broad Sanctuary, January 10, 1773. 


My last was written a little before our concluding 
debate in the House of Commons, upon the India 
Supervision Bill. The smallness of our minority did 
not alarm me, though it was in reality rather lower 
than I imagined it would be. Other things happened 
on that day which surprised me a good deal more, 
and furnished occasion for much more unpleasant 
reflections. The slender appearance of friends might 
be well enough attributed to the season, and to the 
want of discipline arising from the nature of a minority, 
and the absence of our leader. The part which 
Lord George Germain took on that occasion did us 
great mischief at the time, and has been no small 
matter of triumph to the enemy ever since. My 
Lord Chancellor l thought proper to cast it in the 
Duke of Richmond's teeth, in the House of Lords. 
Indeed, the smallness of our division, and the impossi- 
bility of bringing our best friends to the support of 
our measures, were in a manner the sole arguments 
used in the House of Lords in favour of the ministerial 

1 Earl Bathurst. 

166 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

Your lordship will, I dare say, think we did right in 
dividing, notwithstanding the probable smallness of 
the numbers. It was right to put the gentlemen who 
chose to think with ministry, into the division along 
with them. It was necessary to show to them and 
to others, that this kind of conduct in some friends, 
cannot abate out confidence in the rectitude of our 
principles. It is not right that reason should be 
governed by whim or pique, let it be the pique or 
the whim of whoever it may. To divide showed 
a weakness in numbers ; to shrink from the division, 
would have shown weakness of mind and indecision 
of character, which is, or ought to be, of ten times 
worse consequence to us. In truth the battle for 
power is over ; nothing now remains but to preserve 
consistency and dignity. Lord George Germain told 
me he hoped we would not divide. ' I was very sorry 
that we should ever differ in opinion from his lordship, 
but we must look to ourselves in the first place. These 
had ever been our sentiments, and no human con- 
sideration should hinder me (for one) from dividing 
the House.' I need not say that I had not taken 
this resolution without concurring with Lord John 
Cavendish and Dowdeswell, whose opinions were 
sufficient for me. 

I am apt to think that, notwithstanding the extra- 
ordinary line which Lord George has taken, he has no 
connexions with the Ministry, nor is any negotiation 
likely to be opened between them. In talking over 
this disagreeable circumstance, it has been attributed 
to several causes. None of them are inconsistent with 
the others, and all of them, I believe, are in some 
degree real. Strange as it may appear, with regard 
to a man of his time of life, and his habits of business, 
he feels himself flattered by having been nominated 
to the select committee. He is entertained beyond 
measure with the anecdotes he learns there ; and this 
amusement and importance give him a strong leaning 
towards those who promote inquiries productive of 
such agreeable effects. The Duke of Richmond thinks, 


and I believe his grace is in the right, that Lord George 
is not quite satisfied m not having the lead of your 
lordship's friends in the House of Commons, and is 
therefore not displeased with any opportunity of 
throwing difficulties in the way of those measures 
which he does not direct. I am not sure that, along 
with all these, a certain natural and a certain pro- 
fessional leaning to strong acts of power, and to a high 
authority in the Crown, have not their full operation 
on his conduct, and give him a bias towards the court 
in all that they attempt against the independence of 
the company. Besides, I find that, whether from 
some remains of old Grenvillian connexion, or from 
whatever other cause, Lord Clive has obtained a con- 
siderable ascendant over him, and Lord Clive has acted 
such a part as might be expected from his character. 

Much as I esteem Lord George Germain in some 
things, and admire him in many things, I must say, 
he has not taken the measure of all the party with 
his usual ability, if it be any part of Ms plan to have 
the lead of us in the House of Commons. The object 
he looks for seems to me quite impracticable, even 
though Mr. Dowdeswell did not exist. I am sure 
while he does exist, we cannot find a leader whom 
a man of honour and of judgement would so soon 
choose to follow. In argument Lord George is apt 
to take a sort of undecided, equivocal, narrow ground, 
that evades the substantial merits of the question, 
and puts the whole upon some temporary, local, 
accidental, or personal consideration. I know that 
this method is much admired by some people as very 
parliamentary. Indeed, in some circumstances, it is 
right. When the objects of opposition are frivolous, 
it is advisable not to lay down principles which might 
embarrass upon a future occasion. But perhaps, in 
such cases, it were full as advisable not to oppose 
at all. Where a variety of different sentiments are 
to be reconciled in one vote, such a mode of proceeding 
has, I also admit, its use. But then one ought to 
know that those whom we wish to please do themselves 

168 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

wish to be pleased; or else we lose more by not 
standing by our own principle, than we gam by our 
partial and seeming conformity to theirs. I am clear 
that my latter parliamentary experience has been all 
upon that side. This oblique method, taken as a 
general way of proceeding, is so alien to the senti- 
ments of some, and so repugnant to the natural temper 
and cast of their minds, that I suspect no authority of 
a, leader could ever oblige them to take their fixed post 
upon such ground. Whatever it may do within the 
House, it makes no figure at all without doors, and 
has no other effect than to persuade the people that 
the opposition acts without any sort of principle. 
The questions which have been agitated during this 
reign, are almost all of them hading points, on which 
it is very necessary that men should have a decided 
opinion, and that their opinion should be known. 
If I were to choose an example of the ill effects of 
this method of stating the grounds of an opposition, 
I would go no further than to the very last debate. 
I speak upon a supposition that the intentions were 
lair and simple. When the motion was made for 
leave to bring in the bill, he spoke against it. But he 
chose to make his opposition upon the supposed 
resolution of the directors not to send out the com- 
mission. He not only founded himself upon this 
hollow and insufficient bottom (bad as principle, though 
proper as subsidiary), but he did it to the entire 
exclusion of any other ; for he declared, at the same 
time, that if he were not persuaded such was the 
intention of the company, nobody should be more 
forward in restraining the commission than himself. 
In this manner he chose to admit the principle of the 
bill, and left it to accidents, or indeed rather to 
the discretion of the Ministry, to guide his conduct 
in the succeeding steps of its progress. 

Accordingly, they got one of their instruments in 
the India House, at the moment when the petition 
against this very bill was in agitation, to move a sus- 
pension of the commission, which motion, as most 


insidious and most unseasonable, was put by with 
a previous question. It is true that Lord G. was 
under no necessity of voting for the bill afterwards, 
as their putting a previous question was no proof that 
commission would be sent out, and as no man believed 
that the commissioners would venture themselves from, 
home, in the present disposition of Parliament, without 
ministerial authority. However, the narrowness of 
his ground did put him into difficulties. He supported 
the bill on the third reading, which he had opposed 
on the first suggestion. Now what sort of figure should 
those of us, who thought this bill radically wrong, 
make upon such ground chosen by our leader ? un- 
pleasant to desert him, undoubtedly much worse to 
desert our conscience and principles. These are 
dilemmas to which this narrow politic ground will 
always expose an opposition. One can scarcely put 
one foot firm on it, and if you lose your balance never 
so little, you tumble down a precipice on the one side 
or the other. 

I find I have got a great way on this subject. But 
no persons except those who were present can rightly 
conceive the mischief which has happened to us by 
the kind of part Lord G. G. thought proper to take ; 
not only on account of the methods, but on account 
of the extraordinary degree of warmth and vehemence 
with which he pursued them. I need not say with 
what shouts of applause his speech was received by 
the majority. Such success attending such conduct 
cannot fail to encourage fom to a perseverance in it, 
as well as others to an imitation of it. Besides, it does 
so damp and dishearten all that act with us, that 
though no man can be more sensible than I am of the 
great advantage you derive from the wealthy con- 
nexion, which, if he has not brought, he at least tends 
to keep with your lordship, and of the weight you have 
from his personal ability in Parliament, yet I do 
venture to say, that three such days in the House of 
Commons would more than overbalance all these 
advantages, and even much greater ; and that if no 

170 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

method can be found of convincing Ms lordship that 
this mode of acting is infinitely prejudicial to the 
interest which he honours with Ms apparent support, 
it would be far better the world understood you had 
no connexion, and that he went directly and avowedly 
to the Ministry. 

I saw no friend of ours in the majority but old 
Tommy Townshend. 1 His son stayed away. These 
are men of, I believe, the very nicest principles of 
honour, and of very good understandings, I can readily 
allow ; for the difficulties into which they have been 
led in tMs business, wMle they thought they were 
following Lord Chatham, under the direction of the 
court guides, into whose management he had put 
those friends of his and your lordsMp's, who suffered 
their public principles to" be turned into a blind con- 
fidence in Mm. It is better that they should leave us 
now and then, than degrade themselves by anytMng 
like inconsistency, even where they took up their 
opinions on a very slight consideration, or rather 
wholly on the authority of others. In that view 
I look upon Tommy Townshend's staying away rather 
in the light of a civility to Ms friends than otherwise. 
But still, not being at all willing, nor indeed wholly 
able to blame Mm, I cannot but lament that every 
now and then he is disposed to a great deference to 
the opinions of those who are at most but allies to 
that body which I am sure he loves by far the best. 
Latterly he became a great admirer of George Grenvijle. 
Since then, Lord George Germain has more weight with 
Mm than anybody else. It is somewhat singular and 
a little vexatious, that when your lordsMp was so 
strongly disposed to the idea of our absenting ourselves 
from Parliament, those upon whose authority that 
proposition was overruled (at least they had a very 
considerable share in promoting the attendance), should 
be the very persons who, when we are met in conformity 
to their opinions, make no other use of that opportunity 

1 The Hon. Thomas Townshend, father of Mr. Thomas 
Townshend, who was created Lord Sydney in 1783. 


than to show the distractions that prevail among us, 
and to give all possible support to those ministerial 
measures which they must have foreseen would be 
proposed, and which they knew, by our former conduct, 
we were bound to oppose. It was a prospect of this 
that made me give so heartily into the idea started 
by the Duke of Richmond last summer, of our absenting 
ourselves from the House. I am sure it were much 
better keep away, than to come to the House with 
no other purpose than to dispute among ourselves, 
divert the Ministry, and divide twenty-eight. It is 
certain that the East India affairs will be the perpetual 
business of Parliament ; and unless we can be made 
to form some sort of system upon that subject, and 
come to see the necessity either of understanding 
the matter, every man for himself, or of taking the 
authority of some among ourselves whose understand- 
ings and conduct make them deserving of trust, we are 
strengthening the hands of our adversaries every day 
we take our places in Parliament. 

As to the people abroad, I told your lordship in 
my last, that I found Ihem far better disposed than 
I originally expected. I am sure they would in general 
go with an opposition to the proceedings of the court. 
They might be easily brought to perceive what is in 
reality the fact, that they mean to screen and not to 
punish offenders ; that they mean not to reform abuses, 
but to take away franchises ; and that they only 
attack the company, in order to transfer their wealth 
and their influence to the court. I mentioned to your 
lordship, that I had taken some pains upon this subject. 
I saw and spoke to several ; possibly I might have 
done service to the cause, but I did none to myself. 
This method of going hither and thither, and agitating 
things personally, when it is not done in chief, lowers 
the estimation of whoever is engaged in such trans- 
actions, especially as they judge in the House of 
Commons, that a man's intentions are pure, in pro- 
portion to his languor in endeavouring to carry them 
into execution. However, thus much I have learned 

172 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

to a great certainty, that the people will not be more 
wanting to us upon this, than upon any other business 
if we are not wanting to ourselves. 

Your lordship's presence, I trust, will bring things 
again into order. Nobody but yourself can do it. 
We fall into confusion the moment you turn your 
back ; and though you have the happiness of many 
friends of very great ability and industry, and of 
unshakable fidelity to the cause, nobody but yourself 
has the means of rightly managing the different 
characters, and reconciling the difficult interests, that 
make up the corps of opposition. God forbid that 
even this should be compassed at the expense of your 
health ; but that I hope is restored, and I flatter 
myself we shall feel the good effects of it. 

The Duke of Richmond did wonderfully well in the 
House of Lords. Somebody observed that he was 
a host of debaters in himself, I heard him on the 
last day's debate, as strangers were admitted along 
with the council. I was told that the Duke of Portland 
spoke extremely well on presenting the petition. If 
his grace gave his excellent understanding a direction 
that way, I am sure he would make a public speaker 
of very great weight and authority. I could wish 
your lordship would converse a little with Sir G. Savile 
on these subjects. We know his motives for staying 
away. Those who heard his disclaimer of the select 
committee, may also remember them. This is very 
true, but still to the majority his absence will seem 
a condemnation of our conduct ; and of what weight 
that apparent tacit condemnation is, every one may 
discern, who knows how much the strength of our 
cause has arisen from its having his support, I have 
said nothing to him on this subject ; I was not entitled 
to that freedom, and it would indeed be giving him 
uneasiness to no effect ; and that I would not willingly 
do, even though some moderate good effect should 
follow it. 

If your lordship's friends are not pretty generally 
got together early, and properly talked to, permit me, 


my lord, with the earnestness that our good cause 
Infuses into me, to repeat again, that nothing but 
disgrace can attend our half -digested and half -enforced 
operations. When I receive your lordship's commands 
I shall attend ; when I hear things are in a right train, 
I shall attend with pleasure. 

In the meantime I profit of this little cessation of 
business, to apply to the education of my son, and 
to the means of his doing something for himself in 
the world. I shall have nothing else to leave Mm ; 
and your lordship, and all those I wish to please, 
would censure me, if I were wholly negligent in this 
point. The boy deserves well of me, for he is not 
idle, and he has a good disposition. He is lately 
entered a student of Christ Church in Oxford ; and 
answered, on the examination, to the satisfaction of 
those who examined him. I think he is full young 
for the University ; and the Bishop of Chester has 
been so good as to indulge him with a year's leave of 
absence. It is a good time to form his tongue to 
foreign languages, I feel, almost every day of my 
life, the inconvenience of wanting them. So I propose 
to take him with me to Blois. Mr. Hampden speaks 
well of that place for pleasantness, cheapness, and 
total freedom from the resort of English. My friend 
Mr. King l continuing his uncommon regards towards 
us both, will be with him. I am advised to go by 
Paris. Whenever I know your lordship's wishes, 
I slhall be with you in a few days. I don't intend to 
remain a week in Paris, as I go out. On my return 
I shall stay there until your lordship informs me that 
something is put into train at home. 

This is Thursday ; I mean to set out on Sunday 
morning. I came to town to-day, and called at 
Dowdeswell's. He is out of town ; but I hear he 
will return to-morrow, and then I shall have an 
opportunity of talking with him. Your lordship "will 

1 The Reverend Thomas Kong, brother of Dr. Walker 
King, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. 

174 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

be so kind as to present my most dutiful compliments 
to Lady Bockingham. I am ever, with the truest 
affection and attachment, 

My dear lord, 

Ever your lordship's most obliged friend 
and humble servant, 


Broad Sanctuary, January 10, 1773. 

I THINK of writing a short note from Calais to 
Mr. Bentinck. Since I finished the above I received 
your lordship's most welcome letter, and am extremely 
obliged to you for it. It is true that the line of defence 
settled by the counsel was turned in the manner your 
lordship has mentioned. If they had omitted it, they 
would have suffered equally. No abuses stated. The 
reason of expense assigned in the preamble would have 
had great strength, for small abuses will not justify 
expensive arrangements. If the abuses were proved 
to be great, then they were above their measure. This 
I say from a sense of the temper of the House ; for 
I had no share in concerting their plan, further than 
that on hearing they meant to examine evidence, 
I was in hopes that they might embarrass the Ministry 
in point of time. The line to which your lordship 
thinks they ought to have stuck entirely was strongly 
marked by them, but it received the same disadvan- 
tageous turn. Several of the minority gave the 
company's having contested the right and propriety 
of parliamentary interference, as the reason for their 
vote for the bill. When anybody is doomed to destruc- 
tion, all the arguments he alleges for his safety become 
new grounds for cutting him off. It was well observed 
by the counsel, that in the year 1767, when the court, 
by a law of its own, limited its dividend, and therefore 
prayed that an Act of Parliament should not pass for 
that purpose, it was retorted on them that the Act 
did no more than confirm what they had done themselves. 


Now he found the chief reason urged for passing the 
bill was, that they declined themselves to restrain their 
supervision, so that whether they declined, or did not 
decline the use of their franchises, the reason was 
equally cogent for taking them away. Just in that 
impertinent, sophistical manner did they argue then 
and now ; everything is a reason to people for doing 
what they choose to do. I think it not unlikely that 
Mr. Dowdeswell will tell you of a visit he has had from 
Cornewall, 1 after a long absence. The Shelburnes 
seem to repent of having done nothing in this business, 
and appear rather disposed to come round. My clear 
opinion is, that however I may like, as I do, some 
individuals in that body, the corps, as a corps, is 
naught ; and that no time or occasion can probably 
occur, in which, in the way of consultation or com- 
munication, it would be right to have anything to do 
with them. My great uneasiness is about our own 
corps, which appears to me in great danger of dis- 
solution. Nothing can prevent it in my opinion, but 
the speedy and careful application of your lordship's 
own peculiar, persuasive, and conciliatory manner, in 
talking over public business, and leading them into 
a proper line of conduct. I know they flatter them- 
selves that it is on this only occasion that they shall 
differ. But what occasion is there, that in its nature 
can occur so often, continue so long, or lead into 
consequences so completely ruinous to public interest 
and public virtue ? Is not this the great object of 
the court ? If they carry their point in this, of what 
advantage is any future contest ? Besides, the very 
habit of confiding in the plans of their old enemies, 
is dangerous to the existence of a party in opposi- 
tion. Never had people less reason for such confi- 
dence, than we have in this Ministry, and in this very 

Our friends, too, think they do very handsomely, 
when they say they will oppose the design of seizing 

1 Charles Wolfran Comewall, a Lord of the Treasury 
under Lord North from March 1774 to September 1780. 

176 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

on the company's patronage, when that design is 
openly avowed by the court. It never will be avowed 
in its extent, and the plan never will (for a plain reason, 
that it never can,) be executed at one stroke. The 
business will be done covertly and piecemeal, and our 
friends will help it forward in the detail, and thus 
completely finish it, in hopes of some time or other 
opposing it in the gross. 

I see I run over and over the same ideas. Your 
lordship will be so good to excuse this extreme, and, 
I rather hope, unusual prolixity. I think your presence 
much wanted, and early, in order to take a review of 
the troops before the opening of the next campaign, 
that, if you should not find them in readiness for action, 
you would persuade them to remain quietly in their 


Paris, February, 1773. 

While I wait with some impatience to hear of your 
health, and your satisfaction in your new settlement, 1 
I just write to give you the pleasure of knowing that 
we got to Paris late at night, Tuesday, but well as we 
could wish, without any troublesome accident what- 
soever. I can write but little now, but I make amends, 
by sending you two letters from your mamma. 
I received others from Mr. Burke and my brother, 
but though they relate to you, and are full of such 
expressions of kindness to you both as would be very 
agreeable to you, yet as they contain some matters for 
my direction, in some particulars here, I must keep 
them. I write from Mr. Panchaud's, who will send 
Mr. King a bill for twenty-five louis next Friday, 
which is the soonest that it can be remitted to you ; 
for the rest I shall settle in a few days : I may stay 

1 They were then living in Auxerre. 

1773] TO B. BURKE AND T. KING 177 

at Paris ten days or a fortnight longer. So don't, 
neglect, one or the other of you, to write to me con- 
stantly. My good friends, while I do most earnestly 
recommend you to take care of your health and safety. 
as things most precious to us, I would not have that 
care degenerate into an effeminate and over-curious 
attention, which is always disgraceful to a man's self, 
and often troublesome to others. So you know my 
meaning, when I wish you again and again to take 
care of yourselves for our sake. So, when I wish you 
to avoid superfluous expenses, as giving the mind 
loose and bad habits, be aware that I wish you to 
avoid everything that is mean, sordid, illiberal, and 
uncharitable, which is much the worst extreme. Do 
not spare yourselves nor me in this point. As you 
are now a little setting up for yourselves, suffer me 
to give you a little direction about the article of giving. 
When others of decent condition are giving along with 
you, never give more than they do ; it is rather an 
affront to them, than a service to those that desire 
your little bounty. Whatever else you do, do it 
separately. But always preserve a habit of giving 
(but still with discretion), however little, as a habit 
not to be lost. When I speak of this, the funds of 
neither of you are large, and perhaps never may 
become so. So that the first thing is justice. Whatever 
one gives, ought to be from what one would otherwise 
spend, not from what he would otherwise pay. To 
spend little and give much, is the highest glory a man 
can aspire to. As to studies, I do not wish you, til! 
you have conquered a little the difficulties of the 
French, to apply to anything else but that and Greek. 
More would distract and hurt, so don't trouble your- 
selves with geometry and logic, until you hear from 
me on the subject. Beading, and much reading, is 
good ; but the power of diversifying the matter 
infinitely in your own mind, and of applying it to 
every occasion that arises, is far better, &o don't 
suppress the vivida vis. May God grant you -every 
blessing. Bemember Him first, and last, and midst. 

178 EDMUND BURKE [1773 

Keep yourselves constantly in His presence. Again 
and again, God bless you. 

Your ever affectionate father, 


My most hearty respects to the family you are with, 
to Abbe Vaulker, and the very worthy and ingenious 
gentlemen who are so worthy of his friendship, to the 
Count D'Esper, and all friends. Adieu ! 


Tuesday night, February 2, 1774. 


I have just received your lordship's letter. It is 
half an hour after ten ; so that if I say much, I shall, 
I fear, be too late for the fly. I rejoice most heartily 
at your coming to town, and at Lady Rockingham's 
happy recovery. I wish your lordship had brought 
your share of health with you ; but I flatter myself 
that the journey and the change will rather do you 
service. I wish your lordship would not take things 
too anxiously. If the Duke of Richmond were to 
succeed in the India House, it would be a matter of 
great triumph. But if he has failed, or even if he 
should fail finally, we ought not to be surprised at it ; 
as the whole power of Government has been employed 
to gain that body, which the whole power of Parliament 
has been employed to new-model for that purpose. 
But I really do not think it absolutely impossible that 
they may yet be able to save something from the talons 
of despotism. Your lordship will find all your friends, 
though not active, yet all at their posts ; in good 
humour with one another ; in no bad spirits ; firmly 
attached to their principles and to your lordship. As 
to others, I hope they begin to know to whom it is they 
owe their present situation. I mean all such (few 
indeed) as choose not to play the same part of division 
and subdivision themselves. 


As to Lord Buckinghamshire, 1 I always thought 
America was his object, and that he would begin with 
a motion for papers. Whether he got them, or what 
was said on the part of administration, I know not. 
It was the Duke of Richmond's, Mr. DowdeswelTs, and 
Lord Fitzwilliam's, as well as Lord J. Cavendish's 
sentiment, that your lordship's friends in the House of 
Peers ought to absent themselves, and not to coun- 
tenance the interested petulance of those paltry 
discontented people, who, without embracing your 
principles, or giving you any sort of support, think to 
make use of your weight to give consequence to every 
occasional spirit of opposition they think proper to 
make, in order to put the Ministry in mind that they 
are to be bought by private contract, as unconnected 
individuals. When you mean opposition, you are able 
to take it up on your own grounds, and at your own 
time. I cannot think they can bring on any question 
this week. 

Your lordship remarks very rightly on the supineness 
of the public. Any remarkable highway robbery at 
Hounslow Heath would make more conversation than 
all the disturbances of America. 

There were five-and-thirty at council on the petition 
to remove Governor Hutchinson. 2 Dunning, 3 counsel 
for the province, denied that there was any cause 
instituted. That the petition charged no crime, and 
made no accusation. It applied to the wisdom of the 
Crown, and did not make a demand for justice. It was 
with the king to grant or to refuse. They had no 
impeachment to make, and no evidence to produce. 
It was well and ably put. Lee seconded ; Wedderburn 
replied in a very well-performed invective against the 
assembly, and all the town meetings of New England ; 
justifying the governor, and laying on most heavily, 

1 The Earl of Buckinghamshire was appointed Lord 
Lieutenant of Ireland in November 1776. 

2 Dr. Franklin presented a petition from Massachusetts 
praying for the removal of the governor. 

3 Afterwards Lord Ashburton. 

180 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

indeed beyond all bounds and measure, on Dr. Franklin. 
I am told the Doctor is to be dismissed from whatever 
employments he holds under the Crown. There is 
nothing else stirring. 
I am, with the utmost affection and attachment, 

My dear lord, 

Your lordship's most obedient and 
humble servant, 



September, 1774. 

I am this moment honoured with your grace's letter 
of the 26th instant. With your usual indulgence and 
condescension to my weakness, you are so good as not 
to blame me for an application in favour of my friend. 
I must confess that, where I have had such an object 
in view, I have not usually made any scruple to violate, 
in some degree, the strict letter and summum jus of 
decorum and propriety. By this conduct I am con- 
scious that I have made some enemies ; but I have 
the satisfaction of feeling, at the same time, that 
enemies so made are almost the only ones I have in 
the world. It would undoubtedly be great folly to 
expect, and great presumption to recommend to others, 
a conduct which is not, perhaps, exactly justifiable to 
prudence in myself. But in the present case, I really 
think, on all accounts, my enemies may be excused 
Indeed, I am so anxious to stand well with your grace, 
that you will permit me, though you do not require it, 
to lay before you the reasons why I did not at first 
perceive the impropriety of my application to your 
grace upon this occasion. I was utterly ignorant, 
I assure you, that your grace had lived in any habits 
of intimacy with Lord Temple, or that you were related 
to him in any near degree of consanguinity. With 
regard to affecting his family interest, I was equally 
ignorant that he had a family interest in the county of 


Buckingham, which none of his name has ever yet 
represented, and where, indeed, the Grenvilles are 
comparatively strangers. 1 Lord Verney is now member 
for the county, and so far in possession. His family 
have, for many centuries, had an ample property, and 
no small consideration in it ; and this consideration 
has, on Lord Verney's part, been very well merited, as 
I believe no man in England, without the exception of 
another, has been so indulgent, humane, and moderate 
a landlord, on an estate of considerable extent, or a 
greater protector to all the poor within his reach. So 
that, I apprehend, it is Lord Verney's personal and 
family interest which are attacked by Lord Temple, 
and not Lord Temple's that is attacked by Lord Verney. 
As they are near neighbours, hitherto they have lived 
in great appearance of mutual friendship ; and I am 
persuaded that if Lord Verney had attached himself to 
the same party with Lord Temple, to which he did not 
" altogether want invitation, he would now have neither 
the least uncertainty, nor a shilling expense, in his 

With regard to the other impropriety of the applica- 
tion, that Lord Verney is not known to your grace, it is 
undoubtedly a great misfortune to him, as well as to 
all others in the same circumstances, that he is not 
honoured with your acquaintance. But, as by this 
means your grace is a stranger to him, I take the liberty 
to state to you what he had done to entitle him to some 
sort of slight countenance in his election (for I did not 
presume to ask for more), from that party of which 
your grace is a capital ornament and principal support. 
He has told in Parliament, including himself, for four 
members ; Mr. W. Burke, Mr. Bullock, and myself, are 
three of them, who, as well as Lord V., for the last nine 
years, have been diligent attenders, and have never 
given a vote against your interest. All these elections 
were carried off without any sort of trouble to the 

1 This is a mistake, as the antiquity of the GrenvUles in 
Buckinghamshire is very great indeed. 

82 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

party. He was likewise at an enormous expense to get 
a fifth member, and would have got him too, if justice 
had been done at the trial in the House of Commons ; 
so that it is not through his want of exertion that you 
had not five. If his modesty has been such, that with 
his zealous attempts to do service he is not so much as 
known in the party, it is one of the natural effects of 
that unhappy virtue. With regard to my having taken 
upon me to do what Lord Verney did not risk himself, 
your grace will attribute my presumption to a cause as 
natural as the former, your extraordinary and un- 
merited indulgence, a thing which makes us some- 
times forget ourselves ; and, perhaps in some degree, 
to a thorough consciousness that, on my part, I have 
been at all hours, and without any sort of reserve, at 
your grace's devotion ; but this last is such a very 
trifle, and has been so much overpaid in acceptance, 
that it can hardly be reckoned among my excuses for 
the attempt. 

I wish you may not be tired with the length of my 
apology, I am beyond measure fearful of offending 
your grace, and I had rather, in these cases, be acquitted 
than pardoned. 

It would give me very unfeigned concern, for the 
sake of the public, that your grace could seriously think 
or talk of being sick of politics. Let me say that you 
have tolerable corroborants for the stomach. It is not 
for want of bitters that it is so weak. But in serious 
earnest you have less reason for this despondency than 
most men. Your constitution of mind is such that you 
must have a pursuit ; and in that which you have 
chosen, you have obtained a very splendid reputation, 
which is no slight object to every generous spirit. You 
have exerted very great abilities in a very excellent 
cause, and with very noble associates. You have not 
disappointed your friends, nor have they disappointed 
you ; and if, on casting up the account, you find your 
power in the state not equal to your services to the 
public, you have, notwithstanding, a high rank in your 
country, which kings cannot take from vou, and a 


fortune fully equal to your station, though not (it 
would be hard to find one) to the personal dignity of 
your mind. My (Tear lord, the whole mass of this taken 
together, is not to be called unhappiness, nor ought it 
to drive you from the public service. Private life has 
sorrows of its own, for which public employment is not 
the worst of medicines, and you may have in other 
things as much vexation without the same splendour. 
Your birth will not suffer you to be private. It 
requires as much struggle and violence to put yourself 
into private life, as to put me into public. Pardon 
a slight comparison, but it is as hard to sink a cork, as 
to buoy up a lump of lead. 

I heard a few days ago from poor Dowdeswell ; he 
is going abroad for his health. I heartily pray that he 
may find it. He is a man invaluable. 

The paragraph with which you conclude your letter 
gives me great comfort, that I have not forfeited your 
favour and kindness. They have been hitherto no 
small part of my honour and satisfaction, and will 
always be so, while your grace takes me for what, with 
all my failings, I very truly am, 

Your grace's most faithful and 
obedient servant, 




Beaconsfield, September 16, 1774. 

I received this morning your lordship's very Mad 
letter of the 13th. I should certainly have prevented 
you by one of mine, if anything pleasant, interesting, 
or curious, had justified me in giving you that trouble, 
among so many occupations in which I could not assist, 
and so many anxieties which I could not relieve. I felt 
for your lordship's situation whilst Sir G. Savile's idea 
of retirement continued. I was aware of his intention 
before he left home. Undoubtedly his putting it in 

184 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

execution would have broken up everything; and 
coming along with DowdeswelFs unfortunate illness, 
would have left no hope of re-establishing your lord- 
ship's political affairs, or those of the public, which are 
so intimately connected with them. As to Mr. Dowdes- 
well, I am really not very sanguine in my expectation 
of his recovery. It seems that a change of climate is 
his only chance. When that is the case, and the 
disorder an obstinate cough, I think the chance a very 
poor one. He has broken a blood-vessel already ; and 
the sea, which he must cross of necessity, endangers 
a repetition of the same misfortune, in case he should 
be ill in his stomach, and obliged to strain the organs 
of his throat and palate. It seems it was with great 
reluctance that he submitted to the thoughts of this 
voyage. However, I understand from a letter which 
I had from Sir William Codrington yesterday, that he 
has at length agreed to it. Possibly, if the cough be 
only symptomatic, and the effect of a latent distemper 
of another kind, the great change made by the sea air, 
motion, and way of life, may work a cure, especially 
upon him, who never yet has been on that element. 
I most ardently wish it may. His loss would be irre- 
parable, not only in business, of which he was the life 
and soul, but in society, as one of the worthiest, 
steadiest, and best-tempered men that ever lived. 

You see by the papers that the Duke of Northumber- 
land is likely to have some trouble in Westminster, if 
he puts up Lord Thomas Clinton ; whether the popular 
party propose me or not. 1 Lord Mahon has entered the 
lists. By the illiberal tone of his advertisement, it is 
easy to perceive from what school he issues. It is 
surprising how little that set of people manage the 
personal honour and credit of their connexions. I do 
not find that he has the least encouragement from the 

1 It seems that Mr. Churchill, and other friends of 
Mr. Burke, had suggested to him the probability of his 
being returned for Westminster, and that Wilkes, who 
was then, at the height- of his popularity, had promised 
him the popular support. 


leaders of the independent interest in Westminster. 
On my part, I am not excessively sanguine about that 
election ; but it would not be right to lose any matter 
that may be in it, by any neglects of my own. I propose, 
therefore, to be in town on Tuesday, and to talk over 
the business with those who are active in. it, and first 
suggested it to me. I am fortunate in one respect, that 
the Duke of Portland is in town. I shall communicate 
with him as I go on. I have scarcely been from, home 
an hour since I saw your lordship; except at the 
assizes of Buckingham, where I was obliged to go on 
a troublesome matter of litigation, which is now over ; 
and at the races of Aylesbury, where I did not go, you 
may be assured, for the sport. It was thought that 
the pulse of the county would be felt there. There 
certainly Lord Temple was ; but I do not think he 
found the appearance of things very encouraging. It 
was thought singular, that if he was resolved Ms 
nephew should stand, he took no care to exhibit him to 
the county, either at the assizes or at the races. He 
was, however, carrying on in every quarter a private 
canvass for him ; and he still talks of starting him, 
but has taken no steps, that I can learn, to call any 
meeting. I thought at the races that he would have 
dropped it, Aubrey has abandoned his scheme. His 
inconsiderate attempt, without doing the least good to 
himself, has done Lord Verney this mischief, that it 
seemed to open the ground and to habituate the county 
to the idea of a contest. I thought the Lowndes and 
the Tories seemed to give Lord Temple no sort of 
encouragement. What may come of it, I know not. 
I am convinced that Lord Temple's chief hope and 
principal encouragement is from the Duke of Grafton 
and the Government interest. 

I agree with your lordship entirely ; the American 
and foreign affairs will not come to any crisis, sufficient 
to rouse the public from its present stupefaction, during 
the course of the next session. I have my doubts 
whether those at least of America, will do it for some 
years to come. I don't know whether the London 

186 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

papers have taken in the Pennsylvania instructions to 
their representatives. Lest they should not, I send 
your lordship the Philadelphia paper which contains 
them. It is evident from the spirit of these instructions, 
as well as by the measure of a congress, and consequent 
embassy, that the affair will draw out into great length. 
If it does, I look upon it as next to impossible, that the 
present temper and unanimity of America can be kept 
up ; popular remedies must be quick and sharp, or 
they are very ineffectual. The people there can only 
work on ministry through the people here, and the 
people here will be little affected by the sight of 
half a dozen gentlemen from America, dangling at the 
levees of Lord Dartmouth and Lord North, or nego- 
tiating with Mr. Pownall. If they had chosen the 
non-importation measure as the leading card, they 
would have put themselves on a par with us ; and we 
should be in as much haste to negotiate ourselves out 
of our commercial, as they out of their constitutional 
difficulties. But in the present temper of the nation, 
and with the character of the present administration, 
the disorder and discontent of all America, and the 
more remote future mischiefs which may arise from 
those causes, operate as little as the division of Poland. 
The insensibility of the merchants of London is of a 
degree and kind scarcely to be conceived. Even those 
who are most likely to be overwhelmed by any real 
American confusion are amongst the most supine. The 
character of the Ministry either produces, or perfectly 
coincides with the disposition of the public. The 
security of the latter 1 does, I know, arise from an 
opinion of the volatile and transient nature of popular 
discontents ; and they have the recent and comfortable 
experience, that those discontents which prevailed at 
home, and prevailed with no small violence, had 
evaporated of themselves without any exertion whatso- 
ever on the part of Government. I confess I should 
not, in their situation, and with such great national 
objects at stake, repose myself with great tranquillity 

1 That is. theMinistrv. 


either on this speculation or this experience. But they 
have no opinion of the vindictive justice of the nation. 
The worst that can happen is the loss of employment., 
and that evil is to be postponed to the last hour. In 
the meantime they have three great securities : the 
actual possession of power, chapter of accidents, and 
the Earl of Chatham. This last is the sacra an$iora, 
Foreign politics do not embarrass them. The northern 
Powers are too remote, and France is certainly disposed 
to be pacific. Choiseul is not yet, ostensibly at least, 
in power, and some doubt whether he ever will. Things 
there are in the utmost confusion. 

I did not stop in the above, although I am come to 
town in the middle of a sentence. On my arrival I found 
that Lord Mahon valued himself much on the support 
of Wilkes. The Duke of Newcastle, too, paid a visit 
to the Duke of Portland, and told his grace that he 
had refused the Duke of Northumberland's solicitation 
to put up Lord Thomas Clinton, and that he looked 
on my Lord Mahon a very proper person to be sup- 
ported. Lord Mahon is to be married to Lord Chat- 
ham's daughter ; and the Duke of Portland thought 
he could plainly perceive, by the style of the conversa- 
tion, that this worthy friend of Lord Chatham thinks 
the ministerial tenement rather tottering, and that he 
wishes to house again under his old roof. On this 
information, I thought it right to send Dr. Morris to 
discover how far Mr. Wilkes continued firm to his en- 

fagements. It was not prudent to see him myself, until 
should be previously apprised of his sentiments and 
dispositions. But my friend found the great patriot's 
memory as treacherous as everything else about him. 
For a long time he seemed totally to forget all that 
had passed. When he did recollect the transaction, 
the first idea of which had originated from himself, he 
then said he had heard that Mr. Burke had given it up, 
and that he would not be supported by his friends if he 
persevered ; for that Lord Mountmorris had told him 
that he (Lord M.) was to have the Portland and 
Devonshire interest. He observed that Lord Mahon 

188 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

was a very proper candidate ; he had promised just 
what they required of their candidates ; that he was 
to be married to Lord Chatham's daughter, and a 
Spanish nobleman had left him fifty thousand pounds. 
This last circumstance seemed to have much weight 
with him. He confessed that Lord Mahon had been 
with Jjtim seven or eight times. In short, it appeared 
to my friend as clearly almost as if he had been eye- 
witness of the whole transaction that he had touched 
Lord Mahon's money, and that he is desirous of ex- 
torting more, by stirring up a multitude of candidates. 
Although he said in my presence, that it would be an 
act of insanity to attempt shaking Lord Percy, his note 
was quite changed ; he did not know why they should 
not try for both members. Let Mr. Burke advertise ; 
though after the excellent advertisement of Lord 
Mahon's any other must appear meagre. This was his 
expression. In short, that affair is over. I don't know 
why I trouble your lordship with so many particulars 
of so paltry a business. I should have troubled myself 
very little with it, if it had not appeared to me a sort 
of act of duty, to endeavour all I could to settle my 
own parliamentary arrangements, if possible, without 
burthen to any friend. 

The state of Lord Verney's affairs, both parlia- 
mentary and private, make it necessary for me either 
to quit public life, or find some other avenue to Parlia- 
ment than his interest. His private circumstances are 
very indifferent. He has been disappointed in one or 
two expectations of considerable relief, which he has 
lately had reason to entertain ; and I am far from the 
least disposition, indeed, I am infinitely far from having 
any sort of reason, to complain of the step which he is 
going to take. He will, indeed he must, have those to 
stand for Wendover (now his only borough of three in 
which he had formerly an interest) who can bear the 
charge which that borough is to him. The first people 
in character in this kingdom, unpressed in their affairs, 
do it ; and even expect some acknowledgement of 
obligation for the preference. We have reason to 


lament the necessity which drives him to abandon the 
distinguished course of disinterestedness and friendship 
that has hitherto actuated him, and to take the common 
road. There are very few who have brought men into 
Parliament without expense, and that too repeatedly., 
who were not any way of their kindred, or capable of 
serving their interest in their counties. Lord Verney 
has brought three private friends into his borough, for 
two Parliaments, without a shilling of advantage to 
himself, or the least hope of any aid from them in the 
support of his county election, Mr. Bullock * is indeed 
accidentally of some use ; we are of none at all. So 
that we have infinite reason to be grateful for the 
voluntary acts of friendship which are passed ; none 
at all to murmur at the effects of the present urgent 
necessity. I hope we shall be thus grateful for the 
little time we have to live, and the little means we 
shall probably ever have of showing our feeling of the 
friendship we have experienced. 


Beaconsfield, December 5, 1774, 

I think you will have the goodness to excuse this 
intrusion into the leisure of your recess. The season 
for action is drawing pretty near ; if action should be 
the idea entertained, upon consultation among your 
lordship's friends. If it be not thought proper at this 
time, I confess I cannot foresee a time that will be proper 
for it. For these two last sessions, indeed for the three 
last, the public seemed to be so perfectly careless and 
supine, with regard to its most essential interests, that 
much exertion on our part, would rather have indicated 
a restlessness of spirit than a manly zeal. I concurred 
entirely in the reasonableness of our remaining quiet, 
and taking no further part in business, than what 

1 Joseph Bullock, Esq., Mr. Burke's colleague in the 
representation of Wendover. 

190 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

served to mark our dissent from the measures which 
have been unfortunately in fashion. It was all that 
we could then do. Even at this time, I do not see all 
that spirit against Ministry, which I should have 
expected to rise among the people on the disappoint- 
ment of every hope that had been held out to them. 
However, it seems to be rising, and perhaps nearly as 
much and as fast, as a spirit wholly unmanaged can 
rise. Whatever progress it may make by its own nature, 
we know, by abundant experience, that unless it is 
tempered, directed, and kept up, it never can operate 
to any purpose. If care be not taken of this, the 
present set may make an advantage, even of the 
mischiefs and confusion they have caused by their 
own blundering conduct. For, if no other persons, 
and no other regular system, are held out to the 
people at large, as objects of their confidence in time 
of distress, they must of necessity resort to the Ministry. 
By neglecting to show ourselves at this crisis, we may 
play into the adversary's hand the advantageous game 
which we have obtained, by the uniformity of our con- 
duct, and the superiority of our general plan of politics. 
If your lordship should see things in this light, you 
will of course perceive, too, the necessity of proceeding 
regularly, and with your whole force ; and that this 
great affair of America is to be taken up as a business. 
I remember that when your lordship collected your 
strength upon some capital objects, such as the nuttum 
tempus bill, and that for elections, your way was to 
choose out six or seven friends, and to get each of 
them to secure the attendance of those whom they 
touched the most nearly. Perhaps you will think 
that something of this kind ought to be done, in the 
present instance. To act with any sort of effect, the 
principal of your friends ought to be called to town 
a full week before the meeting. Lord John 1 ought 
not to be suffered to plead any sort of excuse. He 
ought to be allowed a certain decent and reasonable 
portion of fox-hunting to put him into wind for the 
1 Lord John Cavendish. 


parliamentary race lie is to run ; but anything more 
is intolerable. I really do not wish that his place of 
locum tenens may be long ; but whilst our affairs con- 
tinue as they do, from poor Dowdeswell's unhappy 
state of health, he must show a degree of regular 
attendance on business, without which nothing that 
we can do will be either effectual or reputable ; and it 
is not only Ministry that will prevail over us, but we 
shall be a prey to the detached bodies, and even 
detached individuals that compose our most hetero- 
geneous, unsystematic, and self-destructive opposition. 
His grace of Richmond ought surely to be as early in 
town as any ; but he will not, if your lordship does 
not press it strongly. Other lords attending early, will 
have a good effect. A great deal of the temper of the 
people without doors, will depend upon the figure you 
make in the two Houses. 

One^ cannot help feeling for the unhappy situation 
in which we stand from our own divisions. Lord 
Chatham shows a disposition to come near you, but 
with those reserves which he never fails to have as 
long as he thinks that the closet door stands ajar to 
receive him. The least peep into that closet intoxicates 
him, and will to the end of his life. However, as he is, 
and must be, looked to, by those that are within a,nd 
those that are without, it would not be amiss to find 
out how he proposes to act, and if possible to fall in 
with him ; and to take the same line in Parliament, 
though you may never conie to an understanding with 
him in other politics. This I am sure of, that as long 
as you make no approaches to him, but show yourself 
always approachable % him, you stand in the fairest 
way to gain his esteem, and to secure yourself against 
his manoeuvres. 

With regard to the Ministry, it would be of the 
greatest service if we could have some timely know- 
ledge of the proposition, or at least of the spirit of the 
proposition, which they intend to make at the meeting. 
It would conduce greatly to our acting with some 
regularity, if we knew who the Ministry were. It is 

192 EDMUND BURKE [1774 

always of use to know the ground one acts upon. 
I have great reason to suspect that Jenkinson 1 governs 
everything ; but it would be right to know this a 
little more clearly. All this your lordship sees is 
on a supposition of an active campaign. If otherwise, 
the thing is not worth the trouble. I see I have been 
long, and, I begin to fear, tedious and troublesome. 
I will not add to the impropriety by long apologies. 
Your lordship will be so good to present the best 
compliments of myself and all here to my Lady Rock- 
ingham, and to believe me ever, 

My dear lord, 

Your lordship's most faithful and affectionate 

humble servant, 

Broad Sanctuary, Sunday, January 15, 1775. 

MB. BURKE presents his compliments to Mr. Barry, 
and is extremely obliged to him for the honour he has 
done him, in his early communication of his most 
ingenious performance on painting ; from several parts 
of which he has received no small pleasure and instruc- 
tion. There are, throughout the whole, many fine 
thoughts and observations, very well conceived, and 
very powerfully and elegantly expressed. They would, 
however, have appeared with still greater advantage, 
if Mr, Barry had attended to the methodical distribution 
of his subject, and to the rules of composition, with 
the same care with which he has studied and finished 
several of the particular members of his work. 

According to the natural order, it is evident, that 
what is now the 13th chapter, ought to follow imme- 
diately after the 8th, and the 9th to succeed to what 
is now the 18th. The subject of religion, which is 
resumed in the 19th chapter, ought more naturally to 

1 Charles Jenkinson, afterwards created Earl of Liver- 

1775] TO JAMES BARRY 193 

follow, or to make a part of the 9th, where indeed it is 
far better (indeed perfectly well) handled ; and where, 
in Mr. Burke' s poor opinion, as much is said upon 
the subject as it could reasonably bear. The matter 
in that last chapter is not quite so well digested, nor 
quite so temperately handled, as in the former ; and, 
Mr. Burke fears, will not give satisfaction which the 
public will receive from the rest. 

There are a few parts which Mr. Burke could not 
have understood, if he had not been previously ac- 
quainted, by some gentlemen to whom Mr. Barry had 
explained them, that they are allusions to certain 
matters agitated among artists, and satires upon some 
of them. With regard to the justice or injustice of 
these strictures, (of which there are several,) Mr. Burke 
can form no opinion ; as he has little or no knowledge 
of the art, he can be no judge of the emulations and 
disputes of its professors. These parts may therefore, 
for aught he knows, be very grateful, and possibly 
useful, to the several parties which subsist (if any do 
subsist) among themselves ; but he apprehends they 
will not be equally pleasing to the world at large, which 
desires to be rather entertained by their works, than 
troubled with their contentions. Whatever merit there 
may be in these reflections, the style of that part 
which most abounds with them, is by no means so lively, 
elegant, clear, or liberal, as the rest. 

Mr. Burke hopes for Mr. Barry's obliging and friendly 
indulgence, for his apology for the liberty he has 
taken, in laying before him what seemed to him less 
perfect in a work which in general he admires, and is 
persuaded the world will admire very highly. Mr. Barry 
knows that objections, even from the meanest judges, 
may sometimes be of use to the best writers ; and 
certainly, such little criticisms may be of service on 
future occasions, if Mr. Barry should continue to oblige 
the public with further publications on this or any other 
subject, (as there are few to which he is not very equal,) 
and should turn his talents from the practice, to the 
theory and controverted questions of this pleasing art. 


194 EDMUND BURKE [1775 


Westminster, February 9, 1775. 
DEAR Sra, 

I beg you will not think that my delay in returning 
you the proof sheet of your most ingenious and most 
obliging (dedication, could proceed from a want of the 
liveliest sensibility to the great honour you have done 
me. I now return the proof with my sineerest and most 
grateful acknowledgements. 

Some topics are touched in that dedication, on 
which I could wish to explain myself to you. I should 
have been glad to do it through Mr. Mason ; but to 
my great loss, on this and many other accounts, he 
left town suddenly. Indeed, at that time and ever 
since, the pressure of American business on one hand, 
and a petition against my election on the other, left 
me not a single minute at my disposal, and I have now 
little leisure enough to explain myself clearly on some 
points in that dedication, which I either misunderstand, 
or they go upon a misapprehension of some part of 
my public conduct ; for which reason, I wish, if I 
might presume to interfere, that they may be a little 

It is certain that I have, to the best of my power, 
supported the establishment of the Church, upon 
grounds and principles which I am happy to find 
countenanced by your approbation. This you have 
been told ; but you have not heard that I supported 
also the petition of the Dissenters, for a larger toleration 
than they enjoy at present under the letter of the Act 
of King William. In fact, my opinion in favour of 
toleration goes far beyond the limits of that Act, which 
was no more than a provision for certain sets of men, 
under certain circumstances, and by no means what 
is commonly called 'an Act of Toleration 5 . I am 
greatly deceived, if my opinions on this subject are not 

1 William Burgh, of York, author of A Scriptural 
Confutation (1775) of Theophilus Lindsey's Apology (1754). 


consistent with the strictest and the best supported 
Church establishment. I cannot consider our Dis- 
senters, of almost any kind, as schismatics ; whatever 
some of their leaders might originally have been in the 
eye of Him, who alone knows whether they acted 
under the direction of such a conscience as they had, 
or at the instigation of pride and passion. There are 
many things amongst most of them, which I rather 
dislike than dare to condemn. My ideas of toleration 
go far beyond even theirs. I would give a full civil 
protection, in which I include an immunity from all 
disturbance of their public religious worship, and a 
power of teaching in schools as well as temples, to Jews, 
Mohammedans, and even Pagans ; especially if they 
are already possessed of those advantages by long and 
prescriptive usage, which is as sacred in this exercise 
of rights, as in any other. Much more am I inclined 
to tolerate those whom I look upon as our brethren. 
I mean all those who profess our common hope, extend- 
ing to all the reformed and unreformed Churches, both 
at home and abroad ; in none of whom. I find anything 
capitally amiss, but their mutual hatred of each other. 
I can never think any man a heretic, or schismatic, by 
education. It must be, as I conceive, by an act, in 
which his own choice (influenced by blameable passions) 
is more concerned than it can be by his early prejudices, 
and his being aggregated to bodies, for whom men 
naturally form a great degree of reverence and affection. 
This is my opinion, and my conduct has been conform- 
able to it. Another age will see it more general ; and 
I think that this general affection to religion will never 
introduce indifference, but will rather increase real 
zeal, Christian fervour, 'and pious emulation; that it 
will make a common cause against Epicurism, and 
everything that corrupts the mind and renders it un- 
worthy of its family. But toleration does not exclude 
national preference, either as to mode of opinions, and 
all the lawful and honest means which may be used 
for the support of that preference. 
I should be happy to converse with you, and such, as 

196 EDMUND BURKE [1775 

you, on these subjects, and to unlearn my mistaken 
opinions, if such they should be ; for, however erroneous, 
I believe there is no evil ingredient in them. In looking 
over that dedication, if you should agree with me, that 
there are some expressions that carry with them an 
idea of my pushing my ideas of church establishment 
further than I do, you will naturally soften or change 
them accordingly. I do not know very well how to 
excuse the great liberty I take, in troubling you with 
observations, where I ought to speak only my obliga- 
tions, Be assured, that I feel myself extremely honoured 
by your good opinion, and shall be made very happy 
by your friendship. 

I am, with the greatest esteem, &c. 



Broad Sanctuary, August 4, 1775. 

Just as I am preparing to return into the country, 
I find that Mr. Thesiger is setting out for Yorkshire. 
I did not know, until this instant, that he had not 
been gone long since. I have not time at present to 
write to your lordship on the subject of your letter, 
and the other most material occurrences which have 
happened since I received it, so amply as I wish. I have 
been very far from well for some weeks past ; but I am, 
thank God, perfectly recovered. Indeed, my head and 
heart are as full of all kinds of anxious thoughts as they 
can possibly hold. For some time I had sunk into 
a kind of calm and tranquil despair, that had a sort of 
appearance of contentment. But, indeed, we are 
called to rouse ourselves, each in his post, by a sound 
of a trumpet almost as loud as that which must awaken 
the dead. I find it very current that Parliament will 
meet in October. I should not be at all surprised if it 
were even sooner. If a proposition comes from the 
Congress, and a proposition certainly will come, they 
cannot avoid calling Parliament, whether they receive, 


reject, or hang it up by treaty. Admiral Shuldham 
told me that he is not* to sail from Cork until the 
end of September, or very little before it. I really 
think they may want a sanction from Parliament 
before they strip that kingdom of the troops, which an 
express law has provided should be in it. From this 
they cannot possibly replace them, and if they should 
send Hanoverians to take their place, for this too they 
must apply for our necessary, but sure approbation. 
At any rate, I am convinced the meeting will be early, 
and your lordship's arrangements 'will of necessity be 
early also. I have spoken on this subject very largely 
to Lord John, who will be so good as to communicate 
my thoughts to your lordship. York races will be 
a place and occasion very fit for the review of the 
county, and for the trial, and, what is more important, 
the direction of their dispositions. We have been 
seduced, by various false representations and groundless 
promises., into a war. There is no sort of prospect or 
possibility of its coming to any good end, by the pursuit 
of a continued train of hostility. The only deliberation 
is, whether honest men will make one last effort to 
give peace to their country. Something of this sort 
ought to be infused into men's minds, as preparatory 
to further measures. No time, in my humble opinion, 
ought to be lost for putting them into this train. For 
if Parliament meets early, it will commit itself instantly, 
and then the disease is without remedy for ever. 
Nothing can equal the ease, composure, and even 

faiety of the great disposer 1 of all in this lower orb. 
t is too much, if not real, for the most perfect king- 
craft. I shall soon trouble your lordship more largely. 
We beg our best compliments to Lady Rockingham. 
I am, with the most affectionate attachment, 

My dear lord, 

Your lordship's ever faithful and obedient 
humble servant, 


1 The king. 

198 EDMUND BURKE [1775 


Beaconsfield, August 22, 1775. 

I am honoured with your letter of the 21st, Informing 
me of the time on which you propose to wait on Lord 
Dartmouth, with the petition of the American Congress. 

I should be very happy to attend you on that 
occasion, if I were in the slightest degree authorized 
to do so by the colony which I represent. I have been 
chosen agent by the General Assembly of New York. 
That Assembly has actually refused to send deputies 
to the Congress ; so that, if I were to present a petition, 
in the character of their agent, I should act, not only 
without, but contrary to the authority of my con- 
stituents ; and whilst I act for them, it is impossible 
for me, in any transaction with the boards or ministers, 
to divest myself occasionally of that character. 

This, and this only, is my reason for not waiting 
upon you. I do approve exceedingly of all dutiful 
applications from the gentlemen of the Congress to His 
Majesty. I am convinced that nothing is further from 
their desires than to separate themselves from their 
allegiance to him, or from their subordinate connexion 
with their mother country. I believe that they wish 
for an end to these unhappy troubles, in which, while 
all are in confusion, they must be the first and greatest 
sufferers. It were greatly to be desired that ministers 
could meet their pacific dispositions with a correspon- 
dent temper. I ardently wish you success in your 
laudable undertaking for the restoration of peace, and 
the reconciliation of our fellow subjects with their 

I have the honour to be, sir, 
Your most obedient and humble servant, 



August 23, 1775. 

When I was last in town, I wrote a short letter by 
Mr. Thesiger. But I opened all I had in my thoughts 
so fully to Lord John Cavendish, who was then setting 
out for the north, that I do not know whether it be 
necessary to trouble your lordship any further upon 
the unhappy subject of that letter and conversation. 
However, if I did not write something on that subject, 
I should be incapable of writing at all. It has, I confess, 
taken entire possession of my mind. 

We are, at length, actually involved in that war 
which your lordship, to your infinite honour, has made 
so many efforts to keep at a distance. It has come 
upon us in a manner more disagreeable and unpromising 
than the most gloomy prognostic had ever foretold it. 
Your lordship's observation on the general temper of 
the nation at this crisis, is certainly just. If any 
indication is to be taken from external appearances, 
the king is entirely satisfied with the present state of 
his Government. His spirits at his levees, at the play, 
everywhere, seem to be remarkably good. His minis- 
ters, too, are perfectly at their ease. Most of them are 
amusing themselves in the country, while England is 
disfurnished of its forces in the face of armed Europe, 
and Gibraltar and Minorca are delivered over to the 
custody of foreigners. They are at their ease relative 
to the only point which could give them anxiety, they 
are assured of their places. 

As to the good people of England, they seem to 
partake every day, more and more, of the character 
of that administration which they have been induced 
to tolerate. I am satisfied, that within a few years, 
there has been a great change in the national character. 
We seem no longer that eager, inquisitive, jealous, fiery 
people, which we have been formerly, and which we 
have been a very short time ago. The people look 

200 EDMUM) BURKE [1775 

back, without pleasure or indignation ; and forward, 
without hope or fear. No man commends the measures 
which have been pursued, or expects any good from 
those which are in preparation ; but it is a cold, languid 
opinion, like what men discover in affairs that do not 
concern them. It excites to no passion ; it prompts to 
no action. 

In all this state of things I find my observation and 
intelligence perfectly agree with your lordship's. In 
one point, indeed, I have the misfortune to differ. 
I do not think that weeks, or even months, or years, 
will bring the monarch, the ministers, or the people, to 
feeling. To bring the people to a feeling, such a f eeling, 
I mean, as tends to amendment, or alteration of system, 
there must be plan and management. All direction of 
public humour and opinion must originate in a few. 
Perhaps a good deal of that humour and opinion must 
be owing to such direction. Events supply materials ; 
times furnish dispositions ; but conduct alone can 
bring them to bear to any useful purpose. I never yet 
knew an instance of any general temper in the nation, 
that might not have been tolerably well traced to some 
particular persons. If things are left to themselves, it 
is my clear opinion that a nation may slide down fair 
and softly from the highest point of grandeur and 
prosperity to the lowest state of imbecility and mean- 
ness, without any one's marking a particular period 
in this declension, without asking a question about it, 
or in the least speculating on any of the innumerable 
acts which have stolen in this silent and insensible 
revolution. Every event so prepares the subsequent, 
that, when it arrives, it produces no surprise, nor any 
extraordinary alarm. I am certain that if pains, great 
and immediate pains, are not taken to prevent it, such 
must be the fate of this country. We look to the 
merchants in vain they are gone from us, and from 
themselves. They consider America as lost, and they 
look to Administration for an indemnity. Hopes are 
accordingly held out to them that some equivalent for 
their debts will be provided In the meantime, the 


leading men among them are kept full fed with con- 
tracts, and remittances, and jobs of all descriptions ; 
and they are indefatigable in their endeavours to keep 
the others quiet, -with the prospect of their share in 
those emoluments, of which they see their advisers 
already so amply in possession. They all, or the 
greatest number of them, begin to snuff the cadaverous 
haut gout of lucrative war. War, indeed, is become 
a sort of substitute for commerce. The freighting 
business never was so lively, on account of the pro- 
digious taking up for transport service. Great orders 
for provisions and stores of all kinds, new clothing for 
the troops, and the intended six thousand Canadians, 
puts life into the woollen manufacture ; and a number 
of men of war, ordered to be equipped, has given a 
pretence for such a quantity of nails and other iron 
work, as to keep the midland parts tolerably quiet. 
All this, with the incredible* increase of the northern 
market since the peace between Russia and the Porte, 
keeps up the spirits of the mercantile world, and induces 
them to consider the American War, not so much their 
calamity, as their resource in an inevitable distress. 
This is the state of most, not of all the merchants. 

All this, however, would not be of so much conse- 
quence. The great evil and danger will be the full and 
decided engagement of Parliament in this war. Then 
we shall be thoroughly dipped, and then there will be 
no way of getting out, but by disgracing England, or 
enslaving America. In that state, Ministry has a lease 
of power, as long as the war continues. The hinge 
between war and peace is, indeed, a dangerous juncture 
to ministers ; but a determined state of the one or the 
other, is a pretty safe position. When their cause, 
however absurdly, is made the cause of the nation, the 
popular cry will be with them. The style will be, that 
their hands must be strengthened by an unreserved 
confidence. When that cry is once raised, and raised 
it infallibly will be, if not prevented, the puny voice of 
reason wifl not be heard. As sure as we have now an 
existence, if the meeting of Parliament should catch 

202 EDMUND BURKE [1775 

your lordship and your friends in an unprepared state, 
nothing but disgrace and ruin can attend the cause you 
are at the head of. Parliament will plunge over head 
and ears. They will vote the war with every supply of 
domestic and foreign force. They will pass an Act of 
Attainder ; they will lay their hands upon the press. 
The ministers will even procure addresses from those 
very merchants, who, last session, harassed them with 
petitions ; and then, what is left for us, but to spin 
out of our bowels, under the frowns of the court and the 
hisses of the people, the little slender thread of a peevish 
and captious opposition, unworthy of our cause and 
ourselves, and without credit, concurrence, or popu- 
larity in the nation 1 

I hope I am as little awed out of my senses by the 
fear of vulgar opinion, as most of my acquaintance. 
I think, on a fair occasion, I could look it in the face ; 
but speaking of the prudential consideration, we know 
that all opposition is absolutely crippled, if it can 
obtain no kind of support without doors. If this should 
be found impracticable, I must revert to my old 
opinion, that much the most effectual, and much the 
most honourable course is, without the obligation of 
a formal secession, to absent ourselves from Parliament. 
My experience is worth nothing, if it has not made it 
as clear to me as the sun, that, in affairs like these, 
a feeble opposition is the greatest service which can be 
done to Mnistry ; and surely, if there be a state of 
decided disgrace, it is to add to the power of your 
enemies by every step you take to distress them. 

I am confident that your lordship considers my 
importunity with your usual goodness. You will not 
attribute my earnestness to any improper cause. 
I shall, therefore, make no apology for urging, again 
and again, how necessary it is for your lordship and 
your great Mends, most seriously to take under 
immediate deliberation, what you are to do in this 
crisis. Nothing like it has happened in your political 
life. I protest to God, I think that your reputation, 
your duty, and the duty and honour of us all, who 


profess your sentiments, from the highest to the lowest 
of us, demand at this time one honest, hearty effort, in 
order to avert the heavy calamities that are impending; 
to keep our hands from blood, and, if possible, to keep 
the poor, giddy, thoughtless people of our country from 
plunging headlong into this impious war. If the attempt 
is necessary, it is honourable. You will, at least, have 
the comfort that nothing has been left undone, on your 
part, to prevent the worst mischief that can befall the 
public. Then, and not before, you may shake the dust 
from your feet, and leave the people and their leaders 
to their own conduct and fortune. 

I see, indeed, many, many difficulties in the way ; 
but we have known as great, or greater, give way to 
a regular series of judicious and active exertions. This 
is no time for taking public business in their course and 
order, and only as a part in the scheme of life, which 
comes and goes at its proper periods and is mixed in 
with occupations and amusements. It calls for the 
whole of the best of us ; and everything else, however 
just or even laudable at another time, ought to give 
way to this great, urgent, instant concern. Indeed, my 
dear lord, you are called upon in a very peculiar manner. 
America is yours. You have saved it once, and you 
may very possibly save it again. The people of that 
country are worth preserving; and preserving, if 
possible, to England. I believe your lordship remem- 
bers that last year or the year before, I am not sure 
which, you fixed your quarters for awhile in London, 
and sent circular letters to your friends, who were 
concerned in the business on which you came to town. 
It was on occasion of the Irish absentee-tax. Your 
friends met, and the attempt was defeated. It may be 
worth your lordship's consideration, whether you ought 
not, as soon as possible, to draw your principal friends 
together. It may be then examined, whether a larger 
meeting might not be expedient, to see whether some 
plan could not be thought of for doing something in the 
counties and towns. The October meeting at New- 
market will be too late in the year, and then the 

204 EDMUND BURKE [1775 

business of the meeting would take up too much time 
from the other. 

It might be objected to doing anything in this 
immature condition of the public temper, that the 
interests of your lordship's friends might suffer in 
making an attempt, which might be vigorously and 
rather generally opposed and counterworked. On 
ordinary occasions this might be a matter of very 
serious consideration. The risk ought to be propor- 
tioned to the object ; but this is no ordinary occasion. 
In the first place. I lay it down that the present state 
of opposition is so bad, that the worst judged and most 
untimely exertions would only vary the mode of its 
utter dissolution. Such a state of things justifies every 
hazard. But, supposing our condition better, what is 
an interest cultivated for, but its aptness for public 
purposes ? And for what public purpose do gentlemen 
wait, that will be more worthy of the use of all the 
interests they have ? I should certainly consider the 
affair as desperate, if your success in such an effort 
depended on anything like a unanimous concurrence 
in the nation. But in times of trouble this is impossible. 
In such times it is not necessary. A minority cannot 
make or carry on a war ; but a minority, well composed 
and acting steadily, may clog a war in such a manner, 
as to make it not very easy to proceed. When you once 
begin to show yourselves, many will be animated to 
join you, who are now faint and uncertain. Your 
adversaries will raise the spirit of your friends ; and the 
very contest will excite that concern and curiosity in 
the nation, the want of which is now the worst part 
of the public distemper* 

Lord John has given your lordship an account of the 
scheme we talked over, for reviving the importance of 
the city of London, by separating the sound from the 
rotten contract-hunting part of the mercantile interest, 
uniting it with the corporation, and joining both to your 
lordship. There are now some facilities attending such 
a, design. Lord Chatham is, in a manner, out of the 
question ; and the court have lost, in him, a sure 


instrument of division in every public contest. Baker 
was chiefly relied on for our main part in this work. 
He was walling to do his part ; but, lo 1 he is called 
away to another part ; and if he is not yet married to 
Miss Conyers, he will in a very few days. This puts us 
back. Nothing I believe can be done in it, till the Duke 
of Portland comes to town ; and then we shall have 
a centre to turn upon. Hand, of Leeds, and some other 
friends, might feel the pulse of the people of Leeds, and 
the adjacent country. Jack Lee would not let his 
assistance be wanting on such an occasion, and in such 
a cause ; but if Sir George Savile could be persuaded 
to come forward . . . 

I must instantly set off for Bristol. ^ The enclosed 
will let your lordship see the necessity of it. The horrid 
expense of these expeditions would keep me at home ; 
but that city is going headlong to the dust, through the 
manoeuvres of the court., and of the Tory party ; but 
principally through the absurd and paltry behaviour 
of my foolish colleague. I shall be there on the 28th for 
the assizes ; as appearing to go on a particular occasion, 
may give me an excuse for not continuing long in that 

I have seen J. D. and Penn. The former, I believe, 
has suffered himself to be made a tool ; your lordship 
will soon see him. The latter is steady for America. 
His account of the determined spirit and resolution of 
the people there, agrees with that which we have 
generally received. He brings a very decent and manly 
petition from the Congress. It mentions no specific 
conditions, but, in general, it is for peace. Lord 
Chatham is the idol, as usual. I find by Penn that, in 
America, they have scarce any idea of the state of men 
and parties here, nor who are their friends or foes. To 
this he attributes much of their nonsense about the 
Declaratory Act. 

Just as I finished this sentence, the paper gives an 
account (to which I cannot help giving some credit) 
that a great battle is fought near Boston, to the 

206 EDMUND BURKE [1775 

disadvantage of the unhappy Americans. Though this 
would add much to the difficulties of our present con- 
duct, it makes no change in the necessity of doing 
something effectual before the meeting of Parliament. 
Your lordship will have the goodness to present, 
&c.. &c. 



September 26, 1775. 

I should hardly take the liberty of troubling your 
grace at this time, if I were not most thoroughly 
persuaded that there is a very particular call of honour 
and conscience on all those of your grace's situation, 
and of your sentiments, to do something towards 
preventing the ruin of your country, which, if I am 
not quite visionary, is approaching with the greatest 
rapidity. There is a short interval between this and 
the meeting of Parliament. Much may depend upon 
the use which shall be made of it. 

I am perfectly sensible of the greatness of the 
difficulties, and the weakness and fewness of the helps, 
in every public affair which you can undertake. I am 
sensible, too, of the shocking indifference and neutrality 
of a great part of the nation. But a speculative despair 
is unpardonable, where it is our duty to act. I cannot 
think the people at large wholly to blame ; or, if they 
were, it is to no purpose to blame them. For God's 
sake, my dear lord, endeavour to mend them. I must 
beg leave to put you in mind, without meaning, I am 
sure, to censure the body of our friends, much less the 
most active among them, but I must put you in-mind, 
that no regular or sustained endeavours of any kind 
have been used to dispose the people to a better sense 
of their condition. Any election must be lost, any 
family interest in a county would melt away, if greater 
pains, infinitely greater, were not employed to carry on 


and support them, than have ever been employed in 
this end and object of all elections, and in this most 
important interest of the nation and of every individual 
in it. The people are not answerable for their present 
supine acquiescence ; indeed they are not. God and 
nature never made them to think or to act without 
guidance and direction. They have obeyed the only 
impulse they have received. "When they resist such 
endeavours as ought to be used by those, who by their 
rank and fortune in the country, by the goodness of 
their characters, and their experience in their affairs, 
are their natural leaders, then it will be time enough 
to despair, and to let their blood lie upon their own 
heads. I must again beg your grace not to think that, 
in excusing the people, I mean to blame our friends. 
Very far from it. Our inactivity has arisen solely from 
a natural and most pardonable error, (an error, however, ) 
that it was enough to attend diligently, and to be active 
in Parliament. 

But you will say, Why all this ? why now ? why 
to me ? I will tell you. It is, that your grace can do 
more than anybody else at all times ; at this time 
nobody but your grace can do what I apprehend to be 
for the most essential service to the public. 

Ireland is always a part of some importance in the 
general system ; but Ireland never was in the situation 
of real honour, and real consequence, in which she now 
stands. She has the balance of the empire, and, perhaps, 
its fate for ever in her hands. If the Parliament which 
is shortly to meet there should interpose a friendly 
mediation, should send a pathetic address to the king, 
and a letter to both Houses of Parliament here, it is 
impossible that they should not succeed. If they 
should only add to this, a suspension of extraordinary 
grants and supplies, for troops employed out of the 
kingdom, in effect, employed against their own 
clearest rights and privileges, they would preserve the 
whole empire from a ruinous war, and with a saving, 
rather than expense, prevent this infatuated country 
from establishing a plan which tends to its own ruin, by 

208 EDMUND BURKE [1775 

enslaving all its dependencies. Ministry would not like 
to have a contest with the whole empire upon their 
hands at once. I have not the most enthusiastic 
opinion of the dignity of thinking which prevails in 
Ireland ; but if pains are taken, they cannot be so 
unnatural as to refuse one kind word towards peace ; 
or not to suspend m this crisis, for a few moments, the 
rage and lust of granting ; not to delay, at least, the 
exhausting of their own purses, for the purpose of 
destroying their own liberties. Your grace, closely 
connected with the first peer and the first commoner 
of that kingdom, and who may have as much influence 
as you please upon both, can do this business effectually. 
Ponsonby is in opposition. If these three unite heartily, 
-(why should they not^J-^they will carry a point 
which will send them with infinite popularity to the 
approaching general election. Here the Cavendishes 
may be greatly useful ; and they are in all respects the 
men most natural, and in all respects the best adapted, 
to co-operate with your grace's endeavours. This is 
truly a great point ; and far, very far, from being 
desperate in proper hands. I wish most earnestly to 
see your grace in London. Surely no time ought to be 
lost. I thought it necessary to attend to my little 
department. I paid a visit to Bristol. The Tories and 
courtiers are powerful there, but not omnipotent. The 
corporation is their principal strength ; but hitherto 
they have been defeated in their attempts to obtain an 
address from thence. Our Mends were dejected, "but 
not alienated. By putting things into a little train, we 
are in a better posture and in more heart. If the enemy 
should succeed in the corporation, the town at large 
will show better dispositions. We do not despair, and 
we will work even when we do. A little committee is 
appointed there, to correspond and carry on business 
with method and regularity. 

Some steps are taking towards doing the same thing 
in London. Baker has done his duty as he ought. With 
assistance, countenance, and counsel, we may be 
useful ; not otherwise. 


I beg pardon for this long and unmanaged letter. 
I am on thorns. I cannot, at my ease, see Bussian 
barbarism let loose to waste the most beautiful object 
that ever appeared upon this globe. Adieu, my dear 
lord ; you want nothing but to be sensible of afi your _ 

I am, with the greatest truth, 

My dear lord, 

Your grace's ever obedient and affectionate 
humble servant, 



* October 17, 1775. 


I was engaged all yesterday evening, or I had 
intended to cafl at Grosvenor Square. This morning 
I must look over several African papers. This is the 
cause of my troubling your lordship in this manner. 

Lord Chatham's coming out is always a critical thing 
to your lordship. But even if he should not attack, as 
it is possible he may not, would it be right for your 
lordship, in a great American affair, to let him and his 
partisans have the whole field to themselves ? If he 
is tender of you, you will naturally be tender of him. 
But a gentle hint of a wish, that Parliament should lay 
the foundation rather than the Crown ; and that as 
taxation was the great ground of the quarrel, the 
co-operation of the House of Gammons, if not the 
origination there, would be a necessary part of a good 
plan ; and that the Crown would want both authority 
and credit without some previous resolution of that 
House ; (that proposition, Lord John's, had been 
made and rejected ;) these would be, I think, proper 
hints to add to what your lordship had been thinMng of. 
But if the thing is even tolerably right, your lordship 
might express your wish to concur in it. 

Ever most faithfully your lordship's servant, 


210 EDMUND BURKE [1776 


March, 1776. 

I do not know which was best in the intention, the 
zeal of our worthy friend for a good public cause, or 
yours for a friend whom you love for the natural reason 
of having obliged Mm. 1 I ought not, perhaps, to put 
a public and private cause upon a par ; but there is 
so much belonging to goodness in the latter, that it 
compensates for the superior dignity in the former ; 
and whatever besides is wanting to make the scale 
even, is thrown in by a man's partiality to himself. 
Be that as it may, pray, my dear Champion, do not let 
these little disputes go^beyond the heat of the moment, 
or leave any sort of soreness behind them. If we do, 
we play the game of that unhappy set of men whose 
business is, and ever has been, to divide the men whose 
cause they pretended to be engaged in. It is to this 
point all their speeches, writings, and intrigues of all 
sorts, tend. They have been hitherto, in some sort, 
disappointed ; disappoint them completely. This I 
beg may be the case, I should be unhappy and^ morti- 
fied beyond measure, if a difference of opinion on 
a point, after all, of mere speculation, should produce 
the least coolness between those who for every public 
and every private reason, should live in the warmest 
friendship, and who are mutually deserving it from 
each other, and from everybody else. What is all this 
matter? Those who wished to quiet America by 
concession, thought it best to make that concession at 
the least possible diminution of the reputation and 
authority of this country. This was the prhtciple of 

1 This letter refers to an amicable altercation, carried 
perhaps to the very verge of a quarrel, between Mr. Cham- 
pion and a Bristol friend of Burke's, who blamed him for 
having supported the Act declaring the right of Great 
Britain to legislate for her colonies in all cases whatsoever, 
wMch was passed during the administration of Lord 
Rockingham at the same time as the repeal of the Stamp 


those who acted in a responsible situation for that 
measure, in 1766. Li this possibly they were wrong. 
Others thought they ought rather to have convicted 
their country of robbery, and to have given up the 
object, not as a liberal donation, but as a restitution of 
stolen goods. They thought that there were speculative 
bounds, with regard to legislative power, on which they 
could maintain one part whilst they abandoned others. 
They thought it dangerous to trust themselves with 
indefinite powers. They had reason; because they 
made such use of them, in a twelvemonth after they 
had denied their legal existence, as to bring on the 
present unhappy consequences. 3Sfow, if any friend 
of ours thinks, from the theory and practice of these 
gentlemen, that their hands ought to have been tied 
from doing mischief , I am sure I am more inclined to 
praise Ms zeal, than to blame his error, if he be in a mis- 
take. We are on the right side ; it becomes us to be 
reasonable. Let Dr. Price rail at the Declaratory Act 
of 1766. His friends have so abused it, that it is but 
too natural. Let him rail at this declaration, as those 
rail at free-will, who have sinned in consequence of it. 
Once for all, my dear friend, be again without a shadow, 
a relish, a smutch, a tinge, anything, the slightest that 
can be imagined, of anger, at the honest opinion of one 
of the worthiest men in the world. All comes from the 
best cause in the world. Adieu, my dear friend ; salute 
your worthy family in the name of all here. 

Your ever affectionate friend, and 
humble servant, 

Beaconsfidd, Thursday, July 11, 1776. 

I do assure you that I do not want any of that 
uncritical friendliness and partiality which you ascribe 
to me, to induce me very much to lie and admire what 

1 A merchant in the city of London, whose family, 

212 EDMUND BURKE [1776 

I have read in the Gazetteer this morning. The subject 
is very well handled ; the language remarkably neat and 
pure ; and I am sure the principles are honest and 
constitutional. I do not perhaps go all the length of 
thinking Mr. Wilkes's promise quite a nullity. It is, 
I admit, never wise, perhaps not often justifiable, to 
make such engagements ; and cases may certainly be 
put where the merit will lie in breaking them. But, if 
they are made, they ought to be kept ; and the maker 
ought to have looked into the propriety of making, and 
the possibility of keeping them, when he made such 
declarations. Such professors ought to be held tight 
to their promises, if it answered no other end than to 
make them cautious in deceiving the people. When, 
in the issue, it may prove that some part of the deceit 
falls upon themselves, it is proper to give them no 
sort of dispensation, and to allow them no kind of 
evasion. Our friend is perhaps too young to remember 
the origin of all this professing, promising, and testing ; 
but he would laugh if he knew, that the woli is now 
howling in the snare which he had originally laid for 
honest men. This traitor raised an outcry among that 
mob who have now surrendered him over to his 
and their enemies, against all the honest part of the 
opposition, because they would not join him and his 
associates, in disclaiming the fair objects of ambition 
or accommodation, whenever private honour or public 
principles admitted of them. We were put out of the 
question as patriots, stripped of all support from the 
multitude, and the alternative wildly and wickedly 
put between those who disclaimed all employments, 
and the mere creatures of the court. They would hear 
of nobody else. So that nothing has happened, but 
what they have chosen and prepared. Whenever they 
fail, the court must profit. I remember that the Shel- 
burne faction acted just in the same manner ; until, 
having overloaded the stomachs of their adherents, 
they were vomited up with loathing and disgust. It was 
descended from the same Norman stock as that of 
Edmund Burke, had settled in the county of Mayo. 

1776] TO JOHN BOURKE 213 

but a few months after Lord Shelburne had told me, 
gratis, (for nothing led to it,) that the people (always 
meaning the common people of London) were never in 
the wrong, that he and all his friends were driven with 
scorn out of that city. However, I admit, with our 
worthy friend, that the baseness and corruptness of 
Mr. Oliver and the livery, is not much the less for the 
villany of him whom they have abandoned the first 
moment he could hope to derive, from their protection, 
ease and comfort for his age. Let me wish my young 
friend, at his entrance into life, to draw a useful lesson 
from the unprincipled behaviour of a corrupt and 
licentious people : that is, never to sacrifice his prin- 
ciples to the hope of obtaining their affections ; to 
regard and wish them well, as a part of his fellow 
creatures, whom his best instincts and his highest duties 
lead him to love and serve, but to put as little trust in 
them as in princes. For what inward resource has he, 
when turned out of courts or hissed out of town halls, 
who has made their opinions the only standard of 
what is* right, and their favour the sole means of Ms 
happiness ? I have heard as yet nothing about our 
future engagement. Possibly the servant I have sent 
to Lord Buckingham may arrive before the post goes 
out. He is arrived, and I have no answer. Lord 
Buckingham was not in town. 

I am, with the best regards of all here, 

Dear Bourke, 
Ever affectionately yours, 


Our love to the occasionalist, but not server of 


Beaconsfidd, October 31, 1777. 

You will be so good as to present my best and most 
affectionate compliments to our friends and fellow 
members of the Bell Club, and assure them of my real 


coacern that my affairs* and the advanced and un- 
certain season of the year, will not permit me to make 
one among them, in their good-natured and cheerful 
enjoyment of our annual festival. 

The fourth of November can never return without 
giving me a pleasing sense of the high honour I received, 
on that day. It renews in my memory the obligations 
which I have to so many worthy friends ; and what 
is better, it revives and refreshes in my mind those 
principles to which I originally was indebted for their 
favour. I wish that on all sides we may never forget 
them. A season somewhat cloudy may try our patience 
and perseverance for a time ; but I trust that a time 
will come, when we may act with a little more success, 
because with a little more assistance from several of 
our countrymen ; from whom, by mistakes and mis- 
conceptions of our meaning, we have been divided ; 
and when a bitter experience has taught to several 
those lessons of prudence and moderation which they 
would not submit to learn from reason and foresight. 

But whether the disposition of the conductors or 
abettors of the present measures shall alter or not, 
I trust that you will always find me upon the same 
ground ; a well-wisher to the peace of my country, and 
a steady friend to the liberties of all parts of it, accord- 
ing to the best notions which so limited a capacity as 
mine, is capable of forming on this great subject. I will 
continue, to the best of my judgement, to act as I have 
done ; and I have no doubt that I shall meet my 
friends in Parliament, animated with their ancient 
sentiments, and ready to take such a part of vigilant 
observation, or vigorous action, as the time and cir- 
cumstances shall require from honest experienced men, 
who govern their principles by the truth of things, and 
direct their conduct by their opportunities* Our task 
is difficult ; we shall certainly do our best. But you 
ought not solely to rely on us ; for be assured, that it 
is not either the Members of Parliament, or the men in 
any other public capacity, that have made or kept 
a people sale and free, if they were wanting to them- 


selves. If members are honest, they deserve, and I am 
sure they will want support ; if they are corrupt, they 
merit, and I am sure they ought to have blame and 
reprehension. We are like other men, who all want to 
be moved by praise or shame ; by reward and punish- 
ment. We must be encouraged by our constituents, 
and we must be kept in awe of them, or we never shall 
do our duty as we ought. Believe me, it is a great 
truth, that there never was, for any long time, a cor- 
rupt representative of a virtuous people ; or a mean, 
sluggish, careless people that ever had a good govern- 
ment of any form. If it be true in any degree, that the 
governors form the people, I am certain it is as true 
that the people in their turn impart their character to 
their rulers. Such as you are, sooner or later, must 
Parliament be. I therefore wish that you, at least, 
would not suffer yourselves to be amused by the style, 
now grown so common, of railing at the corruption of 
Members of Parliament. This kind of general invective 
has no kind of effect that I know of, but to make you 
think ill of that very institution, which, do what you 
will, you must religiously preserve, or you must give 
over all thoughts of being a free people. An opinion 
of the indiscriminate corruption of the House of 
Commons will, at length, induce a disgust of parlia- 
ments. They are the corrupters themselves, who 
circulate this general charge of corruption. Jt is they 
that have an interest in confounding all distinctions, 
and involving the whole in one general charge. They 
hope to corrupt private life by the example of the 
public ; and having produced a despair, from a supposed 
general failure of principles, they hope that they may 
persuade you, that since it is impossible to do any good, 
you may as well have your share in the profits of 
doing ill. 

Where there are towards six hundred persons, with 
much temptation and common frailty, many will un- 
doubtedly be moved from the line of duty. But I have 
told you before, and I am not afraid to repeat it, that 
there are many more amongst us who are free from 

216 EDMUND BURKE [1777 

all sorts of corruption, and of a more excellent public 
spirit, than could well be expected. Since there is this 
difference, it is the business of the constituents to 
distinguish what it is the policy of some to confound. 
When you find men that you ought to trust, you must 
give them support ; else it is not them that you desert, 
but yourselves that you betray. Nor is it at all difficult 
to make this distinction. The way to do it is quite 
plain and simple. It is to be attentive to the conduct 
of men, and to judge of them by their actions, and by 
nothing else. 

It is true that many of our brethren, from their 
habits of life, and their not being on the actual scene 
of business, are not capable of forming an opinion upon 
every several question of law or politics, or, of course, 
of determining on a man's conduct with relation to 
such questions. But every man in the club, and every 
man in the same situation in the kingdom, is perfectly 
capable, as capable as if he were a Minister of State or 
a Chief Justice, of determining whether public men 
look most to their own interest or to yours ; or whether 
they act a uniform, clear, manly part in their station : 
whether the main drift of their counsels, for any series 
of years, be wise or foolish, or whether things go well 
or ill in their hands. 

You will, therefore, not listen to those who tell you 
that these matters are above you, and ought to be left 
entirely to those into whose hands the king has put 
them. The public interest is more your business than 
theirs ; and it is from want of spirit, and not from 
want of ability, that you can become wholly unfit to 
argue or to judge upon it. For in this very thing lies 
the difference between freemen and those that are not 
free. In a free country every man thinks he has 
a concern in all public matters ; that he has a right to 
form and a right to deliver an opinion upon them. 
Tl*ey sift, examine, and discuss them. They are curious, 
eager, attentive, and jealous ; and by making such 
matters the daily subjects of their thoughts and dis- 
coveries, vast numbers contract a very tolerable 


knowledge of them, and some a very considerable one. 
And this it is that fills free countries with men of 
ability in all stations. Whereas, in other countries, 
none but men whose office calls them to it having much, 
care or thought about public affairs, and not danng to 
try the force of their opinions with one another, ability 
of this sort is extremely rare in any station of life. In 
free countries there is often found more real public 
wisdom and sagacity m shops and manufactories, than 
in the cabinets of princes in countries where none dares 
to have an opinion until he comes into them. Your 
whole importance, therefore, depends upon a constant 
discreet use of your own reason ; otherwise you and 
your country sink to nothing. If upon any particular 
occasion you should be roused, you will not know what 
to do. Your fire will be a fire in straw, fitter to waste 
and consume yourselves, than to warm or enliven 
anything else. You will be only a giddy mob, upon 
whom no sort of reliance is to be had. You may 
disturb your country, but you never can reform your 
Government. In other nations they have for some 
time indulged themselves in a larger use of this manly 
liberty than formerly they dared. 

Tuesday night, April 14, 1778. 


I find that the people of Bristol are about as wise 
as I expected they would turn out ; that is, as wise as 
their neighbours are likely to be on this occasion, 
neither more nor less. These things are mere trifles, 
and known to be such by those from Ireland, who seek, 
and by the ministers here, who consent to them. But 
they are merely to satisfy the minds of the people there ; 
to show a good disposition in this country ; and to 
prevent the spreading of universal discontent and 
disaffection. If the people of Bristol choose to show 

218 EDMUKD BURKE [1778 

their ill- will to a business which I conceive they will 
not be able to prevent, they may make enemies without 
gratifying their passions ; but I shall be very sorry 
for if. Their showing good humour and an open, 
enlarged, and communicative disposition on this 
occasion would have done them infinite honour, and 
would, in the end, have turned out extremely to their 
local advantage, as well as to the general benefit. But 
these things are hid from their eyes. If, in the dis- 
cussion of the resolutions which I sent, any tolerable 
number of merchants in any branch ; or, failing them, 
any number of inhabitants, would send a counter 
petition, it might help to save their credit in some 
degree. I am astonished at .... How have I offended 
him ? I thought I had done the contrary ; and as to 
the rest of my friends, I rather fancied they would so 
much have entered into my views, as rather to have 
co-operated with me than thwarted me in a matter, in 
which I must be at least as good a judge as they, 
though they know the conduct of their particular 
affairs better than I do. I cannot wish Bristol ill ; 
and what have I to do with Ireland, further than as it 
regards the advantage of the whole ? But I shall go 
on my own way, and they will find the error of theirs 
in the long run. . . . 

We were beat about the lighthouse. Our cause was 
most just ,- but Treasury and Admiralty appeared 
against us, and we could not stand it. It is rare for 
Lord North to show himself on a private bill ; but he 
stayed it out last night. That night, however, he had 
been shamefully defeated on the bill brought in by 
Sir Philip Olerke, to drive his jobbers and contractors 
out of the House. Surely, never minister was, in all 
ways, more exposed. 

Salute from me and Jane Mrs. Champion and yours 
most affectionately. 

Yours most sincerely, 


1778] TO JOHN NOBLE 219 


Beaconsfidd, Aprit 24, 1778. 

It would always be my wish to devote every leisure 
hour to my friends at Bristol. When I am not em- 
ployed in their business, I should be happy in the 
enjoyment of their company. But, for various reasons, 
this is not a moment in which I can indulge myself in 
that gratification. I feel myself something weakened, 
and extremely fatigued, by the attendance in the most 
laborious session I remember, since 1768. I want a little 
rest much more than the hurry of two journeys, which 
are to carry me to and from debates and altercations. 
I would, however, very willingly, give up my rest and 
sacrifice my private affairs, but I fear that a visit from 
me at this time, and in the present temper of the city 
of Bristol, would do much more harm than good. The 
letter I send to Merchants' Hall this night, together 
with my former on the same subject, and that which 
I wrote to you a few days ago, contain the whole of 
what I have to say upon the Irish resolutions. You 
will consider them with more deliberation when you 
are not heated by personal discussion. You are, indeed, 
as capable in every respect of forming a correct judge- 
ment on this matter as any man in the world ; but 
I am afraid you have been surprised, and surprised by 
those who do not wish you as well as I do. I find that 
the part I have taken is not very agreeable to you ; 
and it is not in the moment of displeasure that one's 
arguments are likely to be most convincing. 

You tell me that you are unanimous in this affair. 
Unanimity is so good a thing, that if it were purchased 
only at my expense, I should very heartily congratulate 
you on it. I did, indeed, expect you to be unanimous, 
but upon principles very different ; upon the principles 
which, in this, as well as in some other affairs, have led 
us to be unanimous in Parliament. I mean a general 
and hearty desire to bind up the wounds of our country, 

220 EDMUND BURKE [1778 

and to provide all that we possibly can towards re- 
moving, or, at least, mitigating, the evils which our 
late proceedings have brought upon the nation. 
I thought that they whose mistaken zeal had forwarded 
those measures, would have been forward also to make 
amends for, the calamities which their haste and 
warmth had produced, by the hearty adoption of 
a better system ; and that those who had always 
disliked the plan which had been fatally pursued, 
would have cheerfully lent their assistance in alleviating 
the mischiefs which they had always foreseen and 
deprecated. Unfortunately, the patrons of the first 
scheme have prevailed in Bristol and some other 
places, and their opposers are converted to their 
opinions, even by the ill success which has attended 
them, I confess I cannot see this sort of unanimity 
with any degree of satisfaction. You are so good as to 
say that you wish to see me Member for Bristol at the 
next general election. I most sincerely thank you, and 
beg leave to add this friendly wish to the innumerable 
obligations which I have to you already. To represent 
Bristol is a capital object of my pride at present ; 
indeed, I have nothing external on which I can value 
myself, but that honourable situation. If I should live 
to the next general election, and if being a Member of 
Parliament at that time should be desirable to me, 
I intend to offer myself again to your approbation. But 
far from wishing to throw the memory of the present 
business into the shade, I propose to put it forward to 
you, and to plead my conduct on this occasion, as 
matter of merit, on which to ground my pretensions to 
your future favour. I do not wish to represent Bristol, 
or to represent any place, but upon terms that shall be 
honourable to the chosen and to the choosers. I do 
not desire to sit in Parliament for any other end than 
that of promoting the common happiness of all those 
who are, in any degree, subjected to our legislative 
authority ; and of binding together, in one common 
tie of civil interest and constitutional freedom, every 
denomination of men amongst us. When God has given 

1778] TO JOHN NOBLE 221 

any men hands, and any other men shall be found 
impious or mistaken enough to say that they shall not 
work, my voice shall not be with those men. The 
principles I have stated to you I take to be Whig 
principles ; if they are not I am no Whig. I most 
heartily disclaim that, or any other, denomination, 
incompatible with such sentiments. 

What interest, my dear sir, have my friends in 
Bristol, that I should expose myself by a dereliction 
of every opinion and principle that I have held since 
I first set my foot in Parliament ? My voice could not 
carry the question. The opposition to it on my part, 
and perhaps even on yours, will probably be vain; 
and the only effect which can result from it will be, the 
taking away some part of the grace and goodwill which 
must make the chief value of such trifling concessions. 

I have written my letter to the Hall, to my consti- 
tuents of all denominations. 1 This, and my former, 
I have written to my own particular Mends ; and I wish 
these letters, if you please, to be read at the Bush, and 
the Bell Club. 

I am, with the sincerest regard, my dear sir, 

Your affectionate and obedient 
humble servant, 



May 26, 1779. 

I do most heartily congratulate you on your enjoy- 
ment of the greatest good fortune which can attend 
our time of life. I mean a retreat from care and toil, 
with the view of a child entering into active life, with 
a fair prospect, in his turn, of enjoying the same repose, 
and in the same place. If I had less interest than I 

1 Burke's letter to the Master of the Hall, of the 23rd 
of April in this year, is given in the * World's Classics ' 
edition of Bui Ice's Writings and Speeches, Vol. II, p, 289. 

222 EDMUND BURKE [1779 

really have in this situation of your affairs, merely as 
a situation, it could not fail to give me pleasure. May 
you grow more and more pleased with the satisfaction 
which you so well deserve, both you and your excellent 
wife ! Give, in my name, all sorts of felicitation to the 
third Shackleton, who, I have no doubt, will fill his 
place as well as the two first, and better he cannot. 
That young gentleman has been always a very great 
favourite of mine, on account of his excellent good 
parts, and the openness and liberality of nature that 
I observed in him. These dispositions will ensure much 
happiness to you and to himself, and will enable him 
to supply many virtuous and useful citizens to his 
country. I hope he will help to fill up the succession 
of the world, in its progress to better things, public, 
and private, than we have the fortune to see at this 
moment. Your solicitude about my son is very kind 
and flattering to us both. It does not become me to 
say all I think of him. My partiality may naturally 
influence my judgement in such a case. But to you, 
I may perhaps be allowed to express myself, as I think 
and as I feel, on any subject. I thank God, he much 
more than answers my hopes of him, I do not know 
how I could wish him to be in any particular what- 
soever, other than what be is. He has been, for some 
time, in the Inns of Court ; and intends himself for that 
profession which is so leading in this country, and 
which has this peculiar advantage, that even a failure 
in it stands almost as a sort of qualification for other 
things. Whether he will ever desire, or ever have it in 
his choice, to engage further in public affairs, is more 
than I am able to foresee. If he should, I am sure 
that your kind admonitions will have their full effect, 
upon a constitution of mind very well disposed to 
receive every lesson of virtue. What you say about 
his engaging in parties may be right, for anything 
I know to the contrary. The nature, composition, 
objects, and quality of the parties which may exist in 
his time, or in the form of commonwealth he may live 
to see, are not easy to be guessed at. It must be 


wholly left to himself, and must depend upon the 
future state of things, and the situation in which he 
is found relatively to them. c Humana qua parte locatus 
es in re ', is the best rule, both in morals and in prudence ; 
and the progressive sagacity that keeps company with 
times and occasions, and decides upon things in their 
existing position, is that alone which can give true 
propriety, grace, and effect to a man's conduct. It 
is very hard to anticipate the occasion, and to live 
by a rule more general. As to parties, there is much 
discussion about them in political morality ; but, 
whatever their merits may be, they have always existed, 
and always will ; and, as far as my own observation 
has gone, I have observed but three kinds of men that 
have kept out of them : Those who profess nothing 
but a pursuit of their own interest, and who avow 
their resolution of attaching themselves to the present 
possession of power, in whose-ever hands it is, or however 
it may be used ; The other sort are ambitious men, of 
light or no principles, who, in their turns, make use of 
all parties, and therefore avoid entering into what may 
be construed an engagement with any. Such was, in 
a great measure, the late Earl of Chatham, who expected 
a very blind submission of men to him, without con- 
sidering himself as having any reciprocal obligation to 
them. It is true that he very often rewarded such 
submission in a very splendid manner, but with very 
little marks of respect or regard to the objects of his 
favour ; and as he put confidence in no man, he had 
very few feelings of resentment against those who the 
most bitterly opposed or most basely betrayed him : 
The third sort is hardly worth mentioning, being com- 
posed only of four or five country gentlemen of little 
efficiency in public business. It is but a few days 
ago, that a very wise and a very good man (the Duke of 
Portland) said to me, in a conversation on this subject, 
that he never knew any man disclaim party, who was 
not of a party that he was ashamed of. But thus much 
I allow, that men ought to be circumspect, and cautious 
of entering into this species of poEtical relation ; because 

224 EDMUND BURKE [1779 

it cannot easily be broken without loss of reputation, 
nor (many times) persevered in without giving up 
much of that practicability which the variable nature 
of affairs may require, as well as of that regard to 
a man's own personal consideration, which (in a due 
subordination to public good) a man may very fairly 
aim at. All acting in corps tends to reduce the con- 
sideration of an individual who is of any distinguished 
value. As to myself, and the part I have taken in my 
time, I apprehend there was very little choice. Things 
soon fell into two very distinct systems. The principle 
upon which this empire was to be governed made 
a discrimination of the most marked nature. I cannot 
think that I have been in the wrong so far as the public 
was concerned ; and as to my own annihilation by it, 
with regard to all the objects of man in public life, 
it is of too small importance to spend many words upon 
it. In the course I have taken, I have met, and do daily 
meet, so many vexations, that I may with truth assure 
you, that my situation is anything rather than enviable, 
though it is my happiness to act with those that are far 
the best that probably ever were engaged in the public 
service of this country at any time. So little satisfaction 
have I, that I should not hesitate a moment to retire 
from public business, if I were not in some doubt of the 
right a man has, that goes a certain length in those 
things ; and if it were not from an observation, that 
there are often obscure vexations and contests in the 
most private life, which may as effectually destroy 
a man's peace, as anything which may happen in public 
contentions. Adieu, my dear friend ; enjoy your 
natural and deserved happiness ; renew mine, and my 
wife's best wishes to Mrs. Shackleton and the young 
pair. Both Richards join most cordially in them, 
I am always, my dear Shackleton. 

Yours, affectionately and faithfully, 

1779] TO DR. JOHN CURRY 225 


August M, 1779. 

I have this instant received your letter of the 6th 
of this month. It demands an immediate answer, 
as it may prevent a business, which is not quite rightly 
understood, from proceeding any farther. I am satisfied 
that you, and the gentlemen concerned, are perfectly 
incapable of meaning any offence to me, and therefore, 
so far from taking any, I consider the thing as very 
kindly imagined, and am obliged to you for your 
intentions. But it is impossible for me, with any agree- 
ment to my sense of propriety, to accept any sort of 
compensation for services which I may endeavour to 
do upon a public account. If the bill you allude to 
should come before you receive this, I must return it 
by post to the gentleman who transmits it, I have 
attempted to be useful on many occasions, and to 
various descriptions of men, and all I wish in return 
is, that if I have been so fortunate as to do them any 
service, they will endeavour to improve it to the best 
advantage to themselves. My endeavours in the Irish 
business, in which I was, indeed, very active and very 
earnest, both in public and in private, were wholly 
guided by an uniform principle, which is interwoven 
in my nature* and which has hitherto regulated, and 
I hope will continue to regulate, my conduct, I mean 
an utter abhorrence of all kinds of public injustice and 
oppression ; the worst species of which are those, 
which being converted into maxims of state, and 
blending themselves with law and jurisprudence, 
corrupt the very fountains of all equity, and subvert 
all the purposes of government. From those principles, 
I have ever had a particular detestation to the penal 
system of Ireland, and I am yet very far from satisfied 
with what has been done towards correcting it, which 
I consider as no more than a good beginning^ I am 
convinced that if some people had acted with the 
wisdom that became their station, and the fairness 

237 I 

226 EDMUOT) BURKE [1779 

which, even from them, I expected, in a matter which 
it was so much their interest to forward, things would 
have proceeded rapidly towards a reformation, and 
that too with great good humour, and concurrence 
of all sorts of people. But, as matters have been 
carried, serious difficulties have arisen, and will continue, 
as I am afraid you will find. I hope and trust you will 
do your part towards removing them. The gentlemen 
of your persuasion will go on to recommend your 
attachment to the government you live under, but not 
in a factious manner, nor by invidious comparisons 
with other people which will not be borne. It is a 
liberty which, I hope, you will have the goodness to 
excuse, if I recommend to you, that, while you do 
all you can to approve yourselves dutiful subjects to 
the Crown, you da not fall into that species of servility, 
and of blind party rage, with which new attachments 
to power are commonly cultivated. In your situation, 
I would be so far a friend to the court, as not to give 
occasion to every friend to the constitution to become 
an enemy to me and my cause. To the great liberality 
and enlarged sentiments of those who are the furthest 
in the world from you in religious tenets, and the 
furthest from acting with the party which, it is thought, 
the greater part of the Boman Catholics are disposed 
to espouse, it is that you owe the whole, or very nearly 
the whole, of what has been done both here and in 
Ireland. I, who know more of the secret history, as 
well as the public, of this business, than falls to the share 
of many, can faithfully assure you of the truth of this. 
The same dignity of mind which induced them to favour 
those with whom they did not agree, will keep them 
from demanding, as a test of gratitude from the 
Catholics, such an adherence as would alienate that 
power, without whose concurrence, or at least acqui- 
escence, nothing can be done for you. All that I wish 
is, that you would not return hostility for benefits 
received; but that you would, in general, keep your- 
selves quiet, as those ought to do, who, not being yet 
admitted to the commonwealth, will naturally find it 

1779] TO DR. JOHN CURRY 227 

the best course to interfere as little as possible with 
the parties that divide the state. I do not say this as 
if anything were done, by the generality of your 
persuasion in Ireland, which gives occasion for this 
caution; but there are a few whose conduct and 
discourses furnish a ground for it amongst us, or I am. 
greatly misinformed. 

I am glad that you have thought of collecting some 
little fund for public purposes. But if I were to 
venture to suggest anything relative fco its application, 
I think you had better employ that, and whatever else 
can be got together for so good a purpose, to give some 
aid to places of education for your own youth at home, 
which is, indeed, much wanted. I mean, when the 
legislature comes to be so much in its senses, as to feel 
that there is no good reason for condemning a million 
and a half of people to ignorance, according to act of 
parliament. This will be a better use of your money, 
than to bestow it in gratuities to any persons in 
England ; for those who will receive such rewards very 
rarely do any services to deserve them. Therefore, 
I recommend it to you, to look very carefully about 
you, before you make any such use of your money. 
I do not mean by this, that professional men are not 
to be considered for professional services ; or that, 
amongst yourselves, you are not to distribute to 
each other, such helps as may enable you the better 
to pursue your very just and honest objects. 

Charles Street, May 6, 1780, 


The challenge in your letter is accepted, and I shall 
be happy to give you a meeting about that season 
which you find it so difficult to give a name to. I am 
in doubt whether this letter can meet you before your 
leaving Ballitore : I hope it may not. I hope too, 
that if you can come, I may be able to have a day or 
two at leisure for you. I never remember to have been 

228 EDMUND BURKE [1780 

so completely overpowered and oppressed by business ; 
and that of various, and some of it of a very disagreeable 
nature. Our life is indeed a warfare. I keep up my 
spirits as well as I can, and whilst I am in action they 
are well kept up ; but my moments of rest are not 
always moments of quiet. I do not know anything 
which would tend to make me forget all the disagreeable 
things which pass, so much as a few calm moments with 
you at Beconsfield, if I could get them ; and though 
I should be happy in seeing any friend of yours, I think 
we should be rather more at home with yourself ; but 
that shall be according to your pleasure. When you 
were here last, we were chained to the town. How 
that will be at your next coming, I know not ; for 
there is nothing with us altogether right. But you 
will see my son, who is a new accession to our society, 
and not the worst part of it. 

By the way, I forget, as indeed I forget many 
things which I ought to remember, the pretty poem 
you sent me about Ballitore. It has that in it which 
I always consider as a mark of genius ; the turning 
to account the images and objects that one is familiar 
and conversant with, and not running at all into 
repetition or over-improvement (if that were possible) 
of the images which have struck others, in other places 
and times. This latter shows that people have little 
fire of their own, though they may be capable of kindling 
at the fire of others ; and it does not mark them as good 
observers, though it may as retentive readers. What 
true and pretty pastoral images has Goldsmith in his 
Deserted tillage i They beat all ; Pope, and Phillips, 
and Spenser, too, in my opinion ; that is, in the 
pastoral, for I go no farther. Our own manners afford 
food enough for poetry, if we knew how to dress it. 
God Almighty bless you and yours. Remember me 
cordially to Mrs. Shackleton, your daughter, and the 
young gentleman that succeeds and revives old 

Ever yours, 




Tuesday night, June 1780. 


I feel as I ought for your friendly solicitude about 
me and this family. Yesterday our furniture was 
entirely replaced, and my wife, for the first time since 
the beginning of this strange tumult* lay at home. 
During that week of havoc and destruction, we were 
under the roof of my worthy and valuable friend, 
General Burgoyne, who did everything that could be 
done to make her situation comfortable to her. You 
will hear with satisfaction that she went through the 
whole with no small degree of fortitude. On Monday 
se'nnight, about nine o'clock, I received undoubted 
intelligence, that, immediately after the destruction 
of Savile House, mine was to suffer the same fate. 
I instantly came home ; (for Mrs. Burke and I were 
both abroad when we received this intelligence ;) and 
I removed such papers as I thought of most importance. 
In about an hour after, sixteen soldiers, without my 
knowledge or desire, took possession of the house. 
Government had, it seems, been apprised of the design, 
at the time when they were informed of the same 
ill-intention with regard to houses of so much more 
consideration than my little tenement ; and they 
obligingly afforded me this protection, by means of 
which, under God, I think the house was saved. The 
next day I had my books and furniture removed, and 
the guard dismissed. I thought, in the then scarcity 
of troops, they might be better employed than in look- 
ing after my paltry remains. My wife being safely 
lodged, I spent part of the next day in the street, amidst 
this wild assembly, into whose hands I delivered myself, 
informing them who I was. Some of them were 
malignant and fanatical ; but I think the far greater 
part of those whom I saw, were rather dissolute and 
unruly than very ill-disposed. I even found friends 

!30 EDMUND BURKE [1780 

md well-wishers among the blue cockades. My 
:riends had come to me to persuade me to go out of 
town ; representing (from their kindness to me) the 
langer to be much greater than it was. But I thought 
that, if my liberty was once gone, and that I could 
not walk the streets of the town with tranquillity, 
[ was in no condition to perform the duties for which 
[ ought alone to wish for life. I therefore resolved they 
should see that, for one, I was neither to be forced nor 
intimidated from the straight line of what was right ; 
and I returned, on foot, quite through the multitude to 
the House, which was covered by a strong body of horse 
and foot. I spoke my sentiments in such a way, that 
I do not think I have ever on any occasion seemed to 
affect the House more forcibly. However, such was 
the confusion, that they could not be kept from coming 
to a resolution which I thought unbecoming and 
pusillanimous ; which was, that we snould take that 
flagitious petition, which came from that base gang 
called c the protestant association, 5 into our serious 
consideration. I am now glad that we did so ; for if 
we had refused it, the subsequent ravages would have 
been charged upon our obstinacy. For four nights 
I kept watch at Lord Roekingharn's, or Sir George 
Savile's, whose houses were garrisoned by a strong 
body of soldiers, together with numbers of true friends 
of the first rank, who were willing to share their danger. 
Savile House, Rockingham House, Devonshire House, 
to be turned into garrisons ! tempora ! We have all 
served the country for several years, some of us for 
near thirty, with fidelity, labour, and affection ; and 
we are obliged to put ourselves under military pro- 
tection for our houses and our persons. The bell rings, 
and I have filled my time and paper with a mere account 
of this house ; but it is what you will first inquire about, 
though of the least concern to others. God bless you ; 
remember me to your worthy host. We can hardly 
think of leaving town ; there is much to be done to 
repair the ruins of our country and its reputation ; as 
well as to console the number of families ruined by 


wickedness, masking itself under the colour of religious 
zeal. Adieu, my dear friend ; our best regards to your 

Yours ever, 



Charles Street, June 15, 1780. 

Before I say anything on business, permit me to 
congratulate you on your office and your honours. 
I hope you will auspicate both, by your firmness in 
the course of real government ; and that instead of 
bringing the littleness of parliamentary politics into 
a court of justice, you will bring the squareness, the 
manliness, and the decision of a judicial place into the 
house of parliament, into which you are just entering. 
U1 tufortwiam. If you do this, no difference of senti- 
ment or of connexion shall hinder me from rejoicing in 
your elevation. If I know anything of myself, I have 
taken my part in political connexions and political 
quarrels, for the purpose of advancing justice and the 
dominion of reason ; and I hope I shall never prefer 
the means, or any feelings growing out of the use of 
those means, to the great substantial end itself. 

I send you a copy of the resolutions I had sketched. 
You will do what you please with them. If parliament 
were possessed of its natural authority, the resolutions 
might be as short as those of Queen Anne's reign, from 
whence the idea was taken ; but I conceive at the 
present time it would be necessary to make them a 
little more argumentative ; but you will best judge 
which of them it is best to reject or to receive j or 
whether they plight not be consolidated into one. 
I imagine this last will not be easy. You see that the 

1 Lord Loughborough. 

232 EDMUND BURKE , [1780 

policy of wording the first of them is, to let the dis- 
senters perceive that all toleration is on the same 
bottom. The scheme of the rest is, to mark the 
security of the church, and the danger to which this 
protestant fury may expose their brethren abroad. 

Forgive me, in repeating to you, that government 
must speedily come to a decision, and must make that 
decision known to all those who support it. From 
a great part of the popular side in a popular question, 
that decision cannot possibly be expected. But it will 
certainly confirm several that are wavering, both on 
your side and on ours ; and will put a stop to those 
loose ideas which are wandering about to find an 
owner* The idea of reviving departed penalties on 
Roman Catholics, to reward the rebellion, and other 
atrocious crimes of their adversaries, I hold to be 
unnatural ; and when it comes to be tried, will be 
found impracticable. But the House (or Houses) 
ought, in my opinion, to get the start of any proposition 
of that kind, by the clear unequivocal nature of their 
declaratory resolutions. Until this step is firmly 
taken, the House will continue under the impression 
of fear. the most unwise, the most unjust, and the 
most cruel of all counsellors. 

In order to clear the way for government in this 
business, it will (I dare say you wiD agree with me) be 
absolutely necessary for the Roman Catholics to appear 
before parliament with a moderate and firm petition, 
asserting the rights derived to them from their innoxious 
behaviour ; and from the solemn stipulation of the 
state, when the late oath of fidelity and the qualification 
oath were given to them, as weU as to contradict (as 
I am persuaded they may do with great safety) the 
calumnies which are the origin of this unheard-of, 
unprovoked persecution. To have our table loaded 
with petitions to do wrong to any one subject, without 
any application on his part to be screened from it and 
protected in Ms rights, is a situation of things so 
unusual and so unnatural, implying so much guilt or 
so much folly, that it cannot fail of producing the very 


worst effects. It is that way of skulking, to which, 
under the idea of a prudent caution, the Roman 
Catholics have been advised at other times, that has 
tended in a very great degree to bring that odium upon 
them, which men, who conceal their faces and are 
supposed to entertain secret and concealed dogmas, 
are always sure to excite ; men, who hold no other 
opinions than what were a while ago held by the whole 
world, and which are now held by great nations, and 
not only not concealed as mysteries, but publicly 
avowed, are treated as if they were a new and obscure 
sect of fanatics, who entertained principles which they 
did not avow, and were growing thereby into a con- 
spiracy dangerous to all government. I have long had 
an opportunity of observing the mischief of this 
ridiculous wisdom of theirs ; or rather, which is infused 
info them by those who advise them, not for their 
benefit, but for the ease and convenience of the advisers. 
But in the present case, government is strongly 
interested that it should not seem to protect those 
who do not appear fit to be protected ; who fly as 
much from the sobriety of parliament as from the fury 
of the populace, and who desert and abandon even 
their own innocence. I can answer for it, that such 
petitions could not fail of a good effect. What think 
you of their being advised to petition for what ? 
for penalty, imprisonment, and confiscation ! 

I have seen a publication from Usher, 1 which tends 
to throw the load of public indignation, which was 
falling upon his gang, on persons obscure or untraceable. 
Be assured, my lord, that this can do no good what- 
soever. The credit of that association, which is the 
true origin of the mischief, can never stand along with 
the wise and just law that we have passed two years 
ago. That he, who burned the books of his society, 
should be suffered to appear as a verbal evidence, to 
exculpate those to whom they belonged, I believe 
you will not think so proper. Instead of doing this, 
in my humble opinion, the names of those who signed 
1 He was secretary to the Protestant Association. 

234 EDMUND BUKKE [1780 

the infamous petition which disgraces our table, 1 
should be classed alphabetically, which would serve as 
a clue for finding their habitations and connexions, and 
thereby discover their practices. By separating the 
parchment, and putting three or four clerks to it, it 
may be done in a few hours. I beg pardon for troubling 
your lordship at a time when you have probably but 
little leisure ; I shall not add to it by making many 

I am. with great regard and esteem, 

My lord, 

Your lordship's most obedient and 
humble servant, 


If you please, I will send you the sketch of what 
I thought a proper petition. 

(Sheriff of Bristol.) 

Beconsfield, September 27, 1780. 

The fatigues of the election are over ; and I con- 
gratulate you on your return to quiet. I congratulate 
you, too, on the order, vigour, and spirit of decision, 
that shortened your work, and rendered the election 
itself less tedious to the city, and less vexatious and 
expensive to the parties than it would have been but 
for your exertions. Give my best compliments on 
this occasion to your colleagues. 

As to the event of the election, it has been just 
what it ought to "be^ It was the natural result of the 
conduct of all parties, and it may have a tendency to 

1 The petition from * the Protestant Association ', 
presented by Lord George Gordon on the 3rd of June, 
accompanied by an immense body of the rioters. 

2 Sir Henry Lippincott and Mr. Brickdale were returned. 
Mr. Gruger was beaten by a large majority. Mr, Burke 


reform the conduct of some of them. The Tories have 
not acquired a great deal of glory by the victory they 
have obtained, and by the use they have made of 
their strength. On the other hand, I am perfectly 
convinced, that the defeat both of Mr. Cruger and 
myself was a thing proper and necessary. If I had 
not been defeated, the Whigs never could be taught 
the necessity of vigour, activity, vigilance, and fore- 
sight. If Mr. Cruger had not been defeated, his friends 
could not have had the chance, they now have of being 
cured of presumption, and weak, crooked politics. 
Both parties could never have been taught the necessity 
of cordial union, the mischief of gentlemen neglecting 
to cultivate an interest among the common people, 
and the madness of the common people's dream, that 
they could be anything without the aid of better 
fortunes and better heads than their own. None of 
us could be practically taught these essential truths 
but by the aid of a defeat. 

One great advantage towards our converting our 
loss into profit is, that we have lost neither temper 
nor credit by it. At present, all our prospects depend 
upon the use we make of these circumstances. Our 
numbers, though respectable, are not large ; but then, 
all the flesh we have is sound, and firm, and fit for 
action ; and it is my earnest wish that no accession, 
however flattering, may be admitted, if it tends more 
to swell our bulk than to augment our force. If it 
be, you will-find it a weight to carry, not strength to 
carry away anything else. 

One thing, my dear friend, your manly sense will 
guard you against, the admitting any visionary 
politicians amongst us. We are sufficiently secured 
(by our exclusion from the court,) ..from the mercenary 
of that tribe. But the bane of the Whigs has been 
the admission among them of the corps of schemers, 
who, in reality and at bottom, mean little more than 
to indulge themselves with speculations ; but who 
do us infinite mischief by persuading many sober and 
well-meaning people that we have designs inconsistent 

236 EDMUND BURKE [1780 

with the constitution left us by our forefathers. You 
know how many are startled with the idea of innova- 
tion. Would to God it were in our power to keep 
things where they are in point of form, provided we 
were able to improve them m point of substance. The 
machine itself is well enough to answer any good 
purpose, provided the materials were sound. But 
what signifies the arrangement of rottenness ? 

It is our business to take care that we who are 
electors, or corporate magistrates, or freeholders, or 
Members of Parliament, or peers (or whatever we 
may be,) that we hold good principles, and that we 
steadily oppose all bad principles and bad men. If 
the nation at large has disposition enough for this 
end, its form of government is, in my opinion, fully 
sufficient for it ; but if the general disposition be 
against a virtuous and manly line of public conduct, 
there is no form into which it can be thrown that 'will 
improve its nature or add to its energy. I know that 
many gentlemen, in other parts of the kingdom, think 
it practicable to make the remedy of our public dis- 
orders attend on an alteration in our actual constitution : 
and to bring about the former, as a consequence of 
the latter. But I believe that no people, who could 
think of deferring the redress of such grievances as 
ours, and the animadversion on such palpable mis- 
conduct as there has been lately in our affairs, until 
the material alterations in the constitution which they 
propose can be brought about, will ever do any mighty 
matter, even if they should find themselves able to 
carry them. 

As to myself, I am come to no resolution relative 
to my making one in the consultation of these matters. 
I believe that, without much intrigue, I might contrive 
to come into parliament through some door or other. 
But when I consider, on one hand, the power and 
prostitution of the faction which has long domineered, 
and does still domineer in this country ; and, on the 
other, the strange distraction, not only in interests, 
but in views and plans of conduct, that prevails 


among those who oppose that faction, I do something 
more than hesitate about the wisdom and propriety 
of my making one in this general scene of confusion. 
I will say nothing about that tail which draggles in 
the dirt, and which every party in every state must 
carry about it. That can only flirt a little of the 
mud in our faces now and then ; it is no great matter : 
but some of our capital men entertain thoughts so 
very different from mine, that if I come into parliament, 
I must either fly in the face of the clearest lights of 
my own understanding, and the firmest conviction of 
my own conscience, or I must oppose those for whom 
I have the highest value. The Duke of Richmond 
has voluntarily proposed to open the elections of 
England to an those, without exception, who have 
the qualification of being eighteen years old ; and has 
swept away at one stroke all the privileges of free- 
holders, cities, and boroughs, throughout the kingdom ; 
and sends every member of parliament, every year, 
to the judgement and discretion of such electors. 
Sir George Savile has consented to adopt the scheme of 
more frequent elections, as a remedy for disorders which, 
in my opinion, have a great part of their root in 
elections themselves ; and while the Duke of Richmond 
proposes to annihilate the freeholders, Sir George Savile 
consents to a plan for a vast increase of their power, by 
choice of a hundred new knights of the shire. Which 
of these am I to adhere to ? Or shall I put myself 
into the graceful situation of opposing both 2 If I am 
asked who the Duke of Richmond and Sir George Savile 
are, and what is my own inward opinion of them, I must 
fairly say, that I look upon them to be the first men 
of their age and their country, that I do not know 
men of more parts or more honour. Of the latter, you 
remember what I said, in the Guildhall ; and I cannot 
retract a word of it. 

In this situation, with regard to those whom 
I esteem the most, how shall I act with those for 
whom I have no esteem at all ? Such there are ; 
not only in the ministry, but in the opposition. 

238 EDMUND BURKE [1780 

There is, indeed, the Marquis of Rockingham, and 
there are some more, with whom I do not think 
I differ materially ; but I am quite certain that, 
though they make our greatest number, yefc it is 
a number by no means sufficient, with any effect, 
to oppose the court, with the little or no aid we 
have from the people. These are my thoughts, or 
rather a very small part of the inducements which 
make me content, I had almost said desirous, of 
continuing where the larger part of our city was of 
opinion I ought to continue. 

On recollection, I have perhaps gone further than 
I intended, on the subject of my difference with my 
friends ; and since I have troubled you with so long 
a letter, I ought to take the benefit of your present 
patience, and explain myself a little. 

As to the shortening of the duration of parliaments, 
I confess I see no cause to change, or to modify, my 
opinion on that subject. The reason remains the 
same. The desires of the people go along with the 
reason of the thing. I do not know anything more 
practically unpopular. It is true that many people 
are fond of talking on short parliaments, as a subject 
of ingenuity; and they will come to resolutions on 
the point, if any one wishes that they should. But 
when they come to the touchstone, to the election 
itself, they vomit up all these notions. You have, 
I dare say, remarked that (except in one place only) 
not one candidate has ventured in an advertisement, or 
in a declaration from the hustings, to say one syllable 
on the subject of short parliaments, nor has any one 
elector thought proper to propose a test, or to give an 
instruction, or even the slightest recommendation of 
such a measure. You know how every one in Bristol 
feels on that matter ; and I have reason to be persuaded 
that they do not at all differ from the majority of the 

As to some remedy to the present state of the 
representation, I do by no means object to it. But 
it is an affair of great difficulty, and to be touched 


with great delicacy, and by a hand of great power. 
I do not hesitate to say, it cannot be done. By power, 
I mean the executive power of the kingdom. It is 
(according to my ideas of such a reformation) a thing 
in which the executive government is more concerned 
(in all matters of detail it is much concerned) than it 
is in short parliaments ; and I know that, in business 
of this sort, if administration does not concur, they 
are able to defeat the scheme, even though it should 
be carried by a majority in parliament, and not only 
to defeat it, but to render it in a short time odious 
and contemptible. The people show no disposition to 
exert themselves for putting power into the hands of 
those from whom they expect the performance of 
tasks that require a great deal of strength, and that 
too, a strength regular, systematic, and progressive. 
If they can find none to trust, there is an end of this, 
and of all questions of reformation. 

Before I finished the first sheet of this, I received 
your letter, and I thank you heartily for it. I am 
extremely pleased with the turn that things have 
taken in Somersetshire, and that solely on account 
of Coxe ; for, as to Mr. Trevelyan, I am not quite 
certain about his disposition. I find too, with at least 
as much satisfaction, that you and our friends agree 
with me about the constitution of our club, and the 
spirit in which it ought to proceed. Hereafter, and 
when we have fully cut off treachery, all our measures 
ought to be healing ; no revenge, and no reproach. 

You see in what a way Westminster was carried. 
There is in that city a sort of Whigs perfectly resembling 
the corrupt part of ours, and who would have done 
just as much mischief, if they had been under any head. 
Fortunately they were not ; and, therefore, instead of 
being detrimental to the cause, their activity rendered 
them very useful. 

Give my most affectionate compliments to all our 
friends. I hope to hear that Noble is quite well again. 
He deserves to be so on all accounts. Remember me 
and my brother (whom I left in town behind me) to 

240 EDMUND BURKE [1781 

Mrs. Harford and the young ladies, and to Mrs. Hill. 
When you write to Warrington, do not forget me there. 
Believe me always, and with unalterable regard, 

My dear sir, 

Your most faithful and obedient 
humble servant, 



Charles Street, Friday, March 23, 1781. 

I am honoured with your letter and the inclosures 
which I received on my return very late on Wednesday 
night. My attendance on the Bengal Committee and 
at the House has not left me sufficient leisure to thank 
you for your communication until this instant. Even 
now, I doubt, I shall not have time to explain myself 
so clearly and fully as I could wish to do, on the 
important matter you have done me the honour to 
lay before me. 

The high opinion which, in common with the rest 
of the world, I entertain of Sir Hector Monro, gives, 
in my mind, very great weight to his testimony in 
your favour. The regard too, which I have long since 
felt for yourself, would naturally incline me to wish 
that everything in your conduct, during your govern- 
ment, may be found perfectly honourable to you. 
I am sensible that the state into which the country, 
where you presided, has been brought by a long train 
of ill-policy, has made all your proceedings there very 
delicate and critical ; and I am as much disposed, as 
any man can be, to allow for several errors that are 
almost unavoidable in that very difficult and embar- 
rassed situation. 

Not to engage rashly in wars with the powers of 
the country, is, in my eyes, an eminent degree of merit 
in an East India governor ; and I am sincerely 
persuaded, that your keeping out of them was an act 


purely voluntary. I feel, as a member of this com- 
munity, and as a member of the community of mankind 
at large, your merit in discountenancing, as I under- 
stand you have done, the present ruinous Mahratta 
war ; and I shall ever acknowledge it as a public 
service. In condemning the perverse policy which led 
to that war, and which, before, had given rise to the 
still less justifiable war against the Rohillas, I do not 
speak from the smallest degree of prejudice or personal 
animosity against the respectable person x (for such, 
in many respects, he undoubtedly is,) who was so 
unhappy as to be the author of both these measures. 
I rather gave him my little voice as long as I thought 
it justifiable to afford him the smallest degree of 
support* I was always an admirer of his talents, and 
the farthest in the world from being engaged in a faction 
against him. I assure you, sir, with great truth, that 
I am also very far from a connexion with any personal 
enemies of yours, if such you have ; and that, in 
general, I am one of the latest and most reluctant in 
imputing blame to gentlemen who serve their country 
in distant and arduous situations. 

But since your letter not only permits, but, in 
a manner, calls upon me to deliver my opinion to 
you upon affairs of no trivial consequence, you will 
naturally excuse the liberty I shall take of laying 
open to you with plainness and sincerity, my thoughts 
on some late proceedings at Madras. 

I have invariably considered the plan of amassing 
a great body of power in the hands of one of the 
potentates of the country of India, by the destruction 
of all the original governments about him, as very 
ill-conceived in the design, very pernicious during the 
execution, and perfectly ruinous in the consequences* 
This from the beginning appeared to me very clear 
in the theory, and every step towards the practice has 
more and more confirmed me in that persuasion. 

I consider it also as very ill policy to set up a power 
of our own creating, and intrinsically dependent, in 
1 Warren Hastings. 

242 EDMUND BURKE [1781 

a state of fictitious independency ; and not only of 
independency, but superiority: that wars might be 
carried on, and great depredations committed in his 
name, which, in the real acting parties, could scarcely 
escape the strictest animadversion. 

Looking, as I did, upon every new pretension, and 
every new subject of discussion, as a means of new 
abuse of all kinds, I could not help viewing all en- 
couragement to an attempt for unsettling the succession 
of the ruling families in India in their lawful heirs, 
a succession recognized and settled by treaties and 
solemn acts, as a measure of a very pernicious 
tendency : first, to the people, who would be infinitely 
exhausted by the support of a party, and a force to 
support this subversion of the regular order of succes- 
sion ; and, next, to the family itself, which, sooner or 
later, must be extinguished by its dissensions. 

Having these and other motives, all originating from 
the same principles, deeply and firmly rooted in my 
mind, you will easily see that it cannot arise from the 
smallest desire of finding fault with any acts in which 
you have had a share, that I have hesitated about the 
propriety of a great variety of things lately done or 
permitted at Madras, as continuing and enforcing the 
plan of mistaken policy so long predominant there, 
and aggravating all the unhappy effects of it. 

I am unable to regard the acquisition of territory 
to the company as matter of merit, until I find that, 
in some one instance, the condition of the inhabitants 
has been improved by the revolution, or that the 
affairs of this kingdom have derived some benefit 
from it. For, unfortunately, in proportion to our 
acquisitions, both in Bengal and in the Deccan, we 
find the country infinitely injured ; and the treasures 
and revenues, both of the company and the subordinate 
powers, wasted and decayed. 

The acquisition, therefore, of the Gentoo Circar, 
seemed to me exactly like the rest of our late acquisi- 
tions* I thought neither better nor worse of it, than 
our acquisition of the country of the Rohillas, or the 


revenues of Oude. But when I found that this territory 
was no sooner acquired, than it was delivered over to 
the barbarians, and that the whole of that unfortunate 
people were (as so many others had been) farmed out 
as cattle, to the second son of the Nabob of Arcot, it 
seemed to me very evident, that, as long as such an 
arrangement was tolerated, the natives were put out 
of the reach of the protection of this kingdom. In 
that light I could not consider the whole of that 
transaction, without great doubt concerning the 
propriety of it in every point of view. 

The farming the Jaghire lands to the Nabob, or 
rather, in substance and effect, to the same second 
son, a person (to speak the best of him) of very 
doubtful fidelity to this nation, appeared to me 
a measure of the same tendency. The original short 
tenure was undoubtedly too much ; and the resumption, 
and not the enlarging it, would be the plain dictate of 
humanity and good policy. By these measures, and 
by others of the same nature and operation, we have 
not a foot of land, through an immense region, which 
we can properly call our own ; or in which we possess 
the ordinary means of protecting the people, or 
redressing their grievances, if ever we should become 
wise enough to intend it. 

Whatever other measures have been pursued in the 
spirit of these, or which tend, by the oppression of the 
native princes or people, to aggravate that evil of 
usury natural to the country, but which is infinitely 
extended and increased by uncertain demands and 
unsettled claims, all these appear to me equally 

My proceedings in the India House relative to 
Mr. Benfield, will explain to you in what manner 
I think myself obliged to consider them. How far 
gentlemen acting in India- are excusable on account 
of the false systems, or variable systems, which have 
been prevalent at home, for the mistakes of tho^e 
employed abroad, I am unable to determine. No man 
will be more inclined to allow for them than I shall ; 

244 EDMUND BUKKE [1781 

and I never will readily hear of laying on one man, 
that blame which ought to Me on many, if really there 
should be found any matter of blame at all. 

I am more engaged than I can well describe to you, 
with various kinds of business. But whenever we 
have both a moment's leisure, I shall be happy to 
converse with you on this business or any other; 
though, to speak after my manner, I do not choose, 
privately, to discuss matters with gentlemen, with 
whom I may find myself obliged afterwards to differ 
in public. It might give me advantages, which it 
would be impossiWe not to profit of, in some way or 
other, to their prejudice ; and that, whether I would 
or not. To know any man's story that you cannot 
agree with, is not pleasant. 

I have the honour to be, sir, 
Your most obedient and humble servant, 


(At Madras) 

April 24, 1782. 


Why were you not here to enjoy and to partake in 
this great, and I trust for the country, happy change ? 
Be assured, that in the Indian arrangements, wMch 
I believe will take place, you will not be forgotten, at 
least I hope not. King gives you a list. I have kissed 
hands, and gone through all ceremonies. The office is 
to be 4,000 certain. Young Kichard is the deputy, 
with a salary of 500. The office to be reformed 
according to the bill. There is enough of emoluments. 
In decency it could not be more. Something consider- 
able is also to be secured for the life of young Richard, 
to be a security for him and his mother. My brother 
is deep on the western circuit, where he has got full 
as much credit in one or two causes, as he could, or 


any man could get. It has been followed with, no 
proportionable profit. He has now before him the 
option of the secretaryship of the treasury, with 
precedence in the office. Many people think the figure 
he has made in his profession, in one cause in the 
King's Bench, in one upon the circuit, and in one 
in a committee of the House of Commons, in which 
he threw out John Macpherson, ought to oblige Mm 
to pursue that line, to which, if he accepts the secretary- 
ship, he can never return, in case of a change that may 
deprive him of his office. He is not in town, no more 
than the other Richard, who is in the remotest part 
of the north. All my friends are absent at a moment 
so important. Oh ' my dearest, oldest, best friend, 
you are far off indeed I May God, of Ms infinite mercy, 
preserve you ' Your enemies, your cruel and un- 
provoked persecutors, are on the ground, suffering 
the punishment, not of their villainy towards you, but 
of their other crimes, which are innumerable. . . . 
Resolutions will pass, after the holidays, to secure the 
Rajah of Tanjore, and to limit the Nabob. Much 
good will happen. Indeed, my dear friend, your 
honest and humane labours have not been useless. 
I shall think of Mr. Ross. I will write at large the 
moment I have leisure. My best love to Staunton, 
Boyd, and Dunkin. May God of Ms infinite mercy 
return you to us, happy and prosperous, and above 
all, speedily. Lord Shelburne has the correspondence 
with the India princes. The company itself is properly 
under the treasury. I should like that secretary Fox 
had the correspondence. . . . 

My dearest friend, we proceed as we began, in our 
endeavours to reform the state. A contractors' bill 
has passed the House of Commons. A bill for taking 
away the votes of revenue officers has made a con- 
siderable progress, and will also pass our House. The 
great lines of my bill came down recommended by 
a message from the Crown. I moved, as you will see, 
the address* We proceed in the same prosperous 
course in the India reformation. I told you before. 

246 EDMUND BURKE [1782 

that the Lord Advocate 1 continued in the same happy 
train of thinking which your early impressions formed 
him to. His speeches, as well as his resolutions relative 
to Tanjore and the oppressions and usurpations of the 
nabob, were such as if your own honest heart had 
dictated them. He has not yet brought out the whole, 
but he will bring forward such on Monday next, as 
will free that unfortunate prince and harassed country 
from the wicked usurpation of Mr. Hastings. Our 
select committee has reported; and last night the 
committee of the whole House has agreed to the 
resolutions which General Smith, our chairman, moved 
against Sullivan, Impey, and Hastings. We have 
already had Sullivan two days under interrogatories 
about the appointment of John Macpherson to the 
supreme council. After shuffling and prevaricating, 
he has at length taken refuge in refusing to give 
answers which may tend to criminate himself. The 
resolutions against Rumbold will be moved on Monday 

(The copy breaks off here.) , 


Beaconsfield, December 10, 1785. 

I SHALL be happy to see you and Mr. Pox here any 
day this week ; the sooner the better. I shall now 
say a few words on the business part of our corre- 
spondence. I entertained not the least doubt that 
Mr. Fox would take his part in the Bengal question, 2 
which must be brought on. He is certainly right : 
we ought to be very careful not to charge what we 

1 Henry Dundas, afterwards Viscount Melville. 

2 The exhibition of articles of impeachment against 
Warren Hastings; the first step towards which was 
taken by Mr. Burke in the House of Commons, on the 
17th of February, 1786, on a motion for papers, which 
was carried. 


are unable to prove. I only think it odd, after all 
that has passed, how he or anybody can make any 
doubt of our exactness in this particular. If we 
understand by proof, the establishment of fact by 
evidence, agreeably to the nature of the transaction 
and the principles of jurisprudence, I think we can be 
under no difficulty. Most of the facts upon which we 
proceed, are confessed ; some of them are boasted of. 
The labour will be on the criminality of the facts ; 
where proof, as I apprehend, will not be contested. 
Guilt resides in the intention. But as we are before 
a tribunal which, having conceived a favourable opinion 
of Hastings, (or, what is of more moment, very favour- 
able wishes for him,) they will not judge of his intentions 
by the acts, but they will qualify his acts by the 
presumed intentions. It is on this preposterous mode 
of judging that he has built all the apologies for his 
conduct which I have seen. Excuses, which in any 
criminal court would be considered with pity, as the 
straws at which poor wretches drowning will catch, 
and which are such as no prosecutor thinks it worth 
his while to reply to, will be admitted, in such a House 
of Commons as ours, as a solid defence. Mere im- 
pudence, which in all other cases would be thought 
infinitely to aggravate guilt, will with us be considered 
as the tone of innocence and conscious virtue. These 
are difficulties not arising from the nature of our case, 
but the circumstances of the time ; they are of a sort 
that no care in the formation or execution of our plan 
can possibly remove. And in my opinion, after making 
these difficulties, to show that we are aware of them, 
they ought to make no part of our consideration. We 
know that we bring before a bribed tribunal a pre- judged 
cause. In that situation, all that we have to do is, 
to make a case strong in proof and in importance, 
and to draw inferences from it, justifiable in Iogi6, 
policy, and criminal justice. As to all the rest, it 
is vain and idle. 

Perhaps my plan may not be the best for drawing 
in the greatest concurrence upon the vote, and making 

248 EDMUND BURKE [1785 

what is called a respectable minority. I should admit, 
if there were a prospect of such a minority as is nearly 
tantamount to a majority, and, in a second trial, is, 
in a manner, sure to produce one, the plan ought to 
have numbers in view as a principal consideration. 
With such a prospect before you, it is very often 
necessary to take away something from the force of 
your charge, in order to secure its effect. In the 
course of a long administration such as that of Mr. Hast- 
ings, which has been co-existent with several adminis- 
trations at home, it has happened that some are 
involved with him in one sort of business, who stand 
clear in others, in which again a different description 
may feel themselves (or friends, who are as them- 
selves,) directly or indirectly affected ; to say nothing 
of the private favours which such multitudes have 
received, (which makes, at once, Mr. Hastings' crime 
and his indemnity,) and in which every party, without 
distinction, is engaged, in one or other of its members. 
Parties themselves have been so perfectly jumbled 
and confounded, that it is morally impossible to find 
any combination of them who can march with the 
whole body in orderly array upon the expedition 
before us. With other prospects than ours, I know 
that we ought to exert all our dexterity in our selection, 
and not to aim a shot at the hunted deer, except where 
you are sure not to hit any other. This necessity 
I have experienced and submitted to (as in common 
sense I ought) in many instances. But all the reasons 
for such a conduct failing here, I find myself not in 
the least inclined to abandon any one solid ground of 
charge which I have taken up in any report, speech, 
or public proceeding whatsoever, or which I find 
strongly marked in the records which I have by me. 
My reason is this : A parliamentary criminal pro- 
ceeding is not, in its nature, within the ordinary resort 
of the law. Even in a temper less favourable to Indian 
delinquency than what is now generally prevalent, the 
people at large would not consider one or two acts, 
however striking, perhaps not three or four, as sufficient 


to call forth the reserved justice of the state. I confess, 
I partake myself so far of that coarse, vulgar equity, 
that if I found the general tenor of a man's conduct 
unexceptionable, I should hardly think the extreme 
remedies fit to be resorted to, on account of some 
wrong actions during many years' continuance in an 
arduous command. Of this I am certain, that a general 
evil intention, manifested through a long series and 
a great variety of acts, ought to have much greater 
weight with a public political tribunal, than such 
detached and unrelated offences into which common 
human infirmity has often betrayed the most splendid 
characters in history. Such a series of offences, mani- 
festing a corrupt, habitual evil intention, may be 
produced ; and nothing but a series of such facts 
can furnish, in my opinion, a satisfactory proof of it. 

In that case, I am little disposed to weaken my 
cause, in order to strengthen the importance of an 
adequate support. Shall we abandon the substance 
of our charge, (which is in the multitude and the 
perseverance in offences,) to fall in with Lord Titius 
or Mr. Caius, when Lord Titius or Mr. Caius are unable 
to give us substantial aid in the few mutilated par- 
ticulars they leave us to proceed upon ? Our friend, 
you say, is to consult many. He who is to please 
many in a business which in the first instance he 
makes his own, may be in the right to do so, though 
this perhaps is doubtful. But any man, whose only 
object is to acquit himself properly, ought to abstain 
from that general consultation, as from a poison. 
Speaking for myself, my business is not to consider 
what will convict Mr. Hastings, (a thing we all know 
to be impracticable,) but what will acquit and justify 
myself to those few persons, and to those distant 
times, which may take a concern in these affairs 
and in the actors in them. Those who may think 
otherwise, may have (I ought to say, undoubtedly 
have,) intentions as good as mine, and a judgement 
much superior for the regulation of their own particular 
conduct. It might not become a man, situated like 

250 EDMUND BUBKE [1785 

Mr. Fox, to moye without a considerable retinue. 
He is in the right not to appear weak, if possible, 
because the opinion of strength leads to further 
strength; and without that strength, the manly 
scheme of politics in which he is engaged can never 
become prevalent. In a party light, and as a question 
to draw numbers, whatever modification we may 
bestow upon our motion, a worse cannot be chosen 
out of the whole bundle of political measures. It is, 
therefore, my opinion that the wisest course for 
Mr. Fox to pursue is, not to consider it as such. But 
as my intention is known and declared, and as I never 
stated it to be conceived in concert with any one, he 
will naturally support the question, as concurrent with 
his own opinion, and with his own principles, and not 
as a point he means to exert strength to carry ; for 
this the known state of the country will be his justifi- 
cation. Mr. Fox, with regard to himself, has nothing 
at all to embarrass him in his business ; but, as he 
means to call in the aid of other opinions, it is impossible 
for us to blend ourselves with them. They will not 
digest several very important matters, which you and 
I may think essential. They who could wish that 
nothing at all were done, will wish to have as little 
done as can be. Do not we know that one or two, 
otherwise cordially with us, are of the very party with 
Mr. Hastings, and have publicly made Ms panegyric, 
and would not suffer even a remedial act, which was 
supposed to be grounded in some of its provisions on 
his misconduct ? Do not we know that others, who 
were so far deluded by those who every way betrayed 
them, as in effect to renew the trust given to Mr. Hast- 
ings, after they had accumulated materials for his 
prosecution, will certainly advise a revision of those 
matters which they have been at least induced to 
tolerate ? If, therefore, we do not resolve (I mean, 
if you and I dually do not resolve,) to consult only 
the cause, and not the support, I pledge myself to 
you that we shall neither have cause nor support. 
Whereas, if the matter is planned and settled without 


them, only taking care that they are well instructed, 
there are many things which they could never permit 
in consultation, which in debate they must support, or 
disgrace themselves for ever, 

December 23, 1785. 

I have sent you the first scene o the first act, 
the Rohilla war. You will make it what it ought to 
be. You will see my view in the manner of drawing 
the articles ; that is, not only to state the fact, but 
to assign the criminality, to fix the species of that 
criminality, to mark its consequences, to anticipate 
the defence, and to select such circumstances as lead 
to presumptions of private corrupt views. By following 
this method, our resolution (or articles of impeachment, 
as they may turn out,) will convey a tolerably clear 
historical state of the delinquencies, attending rather 
to the connexion of things than the order of time. 
They will, on this plan, likewise mark out the enormity 
of the offence, and point to those particulars which 
may interest the feelings of men, if any they have left ; 
but without something of that kind I know nothing 
can be done. 

Do you want the blue quarto t If you do, I will 
send it to you without delay, for I shall have no 
occasion for it. I believe most of the particulars are 
in the reports of the committee of secrecy. I never 
read a transaction which contained such a number 
and variety of misdemeanours. It is a fistulous sore 
which runs into a hundred sinuosities. I am sure 
there are more than I have stated ; but you are to 
judge whether there be enough of them marked, as 
you are of all the rest. 


252 EDMUND BURKE [1787 


Gerard Street, March 25, 1787. 

I have the honour of transmitting to you the copies 
of Mr. Anderson's and Mr. Middleton's letters to the 
Court of Directors. Along with them I send you a copy 
of my own letter to the chairman, in consequence of 
this communication. You perceive the manner in 
which Anderson fights off ; as to Hastings and the rest, 
probably their answers are not yet received ; but when 
they come, they will, I presume, be of the same evasive 
nature with that of Anderson. 

The business of the impeachment grows hourly to be 
more and more critical to the House of Commons, and 
to all the parties in it. Two things will be necessary, 
a strong case and a full attendance. As to the former, 
it will not be to the interest of justice, or any of those 
concerned in our common cause, that, upon our nice 
distinctions, any point strong in criminality and in 
proof should be given up. It is upon this principle 
that the charges must be drawn ; and if, upon submit- 
ting them to common lawyers and civilians, the best we 
can procure, it should be found that the impeachment 
can be maintained on those points, I am sure that not 
one vote in the House of Commons will be gained by 
narrowing ground, whilst we should appear with a more 
feeble and unimpressive cause than that which we are 
entitled to on the original merits. 

In order to bring about the great primary object of 
a strong cause, the substance of the charge should be 
either left to my own discretion, or, what I should like 
much better, that we should find some way of pre- 
viously settling the plan of conduct. It is but too 
obvious, that a few words snatched behind the speaker's 
chair, can never put things on a clear and decisive 
footing. Public consultations on our legs in the House, 
must be still more inoperative. This way of proceeding, 

1787] TO HENRY DUNDAS 253 

In our present situation, is neither right nor safe ; and 
I, therefore, am obliged to call on you for a full hour's 
uninterrupted conversation upon what is already done, 
and what yet remains to do. The aspect of the House 
of Commons is enough to satisfy me that very good 
reasons may exist in your mind, why our conferences 
on this subject should not be very frequent nor very 
public. The time and place, therefore, you will settle 
according to your own conveniency ; as to me, I have 
no managements. If no arrangement can be made 
with mutual concert, we shall be more distracted by 
occasional agreement than by uniform difference. In 
a situation like ours, a temporary confidence of 
business and accommodation is necessary to people 
otherwise adverse, who happen to coincide in some 
one important point. Without such communication 
I shall certainly proceed with firmness and consistency, 
as far as my own judgement can serve for a guide ; 
but I wish to clear myself of all part of the blame which 
might hereafter be imputed to my pursuing a course 
which any untoward event might denominate impru- 
dent and unadvised. 

As to the material point of numbers, means are 
using on our side to call in as many as the lax discipline 
of oppositions can secure. With regard to your side, 
you will excuse the liberty I take, in suggesting that 
the idea of wholly separating the man from the 
minister, if carried substantially into effect, cannot fail 
of being infinitely mischievous ; however, the internal 
circumstances of administration may make some 
appearance of that Mnd, and for some time expedient, 
but it ought not to continue over long, or be at all 
over done ; for if Mr. Pitt does not speedily himself 
understand, and give others to understand, that Ms 
personal reputation is committed in this business, as 
manifestly it is, I am far from being able to answer 
for the ultimate success, when I consider the constitu- 
tion of the late minorities, combined with the political 
description of the aJbsentees. But I think it, in a 
manner, impossible that all this should not be felt by 

254 EDMUND BURKE [1787 

you and by Mr. Pitt. I shall, therefore, only take 
leave to add, that if ever there was a common national 
cause totally separated from party, it is this. A body 
of men in close connexion of common guilt, and com- 
mon apprehension of danger, with a strong and just 
confidence of future power if they escape, with a degree 
of wealth and influence which, perhaps, even yourself 
have not calculated at anything like its just rate, is 
not forming, but actually formed, in this country; 
that this body is under Mr. Hastings as an Indian 
leader, and will have very soon, if it has not already, 
an English political leader too. This body, if they 
should now obtain a triumph, will be too strong for 
your ministry, or for any ministry. I go further, and 
assert without the least shadow of hesitation, that it 
will turn out too strong for any description of merely 
natural interest that exists, or, on any probable specu- 
lation, can exist in our times. Nothing can rescue the 
country out of their hands, but our vigorous use of the 
present fortunate moment, which, if once lost, is never 
to be recovered, for breaking up this corrupt com- 
bination, by effectually crushing the leader and princi- 
pal members of the corps. The triumph of that faction 
will not be over us, who are not the keepers of the 
parliamentary force, but over you ; and it is not you 
who will govern them, but they who will tyrannize 
over you, and over the nation along with you. You 
have vindictive people to deal with, and you have gone 
too far to be forgiven. I do not know whether, setting 
aside the justice and honour of the nation, deeply in- 
volved in this business, you will think the political 
hints I have given you to be of importance. You who 
hold power, and are likely to hold it, are much more 
concerned in that question than I am, or can be. 
I have the honour to be, * 

&c. ? &c. 



[The latter end of November, 1788. 1 ] 

If I have not been to see you before this time, it 
was not owing to my not having missed you in your 
absence, or my not having much rejoiced in your 
return. But I know that you are indifferent to every- 
thing in friendship but the substance ; and all pro- 
ceedings of ceremony have for many years been out of 
the question between you and me. When you wish to 
see me, say as much to my son, or my brother, and 
I shall be in town in a few hours after I hear from 
them. I mean to continue here until you call on me ; 
and I find myself perfectly easy, from the implicit 
confidence that I have in you and the Duke, and the 
certainty I am in, that you two will do the best for 
the general advantage of the cause, and for your own 
and our common reputation. In that state of mind 
I feel no desire whatsoever of interfering, especially as 
too great an infusion of various and heterogeneous 
opinions may embarrass that decision, which it seems 
to me so necessary that you should come to, and for 
which I do not think a great deal of time is allowed 
you. Perhaps it is not your interest that this state of 
things should continue long, even supposing that the 
exigencies of government would suffer it to remain 
on its present footing. But I speak without book. 
I remember a story of Fitzpatrick in his American 
campaign, that he used to say to the officers who were 
in the same tent before they were up, that the only 
meals they had to- consider how they were to procure 
for that day, were breakfast, dinner, and supper. I am 
worse off, for there are five meals necessary, and I do 

1 Mr. Fox was in Italy when he was informed of the 
king's illness, and the probable necessity for the appoint- 
ment of a Begency. He immediately set off on his return 
to England. 

256 EDMUND BURKE [1788 


not know at present how to feel secure of one of them, 
the king, the prince, the lords, the commons, and 
the people. As to the first, the physicians, whose 
report is to settle the state, and who are now, therefore, 
the men in power, what answer they will give to 
interrogatories, as to the nature and probable duration 
of the king's complaint, the probability of cure, the 
danger of relapse upon apparent recovery, and the 
like, I am utterly a stranger to all this. But it is not 
right vou should be long so, for much will hinge on it. 
It is fit that you should be thoroughly acquainted with 
their answers, which can be only had by a previous 
, examination. The ministers have probably taken 
these opinions. The prince, in a matter so interesting 
to himself, politically, personally, and now as the head 
of the royal family, has full as good a right to these 
opinions as these gentlemen can pretend to ; and 
nothing can make it improper for Mm to have them 
taken before such persons of weight and consequence 
in the country as he may choose to call in. I think it 
will be a crude business, that their first examination 
should be at the bar of the House of Lords, or House of 
Commons. Examined they must be before we can take 
any step, whether we can confide this examination 
to a committee of both houses, or whether we ought, 
or not, to have a committee of actual inspection, is 
for you to consider. The great point is, in my opinion, 
not to let the ministers take the lead in the settlement. 
They are men, undoubtedly, in legal situations of trust, 
to perform such functions as can be performed in office 
without resort to the Crown; but the king's confi- 
dential servants they certainly are not : and not only 
the rights of other members are on a par with theirs, 
but all ideas of decorum, and pre-audience, on the 
subject of the king, are out of the question. I mention 
this to you, not as supposing that you and the rest of 
our friends are not aware of it, but from my having 
observed, when I was in town, that the ministers were 
talked of as if things were in their ordinary course ; 
and, our language guiding and not following our ideas 


on this occasion, it was supposed that both the com- 
munication of the state of the king's health, and the 
propositions in consequence of it, were to be expected 
from them. This is an inter-regnum ; and the suffering 
of the office people to be considered as persons to whose 
wisdom the Government is to look for its future form, 
may be neither quite reputable or altogether advan- 
tageous to you. Might it not be better for the prince, 
at once to assure himself, to communicate the king's 
melancholy state by a message to the two Houses, and 
to desire their counsel and support in such an exi- 
gency ? It would put him forward with advantage in 
the eyes of the people ; it would teach them to look 
on him with respect, as a person possessed of the spirit 
of command ; and it would, I am persuaded, stifle an 
hundred cabals, both in parliament and elsewhere, in 
their very cradle, which would, if they were cherished 
by his apparent remissness and indecision, produce to 
Mm a vexatious and disgraceful regency and reign. 
But I am going farther than I intended. God bless 
you. There is a good deal to be done for your security 
and credit, supposing the prince's dispositions to you 
to be all they are represented ; and that I believe them 
to be. Your business formerly was only to take care 
of your own honour. I hope you have now another 
trust. It is a great deal that the proscription is taken 
off ; but, at the same time, the effects of twenty-eight 
years of systematic endeavours to destroy you, cannot 
be done away with ease. You are to act a great, and 
though not a discouraging, a difficult part ; and in 
a scene which is wholly new. If you cannot succeed 
in it, the thing is desperate. Adieu ! 

Yours ever, 


BmconsfieLd, January 24, 1789. 
I STAYED at Brooks' on Tuesday night, in hopes of 
seeing you, until after twelve. I had a good deal of 


258 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

discourse with Pelham, 1 who gave me leave to flatter 
myself that you and he might dine with me, and pass 
a night here, between this and Monday. We have 
means of feeding you, though without our cook, but 
the dairy-maid is not a bad hand at a pinch ; and we 
have just killed a sheep, which, though large and fat, 
is. I believe, full six years old, and very fine meat. 
I have already, I think, received some small benefit to 
my health by coming into the country ; but this view 
to health, though far from unnecessary to me, was not 
the chief cause of my. present retreat. I began to find 
that I had grown rather too anxious ; and had begun 
to discover to myself and to others a solicitude relative 
to the present state of affairs, which, though their 
strange condition might well warrant it in others, is 
certainly less suitable to my time of life, an which all 
emotions are less allowed ; and to which, most cer- 
tainly, all human concerns ought in reason to become 
more indifferent, than to those who have work to do, 
and a good deal of day, and of inexhausted strength 
to do it in. I sincerely wish to withdraw myself from 
this scene for good and all ; but, unluckily, the India 
business binds me in point of honour; and, whilst 
I am waiting for that, comes across another of a kind 
totally different from any that has hitherto been seen 
in this country, and which has been attended with 
consequences very different from those which ought to 
have been expected in this country, or in any country, 
from such an event. It is true I had been taught by 
some late proceedings, and by the character of the 
person principally concerned, to look for something 
extraordinary. With a strong sense of this, my 
opinion was that the prince ought to have done what 
has been said it was his right to do ; and which might 
have been as safely done as was unsafely said. He 
ought himself to have gone down to the House of Lords, 
and to them by himself, and to the House of Commons 
by message* to have communicated the king's condition, 
1 Probably the Hon. Thomas Pelham, afterwards Earl 
of Ghiehester. 


and to have desired the advice and assistance of the 
two Houses. His friends would then have been the 
'proposers, and his enemies the opposers, which would 
have been a great advantage. The proceedings in 
council ought also to have originated from him ; 
whereas we admitted the official ministers as the king's 
confidential servants, when he had no confidence to 
give. The plans originated from them. We satisfied 
ourselves with the place of objectors and opposers, 
a weak post always ; and we went out with the spirit 
(if it may be so called) of inferiority, and of a mere 
common opposition, with the Prince of Wales, Begent 
in designation, and future King, at our head ; he 
unable to support us, and we unable to support Mm. 
Though I went to town strongly impressed with this 
idea, which I stated to Fox, when I saw him in his 
bed, and to others, it met so ill a reception from all to 
whom I mentioned it, and it seemed then a matter of 
course, that the men who remained in place, (as Pitt 
and the chancellor did,) without character or efficiency 
in law, were under an exclusive obligation to take the 
lead ; and some were of opinion that they ought to be 
called upon and stimulated to the production of their 
plans, I was really overborne with this, I may say, 
almost universal, conceit ; so much so, that I gave 
over pressing my own, and wrote to my brother then 
here, that I found it necessary to give it up, and even 
to change it ; and on this he wrote me a strong re- 
monstrance. Afterwards I was little consulted. This 
error of ours (if such it was) is fundamental, and 
perhaps the cause of all our subsequent disasters. 
I don't trouble you with these remarks as complaining 
of what was done, or as laying too much weight on my 
first opinions. In truth, things have turned out so 
contrary to all my rational speculation in several 
instances, that I dare not be very positive in what 
appears to me most advisable, nor am I at all disposed 
very severely to censure the proceedings most adverse 
to my own ideas. I throw out these things to you, and 
wish to put you in possession of my thoughts, that, if 

260 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

they meet with a reception in your mind, you may 
urge them in time and place with a force which, for 
many reasons, (perhaps some of personal fault, or 
defect, or excess in myself, but most certainly from 
a sort of habit of having what I suggest go for nothing, ) 
I can no more hope for. I look back to anything that 
has been done or omitted, for no other purpose than 
to guide our proeeedings in future. In the first place 
I observe, that though there have been a very few 
consultations upon particular measures, there have 
been none at all de summa rerum. It has never been 
discussed, whether, all things taken together, in our 
present situation, it would not be the best or least 
evil course, for the public and the prince, and possibly, 
in the end, for the party, that the prince should 
surrender himself to his enemies and ours. Of one 
thing I am quite certain, that if the two Houses, 
animated by a number of addresses to the prince and 
of instructions to the members, should be bold enough 
to reserve all their pretended principles, (as in case of 
such addresses and instructions they certainly will do,) 
and demand of the prince-regent to keep in these 
ministers, I believe it will be found very difficult, if 
not absolutely impossible, to resist such a requisition. 
It has always hitherto been thought wise, rather, to 
foresee such an extremity, and to act in the foresight, 
than to submit to it when it happens ; to make peace 
whilst there is some faint appearance of choice left 
on the subject, has hitherto been the policy. If that 
surrender should be thought necessary, then it will be 
for the consideration of our friends, how to do it in the 
manner most honourable to themselves, and the best 
fitted to make an impression on the public ; and this, 
I think, would best be done in the way of a ^strong, 
well-reasoned memorial on the subject, advising the 
prince, for the sake of the public tranquillity, and to 
prevent further outrages on the constitution, to yield 
to the present exigence, thanking him for the justice 
he was willing to do to the king's subjects, and for his 
equity in delaying so long to yield to so wicked a 


proscription as that projected. This, in my poor 
judgement, ought to be signed by all the lords and 
commoners amongst us, and possibly by other notables 
in the country ; and then, without a formal secession, 
to absent ourselves from Parliament until favourable 
circumstances should call us to it. I am far from 
being certain that this method (this of yielding,) would 
not be the best, considering who the prince is, and 
who, and of what stuff, we are. But if we choose the 
other way, which is, at all events, to fight it out 
against a majority in the two Houses, and a very great, 
bold, and active party without doors, making, for aught 
I know, the majority of the nation, then I am sure we 
ought to prepare ourselves for such a combat in a 
different manner, and to act in it with a very different 
spirit from anything which has ever yet appeared 
amongst us. In the first place we ought to change 
that tone of calm reasoning which certainly does not 
belong to great and affecting interests, and which has 
no effect, but to chill and discourage those upon whose 
active exertions we must depend much more than on 
their cold judgement. Our style of argument, so very 
different from that by which Lord North was run down, 
has another ill-effect. I know it increases the boldness 
of some of those who are thus bold, less from the 
courage of their original temperament than from the 
air of inferiority, debasement, and dejection, raider 
which we have appeared for some years past. In 
daring everything they see they risk nothing. Far 
from apprehending any mischief from our future just 
resentment, they are not troubled with any degree of 
present disgrace, or even with a hard word, or a 
reflection on their character, two or three trifling 
instances excepted. I suppose a more excellent speech 
than Fox's last has never been delivered in any House 
of Parliament ; full of weighty argument, eloquently 
enforced, and richly, though soberly, decorated. But 
we must all be sensible that it was a speech which 
might be spoken upon an important difference between 
the best friends, and where the parties had the very 

262 EDMUND BUKKE [1789 

best opinion of each other's general intentions for the 
public good. Mr. Pitt commended, as he had reason 
to do, the singular moderation of a speech Mr. Fox 
had made before, with an oblique reflection on those 
who had debated in another manner. If a foreseen 
coalition with Mr. Pitt should make this style of debate 
advisable for Mr. Fox, the word ought to be given to 
others, who may bring much mischief on themselves, 
when such a coalition shall be made, for having spoken 
of Mr. Pitt's conduct as highly corrupt, factious, and 
criminal ; and, in the meantime, they may be con- 
sidered as hot and intemperate zealots of a party, with 
the main springs of whose politics they are not ac- 
quainted, so far as to the general style of debate. 
I will trouble you, on this point, with a word on the 
use he may make of the degree of strength we possess 
in both Houses : We are a minority ; but then we 
are a very large minority; and I never knew an 
instance in which such numbers did not keep a majority 
in considerable awe. This was the case in a parliament 
of recognized authority. But, in the present case, it 
is universally admitted that the acts of the two Houses 
are not legal, but to be legalized hereafter, and that 
our proceedings are not founded upon anything but 
necessity. The submission, therefore, of the smaller 
number to the greater, is a mere voluntary act, and not 
an acquiescence in a legal decision. I see no sort of 
reason to hinder us from protesting on the journals ; 
or if they prevent us from that, from publishing 
strong manifestoes signed with our names. Our con- 
duct cannot be more irregular than theirs. If it is 
objected, that this principle might lead us a great deal 
farther, I confess it ; but then, their principle would 
lead them farther too ; and they have, in fact, gone 
to ten times worse and more serious lengths against 
the substance and the solid maxims of our Government, 
than we can be suspected of going, who, should we 
take the steps I suggest, only trespass against form 
and decorum. But whilst they neither attend to form 
or to substance, and we are -the slaves of form, it is 


self-evident that we do not engage upon equal terms. 
I do not dwell upon this point so much for the sake of 
this measure, (which I wish rather we did not think 
forbidden than that I pressingly recommend,) but for 
another and more serious reason. When I consider 
the change of Mr. Pitt's language, I am convinced that 
an intention is entertained of addressing the prince to 
keep him in power. To the last day's debate, he 
constantly spoke of himself as virtually out of place, 
and of Mr. Fox as minister in certain designation. 
That day he totally changed his note. His friend 
Mr. Rolle had arrived with his address from Devonshire. 
Are any on our part to advise the prince not to comply 
with that address ? Or are we to consider ourselves 
as bound by the faith which Mr. Sheridan has held on 
the part of the prince, that he will comply with the 
requisition of the House of Commons ? To what to 
attribute the two voluntary declarations made by 
Sheridan on that subject, especially the last. I am 
wholly at a loss. If the prince has authorized him to 
speak in this manner, all that I have said or have to say, 
on this side of the alternative, is vain and useless. We 
must submit, and there is an end of it. Even without 
this declaration, the difficulty in opposing such an 
address, though from an House framed on principles 
directly contradictory to these addresses, would be 
very great. I should contend as much as any one, 
perhaps more, for the constitutional propriety of the 
king's submitting, in every part of his executive 
Government, to the advice of Parliament. Bat this, 
like every other principle, can bear a practical super- 
structure of only a certain weight. If the two Houses, 
without any sort of reason, merely from faction and 
caprice, should attempt to arrogate to themselves, 
under the name of advice, the whole power and 
authority of the Crown, the monarchy would be a 
useless incumbrance on the country, if it were not able 
to make a stand against such attempts. If, then, such 
a sband is to be made, my opinion is, first, that the 
way ought to be prepared for it, by a previous strong 

264 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

remonstrance to the House of Commons from West- 
minster, against their whole proceedings. I am told 
we may depend upon Westminster. If we may, then 
I think it, from its vicinity, and the habitation in it of 
so many people from all parts of the kingdom (which 
make it a sort of general representative of the whole), 
of more importance than any other whatsoever, if 
properly used, and if the means are taken, which were 
taken, on the accession of the present royal family, by 
the Duke of Newcastle and others, to keep up and 
direct a spirit capable of seconding their petitions and 
addresses. I am not, in general, very fond of these 
things ; but on occasions they must be used, and 
I hope they are not among the artes perditae. They 
have the monied interest ; let us use the interest of 
those whose property is their freedom. Other places 
will probably follow ; but, so far as I can discern, no 
attempt has yet been made to do more than merely to 
prevent the corporations, or people, from appearing 
against us, Bristol excepted, where my brother and 
his friends in the corporation attempted more, but did 
not succeed. I should recommend that the same 
should be attempted where it might be more likely to 
succeed ; but what I contend for in all these attempts 
is, that we should not at all hold ourselves on the 
defensive ; a part which, in such affairs as these, has 
never failed to bring ruin on those who have chosen to 
occupy it. The people, to be animated, must seem to 
have some motive to action ; and accusation has more 
to engage their attention than apology, which always 
implies at least a possibility of guilt ; it is something 
abject at best. In order to prevent where we can do 
no better, or to act where we can act, I am clear that 
none but a corps of observation ought to attend 
Parliament. We ought to give over all thoughts of 
division ; and the members who have any interest 
ought to be sent down to their several districts. It 
was the present Mng and the present ministers who have 
made, and who continue, this parliament out of doors. 
It is now fixed, and it is for us to take our advantage 


of the actual state of the country, which is to the best 
of their power employed against us ; at least, until we 
shall be furnished with the means of establishing the 
constitutional bodies of the kingdom in the degree of 
sober independence, and decent respect, which they 
ought to enjoy. Whilst these and other obvious 
measures are going on abroad, the great security for 
their success, or the great remedy for their failure, is 
in the conduct of the prince himself. On that more 
depends than on all the rest. All his actions, and all 
his declarations, ought to be regular, and the conse- 
quences of a plan ; and if he refuses to comply with 
the addresses, he ought, once for all, to give them an 
answer, which should be as much reasoned as his 
situation will admit, and which will serve for a mani- 
festo. All his written proceedings must be so many 
manifestoes ; for he will not be in government by 
being appointed regent, but only in a situation to 
contend for it. Dead, cold, formal pieces, containing 
no sentiment to interest the feelings, and no animated 
argument to go to the understanding, may serve well 
enough when power is secure and able to stand on its 
own foundations ; but in this precarious show of 
government, a party must be made, and it must be 
made as parties are formed in other cases. There is 
not one rule, principle, or maxim, of a settled govern- 
ment that would be useful to us, that of general good 
conduct excepted. That which I should chiefly rely 
upon, in all these manifestoes, is a sentiment of dignity 
and independence, and an indifference to the object 
unless it can be held on those terms. If this, indeed, be 
no 5 supported by a degree of courage, either natural or 
infused, and a real resolution rather to forfeit every- 
thing than his own honour, and the safety of those 
embarked with him in the same bottom, to be sure, 
such a style of speaking would be unsuitable and 
mischievous j but if the conduct and declarations are 
of a piece, I think they can hardly fail of success in the 
end ; I say in the end, for we deceive ourselves woefully 
if we are not at the very opening of a dreadful struggle. 

266 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

All these and everything else, however, depend upon 
that ; which if nobody has spirit and integrity enough 
to inculcate into the prince, he is, and we are, ruined. 
He must marry into one of the sovereign houses of 
Europe. Till then he will be liable to every suspicion, 
and to daily insult. He will not be considered as one 
of the corps of princes, nor aggregated to that body, 
which people here, more even than in other countries, 
are made to look at with respect. There must be 
a queen for the women, or a person to represent one, 
else this queen will have them all. I say this inde- 
pendently of the suggestion concerning Mrs. Fitz- 
herbert, which I know to have great weight, and 
much the greatest in the extremities of the kingdom. 
No king in Europe, who is not married, or has not 
been so : no prince appears settled, unless he puts 
himself into the situation of the father of a family. 

I began this with a notion that I could bring all 
I had to say into a few short heads ; but I have been 
drawn into a length that I did not expect. One thing 
or other has taken me off ; so that I must deliver 
myself the letter which I thought was to bring you 
hither. Perhaps what I have thrown down is of little 
moment ; at any rate it is in safe hands, it is in the 
hands of one who will pardon and will conceal my 
weakness. Adieu, 

And believe me ever, bincerely and 

affectionately, yours, 


October, 1789. 

We are extremely happy in your giving us leave to 
promise ourselves a renewal of the pleasure we formerly 
had in your company at Beaconsfield and in London. 
It was too lively to be speedily forgotten on our part ; 
and we are highly flattered to find that you keep so 
exactly in your memory all the particulars of the few 

1789] TO MONS. DUPONT 267 

attentions which you were so good to accept from us 
during your stay in England. We indulge ourselves in 
the hope that you will be able to execute what you 
intend in ^our favour ; and that we shall be more 
fortunate in the coming spring, than we were in the 

You have reason to imagine that I have not been 
as early as I ought,, in acquainting you with my 
thankful acceptance of the correspondence you have 
been pleased to offer. Do not think me insensible to 
the honour you have done me. I confess I did hesitate 
for a time, on a doubt, whether it would be prudent to 
yield to my earnest desire of such a correspondence. 

Your frank and ingenuous manner of writing would 
be ill answered by a cold, dry, and guarded reserve on 
my part. It would, indeed, be adverse to my habits 
and my nature, to make use of that sort of caution in 
my intercourse with any friend. Besides, as you are 
pleased to think that your splendid flame of liberty 
was first Hghted up at my faint and glimmering taper, 
I thought you had a right to call upon me for my 
undisguised sentiments on whatever related to that 
subject. On the other hand, I was not without appre- 
hension, that in this free mode of intercourse I might 
say something, not only disagreeable to your formed 
opinions upon points on which, of all others, we are 
most impatient of contradiction, but not pleasing to 
the power which should happen to be prevalent at the 
time of your receiving my letter. I was well aware 
that, in seasons of jealousy, suspicion is vigilant and 
active ; that it is not extremely scrupulous in its means 
of inquiry ; not perfectly equitable in its judgements ; 
and not altogether deliberate in its resolutions. In the 
ill-connected arid inconclusive logic of the passions, 
whatever may appear blameable is easily transferred 
from the guilty writer to the innocent receiver. It is an 
awkward as well as unpleasant accident ; but it is one 
that has sometimes happened. A man may be made 
a martyr to tenets the most opposite to his own. At 
length a friend of mine, lately come from Paris, 

268 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

informed me that heats are beginning to abate, and 
that intercourse is thought to be more safe. This has 
given me some courage ; and the reflection that the 
sentiments of a person of no more consideration than 
I am, either abroad or at home, could be of little 
consequence to the success of any cause or any party, 
has at length decided me to accept of the honour you 
are willing to confer upon me. 

You may easily believe, that I have had ^ my eyes 
turned, with great curiosity, to the astonishing scene 
now displayed in France. It has certainly given rise 
in my mind to many reflections, and to some emotions. 
These are natural and unavoidable ; but it would ill 
become me to be too ready in forming a positive 
opinion upon matters transacted in a country, with the 
correct political map of which I must be very imper- 
fectly acquainted. Things, indeed, have already hap- 
pened so much beyond the scope of all speculation, 
that persons of infinitely more sagacity than I am, 
ought to be ashamed of anything like confidence in 
their reasoning upon the operation of any principle, or 
the effect of any measure. It would become me, least 
of all, to be so confident, who ought, at my time of life, 
to have well learned the important lesson of self- 
distrust, a lesson of no small value in company with 
the best information, but which alone can make any 
sort of amends for our not having learned other lessons 
so well as it was our business to learn them. I beg you, 
once for all, to apply this corrective of the diffidence 
I have, on my own judgement, to whatever I may 
happen to say with more positiveness than suits my 
knowledge and situation. If I should seem anywhere 
to express myself in the language of disapprobation, be 
so good as to consider it as no more than the expression 
of doubt. 

You hope, sir, that I think the French deserving of 
liberty. I certainly do. I certainly think that all men 
who desire it, deserve it. It is not the reward of our 
merit, or the acquisition of our industry. It is our 
inheritance. It is the birthright of our species. We 

1789] TO MONS. DUPONT 269 

cannot forfeit our right to it, but by what forfeits our 
title to the privileges of our kind. I mean the abuse, or 
oblivion, of our rational faculties, and a ferocious 
indocility which makes us prompt to wrong and 
violence, destroys our social nature, and transforms us 
into lomething little better than the description of 
wild beasts. To men so degraded, a state of strong 
constraint is a sort of necessary substitute for freedom ; 
since, bad as it is s it may deliver them in some measure 
from the worst of all slavery, that is, the despotism of 
their own blind and brutal" passions. 

You have kindly said, that you began to love free- 
dom from your intercourse with me. Permit me then 
to continue our conversation, and to tell you what the 
freedom is that I love, and that to which I think all 
men entitled. This is the more necessary, because, of 
all the loose terms in the world, liberty is the most 
indefinite. It is not solitary, unconnected, individual, 
selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the 
whole of his conduct by his own will. The liberty 
I mean is social freedom. It is that state of things in 
which liberty is secured by the equality of restraint. 
A constitution of things in which the liberty of no one 
man, and no body of men, and no number of men, can 
find means to trespass on the liberty of any person, or 
any description of persons, in the society. This kind 
of liberty is, indeed, but another name for justice ; 
ascertained by wise laws, and secured by well-con- 
structed institutions. I am sure that liberty, so 
incorporated, and in a manner identified with justice, 
must be infinitely dear to every one who is capable of 
conceiving what it is. But whenever a separation is 
made between liberty and justice, neither is, in my 
opinion, safe, I do not believe that men ever did 
submit, certain I am that they never ought to have 
submitted, to the arbitrary pleasure of one man ; but, 
under circumstances in which the arbitrary pleasure 
of many persons in the community pressed with an 
intolerable hardship upon the just and eqnal rights of 
their fellows, such a choice might be made, as among 

270 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

evils. The moment will is set above reason and justice, 
in any community, a great question may arise in sober 
minds, in what part or portion of the community that 
dangerous dominion of will may be the least mis- 
chievously placed. 

If I think all men who cultivate justice, entitled to 
liberty, and, when joined in states, entitled to a con- 
stitution framed to perpetuate and secure it, you may 
be assured, sir, that I think your countrymen eminently 
worthy of a blessing which is peculiarly adapted to 
noble, generous, and humane natures. Such I found 
the French, when, more than fifteen years ago, I had 
the happiness, though but for too short a time, of 
visiting your country ; and I trust their character is 
not altered since that period. 

I have nothing to check my wishes towards the 
establishment of a solid and rational scheme of liberty 
in France. On the subject of the relative power of 
nations, I may have my prejudices ; but I envy internal 
freedom, security, and good order, to none. When, 
therefore, I shalT learn that, in France, the citizen, by 
whatever description he is qualified, is in a perfect 
state of legal security, with regard to his life, to his 
property, to the uncontrolled disposal of his person, 
to the free use of his industry and his faculties : 
When I hear that he is protected in the beneficial 
enjoyment of the estates to which, by the course of 
settled law, he was born, or is provided with a fair 
compensation for them ; that he is maintained in the 
full fruition of the advantages belonging to the state 
and condition of life in which he had lawfully engaged 
himself, or is supplied with a substantial, equitable, 
equivalent : When I am assured that a simple citizen 
may decently express his sentiments upon public 
affairs, without hazard to his kf e or safety, even though 
against a predominant and fashionable opinion : When 
I know all this of France, I shall be as well pleased as 
every one must be, who has not forgot the general 
communion of mankind, nor lost his natural sympathy, 
in local and accidental connexions. 

1789] TO MONS. DUPONT 271 

If a constitution is settled in France upon those 
principles, and calculated for those ends, I believe 
there is no man in this country whose heart and voice 
would not go along with you. I am sure it will give 
ine, for one, a heartfelt pleasure when I hear that, 
in France, the greafc public assemblies, the natural 
securities for individual freedom, are perfectly free 
themselves ; when there can be no suspicion that they 
are under the coercion of a military power of any 
description ; when it may be truly said, that no armed 
force can be seen, which is not caned into existence by 
their creative voice, and which must not instantly 
disappear at their dissolving word ; when sach assem- 
blies, after being freely chosen, shall proceed with the 
weight of magistracy, and not with the arts of candi- 
dates; when they do not find themselves under the 
necessity of feeding one part of the community at the 
grievous charge of other parts, as necessitous as those 
who are so fed ; when they are not obliged (in order 
to flatter those who have their lives in their disposal) 
to tolerate acts of doubtful influence on commerce and 
on agriculture ; and for the sake of a precarious relief, 
under temporary scarcity, to sow (if I ma y be allowed 
the expression) the seeds of lasting want ; when they 
are not compelled daily to stimulate an irregular and 
juvenile imagination for supplies, which they are not 
in a condition firmly to demand ; when they are not 
obliged to diet the state from hand to mouth, upon the 
casual alms of choice, fancy, vanity, or caprice, oa 
which plan the value of the object to the public which 
receives, often bears no sort of proportion to the loss 
of the individual who gives ; when they are not neces- 
sitated to call for contributions to be estimated on the 
conscience of the contributor, by which the most per- 
nicious sorts of exemptions and immunities may be 
established, by which virtue is taxed and vice privi- 
leged, and honour and public spirit are obliged to bear 
the burdens of craft, selfishness, and avarice ; when 
they shall not be driven to be the instruments of the 
violence of others from a sense of their own weakness, 

272 EDMUND BUBKE [1789 

and from a want of authority to assess equal and 
proportioned charges upon all, they are not compelled 
to lay a strong hand upon the possessions of a part ; 
when, under the exigencies of the state, (aggravated, 
if not caused, by the imbecility of their own govern- 
ment, and of all government,) they are not obliged to 
resort to confiscation to supply the defect of taxation, 
and thereby to hold out a pernicious example, to teach 
the different descriptions of the community to prey 
upon one another ; when they abstain religiously from 
all general and extra-judicial declarations concerning 
the property of the subject ; when they look with 
horror upon all arbitrary decisions in their legislative 
capacity, striking at prescriptive right, long undisturbed 
possession, opposing an uninterrupted stream of regular 
judicial determinations, by which sort of decisions they 
are conscious no man's possession could be safe, and 
individual property, to the very idea, would be extin- 
guished ; when I see your great sovereign bodies, your 
now supreme power, in this condition of deliberative 
freedom, and guided by these or similar principles in 
acting and forbearing, I shall be happy to behold in 
assemblies whose name is venerable to my under- 
standing and dear to my heart, an authority, a dignity, 
a moderation, which, in all countries and governments, 
ought ever to accompany the collected reason and 
representative majesty of the commonwealth. 

I shall rejoice no less in seeing a judicial power 
established in Prance, correspondent to such a legis- 
lature as I have presumed to hint at, and worthy to 
second it in its endeavours to secure the freedom and 
property of the subject. When your courts of justice 
shall obtain an ascertained condition, before they are 
made to decide on the condition of other men ; when 
they shall not be called upon to take cognizance of 
public offences, whilst they themselves are considered 
only to exist as a tolerated abuse ; when, under doubts 
of the legality of their rules of decision, their forms and 
modes of proceeding, and even of the validity of that 
system of authority to which they owe their existence ; 

1789] TO MONS. DUPONT 273 

when, amidst circumstances of suspense, fear, and 
humiliation, they shall not be put to judge on the 
lives, liberties, properties, or estimation of their fellow- 
citizens ; when they are not called upon to put any 
man to his trial upon undefined crimes of state, not 
ascertained by any previous rule, statute, or course of 
precedent ; when victims shall not be snatched from 
the fury of the people, to be brought before a tribunal, 
itself subject to the effects of the same fury, and 
where the acquittal of the parties accused, might only 
place the judge in the situation of the criminal ; when 
I see tribunals placed in this state of independence 
of everything but law. and with a clear law for 
their direction, as a true lover of equal justice, 
(under the shadow of which alone true liberty can 
live,) I shall rejoice in seeing such a happy order 
established in France, as much as I do in my conscious- 
ness that an order of the same kind, or one not very 
remote from it, has long been settled, and I hope on 
a firm foundation, in England. I am not so narrow- 
minded as to be unable to conceive that the same 
object may be attained in many ways, and perhaps in 
ways very different from those which we have followed 
in this country. If this real practical liberty, with 
a government powerful to protect, impotent to evade 
it, be established, or is in a fair train of being es- 
tablished in the democracy, or rather collection of 
democracies, which seem to be chosen for the future 
frame of society in France, it is not my having long 
enjoyed a sober share of freedom, under a qualified 
monarchy, thai shall render me incapable of admiring 
and praising your system of republics. I should 
rejoice, even though England should hereafter be 
reckoned only as one among the happy nations, and 
should no longer retain her proud distinction, her 
monopoly of fame for a practical constitution, in which 
the grand secret had been found, of reconciling a 
government of real energy for all foreign and all 
domestic purposes, with the most perfect security to the 
liberty and safety of individuals. The government, 

274 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

whatever its name or form may be, that shall be 
found substantially and practically to unite these 
advantages, will most merit the applause of all dis- 
cerning men. 

But if (for in my present want of information I must 
only speak hypothetically, ) neither your great assem- 
blies, nor your judicatures, nor your municipalities, act, 
and forbear to act, in the particulars, upon the prin- 
ciples, and in the spirit that I have stated, I must 
delay my congratulations on your acquisition of 
liberty. You may have made a revolution, but not 
a reformation. You may have subverted monarchy, 
but not recovered freedom. 

You see, sir, that I have merely confined myself in 
my few observations on what has been done and is 
doing in lYance, to the topics of the liberty, property, 
and safety of the subjects. I have not said much on 
the influence of the present measures upon your coun- 
try, as a state. It is not my business, as a citizen of the 
world ; and it is unnecessary to take up much time 
about it, as it is sufficiently visible. 

You are now to live in a new order of things, under 
a plan of government of which no man can speak from 
experience. Your talents, your public spirit, and your 
fortune, give you fair pretensions to a considerable 
share in it. Your settlement may be at hand ; but 
that it is still at some distance, is more likely. The 
French may be yet to go through more transmigrations. 
They may pass, as one of our poets says, 'through 
many varieties of untried being 5 , before their state 
obtains its final form. In that progress through chaos 
and darkness, you will find it necessary (at all times 
it is more or less so) to fix rules to keep your life and 
conduct in some steady course. You have theories 
enough concerning the rights of men ; it may not be 
amiss to add a small degree of attention to their nature 
and disposition. It is with man in the concrete ; it 
is with common human life, and human actions, you 
are to be concerned. I have taken so many liberties 
with you, that I am almost got the length of venturing 

789] TO MONS. DUPONT 275 

to suggest something which may appear in the as- 
suming tone of advice. You will, however, be so good 
as to receive my very few hints with your usual indul- 
gence, though some of them, I confess, are not in the 
taste of this enlightened^ age ; and, indeed, are no 
better than the late ripe fruit of mere experience. 
Never wholly separate in your mind the merits of any 
political question, from the men who are concerned in 
it. You will be told, that if a measure is good, what 
have you to do with the character and views of those 
who bring it forward. But designing men never 
separate their plans from their interests ; and, if you 
assist them in their schemes, you will find the pre- 
tended good, in the end, thrown aside or perverted, 
and the interested object alone compassed, and that, 
perhaps, through your means. The power of bad men 
is no indifferent thing. 

At this moment you may not perceive the full 
sense of this rule; but you will recollect it when 
the cases are before you ; you will then see and 
find its use. It will often keep your virtue from 
becoming a tool of the ambition and ill designs of 
others. Let me add what I think has some connexion 
with the rule I mentioned, that you ought not to 
be so fond of any political object, as not to think the 
means of compassing it a serious consideration. No 
man is less disposed than I am to put you under the 
tuition of a petty pedantic scruple, in the manage- 
ment of arduous affairs. All I recommend is, that 
whenever the sacrifice of any subordinate point of 
morality, or of honour, or even of common liberal 
sentiment and feeling is called for, one ought to be 
tolerably sure that the object is worth it. Nothing is 
good, but in proportion and with reference. There 
are several who give an air of consequence to very- 
petty designs and actions, by the crimes through 
which they make their way to their objects. What- 
ever is obtained smoothly and by easy means, appears 
of no value in their eyes. But when violent measures 
are in agitation, one ought to be pretty clear that 

276 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

there are no others to which we can resort, and that 
a predilection from character to such methods is not 
the true cause of their being proposed. The state was 
reformed by Sylla and by Caesar ; but the Cornelian 
law and the Julian law were not worth the proscrip- 
tion. The pride of the Roman nobility deserved a 
check ; but I cannot, for that reason, admire the con- 
duct of Cinna, and Marius, and Saturninus, 

I admit that evils may be so very great and urgent, 
that other evils are to be submitted to for the mere 
4 hope of their removal. A war, for instance, may be 
necessary, and we know what are the rights of war ; 
but before we use those rights, we ought to be clearly 
in the state which alone can justify them ; and not, 
in the very fold of peace and security, by a bloody 
sophistry, to act towards any persons at once as 
citizens "and as enemies, and, without the necessary 
formalities and evident distinctive lines of war, to 
exercise upon our countrymen the most dreadful of all 
hostilities. Strong party contentions, and a very 
violent opposition to our desires and opinions, are not 
war, nor can justify any one of its operations. 

One form of government may be better than another, 
and this difference may be worth a struggle. I think 
so. I do not mean to treat any of those forms which 
are often the contrivances of deep human wisdom 
(not the rights of men, as some people, in my opinion, 
not very wisely, talk of them) with slight or dis- 
respect ; nor do I mean to level them. 

A positively vicious and abusive government ought 
to be changed, and, if necessary, by violence, if it 
cannot be (as sometimes it is the case) reformed. 
But when the question is concerning the more or the 
less perfection in the organization of a government, 
the allowance to means is not of so much latitude. 
There is, by the essential fundamental constitution of 
things, a radical infirmity in all human contrivances ; 
and the weakness is often so attached to the very 
perfection of our political mechanism, that some 
defect in it, something that stops short of its prin- 

1789] TO MONS. DUPOKT 277 

ciple, something that controls, that mitigates, that 
moderates it, becomes a necessary corrective to the 
evils that the theoretic perfection would produce. 
I am pretty sure it often is so ; and this truth may be 
exemplified abundantly. 

It is true that every defect is not of course such 
a corrective as I state j but supposing it is not, an 
imperfect good is still a good. The defect may be 
tolerable, and may be removed at some future time. 
In that case, prudence (in all things a virtue, in 
politics, the first of virtues,) will lead us rather to 
acquiesce in some qualified plan, that does not come 
up to the full perfection of the abstract idea, than to 
push for the more perfect, which cannot be attained 
without tearing to pieces the whole contexture of the 
commonwealth, and creating a heart-ache in a thousand 
worthy bosoms. In that case, combining the means and 
end, the less perfect is the more desirable. The 
means to any end being first in order, are immediate 
in their good or their evil; they are always, in a 
manner, certainties. The end is doubly problematical ; 
first, whether it is to be attained ; then, whether, 
supposing it attained, we obtain the true object we 
sought for. 

But allow it in any degree probable, that theoretic 
and practical perfection may differ, that an object 
pure and absolute may not be so good as one lowered, 
mixed, and qualified; then, what we abate in our 
demand, in favour of moderation and justice, and 
tenderness to individuals, would be neither more nor 
less than a real improvement which a wise legislator 
would make, if he had no collateral motive what- 
soever, and only looked, in the formation of Ms scheme, 
to its own independent ends and purposes. Would it 
then be right to make way, through temerity and 
crime, to a form of things which, when obtained, 
evident reason, perhaps imperious necessity, would 
compel us to alter, with the disgrace of inconsistency 
in our conduct, and of want of foresight in our designs t 

Believe me, sir, in all changes in the state, modera- 

278 EDMUND BURKE [1789 

tion is a virtue, not only amiable but powerful. It 
is a disposing, arranging, conciliating, cementing 
virtue. In the formation of new constitutions, it is 
in its province. Great powers reside in those who can 
make great changes. Their own moderation is their 
only check ; and if this virtue is not paramount in 
their minds, their acts will taste more of their power 
than of their wisdom, or their benevolence. Whatever 
they do will be in extremes ; it will be crude, harsh, 
precipitate. It will be submitted to with grudging 
and reluctance. Revenge will be smothered and 
hoarded, and the duration of schemes marked in that 
temper, will be as precarious as their establishment 
was odious. This virtue of moderation (which times 
and situations will clearly distinguish from the counter- 
feits of pusillanimity and indecision) is the virtue only 
of superior minds. It requires a deep courage, and 
full of reflection, to be temperate when the voice 
of multitudes (the specious mimic of fame and reputa- 
tion) passes judgement against you. The impetuous 
desire of an unthinking public will endure no course, 
but what conducts to splendid and perilous extremes. 
Then, to dare to be fearful, when all about you are 
full of presumption and confidence, and when those 
who are bold at the hazard of others would punish 
your caution and disaffection, is to show a mind 
prepared for its trial; it discovers, in the midst of 
general levity, a self -possessing and collected charac*- 
ter, which, sooner or later, bids fair to attract every 
thing to it, as to a centre. If, however, the tempest 
should prove to be so very violent, that it would make 
public prudence itself unseasonable, and, therefore, 
little less than madness for the individual and the 
public too ; perhaps a young man could not do 
better than to retreat for a while into study, to 
leave the field to those whose duty or inclination, or 
the necessities of their condition, have put them in 
possession of it, and wait for the settlement of such 
a commonwealth as an honest man may act in "with 
satisfaction and credit. This he can never do when 

1789] TO MONS. DUPONT 279 

those who counsel the public, or the prince, are under 
terror, let the authority under which they are made 
to speak other than the dictates of their conscience, 
be never so imposing in its name and attributes. 

This moderation is no enemy to zeal and enthusiasm. 
There is room enough for them ; for the restraint is 
no more than the restraint of principle, and the 
restraint of reason. 

I have been led further than I intended ; but 
every day's account shows more and more, in my 
opinion, the ill-consequence of keeping good prin- 
ciples, and good general views, within no bounds. 
Pardon the liberty I have taken; though it seems 
somewhat singular that I, whose opinions have so 
little weight in my own country, where I have some 
share in a public trust, should write as if it were 
possible they should affect one man with regard to 
affairs in which I have no concern. But, for the 
present, my time is my own, and to tire your patience 
is the only injury I can do you. 

I am. &c. 



Gerard Street, Fefa uarij 20, 1790. 

I sat up rather late at Carlton House, and on my 
return hither, I found your letter on my table. I have 
not slept since. You will, therefore, excuse me if you 
find anything confused, or otherwise expressed than 
I could wish, in speaking upon a matter which interests 
you from your regard to me. There are some things 
in your letter for which I must thank you ; there are 
others which I must answer; some things bear the 
mark of friendly admonition; others bear some 
resemblance to the tone of accusation. 

You are the only friend I have who will dare to 
give me advice ; I must, therefore, have something 

280 EDMUND BURKE [1790 

terrible in me, which intimidates all others who know 
me from giving me the only unequivocal mark of their 
regard. Whatever this rough and menacing manner 
may be, I must search myself upon it ; and when 
I discover it, old as I am, I must endeavour to correct 
it. I flattered myself, however, that you at least 
would not have thought my other friends justified 
in withholding from me their services of this kind. 
You certainly do not always convey to me your 
opinions with the greatest tenderness and manage- 
ment ; and yet I do not recollect, since I first had the 
pleasure of your acquaintance, that there has been 
a heat or a coolness of a single day's duration, on my 
side, during that whole time. I believe your memory 
cannot present to you an instance of it. I ill deserve 
friends, if I throw them away on account of the candour 
and simplicity of their good nature. In particular you 
know, that you have in some instances favoured me 
with your instructions relative to things I was preparing 
for the public. If I did not in every instance agree 
with you, I think you had, on the whole, sufficient 
proofs of nay docility, to make you believe that 
I received your corrections, not only without offence, 
but with no small degree of gratitude. 

Your remarks upon the first two sheets of my Paris 
letter, relate to the composition and the matter. The 
composition, you say. is loose, and I am quite sure of 
it: I never intended it should be otherwise. For, 
purporting to be, what in truth it originally was, 
a letter to a friend, I had no idea of digesting it in 
a systematic order. The style is open to correction, 
and wants it. My natural style of writing is somewhat 
careless, and I should be happy in receiving your 
advice towards making it as little vicious as such 
a style is capable of being made. The general character 
and colour of a style, which grows out of the writer's 
peculiar turn of mind and habit of expressing his 
thoughts, must be attended to in all corrections. It 
is not the insertion of a piece of stuff, though of 
a better kind, which is at all times an improvement. 


Your main objections are, however, of a much 
deeper nature, and go to the political opinions and 
moral sentiments of the piece ; in which I find, though 
with no sort of surprise, having often talked with you 
on the subject, that we differ only in everything. 
You sa.y, * the mischief you are going to do yonrseH, 
is to my apprehension palpable ; I snuff it in the wind, 
and my taste sickens at it.' This anticipated stench, 
that turns your stomach at such a distance, must be 
nauseous indeed. You seem to think I shall incur 
great (and not wholly undeserved) infamy, by this 
publication. This makes it a matter of some delicacy 
to me, to suppress what I have written ; for I must 
admit in my own feelings, and in that of those "who 
have seen the piece, that my sentiments and opinions 
deserve the infamy with which they are threatened. 
If they do not, I know nothing more than that I oppose 
the prejudices and inclinations of many people. This 
I was well aware of from the beginning ; and it was 
in order to oppose those inclinations and prejudices, 
that I proposed to publish my letter. I really am 
perfectly astonished how you could dream, with my 
paper in your hand, that I found no other cause than 
the beauty of the queen of Prance (now, I suppose, 
pretty much faded) for disapproving the conduct which 
has been held towards her, and for expressing my own 
particular feelings. I am not to order the natural 
sympathies of my own heart, and of every honest 
breast, to wait until all the jokes of all the anecdotes 
of the coffee-houses of Paris, and of the dissenting 
meeting-houses of London, are scoured of all the 
slander of those who calumniate persons, that, after- 
wards, they may murder them with impunity. I know 
nothing of your story of Messalina. Am I obliged to 
prove juridically the virtues of all those I shall see 
suffering every kind of wrong, and contumely, and 
risk of life, before I endeavour to interest others in 
their sufferings, and before I endeavour to excite 
horror against midnight assassins at back-stairs, and 
their more wicked abettors in pulpits ? What ! Are 

282 EDMUND BURKE [1790 

not high rank, great splendour of descent, great 
personal elegance and outward accomplishments, 
ingredients of moment in forming the interest we 
take in the misfortunes of men ? The minds of those 
who do not feel thus, are not even systematically 
right. ' What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, 
that he should weep for her ? * Why, because she 
was Hecuba, the Queen of Troy, the wife of Priam, 
and suffered, in the close of life, a thousand calamities I 
I felt too for Hecuba, when T read the fine tragedy of 
Euripides upon her story ; and I never inquired into 
the anecdotes of the court or city of Troy, before 
I gave way to the sentiments which the author wished 
to inspire ; nor do I remember that he ever said 
one word of her virtue. It is for those who applaud 
or palliate assassination, regicide, and base insult to 
women of illustrious place, to prove the crimes (in 1 
sufferings) which they allege, to justify their own. 
But if they have proved fornication on any such 
woman, taking the manners of the world, and the 
manners of France, I shall never put it in a parallel 
with assassination ! No : I have no such inverted 
scale of faults, in my heart or my head. 

You find it perfectly ridiculous, and unfit for me 
in particular, to take these things as my ingredients 
of commiseration. Pray why is it absurd in me to 
think, that the chivalrous spirit which dictated 
a veneration for women of condition and of beauty, 
without any consideration whatever of enjoying them, 
was the great source of those manners which have 
been the pride and ornament of Europe for so many 
ages ? And am I not to lament that I have lived to 
see those manners extinguished in so shocking a manner, 
by means of speculations of finance, and the false 
science of a sordid and degenerate philosophy ? I tell 
you again, that the recollection of the manner in 
which I saw the Queen of France, in the year 1774, 
and the contrast between that brilliancy, splendour, 

1 The manuscript of this letter is not the original, and 
probably there has been some error in copying these words. 


and beauty, with, the prostrate homage of a nation to 
her, and the abominable scene of 1789, which I was 
describing, did draw tears from me and wetted my 
paper. These tears came again into my eyes, almost 
as often as I looked at the description ; they may 
again. You do not believe this fact, nor that these 
are my real feelings ; but that the whole is affected, 
or, as you express it, downright foppery. My friend, 
I tell you it is truth ; and that it is true, and will be 
truth, when you and I are no more ; and will exist 
as long as men with their natural feelings shall exist. 
I shall say no more on this foppery of mine. Oh ! 
by the way, you ask me how long I have been an 
admirer of German ladies ? Always the same. Present 
me the idea of such massacres about any German lady 
here, and such attempts to assassinate her, and such 
a triumphant procession from Windsor to the Old 
Jewry, and I assure you, I shall be quite as full of 
natural concern and just indignation. 

As to the other points, they deserve serious con- 
sideration, and they shall have it. I certainly cannot 
profit quite so much by your assistance, as if we agreed. 
In that case, every correction would be forwarding 
the design. We should work with one common view. 
But it is impossible that any man can correct a work 
according to its true spirit, who is opposed to its object, 
or can help the expression of what he thinks should 
not be expressed at all. 

I should agree with you about the vileness of the 
controversy with such miscreants as the ' Revolution 
Society, 5 and the 4 National Assembly ; * and I know 
very well that they, as well as their allies, the Indian 
delinquents, will clarken the air with their arrows. 
But I do not yet think they have the advowson of 
reputation. I shall try that point. My dear sir, you 
think of nothing but controversies ; * I challenge into 
the field of battle, and retire defeated, &c.' If their 
having the last word be a defeat, they most assuredly 
will defeat me. But I intend no controversy with 
Dr. Price, or Lord Shelburne, or any other of their 

284 EDMUND BURKE [1790 

set. I mean to set in full view the danger from their 
wicked principles and their black hearts. I intend 
to state the true principles of our constitution ^ in 
church and state, upon grounds opposite to theirs. 
If any one be the better for the example made of them, 
and for this exposition, well and good. I mean to do 
my best to expose them to the hatred, ridicule, and 
contempt of the whole world ; as I always shall 
expose such calumniators, hypocrites, sowers of 
sedition, and approvers of murder and all its triumphs. 
When I have done that, they ^ may have the field to 
themselves ; and I care very little how they triumph 
over me, since I hope they will not be able to draw 
me at their heels, and carry my head in triumph on 
their poles. 

I have been interrupted, and have said enough. 
Adieu ' believe me always sensible of your friendship ; 
though it is impossible that a greater difference caji 
exist on earth, than, unfortunately for me, there is 
on those subjects, between your sentiments and mine. 



London, February 26, 1790. 
DEAR Sra, 

The speedy answer I return to your letter, I hope 
will convince you of the high value I set upon the 
regard you are so good to express for me, and the 
obliging trouble which you take to inform my judge- 
ment upon matters in which we are all very deeply 
concerned. I think perfectly well of your heart and 
your principles, and of the strength of your natural 
understanding, which, according to your opportunities, 
you have not been wanting in pains to improve. If 
you are mistaken, it is perhaps owing to the impression 
almost inevitably made, by the various careless con- 
versations which we are engaged in through life ; 
conversations in which those who propagate^ their 
doctrines have not been called upon for much 


tion concerning their end and tendency ; and when 
those who imperceptibly imbibe them are not required, 
by a particular duty, very closely to examine them, or 
to act from the impressions they received. I am 
obliged to act, and am, therefore, bound to call my 
principles and sentiments to a strict account. As far 
as my share of a public trust goes, I am in trust 
religiously to maintain the rights and properties of all 
descriptions of people in the possessions which they 
legally hold, and in the rule by which alone they can 
be secure in any possession. I do not find myself at 
liberty, either as a man or as a trustee for men, to 
take a vested property from one man and give it to 
another, because I think that the portion of one is 
too great, and that of another too small. From my 
first juvenile rudiments of speculative study, to the 
grey hairs of my present experience, I have never 
learned anything else. I can never be taught anything 
else by reason ; and when/orce comes, I shall consider 
whether I am to submit to it, or how I am to resist it. 
This I am very sure of, that an early guard against 
the manifest tendency of a contrary doctrine, is the 
only way by which those who love order can be pre- 
pared to resist such force. 

The calling men by the names of c pampered and 
luxurious prelates ' is, in you, no more than a mark 
of your dislike to intemperance and idle expense. 
But in others it is used for other purposes ; it is often 
used to extinguish the sense of justice in our minds, 
and the natural feelings of humanity in our bosoms. 
In them, such abusive language is used to mitigate the 
cruel effects of reducing men of opulent condition, and 
their innumerable dependents, to the last distress. 
If I were to adopt the plan of a spoliatory reforma- 
tion, I should probably employ it ; but it would 
aggravate, instead of extenuating guilt, in overturning 
the sacred principles of property. 

Sir, I say that church and state, and human society 
too, (for which church and state are made,) are sub- 
verted by such doctrines, joined to such practices, as 

286 EDMUND BURKE [1790 

leave no foundation for property in long possessions. 
My dear Captain Mercer, it is not my calling the use 
you make of your plate, in your house either of 
dwelling or of prayer, ; pageantry and hypocrisy,' 
that can justify me in taking from you your property, 
and your liberty to use your own property according 
to your own ideas of ornament. When you find me 
attempting to break into your house to take your 
plate under any pretence whatsoever, but most of 
all, under pretence of purity of religion and Christian 
charity, shoot me for a robber and an hypocrite, as 
in that case I shall certainly be. The true Christian 
religion never taught me any such practices ; nor did 
the religion of my nature, nor any religion, nor any law. 
Let those who have never abstained from a full 
meal, and as much wine as they could swallow, for 
a single day of their whole lives, satirize c luxurious 
and pampered prelates ' if they will. Let them abuse 
such prelates, and such lords, and such c squires \ 
provided it be only to correct their vices. I care not 
much about the language of this moral satire, if they 
go no further than satire. But there are occasions 
when the language of Palstaff, reproaching the 
Londoners whom he robbed in their way to Canterbury, 
with their gorbellies and city-luxury, is not so 
becoming. It is not calling the landed estates, pos- 
sessed by old prescriptive rights, * the accumulations 
of ignorance and superstition,' that can support me in 
shaking that grand title which supersedes every other 
title, and which all my studies of general jurisprudence 
have taught me to consider as one principal cause of 
the formation of states ; I mean the ascertaining and 
securing of prescription. * But these are donations 
made in ages of ignorance and superstition.' Be it 
so ; it proves that they were made long ago ; and 
this is prescription, and this gives right and title. It 
is possible that many estates about you were obtained 
by arms ; a thing almost as bad as superstition, and 
not much short of ignorance ; but it is old violence ; 
and that which might be wrong in the beginning, is 


consecrated by time and becomes lawful. This may 
be superstition in me. and ignorance ; but I had rather 
remain in ignorance and superstition, than be en- 
lightened and purified out of the first principles of law 
and natural justice. 

I never will suffer you, if I can help it, to be deprived 
of the well-earned fruits of your industry, because 
others may want your fortune more than you do, and 
may have laboured, and do now labour, in vain to 
acquire even a subsistence. Neither, on the contrary, 
if success had less smiled upon your endeavour^ and 
you had come home insolvent, would I take from any 
6 pampered and luxurious lord * in your neighbourhood, 
one acre of his land, or one spoon from Ms sideboard, 
to compensate your losses ; though incurred, as they 
would have been incurred, in the course of a well- 
spent, virtuous, and industrious life. God is the 
distributor of his own blessings. I will not impiously 
attempt to usurp his throne, but will keep, according 
to the subordinate place and trust in which he has 
stationed me, the order of property which I find 
established in my country. No guiltless man has 
ever been, nor, I trust, ever will be, able to say with 
truth, that he has been obliged to retrench a dish at 
his table, for any reformations of mine. 

You. pay me the compliment to suppose me a foe 
to tyranny and oppression ; and you are, therefore, 
surprised at the sentiments I have lately delivered in 
parliament. I am that determined foe to tyranny, 
or I greatly deceive myself in my character, and am 
an idiot in my conduct. It is because I am such a 
foe, and mean to continue so, that I abominate the 
example of Prance for this country. I know that 
tyranny seldom attacks the poor, never in the first 
instance. They are not its proper prey. It falls upon 
the wealthy and the great, whom, by rendering them 
objects of envy, and otherwise obnoxious to the 
multitude, they the more easily destroy; and when 
they are destroyed, that multitude which was led to 
that ill work by the arts of bad men, is itself undone 

288 EDMUND BURKE [1790 

for ever. I hate tyranny, at least I think so ; but 
I hate it most of all where most are concerned in 
it. The tyranny of a multitude is but a multiplied 
tyranny. If, as society is constituted in these large 
countries of France and England, full of unequal 
property, I must make my choice (which God avert) 
between the despotism of a single person, or of the 
many, my election is made : For, in the forty years 
of my observation, as much injustice and tyranny 
has been practised in a few months by a French 
democracy, as by all the arbitrary monarchs in 
Europe. I speak of public, glaring acts of tyranny. 
I say nothing of the common effects of old abusive 
governments, because I do not know that as bad may 
not be found from the new. This democracy begins 
very ill ; and I feel no security that what has been 
rapacious and bloody in its commencement, in its 
final settlement will be mild and protecting. They 
cannot, indeed, in future rob so much, because they 
have left little that can be taken. I go to the full 
length of my principle. I should think the government 
of the deposed King of France, or of the late King of 
Prussia, or the present Emperor, or the present 
Czarina, none of them, perhaps, perfectly good, to 
be far better than the government of twenty-four 
millions of men all as good as you, (and I do not know 
anybody better) supposing that those twenty-four 
millions would be subject, as infallibly they would, 
to the same unrestrained, though virtuous impulses ; 
because, it is plain, you would think everything 
justified by your warm good intentions ,- you would 
heat one another by your common zeal ; counsel and 
advice would be lost on you,- you would not listen 
to temperate individuals ; and you would be infinitely 
less capable of moderation than the most heady of 
those princes. 

What have I to do with France, but as the common 
interest of humanity, and its example to this country 
engages me ? I kaow France, by observation and 
inquiry, pretty tolerably for a stranger; and I am 


not a man to fall in love with the faults or follies of 
the old or new government. You reason as if I were 
running a parallel between its former abusive govern- 
ment and the present tyranny. What had all this to 
do with the opinions I delivered in parliament, which 
run a parallel between the liberty they might have 
had, and this frantic delusion ? This is the way by 
which you blind and deceive yourself, and beat the 
air in your argument with me. Why do you instruct 
me on a state of case which has no existence ? You 
know how to reason very well. What most of the 
newspapers make me say, I know not, nor do I much 
care. I don't, however, think they have thus stated 
me. There is a very fair abstract of my speech printed 
in a little pamphlet, which I would send you if it were 
worth putting you to the expense. 

To discuss the affairs of France and its revolution, 
would require a volume, perhaps many volumes. 
Your general reflections about revolutions may be 
right or wrong; they conclude nothing, I don't 
find myself disposed to controvert them, for I do 
not think they apply to the present affairs; nay, 
I am sure they do not. I conceive you have got very 
imperfect accounts of these transactions. I believe 
I am much more exactly informed concerning them. 

I am sorry, indeed, to find that our opinions do 
differ essentially, fundamentally, and are at the 
utmost possible distance from each other, if I under- 
stand you or myself clearly on this subject. Your 
freedom is far from displeasing to me, I love it; for I 
always wish to know the full of what is in the mind of 
the friend I converse with. I give you mine as freely, 
and I hope I shall offend you as little as you do me. 

I shall have no objection to your showing my letter 
to as many as you please. I have no secrets with 
regard to the public. I have never shrunk from 
obloquy, and I have never courted popular applause. 
If I have ever met with any share of it non rapui 
sed recepL No difference of opinion, however, shall 
hinder me from cultivating your friendship, whilst 

237 L 

290 EDMUND BUKKE [1790 

yon permit me to do so. I have not wrote this to 
discuss these matters in a prolonged controversy. 
I wish we may never say more of them ; but to 
comply with your commands, which ever shall have 
due weight with me. 

I am, 

Most respectfully and affectionately yours, 



Duke Street, St. James's, December 21, 1790. 

The valuable present which I received from the 
resident graduates in the University of Oxford, 
becomes doubly acceptable by passing through your 
hands. 1 Gentlemen so eminent in science, erudition, 
and virtue, and who possess the uncommon art of 
doing kind things in the kindest manner, would 
naturally choose a person qualified like themselves, 
to convey their favours and distinctions to those 
whom they are inclined to honour. 

Be pleased to assure those learned gentlemen, 
that I am beyond measure happy, in finding my 
well-meant endeavours well received by them; and 
I think my satisfaction does not arise from motives 
merely selfish; because their declared approbation 
must be of the greatest importance in giving an 
effect (which, without that sanction, might well be 
wanting) to an humble attempt in favour of the cause 
of freedom, virtue, and order united. This cause it 
is our common wish and our common interest to 
maintain ; and it can hardly be maintained without 
securing, on a solid foundation, and preserving in an 
uncorrupted purity the noble establishments which 
the wisdom of our Ancestors have formed for giving 
permanence to those blessings which they have left us 
as our best inheritance. 

1 An address of congratulation upon the attitude he 
had taken to the French Revolution. 


Express to these worthy gentlemen the consolation 
and support which I feel from their approbation, at 
a moment when I am, in declining age, strength, and 
faculties, in my last effort of the long, long struggle 
which, with you, and so many other excellent persons, 
I have made to shake off the most dangerous and 
most malignant distemper by which the constitution 
of Great Britain was ever attacked, and under which 
it must sink, if a most marked distinction is not made 
between the persons who serve us well or ill in the 
administration of our power abroad; or if eastern 
despotism, peculation, venality, oppression, inhu- 
manity, and cruelty, can find countenance in this 
country, to the disgrace of a nation which glories in 
legal liberty, and to the shame of that religion, which, 
being founded upon a suffering under tyranny and 
injustice, both from the great and from the people, 
in a peculiar manner engages all its professors, and 
all its teachers, to discountenance such tempers and 
practices, and even to wage, under the standard of 
the Captain of our Salvation, a war without quarter 
upon all cruelty and oppression, wherever they appear, 
in whatever shape, and in whatever descriptions of men. 

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect 
respect and affection, 

My dear sir, 

Your most faithful and obliged 
humble servant, 



January, 1791. 

I am exceedingly nattered in finding that any 

thing which I have done could contribute to yours 

and Mrs. Trevor's entertainment during part of 

the time that the service of your country abroad 

1 The British Minister at Turin. 

292 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

deprives it of so much of its ornament and satis- 
faction at home. The pamphlet which has been 
so happy as to engage something of yours and 
Mrs. Trevor's attention, has not been ill-received 
here. This gives me no small satisfaction, because 
it shows that the major part of our countrymen 
do not find their sentiments misrepresented, when 
I state them as no admirers of the late prosperous, 
though most unnatural and perfidious, rebellion in 
France ; or of the degrading tyranny which has been 
since established in that unfortunate country, under 
the name of constitution. 

I thank you for your goodness in sending me 
Mr. Lally Tolendal's book. It is a very eloquent 
performance, and might possibly be of great use, 
if one could guess what would be serviceable in the 
present state of things. The people of that country 
are ill of so anomalous, and, in every respect, so new 
a distemper, that no one can possibly prognosticate 
anything concerning its crisis, or its indications of 
cure. Whether the drastic purges, or the mild aperi- 
tives are the most promising, I cannot possibly say. 
To tell you the truth, I have no opinion at all of internal 
remedies in their case. To quit the metaphor, 
I cannot persuade myself that anything whatsoever 
can be effected without a great force from abroad. 
The predominant faction is the strongest, as I con- 
ceive, without comparison. They are armed. Their 
enemies are disarmed and dispersed. The army seems 
hardly fit for any good purpose. But the grand point 
against all interior attempts is, that the faction are 
in possession. Unless it be taken by surprise, as the 
late French monarchy was, it is not easy, by con- 
spiracy, or insurrection, to overturn any government. 
A republican government, or rather a body of repub- 
lican governments, cannot be taken by a coup de 
main, or put an end to by the seizure of one person. 
They have the king in custody, and can make him 
say and do just what they please. The people, too, 
have the name of the king on their side. All the 


royal authority which exists, operates against tlie 
partizans of the monarchy. 

One might as well have expected a counter-revolu- 
tion in Holland, in Liege, or in the Netherlands, by 
a change of mind in the people, without a great foreign 
force, as in France. Full as much in my opinion. 
Nothing else but a foreign force can or will do. In 
this design, too, Great Britain and Prussia must at 
least acquiesce. Nor is it a small military force that 
can do the business. It is a serious design, and must 
be done with combined strength. Nor must that 
strength be under any ordinary conduct. It will 
require as much political management as military 
skill in the commanders. 

France is weak indeed, divided, and deranged ; 
but God knows, when the things came to be tried, 
whether the invaders would not find that this enter- 
prise was not to support a party, but to conquer 
a kingdom. I perhaps have the misfortune to differ 
with you in one point ; and when I do, you may be 
sure I cannot be very positive in my opinion, ' My 
difference is about the time of making the attempt. 
Every hour any system of government continues, be 
that system what it will, the more it obtains consis- 
tency, and the better it will be able to provide for its 
own support ; and the less the people, who always 
look to settlement of one kind or other, will be dis- 
posed to any enterprises for overturning it. If the 
powers who may be disposed to think, as I most 
seriously do, that no monarchy, limited or unlimited, 
nor any of the old republics, can possibly be safe as 
long as this strange, nameless, wild enthusiastic thing 
is established in the centre of Europe, may^ not be 
in readiness to act in concert and with all their forces, 
if this be the case,' to be sure nothing is to be 
attempted but the preluding war of paper. For my 
part, I am entirely in the dark about the designs and 
means of the powers of Europe in this respect. How- 
ever, this I am quite sure of, al the other policy is 
childish play in comparison. 

294 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

I have a very high opinion of Mons. de Calonne. 
His book, upon the whole, must do great service. 
I wish, indeed, that he had hinted less about arrange- 
ments to be made in consequence of success. He 
speaks as if commissaries had been appointed to settle 
these differences. But I conceive things are very far 
from such a state. The matters he proposes will 
never be understood by the seduced common people ; 
and, as to the leaders, he must think much better of 
their moderation than I do, if he thinks that any- 
thing but their present dominion will serve them. 
Theoretic plans of constitution have been the bane of 
France ; and I am satisfied that nothing can possibly 
do it any real service, but to establish it upon all its 
ancient bases. Till that is done, one man's speculation 
will appear as good as another's. Those who think 
the king and two houses can be the government of 
Erance, mistake, I am afraid, the true internal consti- 
tution of our government, which is not what it appears 
on paper. But I have tired you enough already, and 
will not enter into an explanation on this head. 



Duke, Street, March, 1791. 

I had the honour to receive your most friendly 
and obliging letter from Brussels. You greatly over- 
rate the value of the very few attentions which I had 
the means of showing you, whilst you remained in 
London. I do most sincerely lament the sad occasion 
that produced our acquaintance. In so great a public 

The Chevalier de la Bintinnaye was a relation of Cice, 
Bishop of Auxer^e, with whom the Burkes, father and son, 
formed an intimate acquaintance when in Prance in 


disaster, however, I feel this consolation, that I had 
an opportunity of seeing undeserved affliction home 
with a manly constancy, and that the same courage 
which produced your honourable wounds, and sus- 
tained you under them, has enabled you to support 
your reverse of fortune with dignity, which becomes 
those who suffer in the cause of honour and virtue. 
I should be happy to send you a copy of the letter 
which I wrote to a person of distinction in Paris, in. 
answer to one from him. 1 But as I had my doubts 
whether what I wrote in the present temper of the 
times, and the present posture of affairs, might be 
useful in the publication, I left the matter to the 
gentleman's own discretion, promising not to disperse 
any copies without his leave. This, I hope, my dear 
sir, win plead my excuse to you. I did hear that 
a translation of that letter was preparing at Paris. 
If this be the case, you will see it very soon. It will, 
I am afraid, afford you no very great satisfaction. 
Some part of the letter was to exculpate myself (or 
rather perhaps to apologize) from some faults which 
the gentleman found in my pamphlet. The rest was 
to show, from the actual state of Prance, (as well as 
I was able to enter into its condition,) the utter 
impossibility of a counter-revolution from any internal 
cause. You know, sir, that no party can act without 
a resolute, vigorous, zealous, and enterprising chief. 
The chief of every monarchical party must be the 
monarch himself ; at least, he must lend himself 
readily to the spirit and energy of others. You have 
a well-intentioned and virtuous prince ; but minds 
Jike his, bred with no other view than to a safe and 
languid domination, are not made for breaking their 
prisons, terrifying their enemies, and animating their 
friends. Besides, in a wife and children, he has given 
hostages to his enemies. If the king can do nothing 

1 This is probably the letter to a member of the National 
Assembly, published in the fourth volume of Brake's works, 
" World's Classics" edition. 

296 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

in his situation, the wonder is not great. It is muck 
greater, on all appearance, that not one man is to be 
found in the numerous nobility of France, who, to 
great military talents, adds any sort of lead, con- 
sideration, or following, in the country or in the 
army. To strengthen itself, the monarchy had 
weakened every other force. To unite the nation to 
itself, it had dissolved all other ties. When the chain 
which held the people to the prince was once broken, 
the whole frame of the commonwealth was found in 
a state of disconnexion. There was neither force nor 
union anywhere, to sustain the monarchy, or the 
nobility, or the church. As to great and commanding 
talents, they are the gift of Providence in some way 
unknown to us. They rise where they are least 
expected. They fail when everything seems disposed 
to produce them, or at least to call them forth. Your 
sole hope seems to me to rest in the disposition of the 
neighbouring powers, and in their ability to yield you 
assistance. I can conjecture nothing with certainty 
of this, in either of the points. But at present I see 
nothing that in the smallest degree looks that way. 
In the meantime the usurpation gathers strength 
by continuance, and credit by success. People will 
look to power, and join, or, at least, accommodate 
themselves to it. I confess I am astonished at the 
blindness of the states of Europe, who are contending 
with each other about points of trivial importance, 
and on old worn-out principles and topics of policy, 
when the very existence of all of them is menaced by 
a new evil, which none of the ancient maxims are of 
the least importance in dissipating. But in all these 
things, we must acknowledge and revere, in silence, 
a superior hand. In the spirit of this submission I, 
however, am so far from blaming every sort of 
endeavour, that I much lament the remissness of the 
gentlemen of France. Their adversaries have seized 
upon all the newspapers which circulate within this 
kingdom, and which from hence are dispersed all over 
Europe. That they are masters of the presses of 


Paris, is a thing of course. But surely, the oppressed 
party might amongst them maintain a person here, 
to whom they might transmit a true state of affairs. 
The emissaries of the usurpation here, are exceedingly 
active in propagating stories which tend to alienate 
the minds of people of this country from the suffering 
cause. Not one French refugee has intelligence or 
spirit enough to contradict them. I have done all 
which the common duties of humanity can claim from 
one who has not the honour of being a subject of 
France. I have duties and occupations at home, 
public and private, which will not suffer me to continue 
longer with my thoughts abroad. But if any gentle- 
man from France would undertake such a task, with 
proper materials for it, he should have my best advice. 
The expense of such a person stationed here would 
not be great ; and surely, reduced as the noblesse of 
France not expatriated are, enough remains to them 
to do this and more. If their avarice, or their dissipa- 
tion, will afford nothing to their honour or their safety, 
their case is additionally deplorable. 

My wife and my son always preserve the most 
respectful and affectionate remembrance of you, of 
the bishop, and of Mademoiselle de Cice. I have 
had a letter from the Vicomte, with a very satisfactory 
memorial. I have given him an answer, and have 
taken the liberty of putting further questions to him. 

I have the honour to be, with the most cordial and 
respectful attachment, 

Dear sir, 

Your most faithful and obedient 
humble servant, 

I have written at large to the Vicomte de Cice, 
and directed my letter to Jersey. I hear that he is 
now at Brussels ; I hope he has got my letter. Pray 
present my most humble respects to him. 


298 EDMUOT) BURKE [1791 



June 1, 1791. 

I am much, obliged to you for your very polite and 
flattering attention to me, and the piece which you 
are pleased to regard with so much indulgence. It is 
an endeavour very well intended, but I am conscious, 
very inadequate to the great interest of this kingdom, 
and of mankind, which it proposes to assert. 

I have seen, though too late to profit by them, 
your brother's admirable annals, which may rank 
with those of Tacitus. If there is, indeed, a strong 
coincidence in our way of thinking, I ought to be 
very proud of that circumstance. If I had seen his 
performance before I had written on the same sub- 
ject, I should rather have chosen to enrich my pamphlet 
with quotations from thence, than have ventured to 
express the thoughts in which we agreed, in worse 
words of my own. I thank you, too, for the elegant 
poem which you have done me the honour to transmit 
to me with your letter. So far as I am capable of 
forming any judgement upon French poetry, the 
verses are spirited and well-turned, and the author 
possesses the art of interesting the passions, which is 
the triumph of that kind of eloquence. I wish, without 
disguising my real sentiments, I could go as far in 
my approbation of the general tendency of one of 
these pieces, and of the policy of such publications 
at such a time as this. Porgive me, sir, if I take the 
liberty of suggesting to your superior judgement, as 
well as to that of the Emperor's advisers, that it is 
not very easy to suppress (by the methods lately used) 
what you call the monkish fury, without exciting fury 
of another kind ; a sort of fury which will perhaps 
be found more untractable than the other, and which 
may be carried to much greater lengths. In such a 

1 The distinguished counter-revolutionist. 


dilemma, it would not misbecome a great statesman 
seriously to consider what he has in charge to support, 
and the country, which it is Ms duty to preserve in 
peace and prosperity. That fury which arises in the 
minds of men, on being stripped of their goods and 
turned out of their houses by acts of power, and our 
sympathy with them under such wrongs, are feelings 
implanted in us by our Creator, to be (under the 
direction of His laws) the means of our preservation. 
Such fury and such sympathy are things very different 
from men's imaginary political systems concerning 
governments. They arise out of instinctive principles 
of self-defence, and are executive powers under the 
legislation of nature, enforcing its first laws. These 
principles, prince and commonwealth (whatever they 
may think their rights) cannot always attack with 
perfect impunity. If princes wiE, in cold blood, and 
from mistaken ideas of policy, excite the passions of 
the multitude against particular descriptions of men, 
whether they be priests or nobility, in order to avail 
themselves of the assistance of that multitude in their 
enterprises against those classes, let them recollect 
that they call in the aid of an ally more dangerous to 
themselves than those whom they are desirous of 

The Netherlands have been but newly recovered 
to the Emperor. He owes that recovery to a con- 
currence of very extraordinary circumstances, and 
he has made great sacrifices to his object. Is it really 
his interest to have it understood that he means to 
repeat the very proceedings which have excited all 
the late troubles in his territories ? Can it be true that 
he means to draw up the very same flood-gates which 
have let loose the deluge that has overwhelmed the 
great monarchy in his neighbourhood ? Does he 
think, if he means to encourage the spirit which 
prevails in France, that it will be exerted in his favour, 
or to answer Ms purposes ? Whilst he is destroying 
prejudices, which (under good management) may 
become the surest support of his government, is he 

300 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

not afraid that the discussion may go further than 
he wishes ? If he excites men to inquire too scrupu- 
lously into the foundation of all old opinion, may he 
not have reason to apprehend that several will see as 
little use in monarchs as in monks ? The question is 
not whether they will argue logically or not, but 
whether the turn of mind, which leads to such dis- 
cussions, may not become as fatal to the former as 
the latter. He may trust in the fine army he has 
assembled, but fine armies have been seduced from 
their allegiance, and the seducers are not far from 
him. He may fortify his frontier, but fortresses have 
been betrayed by their garrisons, and garrisons over- 
powered by burghers. Those of the democratical 
faction 1 , in the Netherlands, have always an armed 
ally more conveniently situated to assist them, than 
the Emperor is conveniently situated to assist himself. 
Would not prudence rather direct him, I say, to fortify 
himself in the heart of his people, by repairing, rather 
than by destroying, those dykes and barriers which 
prejudice might raise in his favour, and which cost 
nothing to his treasury either in the construction or 
the reparation ? 

It were better to forget, once for all, the encyclopedic 
and the whole body of economists, and to revert to 
those old rules and principles which have hitherto 
made princes great, and nations happy. Let not 
a prince circumstanced like him, weakly fall in love 
either with monks or nobles, still less let Mm violently 
hate them. In his Netherlands, he possesses the most 
populous, the best cultivated, and the most nourishing 
country in Europe ; a country from which, at this 
day, and even in England, we are to learn the perfect 
practice of the best of arts, that of agriculture. If 
he has a people like the Flemings, industrious, frugal, 
easy, obedient, what is it to Mm whether they are 
fond of monks, or love ringing of bells, and lighting 
of candles, or not ? A wise prince, as I hope the 
Emperor is, will study the genius of Ms people. He 
will indulge them in their humours, he will preserve 


them in their privileges, he will act upon the circum- 
stances of Ms states as he finds them, and whilst thus 
acting upon the practical principles of a practical 
policy, he is the happy prince of a happy people. 
He will not care what the Condorcet and the Raynal, 
and the whole flight of the magpies and jays of 
philosophy, may fancy and chatter concerning his 
conduct and character. 

Well it is for the Emperor, that the late rebellion 
of the Netherlands was a rebellion against innovation. 
When, therefore, he returned to the possession of his 
estates, (an event which no man wished more sin- 
cerely than I did,) he found none of the ancient land- 
marks removed. He found everything, except the 
natural effects of a transient storm, exactly as it was 
on the day of the revolt. Would the king of France, 
supposing his restoration probable, find his kingdom 
in the same condition ? Oh no, sir 1 Many long, long 
labours would be required to restore that country to 
any sort of good order. Why ? because their rebellion 
is the direct contrary to that of Manders. It is a 
revolt of innovation ; and thereby, the very elements of 
society have been confounded and dissipated. Small 
politicians will certainly recommend to Mm to nourish 
a democratical party, in order to curb the aristocratic 
and the clerical. In general, all policy founded on 
discord is perilous to the prince and fatal to the 
country. The support of the permanent orders in 
their places, and the reconciling them all to his govern- 
ment, will be Ms best security, either for governing 
quietly in Ms own person, or for leaving any sure 
succession to Ms posterity. Corporations, wMch have 
a perpetual succession, and hereditary noblesse, who 
themselves exist by succession, are the true guardians 
of monarcMcal succession. On such orders and 
institutions alone an hereditary monarchy can stand. 
What they call Democratie RoydLe in Eranee, is 
laughed at by the very authors as an absurd cMmera. 
Where all things are elective, you may call a king 
hereditary, but he is for the present a cipher; and 

302 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

the succession is not supported by any analogy in the 
state, nor combined with any sentiments whatsoever 
existing in the minds of the people. It is a solitary, 
unsupported, anomalous thing. 

The story you tell of the Chartreux in the time of 
Charles the Fifth, may be true for anything I know 
to the contrary. But what inference can be drawn 
from it ? Why should it be necessary to influence 
the people, at such a time as this, to rob the Chartreux 
who had no hand in that murder ? Were the Char- 
treux, that I have seen at Paris, employed in com- 
mitting or meditating murders ? Are they so at 
La Trappe, or at the Grande Chartreuse, or anywhere 
else ? Inferences will be made from such a story ; 
I don't mean logical, but practical inferences, which 
will harden the hearts of men in this age of spoil, not 
only against them, but against a considerable portion 
of the human race. Some of these monks, in a sudden 
transport of fury, murdered somebody in the time of 
Charles the Fifth. What then ? I am certain that 
not only in the time of Charles the Kfth, but now and 
at all times, and in all countries, and in the bosom of 
the dearest relations of life, the most dreadful 
tragedies have been, and are daily acted. Is it right 
to bring forth these examples to make us abhor these 
relations ? 

You observe that a sequestration from the con- 
nexions of society, makes the heart cold and unfeeling. 
I believe it may have that tendency, though this is 
more than I find to be fact, from the result of my 
observations and inquiries. But in the theory, it 
seems probable. However, as the greatest crimes do 
not arise so much from a want of feeling for others, 
as from an over-sensibility for ourselves, and an over- 
indulgence to our own desires, very sequestered people, 
(such as the Chartreux,) as they are less touched with 
the sympathies which soften the manners, are less 
engaged in the passions whch agitate the mind. The 
best virtues can hardly be found among them ; but 
crimes must be more rare in that form of society, than 


in the active world. If I were to trust to my observa- 
tion and give a verdict on it, I must depose tliat, in 
my experience, I have found that those who were 
most indulgent to themselves were (in the mass) less 
kind to others, than those who have lived a lif e nearer 
to self-denial. I go farther. In my experience I have 
observed, that a luxurious softness of manners 
hardens the heart, at least as much as an overdone 
abstinence. I question much whether moral policy 
will justify us in an endeavour to interest the heart 
in favour of immoral, irregular, and illegal actions, on 
account of particular touching circumstances that may 
happen to attend the commission or the punishment of 
them. I know poets are apt enough to choose such 
subjects, in order to excite the high relish arising from 
the mixed sensations which will arise in that anxious 
embarrassment of the mind, whenever it finds itself 
in a locality where vices and virtues meet near their 
confines, where 

Mire sagaces f alleret hospites 

Discrimen obscurum. 

I think, of late, that the Parisian philosophers have 
done upon meditated system, what the poets are 
naturally led to by a desire of nattering the passions. 
To you, as a poet, this is to be allowed. To philo- 
sophers, one cannot be so indulgent. For, perhaps, 
ladies ought not to love too well, like the Phsedras 
and Myrrhas of old, or the ancient or modern Eloises. 
They had better not pursue their lovers into convents 
of Carthusians, nor follow them in disguise to camps 
and slaughter-houses. But I have observed that the 
philosophers, in order to insinuate their polluted 
atheism into young minds, systematically flatter all 
their passions, natural and unnatural. They explode, 
or render odious or contemptible, that class of virtues 
which restrain the appetite. These are at least nine 
out of ten of the virtues. In the place of all this, 
they substitute a virtue which they call humanity or 
benevolence. By these means their morality has no 

304 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

idea in it of restraint, or indeed of a distinct settled 
principle of any kind. When their disciples are thus 
left free, and guided only by present feeling, they 
are no longer to be depended upon for good or evil. 
The men who, to-day, snatch the worst criminals 
from justice, will murder the most innocent persons 



August 16, 1791. 

Your mother and I had a satisfaction which none 
but a son like you could enter into, upon our finding 
on our return to town last night your letter from 
Brussels. I had no doubt your reception would be 
what at first it was, on your family account, and what 
afterwards it was, on your own. 

I shall perfectly keep secret all that you have 
told me, from all manner of persons. I ought to be 
cautious of seeking the ministers upon this business, 
because they have made no advances whatsoever to 
me on the subject ; no, not so much as to thank me 
for my pamphlet. It is plain to me, that whatsoever 
the reason may be, they make use of the greatest 
reserve upon the subject, and that the diplomatic 
people hear nothing from them, with regard to it, that 
is not very ambiguous. I am really afraid to converse 
with them, and my fears extend to you. I think, 
indeed, your situation to be as delicate as one's 
imagination can represent anything. You have no 
confidence here, and no authority of any sort, except 
to communicate what you hear, with the assurance of 
some general good wishes towards the cause you 
adhere to. If those you correspond with here did 
enter heartily into your scheme of politics, your com- 
munications might enable them to forward what 
you mutually propose. If, on the contrary, their 


politics should take a different turn, in giving intelli- 
gence to them, you are unknowingly acting as a spy 
upon those whom your whole soul is set upon serving. 
This would be a situation of all others the most hornd ; 
that of betraying by being betrayed. It is not that 
I altogether distrust the dispositions of this adminis- 
tration ; but the consequences of acting under those 
whose designs are uncertain, or who, in reality, may 
not be masters of their own designs, to my eyes, and 
will to yours, appear so perilous, that too many pre- 
cautions cannot be used in your communications in 
anything which relates to this court, either with the 
leaders of the French royalists or with this ministry. 
It is dangerous for you fully to trust those by whom 
you are not fully trusted ; and, whilst you give to 
the worthy persecuted persons you converse with in 
all sincerity, your advice, to the best of the faculties 
God has dispensed to you, you will take care how you 
excite in their minds any hopes, which neither you 
nor I have any probable prospect to see realized. 
My apprehensions are somewhat roused by a discourse 
I have had related to me from the Russian ambassador. 
He says (supposing my author right) that his court is 
perfectly well-disposed to the King of France, but 
that the King of Prussia's disposition, and those of 
his ministers, both at Berlin and at foreign courts, is 
very equivocal, to say the best of it : That he prevents 
the conclusion of the peace, and the relief intended by 
other powers, and that our court does not sway that 
of Prussia, but the contrary, whatever appearances 
may be : That Mr* Pitt is secretly in the democratic 
interest, or, at least, wishes it to exist, in order to 
make it, in some way or other, subservient to his 
designs ; and that for that end, he keeps up the 
present armament, when the apparent objects for 
which he armed no longer exist : That M. de Calonne 
lately made a very indiscreet visit here ; and, without 
Mr. Pitt's having given him any other encouragement 
than that of civil language, and of very general 
assurances, he laid himself perfectly open to Mm, and 

306 EDMUND BUKKE [1791 

communicated to him every part of the measures 
taken or proposed, on the part of the exiled princes, 
and on that of the powers who were willing to engage 
in their favour : That Mr. Pitt has kept Hugh Elliot 
from his court, where his presence might at this season 
be of the greatest moment ; that he is a declared 
democrat (this I know to be true), and has been sent 
confidentially to Paris, where he has conversed with 
Barnave, &c. &c. &c. 

I allow, in this account, for something that may 
be overcharged from the ill-humour of the Bussian 
minister at this time ; still, however, it tallies too 
much with appearances to be entirely overlooked. 
There is a little, busy, meddling man, little heard of 
till lately, a Mr. Ewart, who has married, I am told, 
a Prussian. He had found the means of ingratiating 
himself with the late minister, Hertsberg, by verbal 
and practical flatteries ; and is likely to do the same 
with his successor. He is said to avail himself, with 
each of the courts, of his influence with the others ; 
and by his mutually playing their games, or rather 
Ms own, to obtain ribbons, pensions, titles, and other 
rewards, according to the fashion of this diplomatic 
season. I 'have reason to believe, that the fear of the 
French faction here begins to wear out of the minds 
of ministers ; and, as it does, they grow more in- 
different about its prevalence elsewhere. Perhaps 
they are not sorry for its progress in other parts, as it 
may tend to keep other powers in fear for their own 
safety, and mutually embroiled with each other. 
This is, indeed, a very vulgar and very false policy ; 
but its vulgarity gives it an easy reception. I have 
been long persuaded, that those in power here, 
instead of governing their ministers at foreign courts, 
are entirely swayed by them. That corps has no one 
point of manly policy in their whole system ; they 
are a corps of intriguers, who, sooner or later, will 
turn our offices into an academy of cabal and con- 
fusion. The single point upon which all our policy in 
this business turns, is, whether, if the French can 


establish their scheme, so as to give it any kind of 
firmness and duration, we can rationally expect to 
preserve our constitution and domestic tranquillity 
for any considerable length of time ? Our minds are 
made up on this question ; theirs seem to be governed 
by the humours of the people here, and their com- 
plexion at every period, and are, therefore, constantly 
varying. This gives, occasionally, a great advantage 
to those who make the Russian objects not, what they 
ought to be, secondary to this great scheme of European 
policy, that of preserving things in their actual 
condition, but 'principal. The King of Prussia 
certainly has objects, of which he will not readily lose 
sight. I do not suspect that our court will directly 
go to war with any power whatsoever, to enable him 
to accomplish his designs ; but what I apprehend is, 
that they will think, that by keeping themselves in 
a state of ambiguous neutrality, neither distinctly 
encouraging, nor directly declaring against the activity 
of other powers, they may be able to give the law to 
those sovereigns, when they are so implicated in this 
business as to find it impossible to retreat ; and thus 
to compass the King of Prussia's objects, without 
formally involving themselves in a war. I am not 
without a suspicion of something of this sort ; I cannot 
conceive for what other purpose the armament is 
kept up. It cannot influence the Russian treaty, or 
the congress of Sistova ; because it is plain that this 
year it cannot go into the Baltic, and where else is it 
to act ? It certainly is not meant to assist the powers 
who are allied for the support of the monarchies and 
republics of Europe, against the system of universal 
sedition professed in France. I cannot believe that 
it is designed against them. I can, therefore, divine 
no other reason for its being kept in force, but in 
order to watch events ; and to act even in favour of 
the French usurpation, if collateral objects might be 
compassed by it. Yet when I consider the known 
disposition of the king and the prince, the clear 
interest of the monarchy, the joy expressed by the 

308 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

ministers, in common with that of all honest men, at 
the King of France's escape, and their confusion and 
consternation on his being apprehended, I can hardly 
persuade myself, that, for a town or two to be obtained 
by the King of Prussia, they will hazard the very being 
of every state of Europe, our own included. However, 
I am sure that the whole of the appearances are so 
uncertain, that from a regard to your honour, and the 
fidelity you will wish to preserve to the great trust 
that is reposed in you, until some authentic declaration 
is made of an amicable neutrality, or till you hear 
from me, you will be cautious what you communicate 
to office here ; and that you will, indeed, communicate 
nothing without the, previous consent of the parties 
interested; professing your opinion of the possibility 
of this court not being cordially with them. All this, 
however, must be subject to your discretion in some 
degree. Your caution is not to defeat the object 
which you had in your journey, and which you have 
so near your heart ; which I earnestly pray you may 
keep near to it, as long as events shall render such an 
attachment consistent with the state of the world. 
This league is for the preservation of that state of 
things in Europe, to which we owe all that we are, 
and which furnished just grounds of expectation for 
further and safe improvement. The foundation of 
this league is just and honest. But if it must go, we 
must not struggle with the order of Providence, nor 
contrive our matters so ill, that, as Cicero says, whilst 
we are struggling to be in the republic of Plato, we 
may find ourselves in no republic at all. 

I perfectly agree with you, that the manifesto ought 
to accompany the act, or at least to precede it but 
a little. Perhaps some movements ought to precede 
the manifesto, such as that of the King of Sweden 
to Ms minister, which I think to be exceedingly well 
done, and to be not at all ill-timed. The manifesto 
certainly ought, as you observe, to turn much more 
upon the benefit of the people ; on good order, religion, 
morality, security, and property, than upon the rights 


of sovereigns. Previous to it, or along with it, ought 
to be published, strong collections of cases and facts 
of the cruelties, persecutions, and desolations produced 
by this revolution, in a popular style ; which, for 
being simple and popular, will not be the less eloquent 
and impressive. In stating the treatment of the 
ecclesiastics who have suffered most, as many par- 
ticulars of their indigence, by reduction, slack or 
non-payment, or the like, ought to be brought forth. 
Particulars make impressions. This may be cooked 
up a hundred different ways. Imprisonments under 
the new, ought to be compared with those under the 
old regimen, &c. &c. For a plan of the manifesto, 
quere ? Whether it might not be necessary to begin 
by stating that the fundamental constitution of 
France was a monarchy ; (and that the country had 
been powerful and prosperous under it ;) that France 
had been always taken and understood as a monarchy ; 
and that, with its monarchy, all the treaties now 
existing were formed ; that these treaties (especially 
those which stipulated close friendship) imply at 
least the choice of a guarantee to the monarchy, and 
security to the monarch, against foreign force or 
domestic rebellion. Strongly to state the rebellion, 
its nature ; provoked by no oppression, no grievance 
supported, no offender protected ; full of treachery, as 
applying the powers derived from the crown to its 
destruction; and when called to strengthen his 
government, perfidiously subverting it ; an entire 
usurpation ; that certain orders and ranks were in 
the essence of the French constitution, and highly 
beneficial to the nation ; that a certain established 
religion, with certain legal possessions, were the 
old common law of France ; a judicature arising 
from the authority of the throne, also of immemorial 
usage, of great benefit ; all these subverted : Then, 
the grievances under the new constitution; the dis- 
appearance of money, from the insecurity of property ; 
the fraudulent and insolvent scheme of a paper 
currency : Then, all .the grievances of the new regi- 

310 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

men : An assurance that they mean nothing against 
the true ancient rights, liberties, and privileges of the 
people, or anything which the public wisdom, acting 
without restraint, may contrive for their further 
benefit : That it is for that very purpose the restoration 
of the king and monarchy is desired. Remember 
always, that the tyranny of the present usurping 
government be principally insisted on. 

I told you that the ministers had taken no notice 
of my book. It was then true. But this day I have 
had the enclosed civil note from Dundas. The success 
of this last pamphlet is great indeed. 1 Every one 
tells me that it is thought much better than the 
former. 2 I have no objection to their thinking so ; 
but it is not my opinion. It may, however, be more 
useful. Not one word from one of our party. They 
are secretly galled. They agree with me to a tittle ; 
but they dare not speak out, for fear of hurting Pox. 
As to me, they leave me to myself ; they see that 
I can do myself justice. Dodsley is preparing a third 
edition ; the second I have corrected. 

Since I wrote the two first sheets I have seen 
Mr. Dundas, and have received a most complete and 
satisfactory assurance of the neutrality, at least 
amicable, of this court. To say the truth, I asked 
him his opinion directly, and without management. 
But he set me quite at my ease, not only with regard 
to himself, but to every sub-division of the ministry, 
who all agreed, and very heartily, in this point. He 
went further, and said that the King of Prussia was 
not only well-disposed, but hearty, in the same cause. 
A letter which Adey 3 received from St. Leger spoke 
such language on the subject as prepared me for this 
very good account. I doubt, on the whole, whether 
the Emperor is more in earnest than he. All thought 
of an increase of territory on the side of Poland, for 

1 Appealjrom the New to the Old Whigs. 

2 Reflections on the Revolution in France. 

3 Stephen Thurston Adey, afterwards Member of Par- 
liament for Higham Ferrers. 


the present at least, is completely given up ; , and it 
is thought that he and the Emperor are come to 
a perfectly good understanding with each other. 
You see our armament is laid up. The king is himself 
(and I confess, considering everything, it is highly 
generous, and wise, too, in him) most earnest in favour 
of this cause of sovereigns. He is constantly asking 
whether the King of France will be firm, and reject 
the constitution. In short, everything external is as 
favourable to these unhappy persecuted people 1 as 
possible ; but through weakness, irresolution, and the 
spirit of intrigue, they betray themselves their own 
garrison. The enclosed letter, from our Paris corre- 
spondent, will show you where the danger lies. That 
most unfortunate woman 2 is not to be cured of the 
spirit of court intrigue, even by a prison ; and it is 
certain that all miserable people, whose spirits are 
become abject by calamities and insults, grow out of 
humour with their friends ; and, as the mind must 
be fed with some sort of hope, begin to repose theirs in 
their enemies. All low politicians aim at working 
with their adversaries, by which means they give them 
strength, and become their prey. She is not to be 
cured of the politics of Brienne ; and as all people 
of honour are fled, she is wholly in the hands of those 
who profess to save her from the last evils in her 
situation, and by overcharging her danger, get her to 
put herself into the hands of those who will engage to 
free her at the price of abandoning those of whose 
success she is jealous. On the 25th they are to propose 
this constitution of theirs to the king. They have 
already relaxed his chains, and they mean to put him 
(nominally, to be sure) at complete liberty. They 
have reconciled him to La Fayette. People do not 
doubt but that he will accept. I sketched a few hints 
to be sent to her by the Duke of Dorset. He thinks 
he can get a perfectly safe hand. 

After all, if this unfortunate pair should put the 

1 The King and Queen of France. 

2 The Queen of France. 

312 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

last hand to their disgrace and degradation, the 
honest and spirited part of the French nation, who 
must then act in trust for the whole, know very well 
that the monarchy of France is not in the disposal 
of any one of its kings ; and that he cannot, even 
by his freest consent, destroy Ms throne, his nobility, 
his church, his tribunals, his corporations, Ms orders, 
and the general tenure of property among his sub- 
jects : That he has no assembly competent to repre- 
sent the nation : That this assembly is a manifest 
usurpation, and had obtained its power by frauds, 
violences, and crimes: That their constitution, to 
which they will pretend the free consent of the king, 
had been before presented to him, part by part, in 
detail ; that he had consented to them ; that, after- 
wards, he had declared that consent to have been 
extorted by terror ; and that, at the time, he had 
been a prisoner. Has he been less so since that 
declaration ? And can it be presumed that he 
approves, in the whole, that thing which, after having 
approved in the parts, he has afterwards disowned in 
the whole and all the parts ? This last act, instead of 
being a proof of his liberty, is a tenfold proof of his 
slavery. And even if he were really and truly at 
liberty, yet Ms mind having been completely broken 
by repeated previous insults, and now under terrors 
by the strength of a faction still calling for his life 
through a trial, and Ms cMld having been actually 
taken from Mm, and held as an hostage, no act of 
Ms can or ought to be considered as that of a king of 
France ; separated from Ms family, from all the 
princes of Ms blood, Ms noblesse, and the magistrates 
of Ms parliaments, the natural friends and constitu- 
tional guardians of the rights of the crown. I tMnk 
they 1 ought, after such a step, not to lose a moment, 
but to protest against the act, as under constraint, 
and as invalid in itself, if free. To renew their alle- 
giance to Mm, their declaration of fidelity to the 
fundamental laws, and to the nation, properly under- 
1 The French princes. 


stood and constitutionally represented; to call the 
scattered members of the parliament together; to 
assume the regency ; to call upon those allied in blood, 
interest, and friendship, with the crown of France, to 
assist them ; and to act without the least regard to 
what he may seem to have done. This is my fixed 
opinion ; and they ought not to be frightened with the 
voice of those people who, between weakness of nerves 
and want of fixed principles of morals and politics, 
betray every cause that they have in hand. How 
come these fierce republicans, even the very firebrands 
of the Jacobins, all at once to pretend this affection 
to royalty, but in order to betray it more effectually 
through the means of the stuffed skin of a monarch ? 

I was at the levee yesterday, as the rule is, when 
the king sends you a civil message. Nothing could 
be more gracious than my reception. He told me 
that he did not think anything could be added to 
what I had first written ; but he saw he was mistaken, 
that there was very much added, and new, and 
important, and, what was most material, what could 
not be answered. He then asked me whether I had 
seen that scheme of absurdity, the French constitu- 
tion, and what I thought of it. I told him I had seen 
all the flowers separately, and did not like them 
better now that I had seen them tied up in one 
bouquet ; I told him that the absurdity of this usurpa- 
tion would do its own business, if not prevented by 
the weakness of one man. After the levee, he asked 
Dundas who he thought was the one man I meant, 
whether it was the king ? He said he believed it was, 
as it was most certainly. I had afterwards a conversa- 
tion with Dundas at his office. .... 

I send this through some hand that he provides. 
I think it better to send you a paequet of all our 
letters than to detail their contents. I dine to-morrow 
at Dundas's with Mr. Pitt and Sir David Dalrymple. 

The taking away the Dauphin ought to be much 

314 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

insisted on ; the giving him into the hands of the 
known enemies of the Crown as guardians ; the 
choosing as preceptor, Condorcet, the most furious 
of the heads of the Jacobin club, and a known enemy 
and despiser of the Christian religion, to educate 
the most Christian king; the very same turbulent 
and seditious libeller whom, without naming, they 
have alluded to as such in all their debates, and have 
accordingly suspended the effect of their ballot. Their 
disposition, however, has not been the less shown, 
because their quarrel prevented the execution of their 
intentions. By the way, though not connected with 
this, when the king's consent is talked of, of what 
importance is it, when his negative is taken away 
wholly, and only amounts to a time for deliberation, 
whether he assents or not, to any law whatsoever ? 

The question is higher still in this case : Whether 
they have a right to suppose the king as in a moment 
of election, and to offer him the crown on just what 
terms they please ? This is to suppose the crown 
elective, to all intents and purposes. Take this, or 
you are not to reign 1 ...... 

The following memorandum was found amongst Burke' s 
papers, indorsed as follows by himself. 

Sketch of a letter to the late Queen of France, to 
be sent through the Comte de Merci Argenteau. But 
he pretended that it would make too large a pacquet 
for him to risk. He only sent two or three of the last 
lines, if he sent any. I suspect he did not enter very 
warmly into my sentiments ; indeed, I am sure he did 

E. B. 

Circumstances require that my words should be 
few; my sentiments demand that they should be 
faithful ; they cannot be ceremonious. 

1 The passages omitted in this letter relate to private 


Since the commencement of these troubles, you 
had a part to act which has fixed the eyes of the 
world upon you. You have suffered much affliction, 
but you have obtained great glory. Your conduct at 
this great crisis "will determine whether the glory is 
to continue and the affliction to cease, or whether 
affliction and shame together are to attend on your 
life and your memory, as long as both shall last. 
Your place, your dangers, your interest, your fame, 
the great objects of your fears and hopes, will 
not suffer your conduct to be governed by little 

It cannot be supposed for an instant, that you can 
think of recommending any settlement whatsoever, 
which must dishonour, proscribe, and banish all the 
king's friends, and those of the monarchy and the 
church ; and to place the whole power of the kingdom 
in the hands of their known enemies, who have never 
omitted any indignity or insult to your person, or 
your fame, and have made several attempts on your 

For God's sake, have nothing to do with traitors. 
Those men who have been the authors of your common 
ruin, can never be seriously disposed to restore the 
nation, the king, yourself, or your children. If they 
had the inclination, their power has not solidity, con- 
sistency, or means of permanence sufficient, to enable 
them to keep any engagements they may seem to 
make with you. Their whole power is to hurt you ; 
to serve you they have none. 

If the king accepts their pretended constitution, 
you are both of you undone for ever. The greatest 
powers in Europe are hastening to your rescue. They 
all desire it. You can never think this a time for 
surrendering yourself to traitors, along with the rights 
of all the sovereigns aDied to you, and whose cause is 
involved in yours. 

You will be told by intriguing people, that your 
own personal influence and consideration will be 
swallowed up in that of the faithful princes and 

316 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

nobility who have abandoned their country in the 
royal cause, and who now risk all that remains of their 
fortunes and their hopes for your relief . No, madam ! 
Faithful souls do not know what it is to be insolent 
and overbearing. These are the qualities of the 
persons who rule at present. The loyal French will 
consider your patience and fortitude as an ample 
contingent contributed to the general cause ; and 
your claim to influence will not be only as the queen, 
but as the deliverer of France. 

But if (which God forbid) your majesty should be 
persuaded by mischievous caballers to do anything 
which may confirm and fix the power of traitors, 
they will not use it in favour of your majesty, of the 
king, or of your royal offspring which they have torn 
out of your bosom. No 1 The king will have no 
real authority whatsoever; and what shadow of it 
may be allotted to his name, will be employed for 
their own purposes, by those men who have given it, 
and who, when they please, may resume it. But 
those faithful subjects who wish to restore the king, 
not to nominal, but to real power, know very well that, 
when they have succeeded in their design, their very 
success must make them dependent upon him. 

The intriguers will tell your majesty that all men 
are alike, and that the Barnaves, the Lameths, the 
Chapeliers, and the La Fayettes, are as good as any 
other, if they can be made serviceable to you. This 
is a most fatal error. All men are not courtiers or 
chicaners ; or, if it were true that we are all evil, the 
interests of some men are more connected with yours 
than that of others. 

Madam, all is in your hands. The moment you 
begin to negotiate with the traitors, you lose your 
greatest strength, which is wholly in patience, firm- 
ness, silence, and refusal. You cannot take an active 
measure which does not lead to destruction. 

Madam, warm zeal will sometimes be an excuse 
for presumptuous intrusion. This paper goes to 
your majesty from a foreigner, but from one who has 


given the only proof in his power of his sincere admira- 
tion of your virtues, and of his hearty devotion to 
your interests. 

Note in Burke* s handwriting : 

[N.B. This is the rough draft. Some alterations 
were made ; none affecting the subject.] 

September 26, 1791, Monday morning. 

I WRITE to you from a consideration of the possi- 
bility that you have changed your mind, and are still 
at Coblentz. 

An expression in the short note I received from 
Monsieur de Calonne makes me imagine that you are 
on your journey hither ; though I was in hopes, from 
what you had written by Nagle, that you would not 
move until you should hear from us, and had left 
our judgement to operate on that measure ; we still, 
either your uncle or myself, wrote to you, letter after 
letter, to desire you to stay at Coblentz, until we 
should see your presence to be more useful here than 
there. You might be sure, that though my hopes 
were not very lively, my endeavours would be con- 
tinual. As soon as I got your letter, without losing 
a moment's time, I went to Mr. Dundas. Disappointed 
in my expectation of meeting him at Wimbledon, 
last Sunday morning, (se'nnight) I stayed in town 
till Tuesday, when I saw him. We had some" dis- 
course, the result of which you have in a short letter 
from, him, and a long one which, with several papers 
and letters, I sent by his packet. That letter informed 
you of the state of things to that moment. He 
recommended me to write the whole of the conversa- 
tion I had with him, to Lord GrenviUe, then at Wey- 
mouth. It was Lord G.'s department ; and I had 
reason to think the disposition of all the ministers 
pretty equally favourable to the cause, as far as they 
would go. It was something Jo know that they had 
never given the pretended answer to the Emperor's 

318 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

declaration. You will see presently, out of "what 
materials that pretended answer was made. On my 
return to the country, I wrote to Lord Grenville. He 
received the letter on his way to town ; and imme- 
diately on his arrival here, wrote to me in a very 
obliging manner, that he would be glad that I should 
talk over the matter with him and Mr. Pitt; that 
they dined without company, and would be glad to 
see me. I came to town that day, saw them, and dined 
with them. Our discourse continued until eleven 
o'clock. We talked the whole matter over very 
calmly, and it was discussed, on my part, as fully as 
my faculties gave me leave to do. I found that there 
was no moving them from their idea of a neutrality ; 
therefore, I did not labour this point. My view was 
to get over ^radically the difficulty which they made 
with regard to the solicitation of any other powers, 
which was contained in the declaration of Mr. Aust, 
(first clerk in Lord Grenville's office,) to the Chevalier 
de la Bintinnaye, made by Lord G.'s directions before 
his return to town ; and which was, if I recollect right, 
contained in the king's letter to Monsieur, of which 
a copy was communicated to the chevalier. As to 
anything to be done with regard to a solicitation of 
the Emperor, I soon found it fruitless to attempt it. 
Their ill opinion of his intentions seems immovable. 
They are convinced that he is resolved not to give 
the princes, at any time, any assistance whatsoever. 
I therefore thought, (what I had rolled in my mind 
before,) that the true place of application would be 
to the King of Prussia, who I am convinced is infinitely 
more in earnest than the Emperor. He has been led 
to take his part at the solicitation of the Emperor. 
He has declared himself a joint party with him. He 
has thrown off all appearance of neutrality, and put 
himself ill with the new power rising in France, at his 
original requisition ; and he has a right to call upon 
the Emperor not to leave him in the lurch on account 
of difficulties thrown in, his way by this court, which 
have no existence. I proposed that they should, 


without appearing directly in it, send some person of 
confidence to Berlin, to suggest this to the King of 
Prussia, without going through the official channel ; 
and for the execution of this plan, I proposed you, 
excluding the idea of any salary, gratuity, "reward, or 
office whatsoever, or the promise or hope of such 
a thing. To this I had no answer. Our discussions 
were too extensive to admit my writing them to you ; 
I wish rather to give you the result of them ; and to 
tell you the temper in which I found and left the two 
ministers. They are certainly right as to their general 
inclinations ; perfectly so, I have not a shadow of 
doubt ; but at the same time, they are cold and dead 
as to any attempt whatsoever to give them effect. 
Two causes seem to have produced in them this cold- 
ness : the first, that they seem to be quite out of all 
apprehensions of any effect from the French revolution 
on this kingdom, either at present, or at any time to 
come : the next, their rooted opinion of the settled 
systematic ill disposition of the Emperor. As to the 
first, you know my fixed opinion ; and I did not fail 
to lay the grounds upon which I formed it before them : 
as to the last, I referred it to their consideration, 
whether the conduct of the Emperor was not rather 
owing to some complexional inconstancy, and to the 
little occasional intrigues with the Louvre, than to 
any fixed, premeditated scheme of treachery. I am 
sure this is a fair hypothesis ; and it is what I believe 
to be true. They entertained an opinion, in which, 
whilst they condemned the Emperor for pretending 
it, (not thinking it his true motive for delay,) they 
concurred at bottom with him; that is, that the 
present is not the fit time for acting ; that a bank- 
ruptcy, which appears inevitable, would ruin the 
assembly in the opinion of the stockholders and of the 
Parisians, and would create much discontent and 
confusion through the kingdom. I entered very fully 
into the effect of such a bankruptcy, particularly in 
the present state of the French funds ; that I ex- 
pected no good from it, if it were even to happen 

320 EDMUND BUEKE [1791 

at any assignable period ; that to make the invasion 
synchronize with that bankruptcy, might not be so 
easy ; that now they had Europe in a situation in 
which it never stood before, and might never be 
again ; a general peace among the powers, and a 
general good disposition to support the common cause 
of order and government. I found too, that they 
thought the Netherlands in such a situation, that it 
would not be safe for the Emperor to withdraw his 
army from them. I confess I never hear this without 
astonishment. I thought the danger to consist in his 
keeping so great an army inactive in that situation. 
I used your arguments, and many more that occurred 
to me ; and on the whole discussion, I do not think 
a topic escaped me. They were patient and good- 
humoured ; and to myself, personally, I thought far 
from unfavourable. Every now and then I seemed 
to make an impression on them, and that not slightly ; 
but the next morning, when the Chevalier de la Bin- 
tinnaye had his audience of Lord Grenville, in which 
he was well received, the general answer was just that 
which had been before given by Mr. Aust, without any 
variation whatsoever. In the conversation, Lord 
Grenville denied positively that he had put anything 
like a condition on the Emperor, or any limitation 
whatsoever. That all he said was a mere opinion, 
stated in discourse with the imperial minister : c that 
in the actual state of the Netherlands, it might not 
be expedient, for the general tranquillity, to leave 
them without troops.' This, merely as the expression 
of a sentiment, without any -sort of stipulation, ex- 
pressed or implied. The Emperor is plainly at liberty, 
and his delay does not lie at our door. As to the 
Comte de Mercy, they told me that they had not had 
a single word of political conversation with him ; 
that they did not shun it, but they left him to begin 
it ; which, as he never did, they, on their part, said 
nothing. It was from me that they first learned that 
he attributed the Emperor's inaction (which he stated 
as a resolution) to the ambiguous conduct and 


language of our court. In none of their conversations 
about the Low-Country troops, did they, that I can 
find, say anything of the number to be kept there. 
They left him to himself. They declared a neutrality, 
I believe, as clearly and definitely, to the imperial 
minister, as they have done to the agent of the Bourbon 
princes. I am sorry it is so very literally a neutrality ; 
but such as it is, their having so completely disarmed, is 
a proof worth ten thousand declarations, that they do 
not mean to give any assistance, directly or indirectly, 
to this French system ; even if the imperial court 
could think our court unadvised enough to give its 
hand to the establishment of a fanatical democracy 
just at its door. The truth is, I am afraid, that the 
Emperor and some of his ministers, though they do 
not approve (as they cannot approve) of the destruction 
of the monarchy, are infinitely pleased with the 
robbery of the church property, and the humiliation of 
the gentry ; and that, in that lust of philosophical 
spoliation and equalization, he forgets that he cuts 
down the supports of monarchy, and, indeed, destroys 
those principles of property, order, and regularity, 
for which alone any rational man can wish monarchy 
to exist. But the difference among the race who have 
got the present education, is only, whether the same 
robbery is to be committed by the despotism of an 
individual, or that of a multitude ; and, therefore, 
that the Emperor has made the parade of a threatening, 
and of a threatening only, that this vile assembly 
may be induced to treat, to secure some affluence and 
liberty to the king and queen, leaving the church 
robbed, and the nobility beggared and degraded. 
This is what we fear. It is what we ought to do our 
best to prevent, and to engage the Emperor in a system 
of politics more conformable to the true interests, 
rights, and duties, of sovereigns. I have read the 
declaration of the Bourbon princes. You have, if 
you are still at Coblentz, by this, a very rude sketch 
of a bill of rights, which ought to be agreed to in 
a general meeting of princes, nobles, and magistrates 

237 M 

322 EDMUND BURKE [1791 

I think it well penned, and in many points very right 
and proper. But the ton is not just what one would 
wish in all points. In some things it is dangerously 
defective. They ought to promise distinctly and 
without ambiguity, that they mean, when the 
monarchy, as the essential basis, shall be restored, to 
secure with it a free constitution ; and that for this 
purpose they will cause, at a meeting of the states, 
freely chosen, according to the ancient legal order, to 
vote by order, all Lettres de Cachet, and other means 
of arbitrary imprisonment, to be abolished. That 
all taxation shall be by the said states, conjointly 
with the king. That responsibility shall be estab- 
lished, and the public revenue put out of the power of 
abuse and malversation ; a canonical synod of the 
Gallican church to reform all abuses ; and (as 
unfortunately the king has lost all reputation) they 
should pledge themselves, with their lives and for- 
tunes, to support, along with their king, those con- 
ditions and that wise order, which can alone support 
a free and vigorous government. Without such 
a declaration, or to that effect, they can hope no 
converts. For my part, for one, though I make no 
doubt of preferring the ancient course, or almost any 
other, to this vile chimera, and sick man's dream of 
government, yet I could not actively, or with a good 
heart and clear conscience, go to the re-establishment 
of a monarchical despotism in the place of this system 
of anarchy. I should think myself obliged to with- 
draw myself wholly from such a competition, and 
give repose to my age, as I should wish you to give 
other employment to your youth. I wish you to stay 
where you are ; the Bintinnayes work well. They 
are steady, sensible, and have business-like heads, 
and are indefatigable. They are well received. They 
are preparing another memorial. We shall not be 
negligent ; no stone will be left unturned. You may 
be infinitely more useful where you are ; you have 
more resources and more activity than I have ; but 
I have more authority here, and that turns the balance. 
But do as you please ; I shall think it for the best. 



January 26, 1792. 

Though we should be happy in hearing from you 
often, yet when we know that you are well, the first 
object of our wish is accomplished. We should hear 
from you if you had anything pleasant to tell. Though 
we have nothing from you, we hear on all hands that 
the Castle has omitted nothing to break that line of 
policy which government has pursued as opportunity 
offered from the beginning of the present reign : 
that, I mean, of wearing out the vestiges of conquest, 
and settling all descriptions of people on the bottom 
of one protecting and constitutional system. But by 
what I learn, the Castle has another system, and 
considers the outlawry (or what at least I look on 
as such) of the great mass of the people as an unalter- 
able maxim in the government of Ireland. If I con- 
sidered only the interest of that mass of the people, 
I should be indifferent about their loss of their just, 
rational, and wise object of pursuit during this session. 
They will have it, because the nature of things will 
do it. What vexes me is, that it will not be done in 
the best, the most gracious, the most conciliatory, and 
the most politic mode. In the present state of 
Europe, in which the state of these kingdoms is 
included, it is of infinite moment that matters of grace 
should emanate from the old sovereign authority. 
The harmony of the two kingdoms requires that the 
king's government should not stand chargeable with 
anything prescriptive or oppressive, or which, leans 
with a weight of odium and prejudice on any quiet 
description of his subjects. Above all, it requires 
that no harsh measure should seem the result of any 
unalterable principle of his government; for that 
would be to leave the people no hope from that 
quarter, from which alone I should wish them to hope 
everything. But I shall not trouble you or myself 
further with what neither you nor I can help. 

324 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

Cazal&s goes off shortly. His spirits have been 
greatly sunk ; I do not wonder at it. The madness, 
the wickedness, the malice, and the folly, of the 
greatest part of Germany, is not to be expressed. 
The Duke of Wurtemburg takes the lead in Suabia 
against the persecuted nobility of Prance, who are 
hunted from place to place like so many wild boars. 
The Bintinnayes are well, but in the same state of 
dejection as Cazal&s. 

I wish that in the unpleasant view of public affairs, 
we were compensated by anything cheerful with 
regard to our narrower circle. Thank God ! with 
regard to this house, all is well, or perhaps better than 
you left it. Your mother, your uncle, and all of us, in 
the best health. Our poor friend Sir Joshua declines 
daily. For some time past he has kept his bed. His 
legs, and all his body, swell extremely; yet his 
physicians are by no means sure that the case is 
dropsical. I have been twice called to town by very 
alarming letters from poor Miss Palmer, who feared 
that the worst was more nearly at hand than it was. 
I returned from my second journey yesterday. He 
was somewhat better when I left town, and this 
morning we had an account of the event of the day 
after I had left him. He still continued in appearance 
to mend. The swelling had abated. He takes great 
doses of laudanum. At times he has pain ; but for the 
most part he is tolerably easy. Nothing can equal the 
tranquillity with which he views his end. He con- 
gratulates himself on it as a happy conclusion of 
a happy life. He spoke of you in a style which was 
affecting. I don't believe there are any persons he 
valued more sincerely than you and your mother. 
Surely it is well returned by you both. Mary and the 
captain salute you, and the friends they know in 
Dublin. Your mother's affectionate blessing. May 
God always protect you 1 

Ever, ever, my dearest Richard, 

Your affectionate father, 



Beaconsfield. January 31, 1792, 

Late at night. 

ISTot less than twenty times, I verily believe, have 
I taken up my pen to write to you something which 
was suggested to me by your most friendly and 
obliging letter. But because I had too much to say, 
I have said nothing at all. Your letter, indeed, did 
not absolutely require an answer. My best thanks 
were certainly your due ; but I hoped that the same 
partial goodness which dictated your letter, would 
presume that I entertained becoming and natural 
sentiments on your conduct towards me under the 
dereliction of so many of my old acquaintance. To 
thank you was all that I was called upon to do ; and, 
for not doing this, I stand in need of some apology. 
But, as, along with your friendly expressions of 
personal kindness, some topics were touched upon that 
made an impression on my mind, so many thoughts 
crowded upon me, both with relation to the party by 
which I had been disclaimed, and with relation to the 
country with which my ties cannot be dissolved, 
that I feared, if I should touch upon them, I should 
be drawn on to write, not a long letter, but a tedious 
dissertation. 'Whilst I was on the Terrace of 
Windsor, I little thought of what was going on at 
York.' Most certainly I did not. As to the reception 
of Mr. Fox, with aft the circumstances of honour 
according to their several modes, by the Corporation 
and the people of York, if this had been done to efface 
the impressions which had been made upon many by 
the conduct of several persons in that city and county 
in the year 1784, I should have been exceedingly 

1 Member of Parliament for Malton. 

326 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

pleased. 1 I should have found but one thing to 
regret, which was, that their returning sentiments 
of approbation did not extend further. I should have 
thought, if that had been the object of those demon- 
strations of their attachment to Mr. Pox, it would not 
have been amiss if they had shown some marks of 
respect, at the same time, to yourself, to Lord John 
Cavendish, and to Mr. Foljambe. The assertion of 
the principles, at that time common to us all, and the 
circumstances of the county and city at that crisis, 
would have given a more local propriety to expressions 
of sorrow, with regard to mistakes into which their 
province had fallen, in common with a large part 
of the nation in other quarters. But they were not 
guilty of any omission at all ; because they had 
nothing less in their view than the transactions of 
1784. Instead of looking to that period, the memory 
of which had not been obliterated by a very long 
prescription, they forgot what passed before their 
own eyes not above seven years from that time, and 
flew back to the history of what had happened an 
hundred years before. But they were not such mere 
antiquarians as they seemed to be. In their unpre- 
cedented compliment to Mr. Fox for governing his 
conduct by the true principles of the revolution, they 
plainly alluded to a transaction not quite an hundred 
years old. He is the first private man to whom such 
a compliment, I am persuaded, has ever been made. 
It must have a reference to something done or said 
relative to the principles of the revolution ; and if 
I were dull enough to mistake what that doing and 
saying was, I should be the only man in England who 
did no.t perfectly enter into it. When I combined all 
the circumstances, though I wish Mr. Fox all other 
modes of honour, I cannot say that I was not con- 
cerned at this event. It was not just at York (where 
I was with Lord Eockingham at those very races 
twenty-six years before, and there first had any 
1 Mr. Burke refers to the presentation of the freedom of 
the city of York to Mr. Fox. 


acquaintance in that county,) that I apprehended, in 
the praises of another, I should have found an oblique 
censure, and the first vote against me amongst the 
judges to whom I had addressed my appeal. That, 
too, must go with the rest. 

In that piece, 1 I have quite satisfied my own 
conscience ; and I have done what I thought due to 
my own reputation, so far as the puBlic is concerned. 
Now let me say a word to you, on what would not have 
been so proper to say to the public, as it regards the 
particular interests of the party, and my conduct 
towards them and their leader, Mr. Fox. 

As to the party which has thought proper to 
proscribe me on account of a book which I published 
on the idea, that the principles of a new, republican, 
frenchified Whiggism, were gaining ground in this 
country, I cannot say it was written solely with a view 
to the service of that party. I hope its views were 
more general. But I am perfectly sure this was one 
of the objects in my contemplation ; and I am hardly 
less sure, that (bating the insufficiency of the execu- 
tion) it was well calculated for that purpose ; and that 
it had actually produced that effect upon the minds of 
all those at whose sentiments it is not disrespectful 
to guess. Possibly it produced that effect without 
that exception. Mr. Montagu knows, many know, 
what a softening towards our party it produced in the 
thoughts and opinions of many men in many places. 
It presented to them sentiments of liberty which 
were not at war with order, virtue, religion, and good 
government ; and though, for reasons which I have 
cause to rejoice that I listened to, I disclaimed myself 
as the organ of any party, it was the general opinion 
that I had not wandered very widely from the senti- 
ments of those with whom I was known to be so 
closely connected. It was indeed then, and it is 
much more so now, absolutely necessary to separate 
those who cultivate a rational and sober liberty upon 

1 * An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs,* pub- 
lished in 1791 

328 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

the plan of our existing constitution, from those who 
think they have no liberty, if it does not comprehend 
a right in them of making to themselves new constitu- 
tions at their pleasure. 

The party with which I acted had, by the malevolent 
and unthinking, been reproached, and by the wise and 
good always esteemed and confided in, as an aristo- 
cratic party. Such I always understood it to be, in 
the true sense of the word. I understood it to be 
a party, in its composition and in its principles, con- 
nected with the solid, permanent, long-possessed 
property of the country ; a party which, by a temper 
derived from that species of property, and affording 
a security to it, was attached to the ancient tried 
usages of the kingdom ; a party, therefore, essentially 
constructed upon a ground-plot of stability and 
independence; a party, therefore, equally removed 
from servile court compliances, and from popular 
levity, presumption, and precipitation. 

Such was the general opinion of the substance and 
original stamina of that party. For one, I was fully 
persuaded that the spirit, genius, and character of 
that party ought to be adopted, and, for a long time, 
I thought was adopted, by all the new men who in 
the course of time should be aggregated to that body ; 
whether any of these new men should be a person 
possessed of a large fortune of his own creating ; or 
whether the new man should be (though of a family 
long decorated with the honours and distinctions of 
the state,) only a younger brother, who had an 
importance to acquire by his industry and his talents ; 
or whether the new man should be (as was my case,) 
wholly new in the country, and aimed to illustrate 
himself and his family by the services he might have 
the fortune to render to the public. All these descrip- 
tions of new men, and more, if more there are, I con- 
ceived, without any formal engagement, by the very 
constitution of the party, to be bound with all the 
activity and energy of minds animated and awakened 
by great hopes and views, to support those aristo- 


cratic principles, and the aristocratic interests con- 
nected with them, as essential to the real benefit of 
the body of the people, to which all names of pa*rty, 
all ranks and orders in the state, and even government 
itself, ought to be entirely subordinate. These 
principles and interests, I conceived, were to give the 
bias to all their proceedings. Adhering to these 
principles, the aspiring minds that exalt and vivify 
a party, could not be held in too much honour and 
consideration : departing from them, they lose more 
than they can gain. They lose the advantages which 
they might derive from such a party, and they cannot 
make it fit for the purposes for which they desire to 
employ it. Such a party, pushed forward by a blind 
impulse, may for some time proceed without an exact 
knowledge of the point to which it is going. It may 
be deluded ; and, by being deluded, it may be dis- 
credited and hurt ; but it is too unwieldy, both from 
its numbers and from its property, to perform the 
services expected from a corps of light horse. 

Against the existence of any such description of 
men as our party is in a great measure composed of, 
against the existence of any mode of government on 
such a basis, we have seen, a serious and systematic 
attack attended with the most complete success, in 
another country, but in a country at our very door. 
It is an attack made against the thing and against 
the name. If I were to produce an example of some- 
thing diametrically opposite to the composition, to 
the spirit, to the temper, to the character, and to all 
the maxims of our old and unregenerated party, 
something fitted to illustrate it by the strongest 
opposition, I would produce what has been done in 
France. I would except nothing. I would bring 
forward the principles ; I would bring forward the 
means ; I would bring forward the ultimate object. 
They who cry up the French revolution, cry down the 
party which you and I had so long the honour and 
satisfaction to belong to. e But that party was formed 
on a system of liberty. 1 Without question it was ; 

330 EDMUND BUKKE [1792 

and God forbid that you and I should ever belong to 
any party that was not built upon that foundation. 
But this French dirt-pie, this its hateful contrast, is 
founded upon slavery ; and a slavery which is not the 
less slavery, because it operates in an inverted order. 
It is a slavery the more shameful, the more humiliating, 
the more galling, upon that account, to every liberal 
and ingenuous mind. It is, on that account, ten 
thousand times the more destructive to the peace, 
the prosperity, and the welfare, in every instance, of 
that undone and degraded country in which it prevails, 
My party principles, as well as my general politics 
and my natural sentiments, must lead me to detest 
the French revolution, in the act, in the spirit, in the 
consequences, and most of all, in the example. I saw 
the sycophants of a court, who had, by engrossing to 
themselves the favours of the sovereign, added to his 
distress and to the odium of his government, take 
advantage of that distress and odium to subvert his 
authority and imprison his person ; and passing, by 
a natural progression, from flatterers to traitors, con- 
vert their ingratitude into a claim to patriotism, and 
become active agents in the ruin of that order, from 
their belonging to which they had derived all the 
opulence and power of their families. Under the 
auspices of these base wretches, I had seen a senseless 
populace employed totally to annihilate the ancient 
government of their country, under which it had 
grown, in extent, compactness, population, and 
riches, to a greatness even formidable ; a government 
which discovered the vigour of its principle, even in 
the many vices and errors, both of its own and its 
people's, which were not of force enough to hinder it 
from producing those effects. They began its destruc- 
tion by subverting, under pretext of rights of man, 
the foundations of civil society itself. They trampled 
upon the religion of their country, and upon all 
religion ; they systematically gave the rein to every 
crime and every vice. They destroyed the trade and 
manufactures of their country. They rooted up its 


finances. They caused the greatest accumulation of 
coin, probably ever collected amongst any people, 
totally to disappear as by magic ; and they filled up 
the void by a fraudulent, compulsory paper-currency, 
and a coinage of the bells from their churches. They 
possessed the fairest and the most flourishing colonies 
which any nation had perhaps ever planted. These 
they rendered a scene of carnage and desolation, that 
would excite compassion and remorse in any hearts 
but theirs. They possessed a vast body of nobility 
and gentry, amongst the first in the world for splendour, 
and the very first for disinterested services to their 
country; in which I include the most disinterested 
and incorrupt judicature (even by the confession of 
its enemies) that ever was. These they persecuted, 
they hunted down like wild beasts ; they expelled 
them from their families and their houses, and dispersed 
them into every country in Europe ; obliging them 
either to pine in fear and misery at home, or to escape 
into want and exile in foreign lands ; nay, (they went 
so far in the wantonness of their insolence,) abrogated 
their very name and their titular descriptions, as 
something horrible and offensive to the ears of mankind. 

The means by which all this was done leaves an 
example in Europe never to be effaced, and which 
no thinking man, I imagine, can present to his mind 
without consternation ; that is, the bribing of an 
immense body of soldiers, taken from the lowest of 
the people, to an universal revolt against their officers, 
who were the whole body of the country gentlemen, 
and the landed interest of the nation, to set them- 
selves up as a kind of democratic military, governed 
and directed by their own clubs and committees ! " 

When I saw all this mingled scene of crime, of vice, 
of disorder, of folly, and of madness, received by very 
many here, not with the horror and disgust which it 
ought to have produced, but with rapture and exulta- 
tion, as some almost supernatural benefit showered 
down upon the race of mankind ,* and when I saw that 
arrangements were publicly made for communicating 

332 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

to these islands their full share of these blessings, 
I thought myself bound to stand out, and by every 
means in my power to distinguish the ideas of a sober 
and virtuous liberty, (such as I thought our party had 
ever cultivated,) from that profligate, immoral, 
impious, and rebellious licence, which, through the 
medium of every sort of disorder and calamity, con- 
ducts to some kind or other of tyrannic domination. 

At first I had no idea that this base contagion had 
gained any considerable ground in the party. Those 
who were the first and most active in spreading it, 
were their mortal and declared enemies ; I mean the 
leading dissenters. They had long shown themselves 
wholly adverse to, and unalliable with, the party. 
They had shown it, as you know, signally, in 1784. 
At the time of the Regency, (which, when Price's 
sermon appeared, 1 was still green and raw,) they had 
seized the opportunity of divisions amongst the great, 
to bring forward their democratic notions ; and the 
object against which they chiefly directed their 
seditious doctrines, and the passions of the vulgar, 
was your party ; and I confess they were in the right 
in their choice ; for they knew very well, that, as 
long as you were true to your principles, no consider- 
able innovations could be made in the country , and 
that this independent embodied aristocracy would 
form an impenetrable fence against all their attempts 
to break into the constitution. When I came to town, 
though I had heard of Dr. Price's sermon, I had not 
read it. I dined the day of my arrival with our friend 
Dr. Walker King ; and there, in a large and mixed 
company, partly composed of dissenters, one of that 
description, a most worthy man, of learning, sense, 
and ingenuity, one of the oldest and best friends I had 
in the world, and no way indisposed to us, lamented 
that the dissenters never could be reconciled to us, or 
confide in us, or hear of our being possessed of the 

1 This Sermon was preached on the 4th November, 
1789, at the Old Jewry Meeting House to the Society for 
commemorating the Involution in Great Britain 


f3vernrnent of the country, as long as we were led by 
ox ; this was far from his own opinion ; but lie 
declared that it was very general in that body, who 
regarded him, and spoke of him on all occasions, in 
a manner that one would not speak of some better 
sort of highwaymen. Of the rest of the party they 
had a good opinion ; but thought them weak men, 
and dupes, and the mere instruments of the person 
of whom they had conceived such unfounded ideas. 
I was warmed ; and continued, with vehemence, 
in a conversation which lasted some hours, to do 
justice to Mr. Fox ; and in as ample and strenuous 
a manner as I thought the duties of friendship, and 
a matter that touched the public interest, required. 
It is unnecessary to enter into further details on the 
subject. I went home, and, late as it was, before 
I went to bed, I read Dr. Price's sermon ; and in that 
very sermon (in which were all the shocking sentiments 
and seditious principles which I have endeavoured to 
expose) the leading feature was a personal invective 
against Mr. Fox, very much in the style and manner 
(a trifle, indeed, less coarse,) in which my worthy 
friend had represented the general conversation of 
the dissenters, when Mr. Fox was the subject. 

It was, I think, but a day or two after that conver- 
sation and reading, that I met Mr. Sheridan at Lord 
North's. He was just come to town ; and, of himself, 
he spoke with great resentment of the dissenters for 
their treatment of Mr. Fox in other parts of the 
kingdom ; which from him I learned was as bad, 
particularly at Birmingham, as in London. Concerning 
the French revolution not a word passed betweerf us. 
I felt as Mr. Sheridan did, and it does not rest on my 
single assertion. It is known to others, that some part 
of the asperity with which 1 expressed myself against 
these gentlemen, arose from my resentment for their 
incurable and, as I thought, treacherous animosity to 
Mr. Fox ; particularly when I knew that, during the 
whole of the preceding summer, they were soliciting 
his friendship and connexion. However, they knew 

334 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

Mr. Fox better than I did. The several shots they 
fired to bring him to, produced their effect. I take it 
for granted that public principles, connected with 
magnanimity of sentiment, made him equally regard- 
less of their enmity and of my friendship ; regardless 
of my friendship, who was weak enough to adopt his 
cause with a warmth which his wisdom and temper 

What lyhad thrown down on the first reading of 
Price's J^claration and Correspondence with France, 
was only in a few notes, (though intended for publica- 
tion,) when Mr, Pox, to my great astonishment and 
sorrow, chose for his theme of panegyric on the 
French revolution, the behaviour of the French 
Guards. I said what occurred to me on that occasion. 1 
The day ended with sentiments not very widely divided, 
and with unbroken friendship. I do not think that at 
any period of my life I have given stronger proofs of 
my attachment to that gentleman and to his party, 
than I had done after that explanation, during the 
whole of that session and the next, both within and 
without doors. 

In the meantime the opinions, principles, and 
practices, which I thought so very mischievous, were 
gaining ground, particularly in our party. The festival 
of the fourteenth of July was celebrated with great 
splendour for the first time. 2 There Mr. Sheridan 
made a strong declaration of his sentiments, which 
was printed. All that could be got together of the 
party were convened at the Shakespeare the night 
before ; that, as the expression was, they might go in 
force to that anniversary. Applications were made 
to some of the Prince of Wales's people, that it might 
appear to have Ms royal highness 's countenance. 
These things, and many more, convinced me, that the 
best service which could be done to the party, and to 

1 Mr. Burke probably refers to the debate on the 
9th February, 1790. 

2 A dinner at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, on 
the 14th July, 1790, Earl Stanhope in the chair. 


the prince, was to strike a strong blow at those opinions 
and practices which were carrying on for their common 

As to the prince, I thought him deeply concerned 
that the ideas of an elective crown should not prevail. 
He had experienced, and you had all of you folly 
experienced, the peril of these doctrines on the ques- 
tion of the Regency. You know that I endeavoured, 
as well as I could, to supply the absence of Mr. Fox 
during that great controversy. You cannot forget 
that I supported the prince's title to the regency upon 
the principle of his hereditary right to the crown ; 
and I endeavoured to explode the false notions, 
drawn from what had been stated as the revolution 
maxims, by much the same arguments which I after- 
wards used in my printed reflections. I endeavoured 
to show, that the hereditary succession could not be 
supported, whilst a person who had the chief interest 
in it was, during a virtual interregnum, excluded from 
the government ; and that the direct tendency of the 
measure, as well as the grounds upon which it was 
argued, went to make the crown itself elective, con- 
trary (as I contended) to the fundamental settlement 
made after the revolution. I meant to do service to 
the prince when I took this ground on the regency; 
I meant to do him service when I took the same 
ground in my publication. 

Here the conduct of the party towards themselves, 
towards the prince, and (if with these names I could 
mix myself,) towards me, has been such as to have no 
parallel. The prince has been persuaded not only to 
look with all possible coldness on myself, but to lose 
no opportunity of publicly declaring his disapprobation 
of a book written to prove that the crown, to which 
(I hope) he is to succeed, is not elective. For this 
I am in disgrace at Carlton House. The prince, I am 
told, has expressed his displeasure that I have not 
mentioned in that book his right to the regency; 
I never was so astonished as when I heard this. In 
the first place, the persons against whom I maintained 

336 EDMUND BUEKE * [1792 

that controversy had said nothing at all upon the 
subject of the regency. They went much deeper. 
I was weak enough to think that the succession to the 
crown was a matter of other importance to his royal 
highness than his right to the regency. At a time when 
the king was in perfect health, and no question existing 
of arrangements to be made, on a supposition of his 
falling into his former, or any other grievous malady, 
it would have been an imprudence of the first magni- 
tude, and such as would have hurt the prince most 
essentially, if it were to be supposed he had given me 
the smallest encouragement to have wantonly brought 
on that most critical discussion. Not one of the 
friends whom his royal highness c delighteth to 
honour ', have thought proper to say one word upon 
the subject, in parliament or out of parliament. But 
the silence which in them is respectful and prudent, 
in me is disaffection. I shall say no more on this matter. 
The prince must have been strangely deceived. He 
is much more personally concerned, in all questions 
of succession, than the king, who is in possession. 
Yet his Majesty has received, with every mark of 
a gracious protection, my intended service to his 
family. The prince has been made to believe it to be 
some sort of injury to himself. Those, the most in 
his favour and confidence, are avowed admirers of 
the French democracy. Even his attorney and his 
solicitor -general, 1 who, by their legal knowledge and 
their eloquence as advocates, ought to be the pillars 
of his succession, are enthusiasts, public and declared, 
for the French revolution and its principles. These, 
my dear sir, are strange symptoms about a future 
court ; and they make no small part of that fear of 
impending mischief to this constitution, which grows 
upon me every hour. A Prince of Wales with demo- 
cratic law-servants, with democratic political friends, 
with democratic personal favourites ! If this be not 
ominous to the crown, I know not what is. 

1 Mr. Erskiae, afterwards Lord Chancellor, and Mn 
JPiggott, afterwards Attorney-General. 


As to the party and its interests, in endeavouring 
to support the legal hereditary succession of the 
Prince of Wales, I consider their power as included in 
the assertion of his right. I could not say positively 
how soon the ideas they entertained might have 
recommended them to the*favoor of the reigning king. 
I did not, however, conceive that, whatever their 
notions might be, the probability of their being called 
to the helm, was quite so great under his present 
Majesty as under a successor ; and that, therefore, 
the maintenance of the right of that successor, against 
those who at once attacked the settlement of the 
crown, and were the known, declared enemies of the 
party, was. in a political light, the greatest service 
I could do to that party, and more particularly to 
Mr. Fox ; infinitely more so than to the Duke of 
Portland, or Lord FitzwilJiam ; because, for many 
reasons, I am satisfied, that these two noble persons 
are not so ill at St. James's as he is ; and that they 
(or one of them at least) are not near so well at 
Carlton House as Mr. Fox and Mr. Sheridan. 

According to the common principles of vulgar 
politics, this would be thought a service, not ill- 
intended, and aimed at its mark with tolerable 
discretion and judgement. For this, the gentlemen 
have thought proper to render me obnoxious to the 
party, odious to the prince, (from whose future pre- 
rogative alone my family can hope for anything,) 
and at least suspected by the body of my country. 
That is, they have endeavoured completely and 
fundamentally to ruin me and mine, in all the ways 
in which it is in the power of man to destroy the 
interests and objects of man, whether in his friendship, 
his fortunes, or his reputation. 

But I thought there was another, and a more 
important point in view, in which, what I had done 
for the public might eminently serve the party, and 
in concerns of infinitely more importance to those 
who compose the major part of the body, than any 
share of power they might obtain. I considered the 

338 EDMUND BUKKE [1792 

party as the particular mark of that anarcMcal fac- 
tion ; and that the principle of the French revolution 
which they preached up, would have them for its first 
and most grateful victims. It is against them, as 
a part of an aristocracy, that the nefarious principles 
of that grovelling rebellion and tyranny strike ; and 
not at monarchy, further than as it is supposed to be 
built upon an aristocratic basis. They, who would 
cheat the nobility and gentry of this nation to their 
ruin, talk of that monster of turpitude as ^nothing 
but the subversion of monarchy. Far from it. The 
French pride themselves on the idea, however absurd, 
that theirs is a democracie royale. The name of the 
monarchy, and of the hereditary monarchy too, they 
preserve in France ; and they feed the person whom 
they call * king ', with such a revenue, given to mere 
luxury and extravagance totally separated from all 
provision for the state, as I believe no people ever 
before dreamed of granting for such purposes. But 
against the nobility and gentry they have waged 
inexpiable war. There are, at this day, no fewer than 
ten thousand heads of respectable families driven out 
of France ; and those who remain at home, remain in 
depression, penury, and continued alarm for their 
lives. You and I know thai) (in order, as I conceive, 
still to bund and delude the gentlemen of England,) 
the French faction here pretended that the persecution 
of the gentlemen of France could not last ; that at 
the next election they would recover the consideration 
which belonged to them, and that we should see that 
country represented by its best blood, and by all its 
considerable property. They knew at the time that 
they were setting forward an imposture. The present 
assembly, the first born, the child of the strength of 
their constitution, demonstrates the value of their 
prediction. At the very instant in which they were 
making it, they knew, or they knew nothing, that the 
two hundred and fifty clubs which govern that country 
had settled their lists. They must have known that 
the gentlemen of France were not degraded and 


branded in order to exalt them to greater consequence 
than ever they possessed. Such they would have 
had, if they were to compose the whole, or even the 
major part, of an assembly which rules, in everything 
legislative and executive, without any sort of balance 
or control. No such thing; the assembly has not 
fifty men in it (I believe I am at the outside of the 
number) who are possessed of an hundred pounds 
a year, in any description of property whatsoever. 
About six individuals of enormous wealth, and thereby 
sworn enemies to the prejudice which affixes a dignity 
to virtuous well-born poverty, are in the number of 
the fifty. The rest are, what might be supposed, men 
whose names never were before heard of beyond their 
market-town. About four hundred of the seven are 
country practitioners of the law ; several of them the 
stewards and men of business who managed the 
affairs of gentlemen, bishops, or convents ; who, for 
their merits towards their former employers, are now 
made the disposers of their lives and fortunes. The 
rest no one can give an account of, except of those 
who have passed to this temple of honour, through the 
temple of virtue called the house of correction. When 
the king asked the president who the gentlemen were 
who attended him with a message, the president 
answered, that he did not know one of them even by 
name. The gentlemen of this faction here, I am well 
aware, attribute this to the perverseness of the gentle- 
men themselves, who would not offer themselves as 
candidates. That they did not offer themselves is 
very true ; because they knew that they could appear 
at the primary assemblies only to be insulted, at best ; 
perhaps even murdered, as some of them have been ; 
and many more have been threatened with assassina- 
tion. What are we to think of a constitution, as 
a pattern, from which the whole gentry of a country, 
instead of courting a share in it with eagerness and 
assiduity, fly as from a place of infection ? But the 
gentlemen of France are all base, vicious, servile, &e. 
&c. &c. Pray, let not the gentlemen of England be 

340 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

flattered to their destruction, by railing at their 
neighbours. They are as good as we are, to the full. 
If they were thus base and corrupt in their sentiments, 
there is nothing they would not submit to in order 
to have their share in this scramble for wealth and 
power. But they have declined it, from sentiments of 
honour and virtue, and the purest patriotism. One 
turns with pity and indignation from the view of what 
they suffer for those sentiments ; and, I must confess, 
my animosity is doubled against those amongst us, 
who, in that situation, can rail at persons who bear 
such things with fortitude, even supposing that they 
suffered for principles in which they were mistaken. 
But neither you, nor I, nor any fair man, can believe, 
that a whole nation is free from honour and real 
principle ; or that if these things exist in it, they are 
not to be found in the men the best born, and the 
best bred, and in those possessed of rank which raises 
them in their own esteem, and in the esteem of others, 
and possessed of hereditary settlement in the same 

Slace, which secures, with an hereditary wealth, an 
ereditary inspection. That these should be all 
scoundrels, and that the virtue, honour, and public 
spirit of a nation should be only found in its attorneys, 
pettifoggers, stewards of manors, discarded officers 
of police, shop-boys, clerks of counting-houses, and 
rustics from the plough, is a paradox, not of false 
ingenuity, but of envy and malignity. It is an error, 
not of the head, but of the heart. The whole man is 
turned upside down before such an inversion of all 
natural sentiment and all natural reason can take 
place. I do not wish to you, no, nor to those who 
applaud such scenes, angry as I am with them, masters 
of that description. 

Visible as it was to the world, that not the despotism 
of a prince, but the condition of a gentleman, was 
the grand object of attack; I thought I should do 
service to a party of gentlemen, to caution the public 
against giving countenance to a project, calculated for 
the rain of such a party. 


When such an attempt was not excused, even as 
well-intended, there was but one way of accounting 
for the conduct of gentlemen towards me ; it is, that 
from my hands they are resolved not to accept any 
service. Be it so. They are rid of an incumbrance ; 
and I retire to repose of body and mind, with a repose 
of conscience too ; perfect, with regard to the party 
and the public, however I may feel myself, as I do, 
faulty and deficient in other respects. The only con- 
cern I feel is, that I am obliged to continue an hour 
longer in parliament. Whilst I am there, except in 
some deep constitutional question, I shall take no part. 
Lord Fitzwilliam and the Duke of Portland shall not 
be seen voting one way in the House of Lords whilst 
I vote another in the House of Commons ; and any 
vote of mine, by which I may add even my mite of 
contribution towards supporting the system or ad- 
vancing the power of the new French whigs, I never 
will give. That corruption has cast deep roots in 
that party, and they vegetate in it (however dis- 
credited amongst the people in general) every day 
with greater and greater force. The particular gentle- 
men who are seized with that malady (such I must 
consider it), have, to my thinking, so completely 
changed their minds, that one knows no longer what 
to depend upon, or upon what ground we stand. 
Some of them (besides the two leaders) are, indeed, so 
high in character, and of such great abilities, that 
their mistake, if such it be, must make a most mis- 
chievous impression. I know they say, that they do 
not want to introduce these things here, &c. &c., 
but this is a poor business, while they propagate all 
the abstract principles, and exalt to the stars the 
realization of them at our door. They are sublime 
metaphysicians ; and the horrible consequences pro- 
duced by their speculations affect them not at all, 
They only ask ^whether the proposition be true ?- 
Whether it produces good or evil, is no part of their 
concern. This long letter, my dear friend, is for you j 
but so for you, as* that you may show it to such of our 

342 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

friends who, though they cannot in prudence support, 
will not in justice condemn me. 

My dear sir, 

Most faithfully, your most obliged and 
obedient humble servant, 


Beaconsfidd, March, 1792. 

A thousand thanks for your letter to your uncle, 
which we mean to send this night to him on the 
circuit. I hope you have got the long letter and 
packet I wrote last. I shall not say much now, as 
I write chiefly to put you in mind of what perhaps 
you had forgot, that is, tliat you have a chaise lying 
useless to you and us at Holyhead; and that, if 
you mean to take any little trips in Ireland, surely 
in common sense you ought to send for it. An applica- 
tion to any of the captains will make them attend to 
it carefully. Hastings' business going off to the 
return of the judges. We are here ; we came down 
yesterday. Miss Palmer, Mr. Gwatkin, and Mrs. Gwat- 
kin, are just this minute arrived. I begin to think 
that these women look better already; they are to 
stay here for some time. Everything turned out 
fortunately for poor Sir Joshua, from the moment of 
his birth to the hour I saw him laid in the earth. 
Never was a funeral of ceremony attended with so 
much sincere concern of all sorts of people. The day 
was favourable ; the order not broken or interrupted 
in the smallest degree. Your uncle, who was back in 
the procession, was struck almost motionless at his 
entering at the great west door. The body was just 
then entering the choir, and the orgaa began to open, 
and the long black train before him produced an 
astonishing effect on his sensibility, on considering 
how dear to Mm the object of that melancholy pomp 


had been. Everything, I think, was just as our 
deceased friend would, if living, have wished it to be ; 
for he was, as you know, not altogether indifferent to 
this kind of observances. He gave, indeed, a direction 
that no expenses should be employed ; but his desire 
to be buried at St. Paul's justified what we have done ; 
and all circumstances demanded it. I don't think 
the whole charge will come up to six hundred pound. 
The academy bore their own share of the expense. 
We do not know his circumstances exactly, because 
we have not been able to estimate the immense col- 
lection of pictures, drawings, and prints. They stood 
him in more than twenty thousand pound. Taking 
things at the very worst, I do not think Miss Palmer 
can have less, when all legacies are discharged, than 
thirty thousand pound. It was owing, I believe, to 
his being obliged to take to his bed sooner than he 
expected, that poor Sir Joshua neglected even to 
name his nephews, the Palmers. This is the only 
unlucky thing. They are deeply hurt, and I do not 
much wonder at it. 

It is plain that it is Hastings' plan to continue the 
trial until peers, commoners, and spectators, run away 
from it. Law 1 was three days in opening, but he 
spent more hours in those three days, than I had done 
in my four. Plumer 2 has spent three days in opening 
the Benares charge, and he has not got so far as 
Hastings' proposition to go up to Benares. He has 
already spent more hours than Fox and Grey did in 
going through the whole. If he proceeds on the same 
plan, and gives length in proportion to matter, I think 
he ought to take at least six days more. It is impos- 
sible to bring it to an end this session. In my opinion, 
they make very little way indeed ; though the doc- 
trine, that no agreement barred against the rights of 
sovereignty, seemed to have made the impression 
intended by the counsel; but that cannot last loag 
before a discussion of the point. 

My mind is much bent on you and on your business. 

1 Lord Ellenborough. a Afterwards Solicitor-General. 

344 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

You see by my letter how much. I approve your plans. 
I take it for granted you have received it. I shall 
write to you more fully by a proper opportunity. If 
your clients relax for a moment, they are gone. Let 
the storm of addresses blow over. Let fury and 
treachery do their work. Reason and justice will 
prevail. Do they think, unfortunate and insane 
tyrants as they are, that slavery will be rendered more 
tolerable by adding contumely to it ? Since the 
beginning of time, so outrageous a proceeding as that 
on the petition l has not been heard of. This shows 
that the petition ought to have been made reasoned 
and pathetic, that the treatment of it might have 
been rendered more striking. However, the Catholics 
were perfectly in the right to present one of some sort 
or other. They had been undone, past redemption, 
if they had suffered themselves to be intimidated 
from an application. The debate was wholly with 
them. Grattan's incomparable speech, I think, ought 
to make a little separate pamphlet. The debate ought 
to be put into the newspapers here. There is now 
sufficient vacancy for it. I have just read Jones's 
letter on this subject. I wish some things had been 
omitted, but it is as spirited and manly a performance 
as I think I have seen. The appearance of it, too, at 
this time is seasonable. Byrnes's Dublin publication 
of my letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe was so blundering 
as to vex me. He makes me say, and that at a critical 
point, the direct reverse of my sense. Debret brought 
it to me very luckily before he printed it, and I cor- 
rected the worst parts. I see, in his second edition, 
he too has chosen to amend it into a blunder ; but it 
is a blunder of not much importance. He printed 
a large edition of two thousand ; what is next I know 
not. I hear it is well spoken of by the opposition here. 
I think you quite right in all your schemes. What is 
that unfortunate man Lord Kenmare doing ? He 
is worthily represented by Sir Boyle Roche. To 
make that ridiculous creature a peer, he sells three 
1 The petition of the Roman Catholic committee. 


millions of Ms countrymen and brethren. Greater 
mischiefs happen often from folly, meanness, and 
vanity, than from the greater sins of avarice and 
ambition. All here salute you most cordially, and to 
God I commend you ; wishing my best love to all 
friends in Dublin. Is the provost returned, and how 
are you there ? I suppose Lord Charlemont is cold to 
you. How is the Duke of Leinster ? 


March 23, 1792. 

We have received yours of the 17th, your baptismal 
day ; which, according to laudable custom, you, 
I suppose, rebaptize in wine. Your mother observed, 
that it is the on3y one which you have dated. 

The treachery of your old schoolfellow is something 
beyond the practice even of Irish secretaries, so 
recorded by Mr. Grattan. I can easily conceive that 
he who could betray, could overcharge. Indeed, 
a plain lie is better than such treason. You certainly 
are in the right not to suffer an incurable alienation 
between the Catholics and Dissenters. If the latter 
do, bona fide, resolve to relieve their country from this 
mass of absurd servitude, for so much they have 
merit, whatever their ulterior views may be. There 
are few things I wish more, (as I have said in the 
letters I have sketched to you,) than that the estab- 
lished churches should be continued on a firm founda- 
tion in both kingdoms. When I say few, I mean to 
be exact; for some things, assuredly, I have much 
nearer my heart, namely, the emancipation of that 
great body of my original countrymen, whom a 
jackanapes in lawn sleeves calls fools and knaves. 
I can never persuade myself that anything in our 
thirty-nine articles, which differs from their articles, 
is worth making three millions of people slaves, to 
secure its teaching at the public expense ; and I think 

346 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

lie must be a strange man, a strange Christian, and 
a strange Engkshman, who would not rather see 
Ireland a free, flourishing, happy Catholic country, 
though not one Protestant existed in it, than an 
enslaved, beggared, insulted, degraded Catholic 
country, as it is, with some Protestants here and 
there scattered through it, for the purpose, not of 
instructing the people, but of rendering them miser- 
able. This I say, supposing that any security were 
derived from that abominable system. A religion 
that has for one of its dogmas the servitude of all 
mankind that do not belong to it, is a vile heresy ; 
and this I think one of the worst heresies of that 
Protestant sect called Mahometamsm. 

It is a monstrous thing that the Catholics should 
be obliged to abjure a supposed claim to the property 
of others. Never was so absurd a charge made on 
men. I think they are in the right to abjure that 
claim ; but they ought not to do it without a strong 
declaration of their indignation at its being, without 
the smallest foundation, imputed to them. 

I return to the Dissenters. I am happy that you 
find those of Ireland not disaffected to this constitution 
in state; as to the Church, it is enough for its 
security, if they are not inflamed with a furious zeal 
for its destruction, and are content to let it stand as 
an institution of state for the satisfaction of some part 
of the people, but as a business in which they have no 
concern, as they and the Catholics most certainly 
have none. By the way, don't you think that, in the 
representation to the king, this business ought to be 
taken up in this way ? I will send you a few dry 
heads, and you may see whether they accord with 
your ideas. 

As to myself, my resolution about the part I should 
take, relative to the Dissenters, has been very wavering. 
I cannot a second time go to the question of the test, 
and not vote. This kind of thing cannot be repeated ; 
but I really did wish to take some other opportunity 
to state their manifest designs and their condiict. 


This affair of Birmingham, which frightened them at 
first, now fortifies them. They come forth as perse- 
cuted men. They all, as fast as they can meet, take 
up Priestley, and avowedly set him up as their head. 
They are preparing to renew the 14th of July. At 
Manchester they have advertised their thanks to 
Mr. Thomas Paine for Ms second work, more in- 
famous, if possible, than the first. They keep up 
their French correspondence as before. In short-, the 
Unitarian Society, from whence all these things origi- 
nate, are as zealous as their brethren at Constanti- 
nople ; and, if care is not taken, I should think it 
very probable that you may live to see Christianity 
as effectually extirpated out of this country as it is 
out of France. I think I shall not meddle in these 
affairs at all. If I do, I shall certainly separate the 
sober and well-meaning, conscientious Dissenters, 
from the new French faction. Your mother has 
a cold, but otherwise, thank God, is well. Have you 
got my last long miscellaneous letter ? Always say 
what you have got ; or, if you are busy, desire Therry, 
or somebody else, to do it. Let everything be 
enclosed to Adey, whether from yourself or others. 
My last went, by your direction, to Mr. Lawless, and 
had only R. B., Esq., on the cover. 

Beaeonsfidd, August 18, 1792. 

I DO not know whether I can perfectly justify 
myself in venturing to trouble your lordship, in. my 
imperfect state of knowledge, with any suggestions 
of mine. But I trust, that however weak you may 
find my notions, you will believe that they are formed 
with general good intentions, and that they are laid 
before you with all possible respect to yourself and to 
your colleagues, and with real good wishes for what- 
ever may contribute to your reputation in the conduct 
of the king's business. 

The late shocking, though long expected, event at 

348 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

Paris, has rendered, in my opinion, every step that 
shall be taken -with regard to Prance, at this con- 
juncture, extremely delicate. 

The part of a neutral power is, in itself, delicate ; 
but particularly so in a case in which it is impossible 
to suppose that, in this neutrality, there should not 
be some lurking wish in favour of one of the parties 
in the contest. The conduct of such a power will be 
looked up to with hope and fear during the contention. 
Everything which such a power says or does, will be 
construed by an application to the circumstances. 

The present circumstances are an attack upon the 
King of France's palace ; the murder of all who were 
found in it ; the imprisonment of the king ; his sus- 
pension, stated by the faction itself as a deposition ; 
acts of violence which have obliged the majority of 
the national assembly to absent themselves from their 
functions ; add to these, the intention, not in the 
least ambiguous, of bringing the king and queen to 
a trial ; the resolution expressed by many of putting 
them to death, with or without that formality. The 
effect of these things, from their very nature, and 
from the nature of men, as well as from the principle 
on which they are done, at a time when theories are 
rashly formed, and readily pass from speculation into 
practice, and when ill examples, at afl times apt to 
infect, are so unusually contagious, it is unnecessary 
for me to state to one of your lordship's sagacity and 

This last revolution, whatever name it may assume, 
at present bears no one character of a national act. 
It is the act only 'of some desperate persons, inhabi- 
tants of one city only, instigating and hiring at an 
enormous expense the lowest of the people, to destroy 
the monarch and* the monarchy, with whatever else 
is respectable in society. Not one officer of the 
national guards of Paris," which officers are composed 
of nothing higher than good tradesmen, has appeared 
in this business. It is not yet adopted throughout 
France by any one class of people. No regular govern- 


ment of any country has yet an object with which they 
can decently treat in France, or to which they can 
rationally make any official declaration whatsoever. 

In such a state of things, to address the present 
heads of the insurrection, put by them into the 
nominal administrative departments of state office, 
is to give a direct sanction to their authority on the 
part of the court of Great Britain. To this time, the 
King of France's name has appeared to every public 
act and instrument ; and all office transactions to 
our court, and to every other foreign court, have 
appeared in their usual form. If we pleased, it was 
in our power to shut our eyes to everything else ; but 
this is now no longer possible. I should, therefore, 
beg leave to submit it to consideration, whether to 
recognize the leaders in the late murderous insurrec- 
tion, as the actual governors of France, is not, at best, 
a little premature. Perhaps it may be a doubt, as 
a matter of sound policy, whether more would not be 
lost by this hasty recognition on the side of the great, 
settled, and acknowledged powers, than we can hope 
to gain by pressing to pay our court to this, at best, 
unformed and embryo potentate. I take it for granted, 
that it will not be easy for Lord Gower x to continue 
in his present situation. If it were even thought for 
the dignity of this crown, no man of honour and 
spirit would submit to it. It is a sacrifice too great 
to be made, of all generous and noble feeling. I should 
humbly propose it for consideration, whether, on his 
retreat, great reserve ought not to be used with regard 
to any declaration. If any person standing in the 
place of a minis ber should apply to him for an explana- 
tion, he ought, in my poor opinion, to be absolutely 
silent. But if that should not be, thought the best 
course, he might say that he had had leave to return 
on his private affairs. The King of Spain has no 
minister at Paris, yet his neutrality has hitherto been 
complete. The neutrality of this court has already 

1 At this time Ambassador at Paris from the court of 

350 EDMUND BUBKB [1792 

been more than once declared. At this moment, any 
over-prompt and affected new declaration on that 
subject, made to the persons who have lately vaulted 
into the seat of government, after committing so many 
atrocious acts and threatening more, would have all 
the force and effect of a declaration in their favour. 
Although it should be covered with moHifying expres- 
sions with regard to the king's personal safety, (which 
will be considered as nothing but a sacrifice to decorum 
and ceremony, and as mere words of course,) it will 
appear to the Jacobin faction as a direct recommenda- 
tion to their meditated act of regicide ; knowing, as the 
world does, their dispositions, their menaces, their 
preparations, and the whole train of the existing 
circumstances. In that case, to say, * I hope you mean 
no ill, and I recommend it to you to do no ill, but do 
what you please, you have nothing to fear from me,' 
would be plainly to call upon them to proceed to any 
lengths their wickedness might carry them. 

It is a great doubt with me, whether a declaration 
to this new power, a creature almost literally of 
yesterday, and a creature of treasonable and mur- 
derous riot of the lowest people in one city, is not 
a substantial breach of the neutrality promised to 
the power to whom originally the neutrality was 
assured, on the interposition of foreign powers ; 
namely, to the most Christian king. To take the first 
opportunity, with the most extraordinary haste, to 
remove all fears from the minds of his assassins, is 
tantamount to taking a part against him. Much 
I fear, that though nothing could be more remote from 
the intention of this court, yet if such a declaration 
were made, and if the act of atrocity apprehended 
should actually take place, we shall be considered as 
ready accomplices in it, and a sort of accessories before 
the fact ; particularly when no declaration on the part 
of our court has been called for by the new power, and 
that, as yet, they have no minister at this court. 
If the step of the recall of our minister (supposing 
such a step in contemplation) should produce any 


fears in them, I see no use in removing those fears. 
On our part, the navy of France is not so formidable 
that I think we have any just ground of apprehension 
that she will make war upon us. It is not the enmity, 
but the friendship of France that is truly terrible. 
Her intercourse, her example, the spread of her 
doctrines, are the most dreadful of her arms. 

I do not see what a nation loses in reputation or 
in safety, by keeping its conduct in its own power. 
I think such a state of freedom in the use of a moral 
and political reserve in such unheard-of circumstances, 
can be well justified to any sovereign abroad, or to 
any person or party at home. I perceive that much 
pains are taken by the Jacobins of England to propa- 
gate a notion, that one state has not a right to inter- 
fere according to its discretion in the interior affairs of 
another. This strange notion can only be supported 
by a confusion of ideas, and by not distinguishing 
the case of rebellion and sedition in a neighbouring 
country, and taking a part in the divisions of a 
country when they do prevail, and are actually formed. 
In the first case there is undoubtedly more difficulty 
than in the second, in which there is clearly no difficulty 
at all. To interfere in such dissensions requires great 
prudence and circumspection, and a serious attention 
to justice, and to the policy of one's own country, as 
well as to that of Europe. But an abstract principle 
of public law, forbidding such interference, is not 
supported by the reason of that law, nor by the 
authorities on the subject, nor by the practice of this 
kingdom, nor by that of any civilized nation in the 
world. This nation owes its laws and liberties, His 
Majesty owes the throne on which he sits, ta the 
contrary principle. The several treaties of guarantee 
to the Protestant succession more than once reclaimed, 
affirm the principle' of interference, which in a manner 
forms the basis of the public law in Europe. A more 
mischievous idea cannot exist, than that any degree 
of wickedness, violence, and oppression, may prevail 
in a country, that the most abominable, murderous. 

352 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

and exterminating rebellions may rage in it, or the 
most atrocious and bloody tyranny may domineer, 
and that no neighbouring power can take cognizance 
of either, or afford succour to the miserable sufferers. 

I trust your lordship will have the goodness to 
excuse the freedom taken by an old Member of Par- 
liament. The habits of the House of Commons teach 
a liberty, perhaps improper, with regard to office. 
But be assured, there is nothing in mine that has the 
smallest mixture of hostility; and it will, I trust, 
appear that my motives are candid and friendly, if 
ever this affair should come into discussion in the 
House of Commons, and I should feel myself called on 
to deliver my opinions. If I were, as formerly I have 
been, in systematic opposition, (most assuredly I am 
not so now,) I had much rather, according to my 
practice in more instances than one, respectfully to 
state a doubt to ministers whilst a measure is depend- 
ing, than to reproach them afterwards with its conse- 
quences in my place. What I write will, I hope, at 
worst, be thought the intrusion of an importunate 
friend. I am thoroughly convinced that the faction 
of the English Jacobins, though a little under a cloud 
for the present, is neither destroyed nor disheartened. 
The fire is still alive under the ashes. Every encourage- 
ment, direct or indirect, given to their brethren in 
France, stirs and animates the embers. So sure as 
we have an existence, if these things should go on in 
Erance, as go on they may, so sure it is, that in the 
ripeness of their time, the same tragedies will be acted 
in England. Carra, and Condorcet, and Santerre, and 
Manuel, and Petion, and their brethren the Priestleys, 
the Coopers, and the Watts the deputies of the body 
of the dissenters and others at Manchester, who 
embraced Carra in the midst of the Jacobin club ; 
the revolution-society that received P6tion in London ; 
the whole race of the affiliated, who are numerous and 
powerful, whose principles, dispositions, and wishes 
are the very same, are as closely connected as ever ; 
and they do not fail to mark and to use everything 


that shows a remissness, or any equivocal appearance 
in government, to their advantage. I conceive that 
the Duke of Brunswick is as much fighting the battle 
of the Crown of England, as the Duke of Cumberland 
did at Culloden. I conceive that any unnecessary 
declarations on our part will be to him, and to those 
who are disposed to put a bound to the empire of 
anarchy and assassination, a signal discouragement. 
The cause of my dread, and perhaps over- officious 
anxiety, at this time, has arisen from what (you will 
have the goodness to pardon me) I thought rather too 
much readiness to declare on other occasions. Perhaps 
I talk of a thing not at all in contemplation. If no 
thoughts of the kind have been entertained, your 
lordship will be pleased to consider this as waste 
paper. It is, at any rate, but as a hint to. yourself, 
and requires no answer. 

I have the honour to be, &c. &c., 



rsr INDIA 

September, 1792. 

. . . This is the politics of the little, neighbourhood. 
I will now say a word to the politics of the great 
neighbourhood. Last winter produced extraordinary 
phenomena. In my opinion, as long as the desperate 
system which prevails in Prance can maintain itself, 
we shall always find some eruption or other here. 
The fire is constantly at work; it sometimes blazes 
out. It is sometimes smothered, or rather covered, 
by the ashes ; but there it is, and there it will be. 
The whole edifice of ancient Europe is shaken by the 
earthquake caused by the fire. One part of the 
building only is level with the ground; but all is 
impaired very considerably. For my part, I think 
that even in the efforts made by princes to re-establish 


354 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

the ancient order of things, signs of great weakness, 
and even of those causes which they are leagued to 
prevent, are very discernible. But the complete 
security of many people here, I hold to be amongst 
the most alarming of the symptoms of our present 
distemper. Last winter they were roused from this 
security, but only to fall into it again. The remedies 
they used left the distemper where it was, but it has 
increased the security, which is the most dangerous 
effect of it. The association for parliamentary reform, 
which is composed of amateurs of the French revolu- 
tion, and certainly had the spirit of that revolution 
for its vital principle, and, in most of the members, 
for its ultimate object, gave a very great and serious 
alarm, not most or first to the ministers, (though to 
them a good deal too,) but to the older and weighty 
party of the opposition, who saw, upon that occasion, 
the necessity of strengthening the hands of govern- 
ment. They came to an understanding, and thence 
into a degree of concert with administration. Many 
things were proposed, but both parties seemed to 
agree but in one (and, indeed, no more was much 
pressed) ; that is, in the address of the two Houses, 
to be supported by mutual concurrence of the principal 
of both parties. Pox was put into great straits. The 
young, and vigorous, and enterprising of his party 
had led in that .business. The weighty, grave, impor- 
tant, the men of settled character and influence, were 
strongly against it. In this situation you may believe 
he found himself embarrassed and mortified. Though 
he had done all in his power to excite the spirit from 
whence that association had its rise, the measure did 
not originate from his advice, nor was it carried on 
from any active encouragement of his. However, 
when the affair came to the test, he showed which 
division in the party he thought it the most for his 
purpose, or the most agreeable to his inclination, to 
adhere to. He fell foul on the address, though he well 
knew that it did in effect begin from the Duke of 
Portland, and that the draft had been laid before 


Mm, and settled in a manner agreeable to Ms ideas. 
All this, however, produced no rupture between the 
duke and Mm, though on his part great vexation. 
All this agreement concerning the safety of the funda- 
mental part of the Constitution, naturally produced 
approximation towards each other, of ^the ministry, 
and one part of the leaders of opposition. A sort of 
negotiation between Lord Loughborough and Dundas 
was commenced with the approbation of the Duke of 
Portland, for a comprehension of parties, and putting 
the administration on a broader and, as they think, 
a safer bottom. The ministers say, that they think 
they are full strong enough for the support of their 
own power and situation, and that they are not the 
less strong for getting rid of the Chancellor 1 ; but they 
confess they are not strong enough for the public 
purposes of administration, and for the steps which 
the exigencies of the time may require. These 
exigencies can be only the changes brought about 
in Europe by the situation of France ; but I do not 
find that these are any part of the object in view by 
either of the parties, which makes me (who conceive, 
and indeed am quite sure, that all other politics are 
absorbed and drawn into that one gulf,) very indif- 
ferent about the final result of this negotiation ; 
I B&y final result, because, though it seems as if it were 
broken off, I do not think it is so, conclusively. The 
difficulty, in fact, is the arrangement of Fox, and that 
difficulty is greatly increased by the strange conduct 
held by the Duke of Portland, who, in proposing the 
arrangement to Fox, never made the political prin- 
ciple upon which that arrangement was to be made, 
any part, much less the fundamental part, of the 
negotiation. In truth, I do not see how the duke 
should think of coming into office, or desiring his 
friends to do so, unless there was something in the 
circumstances of the moment sufficiently urgent to 
justify a departure from systematic opposition. This 
could be nothing but the necessity of strengthening the 
1 Lord Thurlow. 

356 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

monarchy against the principles of French repub- 
licanism ; but Fox, upon whom the duke turned the 
whole negotiation, without the least reference to any 
political principle, saw plainly that he could not be 
arranged in a manner suitable to the rank in which 
undoubtedly he stands. To abandon all the young 
and energetic part of the party, and the whole body 
of the dissenters, upon whom he has lately built his 
principal hopes, is what would be difficult for him to 
do. He, therefore, made a point of what he knew 
Lord Loughborough would not dare even to mention 
to Pitt, that Mr. Pitt's abdication of the Treasury 
should be a sine qua non in the negotiation ; and he 
prevailed on the Duke of Portland on his part to 
make an abdication of his pretensions to that situa- 
tion, to neutralize the office that generally goes with 
that of first minister ; that is, to put it into the hands 
of the Marquis of Bath (Lord Weymouth), or the Duke 
of Leeds. This would, in effect, completely set aside 
the Duke of Portland for ever, and put up the 
Treasury in hands avowedly holding it only in interim 
and ineffectually, to be fought for as a prize by court 
intrigue or parliamentary conflict between him and 
Pitt. Into this trap the duke has given. Fox will 
not arrange on other terms, and the duke does not 
think it advisable to arrange without Fox. You see, 
that if Pitt did choose to give up his post, of which he 
is in possession, to game for the chance of it after- 
wards, how much this arrangement, made to produce 
peace and settlement, must lead to eternal confusion ; 
you see plainly enough. I do not know anything 
more likely, in the present crisis of politics, to ruin 
the tranquillity, and, with it, to endanger the safety 
of the kingdom. As to Pitt, I believe the idea can be 
no secret to him. But nothing was proposed by Lord 
Loughborough the negotiator, but to place him 
generally in a Cabinet office. Pitt did not directly 
put a negative on it, but said the idea was new to 
him; that he felt the importance of Fox's abilities 
in the support of government ; that he had no sort 


of personal animosity to him, but rather, personally, 
good will and good liking ; but that, from the part 
he had taken through the whole session, and par- 
ticularly on the proclamation, he did not see how he 
could be recommended to the king's confidence, at 
least without some further explanations. The minis- 
ters, after this, made no attempt to renew the 
negotiation. You see that the duke is more and more 
in Fox's power, indeed, is now delivered over to 
him, bound hand and foot ; and must be so, until he 
puts his conduct upon some distinct principle, on 
which an issue between them may be fairly joined. 
You may easily conceive that this negotiation, totally 
destitute of all foundation in political principle, was 
not, at least in the mode and terms, of my advising. 
I saw the mischief of any arrangement which should 
make Fox desperate, and put him, in the most 
desperate manner, at the head of the worst, designing 
men, as well as the duke or any one else could do. 
But my advice was, that, as a foundation of the whole, 
the political principle must be settled as the preli- 
minary; namely, a total hostility to the French 
system at home and abroad ' ; that this ought to be 
put as a test to Fox, on which, if he gave security by 
declaration and conduct, he would be, if so, separated 
from the factions, and lose their confidence ; and then, 
whether he came in or not, the duke would preserve 
consistency, character, and dignity, by adhering to 
him, and making his power an object in all his 
manoeuvres, whether of opposition or negotiation. If 
he refused this test, grounded on the sole motive of 
a coalition of parties, he would leave the Duke of 
Portland and Lord Fitzwilliam, and all the sound 
part of their friends, at liberty to take such steps as 
they pleased for the public benefit ; and thus, by an 
increase of reputation, they would gain more in the 
nation than they lost in a faction that does not belong 
to them ; and though, without question, that faction 
would continue to fight, with Fox and Sheridan at 
their head, yet, when it was clearly known what they 

358 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

fought for, and on what they divided with their old 
friends, they would fight at every kind of disadvan- 
tage ; but things have taken another turn. The 
Duke of Portland does not dare to propose a test to 
Fox, and Lord Loughborough did not dare to propose 
an abdication of the Treasury to Pitt. The thing that 
encourages Pox to take the steps, and to make the 
demands he does, is a persuasion he cannot part with, 
that is, that the king is grown quite weary of Pitt ; 
that he is intolerable to His Majesty, and that, in that 
humour, he has no objection at all to him, Fox. 
I have no doubt that he is confirmed in those senti- 
ments by the ex-Chancellor ; but I am sure that they 
both either deceive themselves wholly, or, at least, 
greatly exaggerate the grounds of their hope. 

So far as to this. To your Indian interests I have 
little to say. I rejoice in the conclusion of the war. 
I rejoice in the glory which Lord Cornwallis has 
acquired in the war, and in its termination ; I wish 
only that you had some share in the advantage of it, 
which you do not hint at, and I believe is not the 
ease. Lord Guildford, and I believe with ground, is 
reported to be the successor of Lord Cornwallis. 
I believe he may have it if he pleases. You may be 
sure, if that should prove as it is supposed, you will 
not be neglected. What do you say to the Duke of 
Portland's being Chancellor to the University of 
Oxford ? It was not originally proposed by ministers, 
but it was countenanced by them. Character had the 
chief operation. He is vastly pleased. The Duke of 
Beaufort was the other candidate, but he has given 
up his pretensions. The Duke of Portland was offered 
the blue ribbon, but he has declined it. He is vastly 
pleased with the other. . . . 



BURKE, Jro., ESQ. 
Beaconsfield, Sunday, September 9, 1792. 


The horrid scenes which succeed each other with 
such dreadful rapidity, hardly leave one ease enough 
of heart or clearness of head to put down anything, 
even of our own affairs, on paper to you with any 
tolerable coherence. However, amidst these horrors, 
and after reading the abominable palliation of these 
horrors in our abominable newspaper, as my morning's 
treat, I am first to bless God that I have not the 
greatest of all possible domestic afflictions to add to 
the effects of those public calamities on our minds. 
Your mother, I bless God, grows stronger and strenger. 

Your uncle proposes to meet us at Bath. Thence 
he will go to Weymouth. The Duke of Portland is 
well of his accident, which had near been fatal. We 
f thank you heartily for your early letter from Dublin, 
which we received yesterday morning. Thank Godt 
for your good passage. We were a little uneasy from 
the steady prevalence of winds in the westerly quarter, 
which were besides, at times, very boisterous. I have 
no doubt that the Herculean faction, whose manoeuvres 
you speak of, will find the grand juries as ready an 
organ of their politics as they did the House of 
Commons. The Catholics complain of the oppression 
of these grand juries. The grand juries declare they 
wish to continue the power of oppression ; who 
doubts them ? As to you, my dear Richard, be 
assured, that in private conversations, in an affair of 
this difficulty and extent, you can do nothing. 
Reserve and coolness, and unwillingness to begin or 
continue discourses on this subject, and not too great 
a quickness to hear, will give the enemy a better 
opinion of your discretion, and make them respect 
you the more. Besides, by leaving them to them- 
selves, they will be less heated with controversy, and 
disposed to think more dispassionately upon the 

360 EDMUND BURKE [1792 

subject. Your mind you will open to your confidential 
friends in the committee, there it is necessary ; and 
that restraint which is prudence with enemies, is 
treachery with friends. What degree of temperate 
and steady firmness you may find amongst them, 
I know not. But everything will depend upon that 
combination, that is, the combination of perse- 
verance with coolness, and great choice in measures. 
You cannot too often inculcate to your chief friends, 
that this affair is of such a nature, that it cannot 
possibly be the work of a single day, or of a single act. 
The web has been too long weaving to be unravelled 
in an instant. No evils, but much good would happen, 
if it were so unravelled. But that is hardly to be 
expected without some event which we cannot pro- 
duce, and would not produce if we could ; such as 
the American war and its issue, which brought on 
ideas of Irish independence, and these again the 
necessity of conciliating the Catholics. This hastened 
their relief to the point in which it stands by many 
years. The petition to the king I hold an essential 
preliminary; for any further application to Par- 
liament, (whither, to be sure, you must come at last,) 
until the mind of Government and the public in both 
kingdoms is better prepared than now it is, is to throw 
away prematurely your last resource. It is a jest to 
apply to the House of Commons. It would only 
subject the people to a renewal of the former outrages, 
and harden the enemy in his oppressive temper and 
principle. As to the rest, for God's sake, when you 
see any of the Castle people, oppose a little prudent 
dissimulation to their fraud. There is no danger that 
you will carry it too far. As to your own friends, you 
will soon see how they are disposed to the petition, 
and to a series of connected measures. A fire, and 
away, will never do. But whatever their dispositions 
may be, do not you press anything upon them beyond 
their power of bearing it ; and above all, do not form 
any sort of rash resolution, let their behaviour be 
what it will. Nothing but temper can keep them or 


you together, or conduct this long business to a 
desirable end. Don't think this advice to come from 
an opinion you are likely to fail in this point. Your 
temper and self-command, thank God, are much 
better than mine are, or ever have been. I say 
nothing of the affairs of France, though they are never 
a moment absent from my mind. Oh God ! They do 
not suffer anything else to occupy it. What scenes 1 
And what "will be the end of them ? All agree that 
they have not, probably, murdered fewer than seven 
thousand in this last massacre. As for that admirable 
and heroic clergy, who had devoted themselves to the 
fury of their robbers ; that order begins to fly hither 
in great numbers every day. The Bishop of St. Pol 
supports them to a miracle by his exertions. A general 
subscription is become necessary, and I flatter myself 
it will do. I have put down but twenty ; but Metca]f , 
who was here, generously put his name down for 
a hundred ; Col. Ironside for fifty ; Lord IncMquin 
twenty ; and our good parsonage, five guineas. So 
the bishop has got, by his visit here, nearly two 
hundred. We have already about five hundred and 
sixty mouths to maintain. It is plain that the aban- 
doned gang in France put their whole trust in the 
pledge in their hands, and draw out for murder a cer- 
tain number of victims proportioned to the advances 
of the Duke of Brunswick ; and here, the infernal 
faction applaud their policy. We are going to set off 
with the promise of a reasonable April day. God bless 
and preserve you now and ever ! 


August, 1793. 

I am infinitely obliged to your Excellency for your 
generous intentions with regard to my young relation, 
Nagle. Whenever he comes to possess enough of the 
French or German languages to be fit to be presented 
to your Excellency, he will solicit that honour, if his 

362 EDMUND BURKE [1793 

military destination should permit him to profit of 
your condescension and goodness. General Count 
Dalton has been so very kind as to give him his first 
commission in his own regiment. I hope that, in 
course of time, your Excellency's powerful protection, 
and his own good behaviour, in endeavouring to merit 
the enviable distinction, will ensurrhis future advance- 
ment. It is a thing about which I am anxious, as 
I am much deceived if he is not a good lad. 

I shall always recoUect, with the highest satis- 
faction, the morning which you did me the honour to 
spend at my house ; and if it has given anything like 
a favourable impression of me and my intentions to 
one of your Excellency's judgement, experience, and 
knowledge of men and affairs, I shall remember it 
with as much pride as gratitude. If anything in my 
conversation has merited your regard, I think it must 
be the openness and freedom with which I commonly 
express my sentiments. You are too wise a man not 
to know that such freedom is not without its use ; 
and that by encouraging it, men of true ability are 
enabled to profit by hints thrown out by under- 
standings much inferior to their own, and which they 
who first produce them are, by themselves, unable to 
turn to the best account. I am sure there is one 
circumstance which will induce your Excellency to 
forgive the freedom that I used formerly, or that 
I may now use ; it is the perfect deference with which 
everything I suggest is submitted to your judgement. 

I flatter myself, too, that you are pleased with my 
zeal in this cause. I certainly look upon it to be the 
cause of humanity itself. I perfectly concur with you 
in fchat opinion, provided I understand, as I trust 
I do, the true object of the war. I do not exclude 
from amongst the just objects of such a confederacy 
as the present, the ordinary securities which nations 
must take against their mutual ambition, let their 
internal constitutions be of what nature they will. 
Bat the present evil of our time, though in a great 
measure an evil of ambition, is not jxne of common 


political ambition, but in many respects entirely 
different. It is not the cause of nation as against 
nation ; but, as you will observe, the cause of mankind 
against those who have projected the subversion of 
that order of things, under which our part of the world 
has so long flourished, and indeed, been in a pro- 
gressive state of improvement ; the limits of which, if 
it had not been thus rudely stopped, it would not 
have been easy for the imagination to fix. If I con- 
ceive rightly of the spirit of the present combination, 
it is not at war with France, but with Jacobinism. 
They cannot think it right, that a second kingdom 
should be struck out of the system of Europe, either 
by destroying its independence, or by suffering it to 
have such a form in its independence, as to keep it, 
as a perpetual fund of revolutions, in the veiy centre 
of Europe, in that region which alone touches almost 
every other, and must influence, even where she does 
not come in contact. As long as Jacobinism subsists 
there, in any form, or under any modification, ii is 
not, in my opinion, the gaining a fortified place or 
two, more or less, or the annexing to the dominion 
of the allied powers this or that territorial district, 
that can save Europe, or any of its members. We are 
at war with a principle, and with an example, which 
there is no shutting out by fortresses, or excluding by 
territorial limits. No lines of demarcation can bound 
the Jacobin empire. It must be extirpated in the 
place of its origin, or it will not be confined to that 
place. In the whole circle of military arrangements 
and of political expedients, I fear that there cannot 
be found any sort of merely defensive plan of the least 
force, against the effect of the example which, has 
been given in Prance. That example has shown, for 
the first time in the history of the world, that it is 
very possible to subvert the whole frame and order 
of the best constructed states, by corrapting the 
common people with the spoil of the superior classes. 
It is by that instrument that the French orators have 
accomplished their purpose, to the ruin of France ; 

364 EDMUND BUEKE [1793 

and it is by that instrument that, if they can establish 
themselves in France, (however broken or curtailed 
by themselves or others,) sooner or later, they will 
subvert every government in Europe. The effect of 
erroneous doctrines may be soon done away ; but the 
example of successful pillage is of a nature more 
permanent, more applicable to use, and a thing which 
speaks more forcibly to the interests and passions of 
the corrupt and unthinking part of mankind, than a 
thousand theories. Nothing can weaken the lesson 
contained in that example, but to make as strong an 
example on the other side. The leaders in France 
must be made to feel, in order that all the rest there, 
and in other countries, may be made to see that such 
spoil is no stare possession. It will be proper to let 
the leaders of such factions know that when they 
shake the property of others, they can never convert 
their spoil into property in their own favour ; either 
m the specific object of their robbery, or in any repre- 
sentative which they may choose to give ifc. The 
people at large, in all countries, ought to be made 
sensible, that the symbols of public robbery never 
can have the sanction and the currency that belong 
exclusively to the symbols of public faith. If any 
government should be settled in France, upon any 
other idea than that of the faithful restitution of all 
property of all descriptions, and that of the rigorous 
and exemplary punishment of the principal authors 
and contrivers of its ruin, I am convinced to a cer- 
tainty, that property, and along with property, 
government, must fall in every other state in Europe, 
in the same manner in which they have both fallen 
in France. I am convinced that twenty years would 
be too long a period to fix for such an event, under 
the operation of such causes as are now at work. As 
to France itself, no form of government which human 
wit can contrive, or human force compel, can have 
a longer duration there than those miserable tottering 
constitutions, which have been erected on false 
foundations, for those four years past have had ; 


because the new, or the restoration of the old govern- 
ment, will be deprived of that solid foundation which 
connects property with the safety of the state. If 
the old proprietors (of whatever name) be not restored, 
an immense mass of possession will be thrown into 
hands who have been enriched by the subversion of 
the monarchy, and who never can be trusted for its 
support. Nothing, I am persuaded, can be done, with 
the smallest (prospect of permanence, but by com- 
pletely counteracting all those crude systems with 
which mankind have been surfeited ; and by putting 
everything, without exception, as nearly as possible, 
upon its former basis. When this, (the short and 
simple method,) for which we have no need to have 
recourse to abstruse philosophy or intricate politics, 
is done, we may then talk with safety upon some 
practical principles of reforming what may be amiss ; 
with the comfortable assurance to honest, who are 
the only wise men, that if they should not be able to 
make any reformation whatsoever in the ancient order 
of things, the worst abuses which ever attended it 
would be ten thousand times better for the people than 
all the boasted reforms in the scheme of innovation. 

It is very fortunate for those who may have the 
happiness of contributing to the settlement of Irance, 
(in which your Excellency may have a share, which 
I envy you), that the fraudulent currency founded 
upon this robbery has, of itself, sunk so very low, as 
to leave but one, ^and that a very short step, ^ to its 
utter annihilation." The utter destruction of assignats, 
and the restoration of order in Europe, are one and 
the same thing. A reasonable public credit, and 
some retribution to those who have suffered by its 
destruction, may be hoped for, when this immense 
mass of fraud and violence, which has usurped its 
place, is totally destroyed, so as not to leave the 
slightest trace of its ever having existed. 

It is the contempt of property, and the setting up 
against its principle certain pretended advantages 
of the State, (which, by the way, exists only for its 

366 EDMUND BURKE [1793 

conservation,) that has led to all the other evils which 
have ruined France, and brought all Europe into the 
most imminent danger. The beginning of the whole 
mischief was a false idea that there is a difference in 
property, according to the description of the persons 
who held it under the laws ; and that the despoiling 
a minister of religion, is not the same robbery with the 
pillage of other men. They who, through weakness, 
gave way to the ill-designs of bad men in that confisca- 
tion, were not long before they practically found their 
error. The spoil of the royal domain soon followed the 
seizure of the estates of the church. The appanages 
of the king's brothers immediately came on the heels 
of the usurpation of the royal domain ; the property 
of the nobility survived but a short time the appanages 
of the princes of the blood-royal. At length the 
moneyed and the movable property tumbled on the 
ruin of the immovable property; and at this day, 
no magazine, from the warehouses of the East India 
Company to the grocer's and the baker's shop, pos- 
sesses the smallest degree of safety. I am perfectly 
persuaded that there does not exist 'the smallest 
chance, under the most favourable issue of military 
operations, of restoring monarchy, order, law, and 
religion, in France, but by doing justice, under wise 
regulations, to those ecclesiastics who have been 
robbed of their estates by the most wicked and the 
most foolish of all men ; by those who took the lead 
in the constituent assembly. 

In this opinion, give me leave to assure your 
Excellency, I am far from single. It is the decided 
sense of all thinking men, who are well-affected to the 
cause of order in this country. The necessity of 
providing for such ecclesiastics as are in the British 
dominions, has often led the conversation to that 
subject. We have had opportunities of knowing and 
considering them in all points of view ; and if their 
re-establishment were not a valid claim of justice, yet 
their personal merits, and the rules of sound policy, 
would strongly recommend it. We did not believe, 


before we had an opportunity of seeing it realized 
before our eyes, that, in such a multitude of men, so 
much real virtue had existed in the world. We are 
convinced, that a number of persons so disposed, 
and so qualified as they are, if restored to their 
country, their property, and the influence which 
property in good hands carries with it, would be 
a necessary supplement to the use of arms ; and 
that under a wise administration, they might do great 
things indeed for restoring France to the civilized 
world. Without this help, such a deplorable havoc 
is made in the minds of men (both sexes) in France, 
still more than in the external order of things, and the 
evil is so great and spreading, that a remedy is 
impossible on any other terms. 

Perhaps to a mind formed like that of your 
Excellency to give a preference to that kind of policy 
which is most connected with generosity, honour, and 
justice, the opinions of people in England ought to 
have some weight ; partly, that we cannot be supposed 
influenced in this point by the spirit of sect; and 
partly, because we may be supposed to have made 
a sort of equitable purchase of a right to a voice 
m their affairs. The maintenance of these worthy 
and meritorious persons, scanty as it is for each 
individual, has already cost us upwards of seventy 
thousand pounds sterling. Unfortunately, this kind 
of resource cannot continue long. Surely it is as 
reasonable that they should be maintained from their 
own property, as from yours, or from our English 

It is with a real satisfaction, and which highly 
enhances the pleasure we feel from the glory of your 
arms, that you have gone before me in the restitution 
of some kinds of property in Cond6 and Valenciennes. 
If Providence should so far favour the allied arms, 
that the whole of the French Netherlands should^ be 
reduced, the restitution of all kinds of ecclesiastical 
estates would form a very essential resource for many 
that are upon your and upon our hands. 

368 EDMUND BURKE [1793 

Since I have taken the liberty of troubling you so 
far, you win excuse me if, once for all, I trespass 
a little longer on your generous indulgence. There is 
matter essential enough to justify a good deal of 
discourse. I shall, however, touch only on a very 
few heads, which I leave entirely to your Excellency's 
more mature consideration. 

It is a thing singular in our age, and, I believe, 
without example in any, that in so large and important 
a part of Europe as France, no person, and no body 
politic whatsoever, is recognized in the character of 
its lawful government, or as representing that govern- 
ment. It is not necessary to point out to one of your 
sagacity, the fatal consequences of this state of things, 
and its effect upon the reputation of the great powers 
engaged in this war. These powers appear, with 
regard to Prance, in no other way than in the light of 
an enemy to the nation universally ; and not, as when 
they made the declaration of last summer, as the 
enemy only of a pernicious faction tyrannizing in 
that country ; a light in which no belligerent power 
ever did appear, if he could possibly avoid it. Indeed, 
not to recognize the government in the legal successor 
to the monarchy, is virtually to acknowledge the usurpa- 
tion, and to justify the murder, or, what is worse than 
the murder, the deposition and pretended trial of the 
king. I am afraid, too, that it is a [principal cause of 
the dreadful treatment of the now king, and particu- 
larly that of the queen, whose situation, grief, horror, 
and indignation, leave me no power of describing; 
nor is it necessary to any one, much less to you. 
Several of the most sensible and dispassionate observers 
are astonished at this procedure. They are astonished 
at the situation of the brothers of the late king, two 
mild and benevolent princes, and worthy of a better 
destiny. They feel the same as to the nobility of 
France, who have comported themselves so as to merit 
the esteem and respect of all honourable and feeling 
minds. It is wonderful that, amongst such a vast 
multitude of gentlemen as we have seen here, some of 


them, too, very young, and who have not had time 
to have their principles confirmed, not one of them, 
notwithstanding the pressure of very argent circum- 
stances, has been known to do a' single low and 
unworthy action. These, as far as we know, are 
treated, some with more, some with less attention. 
The persons are more considered than the cause ; none 
are taken up as our natural allies, and as sufferers in 
a cause which we have in common. They are treated 
just as fugitives or exiles m an ordinary local and 
domestic dispute, in which there is no general concern. 
This, in my opinion, both with regard to the princes, 
and the crown party in France, is a dangerous mistake. 
The late king fell, because the rebels thought that in 
him they should be able to extinguish the monarchy, 
as they conceived that the regards of other powers 
were personal only, and not political. To say the 
truth, appearances seem too much to favour that 
opinion. They are, therefore, encouraged to take 
every step, which their malice, baseness, and wicked 
policy can suggest, with the queen, and those precious 
parts of the royal family which are in their hands. 
As to those abroad, they conceive that no interest is 
taken in them ; and that the sole objects of any sort 
of care are those whom they may treat as they please. 
They would cease to heap indignities on those per- 
sonages, and hourly to threaten them with death, if 
they saw that the monarchy was treated as existing 
in all, who, by the laws and by proximity of blood, had 
an interest in it. The monarchy must exist somewhere 
in act and representation ; but the throne cannot be 
represented by a prison. Its virtue and operation 
must be where it can act and appear, if not with 
suitable dignity, at least with freedom. Monsieur is, 
by the reason and necessity of the case, (stronger than 
all law,) regent of that kingdom. If I were to speak 
my wishes, and what would perhaps be best, if France 
were any way settled, the queen would be regent. 
What is there to prevent it, if that event, which 
cannot be brought about but by the great powers, 

370 EDMUND BURKE [1793 

(I mean the settlement of France,) should take place ? 
In the meantime, the monarchy, as well as the 
monarch, ought not to be reputed to be imprisoned in 
the Conciergerie, and all the states of the kingdom to 
suffer a total eclipse. 

It is to the Emperor that the world looks for pro- 
tection of the cause of all government, in the protection 
of the monarchy of France. His personal virtues, 
Ms rank in Europe, his relation to the queen-dowager 
and the young king, make him the fittest to authorize 
this arrangement provisionally. "No person can now, 
or hereafter, hope to be regent, or anything else, 
against his will. The French monarchy, if it ever can 
be restored, languishing, feeble, and tottering, with 
an infant king, and a convalescent royalty, will, for 
a long time, be rather an object of protection than of 
jealousy, in any of its magistracies, to the Emperor, 
or to any foreign power. 

Excuse, sir, this long letter. My mind has for some 
time suffered too much anxiety and agitation to 
enable me properly to compress and digest my thoughts. 
I cannot see the dignity of a great kingdom, and, 
with its dignity, all its virtue, imprisoned or exiled, 
without great pain. I cannot help making their case 
my own, and that of my friends who adhere to the 
same cause ; and whilst I feel my share in the common 
gratitude of Europe to His Imperial Majesty, to his 
ministers and his generals, for the security which, for 
the time, we enjoy like the rest of mankind, I look 
for the most of future service to the same quarter 
from whence we have received most for the time past. 

Be pleased, sir, to do me the honour to accept 
my assurances of the most respectful attachment, 
and believe me, 

Sir, your Excellency's most obedient 
and faithful humble servant, 

1794] TO RICHARD BURKE, JW. 371 


January 10, 1794. 

In this calamitous time, I cannot tell what ought 
to be credited or not. Everything the least credible, 
and the least desirable, bids the fairest to be true. 
If you should see King, ask him whether the Royalists 
are, or are not, now in force at Noirmontier ? Or, if 
if he does not know, whether they have ever sent 
a cutter to try ? Because if they are not all there, 
succours may be sent them in provision, ammunition, 
&c. by that way, as by any other. Is it wholly 
impossible that Grandelos may have been sent with 
false intelligence, as to the strength of the enemy at 
Cancale, 1 &c. ? Have they consulted the Bishop of 
St. Pol, or any other Breton, with regard to any other 
place more to the westward of St. Malo, in that 
province ? But they are not in earnest. By accident 
have you seen Serent ? 

As to our home politics, I can very easily believe, 
on putting all things together, that Fox, with much 
blame of the war, its principle, and its conduct, may 
agree to another kind of support of it than he has 
hitherto given, and more approaching to the system 
of the Duke of Portland and Lord Rtzwilliam. He 
may be even disposed to a coalition. He sees that the 
body of his party is melting away very fast ; and that, 
in a little time, nothing will remain to him but a 
handful of violent people. I take it for granted he 
will come to the moderates, and by thus reuniting the 
party, put himself into a condition to negotiate with 
advantage, or to oppose with more credit and effect. 
Who the mountain are which he is to quit, I cannot 
conceive. I considered him as the mountain, and the 
others as only hillocks, or rather, mice, that he had 
been brought to bed of. He never will break with 
Sheridan; but I can easily believe that Sheridan 

1 On the northern coast of Bretagne, near St, Malo. 

372 EDMUND BURKE [1794 

and all the rest are sickened by the cutting off their 
friend Egalite, Brissot, and the company of their 
patriotic Mends and correspondents. They have no 
longer any link by which they can connect themselves 
with France ; they will of course endeavour to piece 
up their own broken connexions in England. If they 
can do this, their first end will be obtained, and they 
will take the chances of things for further connexions. 
It is through the Duke of Portland they will work 
directly, and not through me. I am perfectly per- 
suaded, that the last thing in the world which Fox 
will do, is to endeavour to reconcile himself to me. 
If he should, I confess I should feel myself in a very 
awkward situation. But I do not apprehend any 
such thing. 

Your uncle has had two very good nights. Your 
mother is reasonably well, I bless God. May He 
ever bless and protect you. Adieu 1 Adieu ' 


January 13, 1794. 

I do not know exactly in what light I am to con- 
sider the extent of a letter which you have shown me. 
I do not even know that Mr. Fox wishes it to be 
communicated to me as a paper containing his ideas. 
Indeed, it is not very material whether he does or no, 
for it says very little. It is short, dry, general, 
reserved ; and from these causes, I think, rather 
obscure. It is, however, far from my disposition to 
repel anything which might even remotely lead to 
an agreement, especially with a man of Mr. Fox's 
great importance, at a time which, God knows, 
would make the concurrence of abilities, and an 
authority of infinitely less consequence than his, an 
object to be sought with the utmost earnestness. 

Supposing the paper, then, to come from some 
person who is well acquainted with Mr. Fox's present 


opinions and resolutions, I, who have no reserves, 
make no scruple at all in telling you how it appears 
to me. 

I see nothing very distinct in it, except that 
Mr. Fox has not altered his original opinions with 
regard to the impolicy of the war. I am extremely 
sorry to find that he has not, because these opinions 
must necessarily have a great and decisive influence 
on the plan on which he will support it, as well as upon 
the terms on which he will be willing to put an end to 
it. An unjust and impolitic war never can be pursued 
like a war which we believe to be founded in justice 
and reason. Almost any peace appears to us to be 
good, which cuts short the duration of an impolitic 

Besides, I must fairly say, that if a more mature 
consideration of the train of events, and his own 
solid judgement operating on that series of things, 
leave his mind exactly where it was with regard to the 
cause and principles of this war, (though I sincerely 
wish it may appear to Mm otherwise,) I confess I do 
not see any essential difference in the state of things 
in France at present, from what it was at the end of 
last session, when he made a formal motion for peace. 

The great difficulty will be upon points, I fear, 
too important not to produce discussions ; that is, 
what is the object of the war on the part of the enemy, 
and on our own ? And on what grounds are terms of 
peace to be proposed ? 

If I understand it, this paper states two cases ; 
one immediate, the other more remote. The first 
case is the present, in which the writer supposes that 
no person can make peace. I presume he means, in 
the actual state in which administration stands in 
France or in England, or in both. In this case he 
supposes that war, and the preparations of war, 
ought to go on. 

Upon this I take the liberty to observe, that the 
state of administration is as transient as a glance of 
the eye ; and that a change in them, either here or 

374 EDMUND BURKE [1794 

there, would in an instant annihilate this case, and 
put us, on the supposition here stated, in a condition 
to treat for peace with the Jacobins. 

The other is a case in which the determination is 
more strong and clear ; and on its supposed existence 
Mr. Fox, or the writer of this paper, concludes, * that 
the war is to be supported with vigour.' But then 
this case is somewhat remote, and somewhat con- 
tingent. It depends upon two hypotheses : the 
first, that conditions of peace, such as described in 
that paper, are not accepted ; and the second, that 
France shall not be in a negotiable condition. 

As to the first hypothesis, if I understand the 
matter rightly, it supposes the rejection of the terms 
that our court shall offer ' with security, honour, and 
safety, to the constitution of this country.' Now what 
terms these are which we ought to offer, I cannot so 
much as guess. Nothing is specified ; but it appears 
that some such are to be proposed, as a preliminary 
condition to any engagement on the part of the 
person for whom the paper speaks, for his c carrying 
on the war with vigour '. 

Besides, I must observe, that the case in this paper 
is stated, as if there were no political relations but 
such as exist between us and France. No notice is 
taken of our allies, a material part of the considera- 
tion. Perhaps it is included in the word s honour 5 , but 
this is too lax to enable me to form any judgement. 

The other hypothesis, upon which the war ought 
s to be carried on with vigour ', though last put, must 
be preliminary to the other ; that is, that France 
shall not be 4 in a negotiable condition '. It is not 
said, nor even hinted, what state of things in France 
may be said to put her in a condition negotiable, or 
not negotiable. On this point there may be a very 
great variety of opinions. We know that such a 
variety does exist ; and that some people seem to 
be persuaded that France is in a negotiable state at 
this very hour. 

I am not at all in their sentiments. On the contrary, 


I am very sure that France is not now at all in a nego- 
tiable condition. But I go further. I am satisfied 
there is not any reason to think that she "will be, 
within a time to be calculated, in such a condition ; 
and, therefore, I am humbly of opinion, that now, and 
for a good while to come, and without any preliminary 
suppositions, the war ought to be carried on with aU 
possible vigour. 

I am very far from wishing to put myself in the 
cautious defensive attitude of an adversary, with 
Mr. Fox. It is not without great pain that I differ 
from him at all. I therefore make no difficulty in 
telling him very frankly, when, and under such 
circumstances, I shall think France in a negotiable 
condition, and when not. 

When I see a fundamental change in its whole 
system, by the extinction of Jacobin clubs, by the 
re-establishment of religion, and the restitution of 
property on its old foundations, and when I see 
a government, whatever it may be, founded upon 
that property, and regulated by it, I shall then think 
France in a negotiable condition. 

Till then, I am of opinion, that no peace can be 
made with the fanatics of that country, under any 
name, or any shape they may assume, which will be 
safe, or which will not be, indeed, more effectually and 
permanently ruinous to us than any war. 

I cannot persuade myself that this war bears any 
the least resemblance (other than that it is a war) 
to any that has ever existed in the world. I cannot 
persuade myself that any examples or any reasonings 
drawn from other wars and other politics are at all 
applicable to it ; and I truly and sincerely think, that 
all other wars and all other politics have been the 
games of children, in comparison to it. 

I do not know whether it be inferable directly 
from the paper, but I think it may indirectly be 
concluded from it, that if an administration could be 
formed in France, (though on Jacobin principles and 
with a Jacobin establishment,) which showed signs of 

376 EDMUND BURKE [1794 

permanence and stability, we ought to enter into 
amity, possibly into an alliance, with that power. 
For my part, the more permanent the Jacobin system 
promises to be, the more I shall be alarmed at it ; 
convinced as I am, and ever have been, that if that 
system is not destroyed in France, it will infallibly 
destroy the present order of things from one end of 
Europe to the other. We are, as I think, fighting for 
our all. In that conflict, when things are desperate, 
to be sure we must submit. But thus submitting, I am 
certain that a King of England will be no more than 
Cogidunus or Kong Prasutagus or any other of the 
Reguli, who held under the Romans in this country, 
or than a Nabob of Arcot, or a Soubah of Oude, under 
the East India Company ; and as to the people, 
property would not be, in England, really worth five 
years' purchase. 

The conversations of your friend turned, it seems, 
a great deal on arrangements. On things of this 
nature, as I have seldom been consulted, I give no 
other than a general opinion, which is, that I most 
ardently wish and pray for a coalition of parties ; but 
I wish, too, that a very full understanding of views 
and maxims should precede that coalition, lest, under 
an appearance of quieting the dissensions of the 
kingdom, we should see an administration formed, 
which would be torn to pieces within itself whilst it 
continued, and would very speedily break up with 
resentments kindled into tenfold fury, to the infinite 
aggravation of the public calamities, and the utter 
ruin of the kingdom. 

It is late, and I cannot send you this by to-night's 
post ; but you will have it on Wednesday. 

I am, with the most sincere affection, 

My dear sir, 

Your most faithful and obedient humble servant, 


1795] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 377 


Beaconsfield, Hay 18, 1795. 

I don't know exactly why I am so unwilling to 
write by the post. I have little to say that might 
not be known to the world ; at the same time, there 
is something unpleasant in talking the confidential 
language of friendship in the public theatre. It is 
still worse to put it into the power of any one to make 
unfaithful representations of it, or to make it the 
subject of malicious comments. I thank you for your 
letter ; it is full of that good sense and good temper, 
as well as of that fortitude, which are natural to you. 
Since persons of so much greater authority than I am, 
and of so much better judgement, are of opinion you 
ought to stay, it was clearly right for you to remain 
at all risks. Indeed, if it could be done with tolerable 
safety, I wished you to watch over the cradle of those 
seminaries, on which the future weal or woe of Ireland 
essentially depends. For you, I dread the revolu- 
tionary tribunal of Drogheda. For the country, if 
some proper mode of education is not adopted, I 
tremble for the spread of atheism amongst the 
Catholics. I do not like the style of the meeting 1 in 
Francis Street. The tone was wholly Jacobinical. 
In Parliament, the language of your friends (one only 
excepted,) was what it ought to be. But that one 
speech, though full of fire and animation, was not 
warmed with the fire of heaven. I am sorry for it. 
I have seen that gentleman but once. He is certainly 
a man of parts ; but one who has dealt too much in 
the philosophy of France. Justice, prudence, tender- 
ness, moderation, and Christian charity, ought to 
become the measures of tolerance ; and not a cold 
apathy, or indeed, rather a savage hatred, to all 

1 The assembly of the Roman Catholics held April 0th, 
1795. in Francis Street chapel. 

378 EDMUND BURKE [1795 

religion, and an avowed contempt of all those points 
on which we differ, and on those about which we 
agree. If what was said in Francis Street was in the 
first heat, it might be excused. They were given to 
understand that a change of administration, short 
only of a revolution in violence, was made, only on 
account of a disposition in a Lord-Lieutenant to 
favour Catholics. Many provoking circumstances 
attended the business ; not the least of them was, 
that they saw themselves delivered over to their 
enemies, on no other apparent ground of merit than 
that they were such. All this is very true ; but under 
every provocation they ought not to be irritated by 
their enemies out of their principles, and out of their 
senses. The language of the day went plainly to a 
separation of the two kingdoms. God forbid, that 
anything like it should ever happen ! They would 
both be ruined by it ; but Ireland would suffer most 
and first. The thing, however, is impossible. Those 
who should attempt that improbability would be 
undone.^ If ever the arms, which, indirectly, these 
orators seem to menace, were to be taken up, surely 
the threat of such a measure is not wise, as it could 
add nothing to their strength, but would give every 
possible advantage to their enemies. It is a foolish 
language, adopted from the United Irishmen, that 
their grievances originate from England. The direct 
contrary. It is an ascendancy which some of their 
own factions have obtained here, that has hurt the 
Catholics with this Government. It is not as an 
English Government that ministers act in that manner, 
but as assisting a party in Ireland. When they talk 
of dissolving themselves as a Catholic body, and 
mixing their grievances with those of their country, 
all I have to say is, that they lose their own importance 
as a body by this amalgamation ; and they sink real 
matters of complaint in those which are factious and 
imaginary. For, in the name of God, what grievance 
has Ireland, as Ireland, to complain of with regard to 
Great Britain ; unless the protection of the most 

1795] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 379 

powerful country upon earth, giving all her privi- 
leges, without exception, in common to Ireland, and 
reserving to herself only the painful pre-eminence of 
ten-fold burdens, be a matter of complaint. The 
subject, as a subject, is as free in Ireland as he is in 
England. As a member of the Empire, an Irishman 
has every privilege of a natural-born Englishman, in 
every part of -it, in every occupation, and in every 
branch of commerce. No monopoly is established 
against him anywhere; and the great staple manu- 
facture of Ireland is not only not prohibited, not only 
not discouraged, but it is privileged in a manner that 
has no example. The provision trade is the same; 
nor does Ireland, on her part, take a single article 
from England, but what she has with more advantage 
than she could have it from any nation upon earth. 
I say nothing of the immense advantage she derives 
from the use of the English capital. In what country 
upon earth is it, that a quantity of linens, the moment 
they are lodged in the warehouse, and before the sale, 
would entitle the Irish merchant or manufacturer to 
draw bills on the terms, and at the time, in which this 
is done by the warehouseman on London ? Ireland, 
therefore, as Ireland, whether it be taken civilly, 
constitutionally, or commercially, suffers no grievance. 
The Catholics, as Catholics, do; and what can be 
got by joining their real complaint to a complaint 
which is fictitious, but to make the whole pass for 
fiction and groundless pretence ? I am not a man 
for construing with too much rigour the expressions of 
men under a sense of ill-usage. I know that much is 
to be given to passion ; and I hope I am more dis- 
posed to accuse the person who provokes another to. 
anger, than the person who gives way to natural 
feelings in hot language. If this be all, it is no great 
matter; but, if anger only brings out a plan that 
was before meditated, and laid up in the mind, the 
thing is more serious. The tenor of the speeches in 
IPrancis Street, attacking the idea of an incorporating 
union between the two kingdoms, expressed principles 

380 EDMUND BURKE [1795 

that went the full length of a separation, and of a 
dissolution of that union, which arises from their 
"being under the same crown. That Ireland would, in 
that case, come to make a figure amongst the nations, 
is an idea which has more of the ambition of individuals 
in it, than of a sober regard to the happiness of a whole 
people. But if a people were to sacrifice solid quiet to 
empty glory, as on some occasions they have done ; 
under the circumstances of Ireland, she, most assuredly, 
never would obtain that independent glory, but 
would certainly lose all her tranquillity, afl. her pros- 
perity, and even that degree of lustre which she has, 
by the very free and very honourable connexion she 
enjoys with* a nation the most splendid and the most 
powerful upon earth. Ireland, constitutionally, is 
independent ; politically, she never can be so. It is 
a struggle against nature. She must be protected, 
and there is no protection to be found for her, but 
either from lYance or England. Prance, even if 
(under any form she may assume) she were disposed 
to give the same liberal and honourable protection to 
Ireland, has not the means of either serving or hurting 
her, that are in the hands of Great Britain. She might 
make Ireland (supposing that kind of independence 
could be maintained, which for a year I am certain 
it could not) a dreadful thorn in the side of this king- 
dom ; but Ireland would dearly buy that malignant 
and infernal satisfaction, by a dependence upon 
a power, either despotic, as formerly, or anarchical, 
as at present. We see, well enough, the kind of liberty 
which she either enjoys herself, or is willing to bestow 
on others. This I say with regard to the scheme of 
those who call themselves United Irishmen; that is 
to say, of those who, without any regard to religion, 
club all kinds of discontents together, in order to 
produce all kinds of disorders. But to speak to 
Catholics, as such, it is plain that whatever security 
they enjoy for their religion, as well as for the many 
solid advantages which, even under the present restric- 
tions, they are entitled to, depends wholly upon their 

1795] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 381 

connexion with this kingdom. France is an enemy to 
all religion ; but eminently, and with a peculiar 
malignity, an enemy to the Catholic religion, which 
they mean, if they can, to extirpate throughout the 
globe. It is something perverse, and even unnatural, 
for Catholics to hear even the sound of a connexion 
with France ; unless, under the colour and pretext of 
a religious description, they should, as some have done 
in this country, form themselves into a mischievous 
political faction. Catholics, as things now stand, have 
all the splendid abilities, and much of the independent 
property in Parliament in their favour, and every 
Protestant (I believe with very few exceptions) who is 
really a Christian. Should they alienate these men 
from their cause, their choice is amongst those, who, 
indeed, may have ability, but not wisdom or temper 
in proportion ; and whose very ability is not equal, 
either in strength or exercise, to that which they lose. 
They will have to choose men of desperate property, 
or of no property ; a.nd men of no religious, and no 
moral principle. Without a Protestant connexion of 
some kind or other, they cannot go on ; and here are 
the two sorts of descriptions of Protestants between 
whom they have an option to make. In this state of 
things, their situation, I allow, is difficult and delicate. 
If the better part lies by, in a sullen silence, they still 
cannot hinder the more factious part both from 
speaking and from writing; and the sentiments of 
those who are silent will be judged by the effusions of 
the people, who do not wish to conceal thoughts that 
the sober part of mankind will not approve. On the 
other hand, if the better and more temperate part 
come forward to disclaim the others, they instantly 
make a breach in their own party, of which a malignant 
enemy will take advantage to crush them all. They 
will praise the sober part, but they will grant them 
nothing they shall desire ; ' nay, they will make use 
of their submission as a proof that sober men are 
perfectly satisfied in remaining prostrate under their 
oppressive hands. These, are dreadful dilemmas ; and 

382 EDMUND BURKE [1795 

they are such as ever will arise, when men in power 
are possessed with a crafty malignant disposition, 
without any real wisdom or enlarged policy. 

However, as, in every case of difficulty, there is 
a better way of proceeding and a worse, and that some 
medium may be found between an abject and, for 
that reason, an imprudent submission, and a contu- 
macious, absurd resistance, what I would humbly 
suggest is, that on occasion of the declamations in the 
newspaper, they should make, not an apology, (for 
that is dishonourable and dangerous,) but a strong 
charge on their enemies for defamation ; disclaiming 
the tenets, practices, and designs, impudently attri- 
buted to them, and asserting, in cool, modest, and 
determined language, their resolution to assert the 
privileges to which, as.good citizens and good subjects, 
they hold themselves entitled, without being intimi- 
dated or wearied out by the opposition of the monopo- 
lists of the kingdom. In this, there will be nothing 
mean or servile, or which can carry any appearance of 
the effect of fear ; but the contrary. At the same time, 
it will remove the prejudices which, on this side of the 
water as well as on yours, are propagated against you 
with so much systematic pains. I think the com- 
' mittee would do well to do something of this kind in 
their own name. I trust those men of great ability 
in that committee, who incline to think that the 
Catholics ought to melt down their cause into the 
general mass of uncertain discontents and unascer- 
tained principles, will, I hope, for the sake of agreeing 
with those whom, I am sure, they love and respect 
among their own brethren, as well as for the sake of 
the kingdom at large, waive that idea (which I do not 
deny to be greatly provoked) of dissolving the Catholic 
body before the objects of its union are obtained, and 
turning the objects of their relief into a national 
quarrel. This, I am satisfied, on recollection, they 
will think not irrational. The course taken by the 
enemy often becomes a fair rule of action. You see, 
by the whole turn of the dejbate against them, that 

1795] TO BEV. DR. HUSSEY 383 

their adversaries endeavoured to give this colour to 
the contest, and to make it hinge on this principle. 
The same policy cannot be good for you and your 
enemies. Sir George Shee, who is so good to take this, 
waits, or I should say more on this point. I should 
say something too of the colleges. I long much to 
hear how you go on. I have, however, said too much. 
If Grattan, by whom I wish the Catholics to be wholly 
advised, thinks differently from me, I wish the whole 
unsaid. You see, Lord Fitzwilliam sticks nobly to 
his text, and neither abandons his cause or his friends, 
though he has few indeed to support him. When you 
can, pray let me hear from you. Mrs. Burke and 
myself, in this lonely and disconsolate house, never 
cease to think of you as we ought to do. I send some 
prints to Dublin; but, as your house is not there, 
I reserve a memorial of my dear Richard for your 

I am ever, my dear Sir, 

Faithfully, and affectionately, 

Your miserable friend, 

Friday Night, 10 o'clock, November 18, 1796. 


I have been out of sorts for several days past, but 
have not been so much weakened by that circumstance 
as I might have feared. I don't desire long letters 
from you, but, I confess, I wish a line now and then, 
I mean very near Uterally, a line. The present state 
of things, both here and in Ireland, as well as abroad, 
seems to me to grow every moment more critical. 
In Ireland it is plain they have thrown off all sort of 
political management, and even the decorous appear- 
ance of it. They had for their commander-in-chief 
Cuninghame, a person utterly unacquainted with military 
affairs beyond what was necessary for a quartermaster- 

384 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

general in a peaceable country He had never seen 
war, hardly in any image, but he was a man of a> 
moderate and humane disposition, and one, from whom 
no acts of atrocity were to be apprehended. In order 
to remove him from the command of the army, they 
have made him a peer. This was a step to the appoint- 
ment of Luttrell, to the full as little experienced in any 
real military service as Cuninghame but younger and of 
far different dispositions. In case of an actual invasion, 
they could not expect anything whatsoever from his 
military skill or talents. The only proof they had of 
either has been in his desperate promptitude, without 
either civil, criminal, or martial law, to seize upon 
poor ploughmen in their cottages, and to send them 
bound where he thought fit. By what he is capable 
of and by what he is incapable, they show in what 
manner it is they mean to provide for the military 
defence and for the civil tranquillity and happiness 
of Ireland. They have fomented a spirit of discord 
upon principle in that unhappy country. They have 
set the Protestants, in the only part of the country 
in which the Protestants have any degree of strength, 
to massacre the Catholics. The consequence will be 
this, if it is not the case already, that instead of 
dividing these two factions, the Catholics, finding 
themselves outlawed by their Government, which has 
not c>nly employed the arm of abused authority against 
them, but the violence of lawless insurrection, will use 
the only means that is left for their protection in a 
league with those persons who have been encouraged 
to fall upon them, and who are as well disposed to 
rebel against all government, as to persecute their 
unoffending fellow citizens. The Parliament, en- 
couraged by the Lord-Lieutenant's Secretary, has 
refused so much as to inquire into these troubles. 
The only appearance of any inquiry which has been, 
is that put into the hands of a person, I mean the 
Attorney-General, one of the avowed enemies and 
persecutors of the suffering people, and in the closest 
connexion with them. I see that the affections of the 

1796] TO DK. LAUBENCE 385 

people are not so much as looked to, as any one of 
the resources for the defence of Ireland against the 
invasion which the enemy will make upon that 
country, if they have force enough to do it consistently 
with their other views ; but, I confess, that from the 
least reflexion I am able to make in the intervals of 
pain and sorrow, I do not think that the invasion of 
either of these countries is a primary object in their 
present plan of policy their views seem to me to 
be directed elsewhere, and their object is, to disable 
this country from any effectual resistance to them, 
by alarming us with fears for our domestic safety. 
They have gained their ends completely. The arrange- 
ments, which we have made and are making in both 
kingdoms for that safety, provide for it in the worst 
possible manner, whilst they effectually disable us 
from opposing the enemy upon his larger and real 
plan of attack We oppose to his false attack the 
whole of our real strength. I have long doubted of the 
use of a militia, constituted as our miStia is ; because 
I do not like in time of war any permanent body of 
regular troops in so considerable a number as perhaps 
to equal the whole of our other force, when it is only 
applicable to one and that but a very uncertain part 
of the demands of general service. Whether I am 
right or wrong may be a question with persons better 
informed than I am, but it has been my opinion at 
least these twenty years. If I did not declare it in 
Parliament, it was because the prejudice was too 
strong to be prudently resisted ; but when danger 
comes, strong piejudices will be found weak resources. 
Whatever the merits of militia may be, I am sure 
that no prudent persons with whom I have ever con- 
versed have been of opinion that it ought to be extended 
beyond the old number. Other ideas however have pre- 
vailed. The infant resources of Ireland have been ex- 
hausted by establishing a militia there, upon the feeble 
plan of the militia here, and with consequences much 
more justly to be apprehended from an abuse of that 
institution. Whether with regard to the economical 

386 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

and civil effects on the military, they have now in 
both kingdoms added immensely to that erroneous 
establishment, if erroneous it is, and have thereby 
doubled the weakness instead of augmenting the 
strength of these kingdoms. I believe it will be found, 
that in both countries there is, by personal service or 
by public charge, the burden of an army forming or 
formed of at least fourscore thousand men utterly 
unapplicable to the general service of the country, 
or to the conservation of what I shall ever think as 
much for its being as self defence itself, I mean the 
safety and liberty of Europe. The very idea of active 
defence, the only sure defence, which consists in offen- 
sive operations against your enemy, seems wholly to 
be abandoned. 

I know it will be said that these corps do not bring 
upon the nation the burden of half pay This is true 
but in part, and in my opinion, if war should continue, 
it will become less and less of an object. At any rate 
it will be found as economy a very poor resource to 
make out such a saving by the limitation of effect 
and service. 

I do not mean to say that such little aids to the 
police as by an occasional use of a yeoman cavalry, 
which is in the nature Marechaussee, is much to be 
condemned. If the service is not much, the charge 
is not ruinous, and our military arm is not crippled. 
In my opinion, the expense of these arrangements 
would furnish such a subsidy to Russia, as would 
enable that power to act with such a body of troops 
against the common enemy, as to do more for our 
real defence than from any home arrangements that 
we can make. I have said enough upon this subject, 
though by no means all that is in my mind ; but if 
you agree with me in principle, your own thoughts 
will more than supply my omissions. 

I have suffered great uneasiness from another 
scheme, the tendency of which evidently is (though 
I am of opinion nothing is less intended) totally to 
disgust the people with the continuance of this war 

1796] TO DR. LAURENCE 387 

I mean that part of the people upon whose soundness 
and spirit the very being of civil society at this time 
depends, that is, that part of the people who live 
with a degree of decency .upon an income not likely 
to improve. They are the part of the community 
which are naturally attached to stability and to the 
resistance of innovation, but are not qualified to 
afford pecuniary resources to the State. They may 
serve to furnish a contingent in the way of taxes 
which is to be supplied as their income accrues, or 
as their economy finds supply, but they have no 
hoards, and if you apply to them for a forced loan, 
you drive them into the toils of the usurers, who 
win disable them from paying what they are already 
charged to the support of the State. Sure it were 
better to borrow directly at a high interest, that is 
at the interest of the public necessities, and to lay 
upon those men their share of it, than to take this 
perplexed circuitous course, which, in the end, will 
weaken public credit by destroying most of the private 
credit of the kingdom. 

I was going further, when my friendly Amanuensis 
reminded me that it is near 10 o'clock; I am afraid 

1 have tired you, though I tire myself somewhat less 
by dictating a sheet than by writing twenty lines. 
However, one is more wordy when one dictates. 
I intended if I had time, to tell you that Keogh is 
come to London, and to wish to have yours and 
Lord Fitzwtlliam's, as well as Mr. Windham's thoughts 
upon the subject of his journey, when I know better 
of what nature it may be. He shows a very great 
desire of seeing me and conversing with me upon the 
subject of Ireland. I have fought it off by giving Mm 
very true reasons, that is to say, my feeble state of 
health, and the contempt that is entertained for nay 
opinions, especially in what relates to Ireland. He 
tells me he has not been with any minister. He is 
a man that on the whole I think ought not to be 
slighted, though he is but too much disposed to 
Jacobin principles and connexions in his own nature, 

388 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

and is a Catholic only in name not but that whole 
body, contrary to its nature, has been driven by art 
and policy into Jacobinism, in order to form a pretext 
to multiply the jobs and to increase the power of that 
foolish and profligate junto to which Ireland is 
delivered over as a farm. I shall let you know further 
about Keogh when I hear from him ; and I shall send 
to Lord Fitzwilliam his letters to me, as well as a copy 
of my answer to him I shall send you another copy 
Good night. 

Yours ever, 



Beaconsfield, December 25, 1796. 


I agree with you, that the footing upon which the 
Ministers had put their negotiation, involves them in 
difficulties with regard not only to the Opposition, but 
to themselves and their sole ally, and to the sole ally 
which they had hopes of acquiring, as well as to the 
miserable inhabitants of the islands who had incor- 
porated themselves upon our faith into the British 
Empire; and who never henceforward can strike 
a blow with heart either in their own favour, or that 
of our feeble and perfidious Government. Surely, this 
business will give you a fair opportunity of coming 
forward. You cannot appear with more lustre or at 
a better season, for explaining the silent vote you 
have given, as well as in asserting the principles which 
might seem to be rendered doubtful by that vote. 
I suppose Lord Fitzwilliam will come up in consequence 
of the Duke of Bedford's motion, if not upon the 
message. Pray send me word by the coach whether 
it went down yesterday, and if it did not, when it is 
to be looked for. It is a very extraordinary thing, 
that merely because Lord Malmesbury, in execution of 
his wretched and contemptible office, proposed to 

1796] TO DR. LAURENCE 389 

keep two places that we had taken, and not from 
Prance, that he should be turned ofi at eight and forty 
hours notice. Good God, what were the humiliations 
which the President de la Rouillie and the Marquis 
de Toacy suffered in Holland, in comparison of this. 
They never were sent away at all ; on the contrary, 
though their offers were not received, they were 
invited in the most pressing manner to stay. I fear 
the nation is not equal to this trial, and that having 
been once kicked, they may think they may as well 
be kicked on to the end of the chapter. 'Rome, 
thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods 1 ' and Lord 
Malmesbury will be found, at least I greatly fear it, 
a true representative of the people of England. Adieu, 
and many happy returns of the season. We are sorry 
not to have had you at our turkey and roast beef. 
Alas ! the times have been, when you would have 
found a more full and cheerful family, but I was 
unworthy of it, and have lost it by my own fault. 
Learn from me never to trifle with such blessings as 
God may give you. I forgot to speak to you about 
Mackintosh's supposed conversion. I suspect by "his 
letter, that it does not extend beyond the interior 
politics of this island, but that, with regard to France 
and many other countries, he remains as frank a 
Jacobin as ever. This conversion is none at all; 
but we must nurse up these nothings, and think these 
negative advantages as we can have them. Such as 
he is, I shall not be displeased if you bring him down ; 
bad as he may be, he has not yet declared war along 
with his poor friend Wild against the Pope. 

Ever, ever yours, 

E. B. 

The accounts from poor Woodford seem to be a 
little better. This weather is sadly against a case and 
cure like his. 

390 EDMUND BURKE [1796 


Beaconsfield, December 28, 1796. 


The declaration, though it has not astonished me, 
has not given me great defection of spirits. There is 
a sort of staggering and irresolution in the cowardice 
of others, but there is a sort of unconquerable firmness, 
a kind of boldness, in the pusillanimity of Mr. Pitt. 
His Inadness is of the moping kind, but it is not the 
less frenzy for being fixed in lowness and dejection. 
He is actually taking every means to divest this country 
of any alliance or possibility of alliance, and he is 
determined that no spirit shall arise within this 
country, not knowing what course that spirit might 
take. I do not know whether I ought to be glad or 
not, of Lord Fitzwilliam's coming to town. I think 
it is impossible to attack Pitt for want of sincerity 
in this negotiation ; though for wisdom it cannot be 
defended. I do not wonder that they endeavour to 
struggle for a port in the East Indies, and for a half-way 
house at the Cape, for unless they had made Holland 
truly independent and fixed her in attachment to us, 
these places would be virtually given to the French, 
and we could not maintain ourselves in the West 
Indies, out of which at some time or other they mean 
to drive us. When I say I do not wonder at it, I am 
so far from approving it that my soul abhors it, but 
I much more abhor their fatal system, out of the per- 
plexities of which nothing can disengage them, but 
their totally abandoning it. I am glad that the 
business is put off to Friday, because your cold may 
then become better. This thaw favours your recovery. 
A cough is not to be trifled with, especially in a full 
habit like yours. Unless a physician had dissuaded it, 
I wished you had been blooded, I wish you to take 
advice : that bleeding may yet be useful. 

Mrs. Burke and myself, though neither of us passed 

1796] TO DR. LAURENCE 391 

a good night, are not worse to-day. God bless you. 
The times are bad when experience does nothing 
towards the correction of error. 

Yours ever, 



Beaconsfidd, November 17, 1796. 

I am so much out of the world, that I am not 
surprised every one should be ignorant of, as he is 
uninterested in, the state of my health, my habits of 
life, or anything else that belongs to me. 

Your obliging letter of the 20th of July was delivered 
to me at Bath, to which place I was driven by urgent 
necessity, as my only chance of preserving a life 
which did not then promise a month's duration. 
I was directed to suspend all application to business, 
even to the writing of a common letter; as it was 
thought that I had suffered by some such application, 
and by the attendant anxiety, before and about that 
time. I returned from Bath not well, but much 
recovered from the state in which I had been ; and 
I continued in the same condition of convalescence for 
a month or six weeks longer. Soon after I began 
gradually to decline, and at this moment I do not 
find myself very materially better or stronger than 
when I was sent to Bath. 

I am obliged to you for the offer which you made 
in that letter, of conveying anything from me to 
Ireland; but I really thought you had known that 
I have no kind of correspondence or communication 
with that country, and that for a good while I had 
not taken any part whatsoever in its affairs. I believe 
you must have observed when last I had the honour 
of seeing you in London, how little any opinions of 
mine are likely to prevail with persons in power here, 
even with those with whom I had formerly a long and 

392 EDMUND BUKKE [1796 

intimate connexion. I never see any of His Majesty's 
Ministers, except one gentleman, who, from mere 
compassion, has paid me some visits in this my retreat, 
and has endeavoured by his generous sympathy to 
soothe my pains and my sorrows : but that gentleman 
has no concern in Irish affairs, nor is, I believe, con- 
sulted about them. I cannot conceive how you or 
anybody can think that any sentiments of mine are 
called for, or even admitted, when it is notorious, that 
there is nothing at home, or abroad, in war, or in 
peace, that I have the good fortune to be at all pleased 
with. I ought to presume that they who have a great 
public trust, who are of distinguished abilities, and 
who are in the vigour of their life, behold things in 
a juster point of view than I am able to see them, 
however my self-partiality may make me too tenacious 
of my own opinion. I am in no degree of confidence 
with the great leader either of Ministry or Opposition. 
In a -general way, I am but too well acquainted with 
the distracted state of Ireland, and with the designs 
of the public enemy pointed at that kingdom. I have 
my own thoughts upon the causes of those evils. 
You do me justice in saying in your letter of July, 
that I am a true Irishman. Considering as I do 
England as my country, of long habit, of obligation, 
and of establishment, and that my primary duties 
are hers, I cannot conceive how a man can be a genuine 
Englishman, without being at the same time a true 
Irishman, though fortune should have made his 
birth on this side the water. I think the same senti- 
ments ought to be reciprocal on the part of Ireland, 
and if possible with much stronger reason. Ireland 
cannot be separated one moment from England, 
without losing every source of her present prosperity, 
and even hope of her future. I am very much afflicted, 
deeply and bitterly afflicted, to see that a very small 
faction in Ireland should arrogate it to itself to be 
the whole of that great kingdom ; I am more afflicted 
in seeing that a very minute part of that small faction 
should be able to persuade any person here, that on 

1796] TO THOMAS KEOGH 393 

the support of their power the connexion of the two 
kingdoms essentially depends. This strange error, if 
persevered in (as I am afraid it will), must accomplish 
the ruin of both countries. At the same time I must 
as bitterly regret, that any persons who suffer by the 
predominance of that corrupt fragment of a faction, 
should totally mistake the cause of their evils, as well 
as their remedy ; if a remedy can be at 7 all looked 
for ; which I confess I am not sanguine enough to 
"expect in any event, or from the exertions of any 
person ; and least of all from exertions of mine, even 
if I had either health or prospect of life commensurate 
to so difficult an undertaking. I say, I do regret, that 
the conduct of those who suffer should give any 
advantage to those who are resolved to tyrannize. 
I do believe that this conduct has served only as 
a pretext for aggravating the calamities of that party, 
which though superior in number, is from many 
circumstances much inferior in force. 

I believe there are very few cases which will justify 
a revolt against the established government of a. 
country, let its constitution be what it will ; and 
even though its abuses should be great and provoking ; 
but I am sure there is no case in which it is justifiable, 
either to conscience or to prudence, to menace resistance 
when there is no means of effecting it, nor perhaps in 
the major part any disposition. You know the state 
of that country better than I can pretend to do, but 
I could wish, if there was any use in retrospect, that 
those menaces had been forborne ; because they have 
caused a real alarm in some weak though well inten- 
tioned minds ; and because they furnish the bold 
and crafty with pretences for exciting a prosecution 
of a much more fierce and terrible nature than I ever 
remember, even when the country was under a system 
of laws, apparently less favourable to its tranquillity 
and good government, at the same time that sober 
exertion has lessened in the exact proportion in which 
flashy menaces increased. Pusillanimity (as often it 
does) has succeeded to rage and fury. Against all 

394 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

reason, experience, and observation, many persons in 
Ireland have taken it into their heads, that the 
influence of the Government here has been the cause 
of the misdemeanour of persons in power in that 
country, and that they are suffering under the yoke 
of a British domination. I must speak the truth 
I must say, that all the evils of Ireland originate 
within itself ; that it is the boundless credit which is 
given to an Irish Cabal, that produces whatever^ 
mischiefs both countries may feel in their relation. 
England has hardly anything to do with Irish Govern- 
ment. I heartily wish it were otherwise ; but the 
body of the people of England, even the most active 
politicians, take little or no concern in the affairs of 
Ireland. They are, therefore, by the Minister of this 
country, who fears upon that account no responsibility 
here, and who shuns all responsibility in Ireland, 
abandoned to the direction of those who are actually 
in possession of its internal government : this has 
been the case more eminently for these five or six 
last years ; and it is a system, if it deserves that 
name, not likely to be altered. 

I conceive that the last disturbances, and those 
the most important, and which have the deepest 
root, do not originate, nor have they their greatest 
strength, among the Catholics : but there is, and 
ever has been, a strong republican Protestant faction 
in Ireland, which has persecuted the Catholics as long 
as persecution would answer their purpose, and now 
the same faction would dupe them to become accom- 
plices in effectuating the same purposes ; and thus 
either by tyranny or seduction would accomplish their 
ruin. It was with grief I saw last year with the 
Catholic Delegates a gentleman, who was not of their 
religion, or united to them in any avowable bond of 
a public interest, acting as their secretary, in their 
most confidential concerns. I afterwards found, that 
this gentleman's name was implicated in a corre- 
spondence with certain Protestant conspirators and 
traitors, who are acting in direct connexion with the 

1796] TO THOMAS KEOGH 395 

enemies of all government and religion. He might be 
innocent ; and I am very sure that those who 
employed and trusted him, were perfectly ignorarit of 
his treasonable correspondences and designs, if such 
he had; but as he has thought proper to quit the 
king's dominions about the time of the investigation 
of that conspiracy, unpleasant inferences may have 
been drawn from it. I never saw him but once, which 
was in your company, and at that time knew nothing 
of his connexions, character, or dispositions. 

I am never likely to be called upon for my advice 
in this, or in any business ; and after having once 
almost forcibly obtruded myself into it, and having 
found no sort of good effect from my uncalled-for 
interference, I shall certainly, though I should have 
better health than I can flatter myself with, never 
again thrust myself into those intricate affairs. 
Persons of much greater abilities, rank, and conse- 
quence than I am, and who had been called by their 
situation to those affairs, have been totally over- 
whelmed by the domineering party in Ireland, and 
have been disgraced and ruined ; as far as indepen- 
dence, honour, and virtue can be ruined and disgraced. 
However, if your leisure permits you to pay a visit 
to this melancholy infirmary, I shall certainly receive 
any information with which you are pleased to furnish 
me ; but merely as news, and what may serve to feed 
the little interest I take in this world. You will 
excuse my having used the hand of a confidential 
friend in this letter, for indeed I suffer much by 
stooping to write. 

I have the honour to be, &e. 


December, 1796, 

This morning I received your letter of the 30th of 
November from Maynooth. I dictate my answer 

396 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

from my couch, on which I am obliged to lie for 
a good part of the day. I cannot conceal from you, 
much less can I conceal from myself, that in all 
probability I am not long for this world. Indeed, 
things are in such a situation, independently of the 
domestic wound, that I never could have less reason 
for regret in quitting the world than at this moment ; 
and my end will be, by several, as little regretted. 

I have no difficulty at all in communicating to 
you, or, if it were any use, to mankind at large, my 
sentiments and feelings on the dismal state of things 
in Ireland ; but I find it difficult indeed to give you 
the advice you are pleased to ask, as to your own 
conduct in your very critical situation. 

You state, what has long been but too obvious, 
that it seems the unfortunate pokey of the hour, to 
put to the far largest portion of the king's subjects in 
Ireland the desperate alternative, between a thankless 
acquiescence under grievous oppression, or a refuge in 
Jacobinism, with aU. its horrors and all its crimes. 
You prefer the former dismal part of the choice. 
There is no doubt but that you would have reason, if 
the election of one of these evils was at all a security 
against the other. But they are things very alliable, 
and as closely connected as cause and effect. That 
Jacobinism which is speculative in its origin, and 
which arises from wantonness and fullness of bread, 
may possibly be kept under by firmness and prudence. 
The very levity of character which produces it, may 
extinguish it. But Jacobinism which arises from 
penury and irritation, from scorned loyalty and 
rejected allegiance, has much deeper roots. They 
take their nourishment from the bottom of human 
nature, and the unalterable constitution of things, and 
not from humour and caprice, or the opinions of the 
day about privileges and liberties. These roots will 
be shot into the depths of hell, and will at last raise 
up their proud tops to heaven itself. This radical evil 
may baffle the attempts of heads much wiser than 
those are, who, in the petulance and riot of their 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 397 

drunken power, are neither ashamed nor afraid to 
insult and provoke those whom it is their duty, and 
ought to be their glory, to cherish and protect. 

So then, the little wise men of the west, with every 
hazard of this evil, are resolved to persevere in the 
manly and well-timed resolution of a war against 
Popery. In the principle, and in all the proceedings, 
it is perfectly suited to their character. They begin 
this last series of their offensive operations, by laying 
traps for the consciences of poor foot-soldiers. They 
call these wretches to their church, (empty of a 
volunteer congregation,) not by the bell, but by the 
whip. This ecclesiastic military discipline is happily 
taken up, in order to form an army of well-scourged 
Papists into a firm phalanx for the support of tlie 
Protestant religion. I wish them joy of this their 
valuable discovery in theology, politics, and the art 
military. Fashion governs the world, and it is the 
fashion in the great French Empire of pure and perfect 
Protestantism, as well as in the little busy meddling 
province of servile imitators, that apes at a humble 
distance the tone of its capital, to make a crusade 
against you poor Catholics. But whatever may be 
thought in Ireland of its share of a war against the 
Pope in that out-lying part of Europe, the zealous 
Protestant, Bonaparte, has given his late holiness 
far more deadly blows, in the centre of his own power, 
and in the nearest seats of Ms influence, than the 
Irish directory can arrogate to itself within its own 
jurisdiction, from the utmost efforts of its political 
and military skill. I have my doubts (they may 
perhaps arise from my ignorance) whether the glories 
of the night expeditions, in surprising the cabin 
fortresses in Louth and Meath, or whether the 
slaughter and expulsion of the Catholic weavers by 
another set of zealots in Armagh, or even the proud 
trophies of the late potato field 1 in that county, are 

1 Burke alludes to popular disturbances in Louth 
and Meath, and the very questionable means taken by 

398 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

quite to be compared with the Protestant "victories on 
the plains of Lombardy, or to the possession of the 
flat of Bologna, or to the approaching sack of B/ome, 
where, even now, the Protestant commissaries give 
the law. In all this business, Great Britain, to us 
merely secular politicians, makes no great figure, but 
let the glory of Great Britain shift for itself as it may. 
All is well, provided Popery is crushed. 

This war against Popery furnishes me with a ^ clue 
that leads me out of a maze of perplexed politics, 
which, without it, I could not in the least understand. 
I now can account for the whole. Lord Malmesbury 
is sent to prostrate the dignity of the English monarchy 
at Paris, that an Irish, Popish common soldier may be 
whipped in, to give an appearance of habitation, to 
a deserted Protestant church in Ireland: Thus we 
balance the account ; defeat and dishonour abroad ; 
oppression at home. We sneak to the regicides, but 
we boldly trample on our poor fellow-citizens. But 
all is for the Protestant cause. 

The same ruling principle explains the rest. We 
have abdicated the crown of Corsica, which had been 
newly soldered to the crown of Great Britain and to 
the crown of Ireland, lest the British diadem should 
look too like the Pope's triple crown. We have run 
away from the people of Corsica, and abandoned them 
without capitulation of any kind in favour of those of 
them, who might be our friends ; but then it was for 
their having capitulated with us for Popery, as a part 
of their Constitution. We made amends for our sins 
by our repentance, and for our apostasy from 
Protestantism, by a breach of faith with Popery. 
We have fled, overspread with dirt and ashes, but 
with hardly enough of sackcloth to cover our naked- 
ness. We recollected that this island (together with 
its yews and its other salubrious productions) had 

the Irish Government to suppress them ; to the attacks 
on the Catholics in Armagh by Orangemen ; and probably 
to the c Battle of the Diamond ' in that county, in Sept. 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 399 

given birth to the illustrious champion of the Protes- 
tant world, Bonaparte. It was, therefore, not fit (to 
use the favourite French expression) that the cradle of 
this religious hero should be polluted by the feet of 
the British renegade slaves, who had stipulated to 
support Popery in that island, whilst his friends and 
fellow-missionaries are so gloriously employed in 
extirpating it in another. Our policy is growing every 
day into more and more consistency. We have showed 
our broad back to the Mediterranean ; we have aban- 
doned too the very hope of an alliance in Italy ; we 
have relinquished the Levant to the Jacobins ; we 
have considered our trade as nothing ; our policy and 
our honour went along with it. But all these objects 
were well sacrificed to remove the very suspicion of 
giving any assistance to that abomination the Pope, 
in his insolent attempts to resist a truly Protestant 
power resolved to humble the papal tiara, and to 
prevent his pardons and dispensations from being 
any longer the standing terror of the wise and virtuous 
directory of Ireland ; who cannot sit down with any 
tolerable comfort to an innocent little job, whilst his 
bulls are thundering through the world. I ought to 
suppose that the arrival of General Hoche is eagerly 
expected in Ireland ; for he, too, is a most zealous 
Protestant, and he has given proof of it, by the studied 
cruelties and insults by which he put to death the old 
Bishop of Dol, whom (but from the mortal fear I am 
in lest the suspicion of Popery should attach upon me) 
I should call a glorious martyr, and should class him 
amongst the most venerable prelates that have 
appeared in this century. It is to be feared, however, 
that the zealots will be disappointed in their pious 
hopes, by the season of the year, and the bad condition 
of the Jacobin navy ; which may keep him this winter 
from giving his brother Protestants his kind assistance 
in accomplishing with you, what the other Mend of 
the cause, BonapaYte, is doing in Italy; and what 
the masters of these two pious men, the Protestant 
Directory of France have so thoroughly accomplished 

400 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

in that, the most Popish, but unluckily, whilst Popish, 
the most cultivated, the most populous, and the most 
flourishing of all countries, the Austrian Netherlands. 

When I consider the narrowness of the views, and 
the total want of human wisdom displayed in our 
western crusade against Popery, it is impossible to 
speak of it but with every mark of contempt and 
scorn. Yet one cannot help shuddering with horror 
when one contemplates the terrible consequences that 
are frequently the results of craft united with folly, 
placed in an unnatural elevation. Such ever will be 
the issue of things, when the mean vices attempt to 
mimic the grand passions. Great men will never do 
great mischief but for some great end. For this, they 
must be in a state of inflammation, and, in a manner, 
out of themselves. Among the nobler animals, whose 
blood is hot, the bite is never poisonous, except when 
the creature is mad ; but in the cold-blooded reptile 
race, whose poison is exalted by the chemistry of their 
icy complexion, their venom is the result of their 
health, and of the perfection of their nature. Woe to 
the country in which such snakes, whose primum 
mobile, is their belly, obtain wings, and from serpents 
become dragons. It is not that these people want 
natural talents, and even a good cultivation ; on the 
contrary, they are the sharpest and most sagacious of 
mankind in the things to which they apply. But 
having wasted their faculties upon base and unworthy 
objects, in anything of a higher order, they are far 
below the common rate of two-legged animals. 

I have nothing more to say just now upon the 
<3irectory in Ireland, which, indeed, is alone worth 
any mention at all. As to the half-dozen (or half- 
score as it may be) of gentlemen, who, under various 
names of authority, are sent from hence to be the 
subordinate agents of that low order of beings, I con- 
sider them as wholly out of the question. Their 
virtues or their vices ; their ability* or their weakness ; 
are matters of no sort of consideration. You feel the 
thing very rightly. All the evils of Ireland originate 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 401 

within itself. That unwise body, the United Irishmen, 
have had the folly to represent those evils as owing to 
this country, when, in truth, its chief guilt is in its 
total neglect, its utter oblivion, its shameful indif- 
ference, and its entire ignorance of Ireland, and of 
everything that relates to it, and not in any oppressive 
disposition towards that unknown region. No such 
disposition exists. English government has farmed 
out Ireland, without the reservation of a peppper-corn 
rent, in power or influence, public or individual, to the 
little narrow faction that domineers there. Through 
that alone they see, feel, hear, or understand, anything 
relative to that kingdom. Nor do they any way inter- 
fere, that I know of, except in giving their countenance, 
and the sanction of their names, to whatever is done 
by that junto, 

Ireland has derived some advantage from its inde- 
pendence on the Parliament of this kingdom, or 
rather, it did derive advantage from the arrangements 
that were made at the time of the establishment of 
that independence. But human blessings are mixed, 
and I cannot but think, that even these great blessings 
were bought dearly enough, when along with the 
weight of the authority, they have totally lost all 
benefit from the superintendence of the British Par- 
liament. Our pride of England is succeeded by fear. 
It is little less than a breach of order, even to mention 
Ireland in the House of Commons of Great Britain. 
If the people of Ireland were to be flayed alive by the 
predominant faction, it would be the most critical of 
all attempts, so much as to discuss the subject in any 
public assembly upon this side of the water. If such 
a faction should hereafter happen, by its folly or its 
iniquity, or both, to promote disturbances in Ireland, 
the force paid by this kingdom (supposing our own 
insufficient) would infallibly be employed to redress 
them. This would be right enough, and indeed our 
duty, if our public councils at the same time possessed 
and employed the means of inquiring into the merits 
of that cause, in which their blood and treasure were 

402 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

to be laid out. By a strange inversion of the order 
of things, not only the largest part of the natives of 
Ireland are thus annihilated, but the Parliament of 
Great Britain itself is rendered no better than an 
instrument in the hands of an Irish faction, This is 
ascendancy with a witness ! In what all this will 
end, it is not impossible to conjecture ; though the 
exact time of the accomplishment cannot be fixed with 
the same certainty as you may calculate an eclipse. 

As to your particular conduct, it has undoubtedly 
been that of a good and faithful subject, and of a man 
of integrity and honour. You went to Ireland this 
last time, as ^ou did the first time, at the express 
desire of the English minister of that department, 
and at the request of the Lord-lieutenant himself. 
You were fully aware of the difficulties that would 
attend your mission ; and I was equally sensible of 
them. Yet you consented, and,. I advised, that you 
should obey the voice of what we considered an indis- 
pensable duty. We regarded, as the great evil of the 
time, the growth of Jacobinism, and we were very 
well assured, that, from a variety of causes, no part 
of these countries was more favourable to the growth 
and progress of that evil than our unfortunate country. 
I considered it as a tolerably good omen, that Govern- 
ment would do nothing further to foment and promote 
the Jacobin malady, that they called upon you, 
a strenuous and steady royalist, an enlightened and 
exemplary clergyman, a man of birth and respectable 
connexions in the country, a man well-informed and 
conversant in state affairs, and in the general politics 
of the several courts of Europe, and intimately and 
personally habituated in some of those courts. I re- 
gretted indeed that the ministry had declined to 
make any sort of use of the reiterated informations 
you had given them of the designs of their enemies, 
and had taken no notice of the noble and disinterested 
offers which, through me, were made, for employing 
you to save Italy and Spain to the British alliance. 
But this being past, and Spain and Italy lost, I was 

1796] TO REV. DK. HUSSEY 403 

in hopes that they were resolved to put themselves in 
the right at home, by calling upon you ; that they 
would leave, on their part, no cause or pretext for 
Jacobinism, except in the seditious disposition of 
individuals ; but I now see that, instead of profiting 
by your advice and services, they will not so much as 
take the least notice of your written representations, 
or permit you to have access to them, on the part of 
those whom it was your business to reconcile to 
Government, as well as to conciliate Government 
towards them. Having rejected your services, as a 
friend of Government, and in some sort in its employ- 
ment, they will not even permit to you the natural 
expression of those sentiments, which every man of 
sense and honesty must feel, and which every plain 
and sincere man must speak, upon this vile plan of 
abusing military discipline, and perverting it into an 
instrument of religious persecution. You remember 
with what indignation I heard of the scourging of the 
soldier at Carrick for adhering to his religions opinions. 
It was at the time when Lord PitzwMam went to 
take possession of a short-lived Government in Ireland 
breves et infaustos populi Hiberni. 

He could not live long in power, because he was 
a true patriot, a true friend of both countries, a 
steady resister of Jacobinism in every part of the world. 
On this occasion he was not of my opinion. He thought, 
indeed, that the sufferer ought to be relieved and 
discharged, and I think he was so ; but, as to punish- 
ment to be inflicted on the offenders, he thought more 
lenient measures, comprehended in a general plan to 
prevent such evils in future, would be the better 
course. My judgement, such as it was, had been that 
punishment ought to attach, so far as the laws per- 
mitted, upon every evil action of subordinate power, 
as it arose. That such acts ought at least to be marked 
with the displeasure of Government, because general 
remedies are uncertain in their operation when 
obtained ; but that it is a matter of general uncer- 
tainty whether they can be obtained at all. For 

4:04 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

a time, Ms appeared to be the better opinion. Even 
after he was cruelly torn from the embraces of the 
people of Ireland, when the militia and other troops 
were encamped (if I recollect right) at Loughlinstown, 
you yourself, with the knowledge and acquiescence 
of Government, publicly performed your function to 
the Catholics then in service. I believe, too, that all 
the Irish, who had composed the foreign corps taken 
into British pay, had their regular chaplains. But 
we see that things are returning fast to their old 
corrupted channels. There they will continue to flow. 

If any material evil had been stated to have arisen 
from this liberty, that is, if sedition, mutiny, dis- 
obedience of any kind to command, had been taught in 
their chapels, there might have been a reason for, not 
only forcing the soldiers into churches where better 
doctrines were taught, but for punishing the teachers 
of disobedience and sedition. But I have never heard 
of any such complaint. It is a part, therefore, of the 
systematic ill-treatment of Catholics. This system 
never will be abandoned, as long as it brings advantage 
to those who adopt it. If the country enjoys a momen- 
tary quiet, it is pleaded as an argument in favour of 
the good effect of wholesome rigours. If, on the 
contrary, the country grows more discontented, and 
if riots and disorders multiply, new arguments are 
furnished for giving a vigorous support to the authority 
of the directory, on account of the rebellious disposition 
of the people. So long, therefore, as disorders in the 
country become pretexts for adding to the power and 
emolument of a junto, means will be found to keep one 
part of it, or other, in a perpetual state of confusion 
and disorder. This is the old traditionary policy of 
that sort of men. The discontents which, under them, 
break out amongst the people, become the tenure by 
which they hold their situation. 

I do not deny that, in these contests, the people, 
however oppressed, are frequently much to blame ; 
whether provoked to their excesses or not, undoubtedly 
the law ought to look to nothing but the offence, and 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSBY 405 

punish it. The redress of grievances is not less neces- 
sary than the punishment of disorders, but it is of 
another resort. In punishing, however, the law ought 
to be the only rule. If it is not of sufficient force, 
a force consistent with its general principles ought to 
be added to it. The first duty of a state is to provide 
for its own conservation. Until that point is secured, 
it can preserve and protect nothing else. But, if 
possible, it has greater interest in acting according to 
strict law than even the subject himself. For, if the 
people see that the law is violated to crush them, they 
will certainly despise the law. They, or their party, 
will be easily led to violate it, whenever they can, by 
all the means in their power. Except in cases of 
direct war, whenever Government abandons law, it 
proclaims anarchy. I am well aware (if I cared one 
farthing, for the few days I have to live, whether the 
vain breath of men bio w hot or cold about me,) that 
they who censure any oppressive proceeding of Govern- 
ment are exciting the people to sedition and revolt. 
If there be any oppression, it is very true ; or if there 
be nothing more than the lapses, which will happen 
to human infirmity at all times, and in the exercise 
of all power, such complaints would be wicked indeed. 
These lapses are exceptions implied; an allowance 
for which is a part of the understood covenant, by 
which power is delegated by fallible men to other men 
that are not infallible ; but, whenever a hostile spirit 
on the part of Government is shown, the question 
assumes another form. This is no casual error, no 
lapse, no sudden surprise ; nor is it a question of civil 
or political liberty. What contemptible stuff it is 
to say, that a man who is lashed to church against Ms 
conscience, would not discover that the whip is painful, 
or that he had a conscience to be violated, unless 
I told him so ! Would not a penitent offender, con- 
fessing his offence, and expiating it by his blood, when 
denied the consolation of religion at his last moments, 
feel it as no injury to himself ; or that the rest of the 
world would feel so horrible and impious an oppression 

406 EDMUND BUEKE [1796 

with no indignation, unless I happened to say it ought 
to be reckoned amongst the most barbarous acts of 
our barbarous time ? Would the people consider the 
being taken out of their beds and transported from 
their family and friends, to be an equitable, and 
legal, and charitable proceeding, unless I should say 
that it was a violation of justice and a dissolution, 
pro tanto, of the very compact of human society ? 
If a House of Parliament, whose essence it is to be the 
guardian of the laws, and a sympathetic protector of 
the rights of the people, and eminently so of the most 
defenceless, should not only countenance, but applaud 
this very violation of all law, and refuse even to 
examine into the grounds of the necessity, upon the 
allegation of which the law was so violated, would 
this be taken for a tender solicitude for the welfare 
of the poor, and a true proof of the representative 
capacity of the House of Qommons, unless I should 
happen to say (what I do say) that the House had not 
done its duty, either in preserving the sacred rules of 
law, or in justifying the woeful and humiliating 
privilege of necessity ? They may indemnify and 
reward others. They might contrive, if I was within 
their grasp, to punish me, or, if they thought it worth 
their while, to stigmatize me by their censures ; but 
who will indemnify them for the disgrace of such an 
act ? who will save them from the censures of pos- 
terity ? What act of oblivion will cover them from 
the wakeful memory, from the notices and issues of 
the grand remembrancer the God within ? Would 
it pass with the people, who suffer from the abuse of 
lawful power, when at the same time they suffer from 
the use of lawless violence of factions amongst them- 
selves, that Government had done its duty, and acted 
leniently in not animadverting on one of those acts 
of violence, if I did not tell them that the lenity with 
which Government passes by the crimes and oppres- 
sions of a favourite faction, was itself an act of the 
most atrocious cruelty ? If a Parliament should hear 
a declamation, attributing the sufferings of those who 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 407 

are destroyed by these riotous proceedings to their 
misconduct, and then to make them self-felonious, 
and should in effect refuse an inquiry into the fact, 
is no inference to be drawn from thence, unless I tell 
men in high places that these proceedings, taken 
together, form, not only an encouragement to the 
abuse of power, but to riot, sedition, and a rebellious 
spirit, which, sooner or later, will turn upon those 
that encourage it ? 

I say little of the business of the potato field, 
because I am not acquainted with the particulars. 
If any persons were found in arms against the Mng, 
whether in a field of potatoes, or of flax, or of turnips, 
they ought to be attacked by a military power, and 
brought to condign punishment by course of law. If 
the county in which the rebellion was raised was not 
in a temper fit for the execution of justice, a law ought 
to be made, such as was made with regard to Scotland, 
in the suppression of the rebellion of forty-five, to try 
the delinquents. There would be no difficulty in con- 
victing men who were found 'flagrante delicto \ But 
I hear nothing of all this. No law, no trial, no punish- 
ment commensurate to rebellion, nor of a known 
proportion to any lesser delinquency, nor any dis- 
crimination of the more or the less guilty. Shall you 
and I find fault with the proceedings of France, and 
be totally indifferent to the proceedings of directories 
at home ? You and I hate Jacobinism as we hate the 
gates of hell. Why ? Because it is a system of 
oppression. What can make us in love with oppression 
because the syllables 'Jacobin* are not put before 
the ' ism ', when the very same things are done under 
the * ism ' preceded by any other name in the directory 
of Ireland ? 

I have told you, at a great length for a letter, 
very shortly for the subject and for my feelings on 
it, my sentiments of the scene in which you have been 
called to act. On being consulted, you advised the 
sufferers to quiet and submission ; and, giving Govern- 
ment full credit for an attention to its duties, you held 

408 EDMUND BUEKE [1796 

out, as an Inducement to that submission, some sort 
of hope of redress. You tried what your reasons and 
your credit would do to effect it. In consequence of 
this piece of service to Government, you have been 
excluded from all communication with the Castle ; 
and perhaps you may thank yourself that you are not 
in Newgate. You have done a little more than, in your 
circumstances, I should have done. You are, indeed, 
very excusable from your motives ; but it is very 
dangerous to hold out to an irritated people any 
hopes that we are not pretty sure of being able to 
realize. The doctrine of passive obedience, as a 
doctrine, it is unquestionably right to teach, but to go 
beyond that, is a sort of deceit ; and the people who 
are provoked by their oppressors, do not readily 
forgive their friends, if, whilst the first persecute, the 
other appear to deceive them. These friends lose all 
power of being serviceable, to that government in 
whose favour they have taken an ill-considered step ; 
therefore, my opinion is, that, until the Castle shall 
show a greater disposition to listen to its true friends 
than hitherto it has done, it would not be right in you 
any further to obtrude your services. In the mean- 
time, upon any new application from the Catholics, 
you ought to let them know, simply and candidly, 
how you stand. 

The Duke of Portland sent you to Ireland, from 
a situation in this country of advantage and comfort 
to yourself, and no small utility to others. You 
explained to him, in the clearest manner, the conduct 
you were resolved to hold. I do not know that your 
writing to him will be of the smallest advantage. 
I rather think not : yet I am far from sure that you do 
not owe to him and yourself, to represent to his Grace 
the matters which in substance you have stated to me. 

If anything else should occur to me, I shall, as you 
ask it, communicate my thoughts to you. In the mean- 
time, I shall be happy to hear from you as often as 
you find it convenient. You never can neglect the 
great object of which you are so justly fond ; and let 

1796] TO REV. DR. HUSSEY 409 

rae beg of you not to let slip out of your mind the 
idea of the auxiliary studies and acquirements which 
I recommended to you, to add to the merely profes- 
sional pursuits of your young clergy ; and, above all, 
I hope that you will use the whole of your influence 
among the Catholics, to persuade them to a greater 
indifference about the political objects which at present 
they have in view. It is not but that I am aware of 
their importance, or that I wish them to be aban- 
doned ; but that they would follow opportunities, 
and not attempt to force anything. I doubt whether 
the privileges they now seek, or have lately sought, 
are compassable. The struggle would, I am afraid, 
only lead to those very disorders which are made pre- 
texts for further oppression of the oppressed. I wish 
the leading people amongst them would give the most 
systematic attention, to prevent frequent communica- 
tion with their adversaries. There are a part of them 
proud, insulting, capricious, and tyrannical. These, 
of course, will keep at a distance. There are others 
of a seditious temper, who would make them at first 
the instruments, and in the end the victims, of their 
factious temper and purposes. Those that steer 
a middle course are truly respectable, but they are 
very few. Your friends ought to avoid all imitation 
of the vices of their proud lords. To many of these 
they are themselves sufficiently disposed. I should 
therefore recommend to the middle ranks of that 
description, in which I include not only all merchants, 
but all farmers and tradesmen, that they would 
change as much as possible those expensive modes of 
living, and that dissipation, to which our countrymen 
in general are so much addicted. It does not at all 
become men in a state of persecution. They ought to 
conform themselves to the circumstances of a people, 
whom Government is resolved not to consider as upon 
a par with their fellow-subjects. Favour, they will 
have none. They must aim at other resources ; and* 
to make themselves independent in fad, before they 
aim at a nominal independence. Depend upon it ? 

410 EDMUND BURKE [1796 

that, with half the privileges of the others, joined to 
a different system of manners, they would grow to 
a degree of importance, to which, without it, no 
privileges could raise them, much less any intrigues or 
factious practices. I know very well that such^ a 
discipline, among so numerous a people, is not easily 
introduced, but I am sure it is not impossible. If 
I had youth and strength, I would go myself over to 
Ireland to work on that plan ; so certain I am that the 
well-being of all descriptions in the kingdom, as well 
as of themselves, depends upon a reformation amongst 
the Catholics. 'The work will be new, and slow in its 
operation, but it is certain in its effect. There is 
nothing which will not yield to perseverance and 
method. Adieu ! my dear sir. You have full liberty 
to show this letter to all those (and they are but very 
few) who may be disposed to think well of my opinions. 
I did not care, so far as regards myself, whether it 
were read on the 'Change ; but with regard to you, 
more reserve may be proper ; but of that, you will 
be the best judge. 


Bath, February 10, 1797. 

I have been very weak for some days past, and so 
giddy that I am hardly able to walk across the room. 
At the first coming on of this bad symptom I was not 
able to do so much so that I am not without hopes 
that it may go off, though, take me on the whole, 
I am without all comparison worse than when I came 
hither, but yet the violent flatus's have not been quite 
so troublesome to me since the complaint in my head 
is come on. They have taken the town, and are now 
attacking the citadel But enough of this. The 
affair of Mrs. Hastings has something in it that might 
move a third Cato to a horse-laugh, though the 
means, I am afraid, by which she and her paramour 
have made that and all the sums which they have got 

1797] TO DB. LAURENCE 411 

by their own dishonesty, or lost by the dishonesty 
ot others or the confusion of the times, [might cause] 
the laughing Democritus to weep as much as Ms 
opponent : but let whoever laugh or weep, nothing 
plaintive will make Mr. Pitt or Mr Dundas blush 
for having rewarded the criminal whom they prose- 
cuted, and sent me and nineteen Members of Parlia- 
ment to prosecute, for every mode of peculation and 
oppression, with a greater sum of money than ever 
yet was paid to any one British subject, except the 
Duke of Marlbro', for the most acknowledged public 
services, and not to him if you take Blenheim, which 
was an expense and not a charge, out of the account. 
All this and ten times more will not hinder them 
from adding the Peerage, to make up the insuniciency, 
of his pecuniary rewards. My illness, which came the 
more heavily and suddenly upon me by this flagitious 
act, whilst I was preparing a representation upon, it, 
has hindered me, as you know, from doing justice 
to that act, to Mr. Hastings, to myself, to the House 
of Lords, to the House of Commons, and to the 
unhappy people of India, on that subject. It has 
made me leave the letters that I was writing to my 
Lord Chancellor and Mr. Dundas, as well as my 
petition to the House of Commons, unfinished. But 
you remember, likewise, that when I came hither at 
the beginning of last summer, I repeated to you 
that dying request which I now reiterate, That if at 
any time, without the danger of ruin to yourself, or 
over-distracting you from your professional and 
parliamentary duties, you can place in a short point 
of view, and support by the documents in print and 
writing which exist with me, or with Mr. Troward, or 
yourself, the general merits of this transaction, you 
will erect a cenotaph most grateful to my shade, and 
will clear my memory from that load, which the East 
India Company, King, Lords, and Commons, and in 
a manner the whole British Nation, (God forgive 
them,) have been pleased to lay as a monument upon 
my ashes. I am as conscious as any person can be of 

412 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

the little value of the good or evil opinion of mankind 
to the part of me that shall remain, but I believe it is 
of some moment not to leave the fame of an evil 
example, of the expenditure of fourteen years labour, 
and of not less (taking the expense of the suit, and the 
costs paid to Mr. Hastings, and the parliamentary 
charges) than near 300,000. This is a terrible 
example, and it is not acquittance at all to a public 
man, who, with all the means of undeceiving himself 
if he was wrong, has thus with such incredible pains 
both of himself and others, persevered in the persecu- 
tion of innocence and merit. It is, I say, no excuse at 
all to urge in his apology, that he has had enthusiastic 
good intentions. In reality, you know that I am no 
enthusiast, but [according] to the powers that God 
has given me, a sober and reflecting man. I have 
not even the other very bad excuse, of acting from 
personal resentment, or from the sense of private 
injury never having received any ; nor can I plead 
ignorance, no man ever having taken more pains to 
be informed. Therefore I say, Remember. 

Parliament is shortly to resume the broken thread 
of its business if what it is doing deserves that name. 
I feel the same anxiety for your success as if what has 
been the best part of me was in your place, and 
engaged as he would have been in the same work, and 
I presume to take the same liberty with you that 1 
would have done with him. The plan you have 
formed, like all the plans of such comprehensive 
minds as yours, is vast, but it will require all the skill 
of a mind as judicious and selecting as yours, to bring 
it within the compass of the apprehensions and dis- 
positions of those upon whom it is to operate. There 
would be difficulty in giving to it its just extent in the 
very opening, if you could count even upon one person 
able and willing to support you ; but as you will be 
attacked by one side of the House with all its force, 
reluctantly heard and totally abandoned by the other, 
if you are permitted any reply at all, a thing which 
under similar circumstances has been refused to me, it 

1797] TO DR. LAURENCE 413 

will not be heard by the exhausted attention of that 
House, which is hardly to be kept alive, except to 
what concerns the factious interests of the two 
discordant chiefs, who with different personal views, 
but on the same political principles, divide and 
distract the nation. But all this I must leave to your 
judgement, which, with less parliamentary experience, 
has infinitely more natural power than mine ever 
had, when it was at the best. This, only, I shall beg 
leave to suggest, that if it should be impossible (as 
perhaps it may be) to bring your opening speech 
within any narrow compass, such as two hours, or 
thereabouts, that you will make your reply as sharp, 
and pointed at the personal attacks that I am sure 
will be made upon you, as you can; and that you 
will content yourself with reasserting the substance 
of the facts, declaring your readiness to enter into them 
if ever you are furnished with the means. I have no 
doubt that in the course of the debate, or in this 
session, you will find opportunities to bring forth 
what your discretion may reserve on the present 
occasion for a future one, when you may be at more 
liberty. Though I am sensible enough of the difficulty 
of finding a place in debate for any of those who are 
not arranged in the line of battle, abreast or ahead, in. 
support of the one or the other of the great admirals. 
My dear friend, you will have the goodness to excuse 
the interposition of an exhausted and sickly judgement 
like mine, at its best, infirm, with a mind like yours, 
the most robust that ever was made, and in the vigour 
of its faculties ; but allowance is made for the anxious 
solicitude of those, whom sex, age, or debility exclude 
from a share in those combats in which they take 
a deep concern. 

Yours ever, 


February 12. 

PS. My health continues as it was when I began 
this letter. I have read Erskine's pamphlet, which 

414 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

is better done than I expected to find it. But it is 
little more than a digest of the old matter, and a pro- 
posal to remove all our evils by a universal popular 
representation at home, by giving to France at once 
all that we have thought proper to offer, on suppo- 
sition of concession, and all that she has chosen to 
demand without any regard to our concession, together 
with a cordial connexion with her and a total alienation 
from other powers, as a pledge of future peace. This, 
together with bringing Mr. Fox into power, forms the 
whole of the pamphlet. This would certainly make 
short work of the treaty. This pamphlet does not 
make your motion the less necessary, and without 
a reference to it you may keep it in your eye. 
Mrs. Burke, thank God, is better of her cold : She 
salutes you. 


Bath, May 12, 1797. 

The times are so deplorable, that I do not know 
how to write about them. Indeed I can hardly bear 
to think of them. In the selection of these mischiefs, 
those, which have the most recently oppressed, and 
overpowered, rather than exercised the shattered 
remains of my understanding, are those of the Navy, 
and those of Ireland. As to the first, I shall say 
nothing, except this, that you must remember from 
the moment the true genius of this French Revolution 
began to dawn upon my mind, I comprehended what 
it would be in its meridian ; and that I have often 
said, that I should dread more from one or two mari- 
time provinces in France, in which the spirit and 
principles of that revolution were established, than 
from the old French Monarchy possessed of all that its 
ambition ever aspired to obtain ; that we should 
begin to be infected in the first nidus and hot-bed of 
their infection, the subordinate parts of our mihtary 
force, and that I should not be surprised at seeing 
a French convoyed by a British Navy to an attack 

1797] TO DE. LAURENCE 415 

upon this kingdom. I think you must remember the 
thing, and the phrase. I trust in God that these 
mutineers may not as yet have imbrued their hands 
deeply in blood. If they have, we must expect the 
worst that can happen. Alas 1 for the mischiefs that 
are done by the newspapers,, and by the imbecility of 
the Ministers, who neither refuse or modify any con- 
cession, nor execute with promptitude the resolutions 
they take through fear ; but are hesitating and 
backward, even in their measures of retreat and flight : 
in truth they know nothing of the manoeuvre either in 
advance or retreat. 

The other affair, hardly less perplexing, nor much 
1 ess instantly urging, is that of Ireland. 

Mr. Baldwin was here, and he spoke something, 
though indistinctly and confusedly, of a strong desire 

that he supposed the 1 to have for a reconciliation 

with 2 . Whether this is mere loose talk, such as 

I have uniformly heard from the day of the fatal 
rupture, is more than I know. My answer was, that 
while the cause of this calamitous rupture was yet in 
its operation, I had done everything which a man like 
me could do, to prevent it, and its effects, but that 
now the question was not what should reconcile the 

x to 2 , but what would reconcile Ireland to 

England. This was very near the whole of our con- 
versation. You know he does not see very far, nor 
combine very much. I have had a hint from another 
quarter, not indeed very direct, to know whether it 
was my opinion that a concession to the Irish Catho- 
lics, would quiet that country. To this I have given, 
no answer, because at this moment I am utterly in- 
capable of giving any, the least distinct. Three months 
ago, perhaps even two months ago, I can say with 
confidence, notwithstanding the hand from which it 
would be offered, it would have prevented the dis- 
contents from running into one mass ; even if the 
compliance had been decently evaded, and future 
hopes held out, I think these mischiefs would not 
1 Duke of Portland. 2 Lord Mtzwilliam. 

416 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

have happened; but instead of this, every measure 
has been used that could possibly tend to irritation. 
The rejection of the Memorial was abrupt, final, 
and without any temperament whatsoever. The 
speeches in the House of Lords on Ireland were in the 
same strain ; and in the House of Commons, the 
Ministers put forward a wretched brawler, one Duigenan 
of your profession, to attack Mr. Fox, though they 
knew, that as a British Member of Parliament, he was 
by them invulnerable ; but their great object was, 
to get him to rail at the whole body of Catholics and 
Dissenters in Ireland in the most foul and unmeasured 
language. This brought on, as they might well have 
expected from Mr. Grattan, one of the most animated 
philippics which he ever yet delivered, against their 
Government and Parliament. 

It was a speech the best calculated that could be 
conceived further to inflame the irritation which the 
Castle-brawler's long harangue must necessarily have 
produced. As to Mr. Fox, he had all the honour of 
the day, because the invective against him was stupid, 
and from a man of no authority or weight whatsoever ; 
and the panegyric which was opposed to it, was full 
of eloquence, and from a great name. The Attorney- 
General in wishing the motion withdrawn, as I under- 
stand, did by no means discountenance the principle 
upon which it was made, nor disown the attack, which 
was made, in a manner, upon the whole people of 
Ireland. The Solicitor-General went the full length 
of supporting it. Instead of endeavouring to widen 
the narrow bottom upon which they stand, they make 
it their policy to render it every day more narrow. 
In the Parliament of Great Britain, Lord Grenville's 
speech turned the loyalty of the Catholics against them- 
selves. He argued from that zeal and loyajty they 
manifested, their want of a sense of any grievance. 
This speech, though probably well intended, was the 
most indiscreet and mischievous of the whole. People 
do not like to be put into practical dilemmas. If 
the people are turbulent and riotous, nothing is to 

1797] TO DR. LAURENCE 417 

be done for them on account of their evil dispositions. 
If they are obedient and loyal, nothing is to be done 
for them, because their being quiet and contented is 
a proof that they feel no grievance. I know that this 
declaration has had its natural effect, and that in 
several places the Catholics think themselves called 
upon to deny the inference made by Ministers from 
their good conduct. It seems to them a great insult 
to convert their resolution to support the king's 
Government into an approbation of the conduct of 
those who make it the foundation of their credit and 
authority that they are the enemies of their description. 

I send you two extracts of letters, for Lord Mtz- 
william's and your information, from intelligent and 
well-informed people in Cork; and one of them from 
a gentleman of much consideration and influence in 
that place. These will let you see the effect of that 
conduct which tends to unite all descriptions of persons 
in the South, in the same spirit .of discontent, and in the 
same bonds of sedition with those of the North. As 
far as I can find, no part of the army in Ireland is yet 
tainted with the general spirit ; but under a general 
discontent it is impossible it should long continue sound ; 
and even if it did, it is as impossible that such a country 
can be ruled by a military government, even if there were 
no enemy abroad fco take advantage of that miserable 
state of things. 

Now suffer me to throw down to you my thoughts 
of what might be expected under the existing cir- 
cumstances, from the mere grant of an Act of Parlia- 
ment for a total emancipation. This measure I hold 
to be a fundamental part in any plan for quieting that 
country and reconciling it to this ; but you are well 
aware, that this measure, like every other measure of 
the kind, must depend on the manner in which it is 
done, the persons who do it, and the sME and judge- 
ment with yMch the whole is conducted. And first, 
my clear opinion is, that as long as the present junto 
continue to govern Ireland, such a measure into which 
they must manifestly appear to be reluctantly driven, 

237 p 

4:18 EDMUND BUKKE [1797 

never can produce the effects proposed by it, because 
it is impossible to persuade the people that as long as 
they govern, they will not have both the power and 
inclination totally to frustrate the effect of this 
new arrangement, as they have done that of all the 

Indeed it will appear astonishing that these men 
should be kept in the sole monopoly of all power, 
upon the sole merit of their resistance to the Catholic 
claims, as inconsistent with the connexion of the two 
kingdoms ; and yet at the same time to see those 
claims admitted, and the pretended principle of the 
connexion of the two countries abandoned, to preserve 
to the same persons the same monopoly. By this it 
would appear that the subject is either to be relieved 
or not ; and the union of the two kingdoms abandoned, 
or maintained, just as it may answer the purposes of 
a faction of three or four individuals. But if that 
junto was thrown out to-morrow along with their 
measure, Government has proceeded in such a manner, 
and committed so many in violent declarations on 
this subject, that a complete emancipation would 
no longer pass with its former facility, and a strong 
ferment would be excited in the Church party, who 
though but few in numbers, have in their hands most 
of the ultimate and superior property of the kingdom. 
These difficulties appear to me to be great. Certain 
it is, that if they were removed, the leaders of the 
opposition must be taken into their places, and become 
the object of confidence to an English Government. 
They are to a man pledged for some alteration in the 
constitution of Parliament. If they made no such 
alteration, they would lose the weight which they 
have, and which is necessary to quiet the country. 
If on the other hand they were to attempt a change 
upon any of the plans of moderation which I hear 
they have adopted, they would be as far from satis- 
fying the demands of the extravagant people, whom 
they mean to comply with, as they would be in pre- 
serving the actual constitution which was fabricated 

1797] . TO DB. LAUEENCE 419 

in 1614. The second infallible consequence would be, 
that if a revolution of this kind (for it would be a 
revolution) were accomplished in Ireland, though the 
grounds are a little different yet the principle is so 
much the same, that it would* be impossible long to 
resist an alteration of the same Mnd on this side of 
the water ; and I never have doubted since I came to 
the years of discretion, nor ever can doubt, that such 
changes in this kingdom would be preliminary steps 
to our utter ruin ; but if I considered them as such at 
all times, what must they appear to me at a moment 
like the present ? I see no way of settling these 
kingdoms but by a great change in the superior 
Government here. If the present Administration is 
removed, it is manifest to me, that the Duke of 
Bedford, and Lord Guilford, and the Duke of North- 
umberland, and Lord Lansdowne, all, or most of them, 
under the direction of Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Fox, will 
be the sole option ; that if ,they took in the Duke 
of Portland, they must take him in, at best, in the 
state of utter insignificance in which unfortunately 
he now stands. That they would gladly take in my 
Lord ITitzwiUiam I have no question ; but, I am sure ? 
he would have no support, and never would be suffered 
to play any principal part, as long as he holds the 
maxims, and is animated by the sentiments for which, 
as a statesman, we value Mm. He certainly would 
be best in Ireland, but I am very far from being sure 
that his connexions there would look up to him with 
the same simple and undivided affection which they 
formerly did; and I am equally uncertain whether 
he would leave behind him a ministry, which in the 
mass would be better disposed to his support, than 
those who had formerly betrayed him. Besides, 
I cannot look without horror, upon his being conjoined 
(and possibly found in a new reign in such a con- 
junction) with a Ministry who have spared no pains to 
prove their indifference at least, to the local honour 
and interest of their country, or to the general liberty 
of Europe. And indeed, who have wished to leave 

420 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

no doubt upon any mind, that it is their ambition to 
act in this country as a subordinate department to 
the Directory of the French Republic. I see no ray of 
hope but in some sort of coalition between the heads 
of the factions who now distract us, formed upon 
a sense of the public danger. Bufc unfortunately their 
animosity towards each other grows with the danger. 
I confess that if no such coalition is made, and yet 
that a change should take place, I see in the present 
Ministry and its partisans an opposition far more 
formidable than that which we have at present ; 
and that after a while at least, their principles and 
their modes of proceeding will not be found very 
different from those of the present Opposition. I must 
add, since I am opening my mind so much at large, 
that when I look at the state of the civil list in Great 
Britain, which I have reason to know and feel to be 
full two years in debt to most of the departments, 
I see no means of carrying on government upon 
anything like a broad bottom, even officially ; to say 
nothing of the necessary accommodation to those 
expectants who will look to come forward with advan- 
tage, or to retire without marks of disgrace ; and 
both parties have emulously concurred in cutting off 
all those extraneous means of accommodation, which 
might supply the deficiency of the civil list resources. 
In Ireland things are yet worse. They have seized 
upon all the means of government, in order to accom- 
modate one family, and its dependencies ; and they 
have so squandered away every resource, under the 
pretence of providing a home defence, that not only 
is Ireland unable to form a system of comprehension, 
but England will soon find itself unable to supply 
that kingdom with the means of its ordinary existence. 
To whatever point of the compass I turn my eyes, 
I see nothing but difficulty and disaster. You will 
naturally say, Why therefore do you reason in a state 
of despair ? I do it, that Lord Fitewilliam and yourself 
may see my melancholy reveries in this deplorable state 
of things. The very consideration of the difficulties 

1797] TO DR. LAURENCE 421 

which strike me, may suggest to better heads than 
mine, the means of overcoming them. 

I do not know whether you have seen Hussey's 
Pastoral Letter. It is written with eloquence and 
energy, and with perhaps too little management 
towards the unfortunate system which rules in Ireland 
at present ; but it is the product of a manly mind, 
strongly impressed with the trust committed to Ms 
hands for supporting that religion, in the administra- 
tion of which he has a very responsible place, and 
which he considers as in the commencement of a new 
persecution. It is therefore no wonder that he recom- 
mends an adherence to it under all circumstances, 
which many people animated by a contrary party 
zeal may not approve : but men must act according 
to their situation, and for one I am of opinion that it 
were better to have a strong party zeal, provided it is 
bottomed in our common principles, than anything 
resembling infidelity, which last we know, by woful 
experience, is as capable of religious persecution as 
any sectarian spirit can possibly be. 

I received your letter of yesterday. Nothing can 
equal the precipitation of Ministers, in acceding to 
the demands of the first mutiny. Nothing but want of 
foresight can be alleged in favour of the formalizing 
delay to effectuate the purposes of the grant which 
had been extorted from their fears. But this will 
ever be the case of those who act from no principle but 
fear. The moment that is over, they fall into a supine 
security. I agree with you, that no folly ever equalled 
their attempt to beg off discussion upon this subject. 
They ought to have known that it would have no 
other effect than what it had, which was to provoke 
and inflame the discussion they so childishly sought to 
avoid ; but the whole is the result of that meanness 
of spirit which has brought on all our misfortunes, and 
rendered all our resources fruitless. 

Delicacy alone has been the sole cause of my silence 
to Mr. Windham, with relation to the affairs of Ire- 
land ; otherwise he is entitled to, and he possesses 

422 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

my most unreserved confidence. I have therefore no 
sort of difficulty in wishing him to know my thoughts 
upon that subject. They will not be very encouraging 
to him, because I am greatly afraid that the pre- 
posterous method [of] beginning with force and ending 
with concession, may defeat the effect of both. If 
things had been m their natural course, I should 
certainly have agreed with him. No concession on 
the part of Government ought ever to be made without 
such a demonstration of force, as might ensure it 
against contempt. It will always be a matter of 
great moment in whose hands the force to be applied 
in domestic disturbances is placed. Never, no, never 
shall I be persuaded that any force can appear other- 
wise than as odious, and more odious than dreaded, 
when it is known to be under the direction of Lord 
Carhampton. I will not enter into all the particulars, 
but among the many mischievous measures lately 
adopted, his nomination to the office of commander-in- 
chief led to by far the worst consequences. 

When I am opening my mind to you, I must add, 
that as long as a shallow, hot-headed puppy, proud 
and presumptuous, and ill behaved, like Mr. Cooke, has 
the chief or any credit at the Castle, or with Ministry 
here, I can expect no sort of good from anything that 
can be done in Parliament. When we talk of giving 
way to Mr. Grattan and the Ponsonbys, I suppose it 
is meant that they should be taken into the Irish 
Ministry ; else to give them a triumph, and at the 
same time to leave them in a state of discontent and 
dissatisfaction, if we consider the interest of Govern- 
ment as Government, is to act against the most 
obvious dictates of common sense. Adieu. I may 
truly say with Addison's Cato, I am weary of con- 
jecture/ I will not add with him, that * this must end 
them '. But they must soon be ended by the Master 
of the drama, to whose will, pray with me, that we 
may be aU, in all things, submissive. Don't forget 
to send me the Report of the House of Commons, and 
that of the House of Lords, if you can get it ; though 

1797] TO DR. LAURENCE 423 

I do not know why I am anxious about it, because as 
a nation our fate seems decided, and we perish with 
all the material means of strength that ever nation 
has possessed, by a poverty and imbecility of mind 
which has no example I am sure, and could have no 
excuse even in the weakest. Adieu, adieu. 
Yours ever, 

E. B. 


Bath, May 23, 1797. 

I am on the point of leaving Bath, having no further 
hope of benefit from these waters ; and as soon as 
I get home, (if I should live to get home,) if I should 
find the papers transmitted me by your board, I shall 
send them faithfully to you, though, to say the truth, 
I do not think them of very great importance. My 
constant opinion was, and is, that all matters relative 
to labour ought to be left to the conventions of the 
parties ; that the great danger is, in governments 
intermeddling too much. What I should have taken 
the liberty of addressing to you, had I had the strength 
to go through it, would be to illustrate or enforce that 
principle. I am extremely sorry that any one in the 
House of Commons should be found so ignorant and 
unadvised, as to wish to revive the senseless, bar- 
barous, and, in fact, wicked regulations made against 
the free-trade in matter of provision, which the good 
sense of late Parliaments had removed. I am the 
more concerned at the measure, as I was myself the 
person who moved the repeal of the absurd code of 
statutes against the most useful of all trades, under 
the invidious names of forestalling and regrating. 
But, however, I console myself on this point by con- 
sidering that it is not the only breach by which bar- 
barism is entering upon us. It is, indeed, but a poor 
consolation, and one taken merely from the balance of 

424 EDMUND BURKE [1797 

misfortunes. You have titles enough of your own, 
to pass your name to posterity, and I am pleased that 
you have yet spirit enough to hope that there will be 
such a thing as a civilized posterity to attend to things 
of this kind. I have the honour to be, with very high 
respect and esteem, 

Dear sir, your most obedient 

and very humble servant, 


[An inclusive number has sometimes been given, for the 
sake of brevity, where the subject occurs frequently in 
those pages, but not necessarily on every page.] 

Albemarle, Lord (1724-72), 

44, 71, 155. 
America, 20, 57, 179, 185- 

6, 190, 196-206, 360, 
Aubrey, Sir J., 65, 84, 185. 
Austria, Emperor of, 299, 

301, 310-11, 317-21, 370. 

Bagot, Sir W., 110-11. 
Barnave, 306, 316. 
Barrington, Lord (1717- 

93), 110-11, 115. 
Barry, To James, 192. 
Bath, 359, 391. 423. 
Bath, Marquis of (1734-96), 

Bathurst, Earl (1714-94), 

6 Bedfords, the ', 49, 50, 59, 

73, 153-4. 
Bedford (fourth Duke of) 

(1710-77), 37, 39, 40, 50, 


(fifth Duke of), 338, 419. 
Bell Club, Bristol, 213, 221. 
Bentinck, Mr., 174. 
Bill of Rights, 80-8. 
Bintinnaye, Chev. de, 294, 

318-24. . 

Blackstone, Sir W., 59. 
Bonaparte, 397-9. 
Bourbon princes, 312, 321, 


Bourke, J., 211. 

Thibet, 77. 
Bradshaw, 43. 
Brissot, 372. 

Bristol, 17, 205-21, 234, 

Brunswick, Duke of, 353, 

Buckinghamshire petition, 

57, 62. 

Lord (1723-93), 179. 
Bullock, Joseph, 81, 181, 


Burgh, W., 194. 

Burgoyne, General, 229. 

letters and verses, 1-21 : 
breach with Gerard 
Hamilton, 22-35 ; letters 
to Lord Rockingham, 
38-209; his farming, 51, 
89 ; letters to Bishop 
(afterwards Archbishop) 
Markham, 92-135; on 
American affairs, 179, 
185-206, 360,- on Irish 
affairs, 203-7, 225-7, 344- 
6, 359-60, 377-421; on 
Roman Catholic disabili- 
ties, 225-34, 345-7, 359- 
60, 377-84, 394r-421 ; on 
Indian affairs (Warren 
Hastings), 240-54, 343, 



353-8, 410-12; on the 
Regency, 255-66, 332- 
7 ; on French, affairs, 
266-339, 347-53, 359-76, 
414-15 ; on Jacobinism, 
French and English, 
313-14, 350-2, 363, 374- 
6, 387-8, 396-407 ; fail- 
ing health, 383, 390-6, 
410-13, 423; writings, 
109; On the Sublime and 
Beautiful, 21 ; Vindica- 
tion of Natural Society, 
21 n. ; Thoughts on the Pre- 
sent Discontents, 60, 69, 
80 ; Two Letters to Gentle- 
men in the City of Bristol 
(1778), 221; Letter to 
a Member of the National 
Assembly (1791), 295; 
An Appeal from the New 
to the Old Whigs (1791), 
310, 327 ; Reflections on the 
Revolution in France, 310. 

Jane Mary (wife), 21, 38, 
40, 48, 79, 81, 86, 90, 218, 
224, 229, 304, 324, 345, 
372, 383, 390, 414. 

Richard (brother), 11, 
21, 54, 70, 79, 125-8, 134, 
149 n., 176, 224, 244r-5, 
264, 342, 359, 372. 

Richard (son), 173, 224, 
244-5; letters to, 176, 
304, 317-24, 342-7, 359, 
371, 383. 

William (relative), 15 n., 
18, 38, 49, 54, 70, 75, 
79, 85, 99, 110, 121-8, 
134, 140, 181 ; letters to, 
244, 353. 

Bute, Lord (1713-92), 39- 
42, 57, 65, 77. 

Calonne, 294, 305, 317. 
Camden, Lord (1713-93), 

49j 72-4, 89, 153-4. 
Campbell, Lord F. (1729- 

1816), 46. 
Carhampton, Earl of: see 

Cavendish, Lord F. (1729- 

1803), 72, 79, 107, 147, 

Lord John (1732-96), 43, 

72, 79, 85, 107, 111, 166, 

179, 190, 197-9, 204, 

20&-9, 326 
Cazales, 324. 
Champion (R.), letters to, 

210, 217. 

Charles Edward, 10. 
Chatham, William Pitt, 

Earl (from 1766) of, 

37,41, 54-8, 61, 66-76, 

81, 85-7, 113, 170, 187-8, 

191, 204, 209, 223. 
Chesterfield, Lord, 46, 109. 
Churchill, Mr., 184 n. 
Cic<, de, 294, 297. 
Clergy, French, 322, 361. 
Clerke, Sir P., 218. 
Clinton, Lord T., 184, 187. 
Clive, Lord, 77, 167. 
Codrington, Sir W., 184. 
Colebrooke, Sir G., 54, 77, 

137, 145, 159, 162. 
Condorcet, 301, 314, 352. 
Conway, Henry Seymour, 

41-6, 154. 

ComewaU, C. W., 175. 
Cornwallis, Lord (173&- 

1805), 358. 
Cruger, Mr., 234-5. 
Cumberland, Duke of, 107, 

Curry, Dr. J., 225. 



D., J., 205. 

Dalrymple, Sir D.. 313. 

Dalton, Count, 362. 

Dartmouth, Lord (1731- 
1801), 186, 198. 

Dauphin, the, 312-13. 

Dissenters, 195, 346, 352, 

Dorset, third Duke of, 311. 

Dowdeswell, William, 45, 
59, 61, 79, 83, 86, 107, 
146-8, 158-60, 166-7, 
173-5, 179, 183-4, 191; 
letters to, 136-46. 

Duigenan, Patrick, 416. 

1802, Viscount Melville), 
246, 310-17, 355, 411; 
letter to, 252. 

Dupont, Monsieur, 266. 

East India Company : see 

Indian Affairs. 
Egmont, Lord (1711-70),39. 
Ellenborough, Lord, 343. 
Elliott, Hugh, 306. 
Erskine, Thomas, Baron, 

336, 413-14. 
Ewart, Mr., 306. 

Fitzherbert, Mrs., 266. 

(? Sir William), 50, 86, 

Fitzwilliam, Earl (1748- 
1833), 179, 337, 341, 357, 
371, 383-90, 403, 415-20. 

Mood, Henry, 34. 

Fox, Charles James, 59, 86, 
149, 245-6, 250, 259-63, 
325-7, 333-7, 343, 354-8, 
371-5, 414-19 ; letter to, 

Franchise, Extension of the. 

Francis, Sir Philip, 246, 279. 
Franklin, Benjamin, 179-80. 
Frederick the Great, see 

Prussia, King of. 
French affairs, 266-339, 

347-53, 359-76, 414-15. 

clergy, 322, 361. 

refugees, 361. 

George III, 37, 107, 197-9, 
255-7, 264, 313, 336, 347. 

George IV : see Prince of 

Germain, Lord G. (Vis- 
count Sackville, 1716- 
85), 147-8, 165-7, 169-70. 

Gordon Riots, 229-34. 

Gower (Leveson-), Lord 
(1758-1833), 50, 349. 

Grafton, Duke of (1735- 
1811), 40, 42, 49-50, 59, 
113, 153-4, 185. 

Grattan, Henry, 344-5, 416, 

Gregories, 47 n. 

Gregory, Mr., 159, 162. 

Grenvilles, the (see below; 
also Lord Temple), 37, 45, 
55, 58, 66, 73, 85, 167, 181. 

Grenville, Hon. G. (1712- 
70), 42, 49, 53, 57, 63,66- 
7, 70, 72, 75. 78, 86, 110, 

Henry, 66. 

William Wyndham, 
Baron (1759-1834), 317- 
20, 416 ; letter to, 347. 

Grey, Charles, second Earl 

(1764-1845), 343. 
Guilford, Lord (1757-1802), 

358, 419. 

Halifax, Lord (1716-71), 
22, 24, 36. 



Hamilton, William Gerard, 


Hampden, Mr., 62, 173. 
Harford, Joseph, 234. 
Hastings, Warren, 241. 

246-50, 254, 342-3, 410-"- 

Hay, Dr. (? Sir George Hay, 

1715-78), 49-50. 
Hertford, Lord (1719-94), 

41, 58. 
Hillsborough, Lord (1718- 

93), 115. 

Holland, Lord (1705-74), 45. 
Hussey, Rev. Dr. Thomas 

(Bishop of Waterford), 

377, 395, 421. 
Hutchinson, J. Hely, 28. 

Impey, Elijah, 246. 
Inchiquin, Lord (7-1808), 

65-6, 36L 
Indian afairs, 78, 136, 

144-5, 157-71, 178, 240- 

54, 342-3, 358, 376, 410- 

Irish affairs, 203, 207-8, 

225-7, 323, 344-6, 359- 

60, 377-421. 

Jacobinism, Trench and 
English, 313, 350-2, 363, 
374-6, 387, 396-9, 402-3, 

Jenkinson, C. (afterwards 
Lord Liverpool) (1727- 
1808), 192. 

Junius, Letters of, 91-4, 120. 

Keogh, Thomas, 387-8, 391. 
Keppel, Hon. Augustus, 39, 

44-5, 68, 71, 138. 
King, Eev. T., 173, 176, 

244, 371. 

Knowles, Admiral Sir C., 

La Fayette, 311, 316. 

Lameth, 316. 

Langnshe, Sir Hercules, 38, 

Lansdowne, Lord : see Shel- 

Laurence, French, 383-91, 


Lee, Arthur, 198. 
London election (1769-70), 

56-7, 85-6. 

Loughborough, Lord (after- 
wards Earl of Bosslyn) 

(1733-1805), 231, 355-8. 
Louis XVI, 307-8, 311, 

348-9. 369. 
Lowndes, Charles, 43, 85, 

Luttrell, Henry Lawes (Earl 

of Carhampton, 1787), 

52, 57, 384, 422. 
Lyttelton, Lord (1709-73), 

153. t 

Macaulay, Mrs., 80. 

Mackintosh, Sir James, 389. 

Mahon, Lord (afterwards 
Earl Stanhope) (1753- 
1816), 184-8. 

Malmesbury, Lord (1746- 
1820), 388-9. 

Manchester, fourth Puke 
of, 85-7. 

Mansfield, first Earl of 
(1705-93), 87, 93, 98- 
100, 113, 138, 148. 

Marie Antoinette, 282, 311, 
314, 369. 

Markham, Bishop (after- 
wards Archbishop), 92, 
95-136, 173. 



Mason, Mr., 71 ? 194. 
Mason, J. Monck, 31. 
Mercer, Capt., 284. 
Merci Argenteau, Comte de, 

314, 320, 361. 
Meredith, Sir W., 54, 59. 
Middlesex election (1768-9), 

52-3, 56, 64, 77, 82-3. 
Montagu, ? Frederick (1733- 

1800), 327. 
Mountmorres, Lord (1746?- 

1797), 187. 

Nagle, 317, 361. 

Naval affairs, 414^-15, 421. 

Newcastle, first Duke of 

(1693-1768), 46, 72, 107, 

154, 264. 

second Duke (1720-94), 

Noble, John, 219, 239. 

Non-attendance (Parlia- 
mentary tactics), 142, 
179, 202. 

North, Lord (1732-92), 113, 
137-8, 148, 160, 186, 218, 
261, 333. 

Northumberland, first Duke 
of (1715-86), 50, 184, 187. 

second Duke (1742- 
1817), 419. 

O'Brien : see Inchiquin. 
Oxford University, 290, 

Paine, Tom, 347. 
Parliamentary reform, 237. 
Pelham, Hon. T. (1728- 

1805), 258. 
Penn, 205. 
Petion, 352. 
Pitt, William (1759-1806), 

253-4, 259, 262-3, 305-6 

313, 318, 356-8, 390, 411. 
Poland, 148, 165, 186, 310. 
Ponsonby, George (1755- 

1817), lord chancellor of 

Ireland, 422. 
Ponsonby, W. B. , first Baron 

(1744-1806), 208, 422. 
Portland, third Duke of 

(1738-1809), 48, 74, 107, 

172, 185-7, 205, 223, 337, 

341, 354-9, 371-2, 408, 

415, 419. 

Pownall, Thomas, 186, 
Price, Richard, 211, 283, 


Priestley, Joseph, 352, 
Prince of Wales (afterwards 

George IV), 257-60, 265- 

6, 334r-7. 

Prussia, King of (Frederick 
II), 163-5, 288. 
(Frederick William II), 

305-8, 310, 31&-19. 
Prussian Gentleman, letter 

to a, 162. 

Raynal, Abbe, 301. 

Regency, the, 37, 255-66, 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 324, 

Rice, George, 111. 

Richmond, third Duke of 
(1735-1806), 44, 54, 56, 
107, 138, 142, 146, 158, 
16^-7, 171-2, 178-80, 
191, 237 ; letters to, 149, 
180, 206. 

Rigby, Richard, 59, 110-11. 

Rivarol, Chev. de, 298. 

Rockingham, second Mar- 
quis of (1730-82), 104-7, 



116, 121, 136-46, 151, 
letters to, 38-89, 146, 
157-92, 196, 199, 209. 

Roman Catholics, 226, 232- 
4, 344-7, 359-60, 377-88, 
394-400, 404, 409, 416- 

Rumbold, Sir T., 240, 246. 

Russia, 148, 164, 201, 288, 

St. George's Fields, 65, 115. 
Saunders, Sir C., 68, 71, 

Savile, Sir G-. (1726-84), 

69, 107, 140, 146-7, 172, 

183, 205, 230, 237. 
Sawbridge, John, 80, 87. 
Secession from the Whigs 

considered, 139, 143. 
Shackleton, Richard, letters 

to, 1-21, 46, 79, 22r, 

Shelburne, second Earl of 

(first Marquis of Lans- 

downe, 1784)( 1737-1805), 

49, 55, 77, 175, 213, 245, 

283, 419. 
Sheridan, R. B., 263, 333-4, 

337, 371, 419. 
Stamp Act, 210. 
Sullivan, 77-8, 246. 

Surrey address (1769), 53, 

Sweden, King of (Gusta- 

vus HI), 308. 

Temple, Earl (1711-79), 57, 
63-6, 72, 75-8, 84, 111, 
153, 180-1, 185. 

Thesiger,Mr., 157, 196, 199. 

Thurlow, first Baron (1731- 
1806), 355. 

Tolendal, Laliy, 292. 
Toleration, religious, 194-6. 
Townshend, Charles (1725- 
67), 36, 41. 

Charles (1728-1810), 58, 
91, 94. 

Lord (George, 4th Vis- 
count and 1st Marquis) 
(1740-1807), 46. 

Thomas (1733-1800), 
67-8, 147, 170. 

Thomas (' old Tommy ', 
1701-80), 147, 170. 

Trade, 36, 201, 423. 
Trevelyan, Mr., 239. 
Trevor, Hon. J., 291. 
Turkey, 148, 164, 201. 

Verney, Lord (? 1712-91), 
46-7, 57, 66, 74-5, 78, 81, 
84, 181-9. 

Weddell, W., 325. 
Wedderburn, A. (1733- 

1805), 43, 179. 
Wendover, 81, 84, 188. 
Weymouth, Lord (1734-96), 

34, 115, 356. 

Whately, Thomas, 62, 64. 
Wild, John, 389. 
Wilkes, John, 52, 78-80, 

138, 152, 184, 187, 212. 
Wmdham, W. (1750-1810), 

257, 290, 387, 421. 
Woodford, Emperor, 372, 

Wurtemburg, Duke of, 324. 

Yorke, Hon. C., 40, 112, 

Yorkshire, 52, 62, 74, 82-3, 

Young, Arthur, 89, 423. 






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MAUDE (AYLMER). Life of Tolstoy. 2 vols. (383, 384). 
SCOTT (Sm WALTER). Lives of the Novelists. Introduction by 

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WALTON (!ZAAK). Lives of Donne, Wotton, Hooker, Herbert, 

Sanderson. Introduction by George Samtsbury (303). 

\ The * Classics \ Greek and Roman 

AESCHYLUS. The Seven Plays. Translated into English Verse by 

Lewis Campbell (117). 
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FROUDEQ. A.). Short Studies on Great Subjects. Series I (269). 

HAZLITT (WILLIAM). Characters of Shakespeare's Plays (205). 
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HOLMES (OLIVER WENDELL). The Autocrat of the Breakfast- 
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HORNE (R. H.). A New Spirit of the Age (127). 

HUNT (LEIGH). Essays and Sketches (i 15). 

IRVING (WASHINGTON). The Sketch Book (173). 

LAMB. Essays of Elia, and The Last Essays of Elia (2). 

LANDOR. Imaginary Conversations. Selected (196). 

LA ROCHEFOUCAULD. The Maxims. Trans, by F. G. Stevens 

MILTON. Selected Prose (293). 

MONTAIGNE'S ESSAYS. Flono's translation. 3 vols. (65* 70, 77). 

REYNOLDS (Sm JOSHUA). The Discourses, &c. (149). 

RUSKIN. *A Joy for Ever*, and The Two Paths. Illustrated 
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and Tide, and The Crown of Wild Olive ( 146). Unto this Last, 
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SMOLLETT. Travels through France and Italy (90). 

STERNE (LAURENCE). A Sentimental Journey (333). 

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COBBOLD (Rsv. RICHARD). Margaret Catchpole (119). 
COLLINS (WILKIE), The Moonstone. Introduction by T. S 

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DEFOE. Robinson Crusoe. Part I (17). 
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on the Floss (31). Romola (178). Scenes of Clerical Life (155). 

Silas Marner, &c. (80). 

FIELDING. Jonathan Wild (382). Joseph Andrews (334). 
GALT QOHN). The Entail (177). 
GASKELL (MRS.). Cousin Phillis, and Other Tales, &c. (168). 

Cranford, The Cage at Cranford, and The Moorland Cottage 

(i loj. Lizzie Leigh, The Grey Woman, and Other Tales, Sec. 

(175). Mary Barton (86). North and South (154). Right at 

Last, and Other Tales, &c. (203). Round the Sofa (190). 

Ruth (88). Sylvia's Lovers (156). Wives and Daughters (157). 
GOLDSMITH. The Vicar of Wakefield (4). 
HARRIS QOEL CHANDLER). Uncle Remus (361). 
HAWTHORNE. House of the Seven Gables (273); The Scarlet 

Letter (26). Tales (319). 
HOLME (CONSTANCE). Beautiful End (431). Crump Folk going 

Home (419). He-who-came? (440). The Lonely Plough (390). 

The Old Road from Spam (400). The Splendid Fairing (416). 

The Things which Belong (425). The Trumpet in the 

Dust (409). The Wisdom of the Simple, &c. (453). 


KINGSLEY (HENRY). Geoffry Hamlyn (271). Ravenshoe (267). 
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LA MOTTE FOUQUE. Undine, Sintrain, &c. (408). 

LESAGE. Gil Bias. 2 vols. (151, 152). 

MACKENZIE (COMPTON). Guy and Pauline. With new Introduc- 
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MARRYAT. Mr. Midshipman Easy (i 60). Jacob Faithful (439). 

MELVILLE (HERMAN). Moby Dick (225). Typee(274). Omoo 
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MORIER (J. J.). Hajji Baba (238). Hajji Baba in England (285). 

PEACOCK (T. L.). Headlong Hall ; and Nightmare Abbey (339). 
Misfortunes of Elphin; and Crotchet Castle (244). 

RABELAIS. Gargantua and Pantagruel. 3 volumes (411-13). 

SCOTT. Ivanhoe (29). 

SMOLLETT. Roderick Random (353). Humphry Clinker (290); 

STERNE. Sentimental Journey (333). Tristram Shandy (40). 

STEVENSON (R. L.)* Kidnapped ; and Catriona (297). The Master 
of Ballantrae (441). Treasure Island (295). 

STURGIS (HOWARD). Belchamber (429). 

SWIFT. Gulliver's Travels (20), 


TAYLOR (MEADOWS). Confessions of a Thug (207); 

THACKERAY. Henry Esmond (28). 

TOLSTOY. Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude* Anna 
Karenina. 2 volumes (210, 211). Childhood, Boyhood, and 
Youth (352). The Cossacks, &c. (208). Ivan Ilych, and Hadji 
Murad (432). The Kreutzer Sonata, &c. (266). Resurrection, 
trans, by L. Maude (209). Twenty-three Tales (72). War and 
Peace. 3 volumes (233-5). 

TROLLOPE. American Senator (391). Ayala's Angel (342). Bar- 
chester Towers (268). The BeltonEstate(25i). Canyouforgive 

(357)- Framley Parsonage (305). The Kellys and the O'Kellys 
(341). Lady Anna (443). Last Chronicle of Barset. 2 vols. 
(398, 399). Miss Mackenzie (278). Orley Farm. 2 vols. (423, 
424). Phineas Finn. 2 vols. (447, 448). Phineas Redux. 
2 vols. (450, 451). The Prime Minister. 2 vols. (454, 455)* 
Rachel Ray (279). Ralph the Heir. 2 vols. (475, 476). Sir 
Harry Hotspur (336). The Small House at Allington. a vols. 
(472,473). Tales of all Countries (397). The Three Clerks 
(140). The Vicar of Bullhampton (272). The Warden (217). 
The Way we Live now. 2 vols. (484, 485). 

WALPOLE (HUGH). Prelude to Adventure (465). 


WHARTON (EDITH). The House of Mirth (437)- 


^f History 

BARROW (SiR JOHN). The Mutiny of the Bounty (195). 
BUCKLE. The History of Civilization. 3 volumes (41, 48, 53). 
CARLYLE. The French Revolution. Introduction by C. JR. L. 

Fletcher. 2 volumes (125, 126). 

FROUDE (J. A.). Short Studies on Great Subjects. Series I (269). 
GIBBON. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. With Maps. 

7 volumes (35, 44, 51, 55, 64, 69, 74). 
IRVING (WASHINGTON). Conquest of Granada (150). 
MACAULAY. History of England. 5 volumes (366-70). 
MOTLEY. Rise of the Dutch Republic. 3 volumes (96, 97, 98). 
PRESCOTT (W. H.). The Conquest of Mexico, avols. (197,198). 


BURKE. Letters. Selected, with Introduction, by H.J. Laski (237). 
CHESTERFIELD. Letters. Selected, with an Introduction, by 

Phyllis M. Jones (347). 

CONGREVE. Letters, in Volume II. See under Drama (277). 
COWPER. Letters. Selected, with Intro., by E. V. Lucas (138). 
DUFFERIN (LORD). Letters from High Latitudes. Illustrated (15 8). 
GRAY (THOMAS). Letters. Selected by John Beresford (283). 
JOHNSON (SAMUEL). Letters. Selected, with Introduction, by 

R. W. Chapman (282), 
SOUTHEY. S elected Letters (169). 
WHITE (GILBERT). The Natural History of Selborne (22). 

^Literary Criticism 

AMERICAN CRITICISM. Representative Literary Essays. Chosen 
by Norman Foerster (354). 

COLERIDGE (S.T.) Lectures on Shakespeare (363). 

ENGLISH CRITICAL ESSAYS. Selected and edited by Edmund D. 
Jones. 2 volumes: I, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries (240); 
II, Nineteenth Century (206). 

HAZLITT (WILLIAM). Characters of Shakespeare's Plays. Intro- 
duction by Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch (205). Lectures on the 
English Comic Writers. Introduction by JR. Bnmley Johnson 
(124). Lectures on the English Poets (255). The Spirit of the 
Age. (Essays on his contemporaries) (57). 

HORNE (R. H.). A New Spirit of the Age (127). 

JOHNSON (SAMUEL). Lives of the Poets. 2 volumes (83, 84). 

MORE (PAUL ELMER), Selected Shelbume Essays (434). 

SAINTE-BEUVE. Causeries du Lundi. (In English.) Two Series 
(372-3). J 

Selected and introduced by D. Nichol Smith (212). 

SHAKESPEARE CRITICISM (1919-1935). Selected and introduced 
by Anne Bradby (436). 


If Philosophy and Science 

(For POLITICAL THEORY and RELIGION see separate headings) 
AOTELIUS (MARCUS). Thoughts. Translated by Johnjackson( 60). 
BACON. The Advancement of Learning, and the New Atlantis. 

Introduction by Professor Case (93). Essays (24). 
CARLYLE. Sartor Resartus (19). 
DARWIN. The Origin of Species. With a new preface by Major 

Leonard Darwin (i i). 
REYNOLDS (SIR JOSHUA). Discourses, &c. Introduction by ADo5- 

son (149). 

TOLSTOY. What then must we do ? Trans, by A. Maude (281). 
WHITE (GILBERT). The Natural History of Selborne (22). 


ARNOLD (MATTHEW). Poems, 1849-67 (85). 

BLAKE (WILLIAM). Selected Poems (324). 


BROWNING (ROBERT). Poems and Plays, 1833-42 (58). Poems, 
1842-64 (137). 

BURNS (ROBERT). Poems (34). Complete and in large type. 

BYRON. Poems. A Selection (180). 

CHAUCER, The Works of . 3 volumes: 1(42); II (56); III, con- 
taining the whole of the Canterbury Tales (76). 

COLERIDGE. Poems. Introduction by Sir A. T. Quitter-Couch (99). 

CONGREVE (WILLIAM). Complete works in 2 volumes. Intro- 
ductions by Bonamy Dobrie. I, The Comedies (276); II, The 
Mourning 'Bride, Poems, Miscellanies and Letters (277). 

DANTE. Italian text and English verse-translation by Melville B. 

Anderson, on facing pages, with notes. 3 vols. (392-4). 
Translation only, with notes, in one volume (395). 

DOBSON (AUSTIN). Selected Poems (249). 

ENGLISH SONGS AND BALLADS. Compiled by T. W* H. Crosland. 
New edition, with revised text and additional poems, 1927 (13). 

PION to the Ballads; DRYDEN to WORDSWORTH; SCOTT to E. B. 
Peacock (308-312). 

FRANCIS OF Assist (ST.). The Little Flowers of St. Francis. 
Translated into English Verse by James Rhoades (265). 

GOETHE. Faust, Parts I and II. Translated by Bayard Taylor. 
Intro, by Marshall Montgomery and notes by Douglas Yaa(38o). 

GOLDEN TREASURY, THE. With additional Poems (133). 

GOLDSMITH. Poems. Introduction by Austin Dobson (123)* 

GRAY. Poems. Introduction by Leonard Whibley (474). 

HERRICK (ROBERT). Poems (16). 


HOMER. Translated by Pope. Iliad (i 8). Odyssey (36). 
HOOD. Poems. Introduction by Walter J err old ( 8 7). 
IBSEN. Peer Gynt. Translated by R. Ellis Roberts (446). 
KEATS. Poems (7). 
KEBLE. The Christian Year ( 1 8 1 ). 
LONGFELLOW. Hiawatha, Miles Standish, &c. (174); 
MACAULAY, Lays of Ancient Rome ; Ivry ; The Armada (27). 
MARLOWE. Dr. Faustus (with GOETHE'S Faust, Part I, trans. 
J. An$ter\ Introduction by Sir A. W. Ward (135). Plays 


MILTON. The English Poems (182). 
MORRIS (WILLIAM). The Defence of Guenevere, Life and Death 

of Jason, and other Poems (183). 
NARRATIVE VERSE, A BOOK OF. Compiled by V, H. Collins* 

With an Introduction by Edmund Blunden (350), 
PALGRAVE. The Golden Treasury. With additional Poems (i 33). 
ROSSETTI (CHRISTINA). Goblin Market, &c. (184). 
SCOTT (SiR WALTER). Selected Poems (186). 
SCOTTISH VERSE, A BOOK OF, Compiled by R. L. Mackie (417). 
SHAKESPEARE. Plays and Poems. Preface by A. C, Swinburne. 

Introductions by Edward Dowden. 9 volumes. Comedies. 3 

volumes (100, 101, 102). Histories and Poems, 3 volumes 

(103, 104, 105). Tragedies. 3 volumes (106, 107, 108). 
SHELLEY. Poems. A Selection (187). 
SWINBURNE (A. C.). Selected Poems (481). 
TENNYSON. Selected Poems. Intro, by Sir Herbert Warren (3). 
VIRGIL. The Aeneid, Georgics, and Eclogues. Translated by 

Dry den (37). Translated by James Rhoades (227). 
WELLS (CHARLES). Joseph and his Brethren. A Dramatic Poem. 

Intro, by A. C. Swinburne, and Note by T. Watts-Dunton( 143). 
WHITMAN. A Selection. Introduction by Selincourt (218). 
WHITTIER. Poems: A Selection (i 88). 
WORDSWORTH. Poems: A Selection (189). 

^Politics, Political Economy, Political Theory 

BAGEHOT (WALTER). The English Constitution. With an Intro- 
duction by the Earl of Balfour (330). 

BUCKLE. The History of Civilization. 3 volumes (41, 48, 53). 

BURKE (EDMUND). Letters. Selected, with an Introduction, by 
Harold jf. Laski (237). Works. 6 volumes. I: A Vindica- 
tion of Natural Society; The Sublime and Beautiful &c. (71). 
II: The Present Discontents; and Speeches and Letters on 
America (81). Ill : Speeches on India, &c. (i 1 1). IV: Writings 
on France, 1790-1 (112). V: Writings on Ireland, &c,( 113). VI: 
A Letter to a Noble Lord ; and Letters on a Regicide Peace (114). 

edited by E. R. Jones (191). 

MACAULAY. Speeches. Selected by G. M. Young (433). 

MACHIAVELLI. The Prince (43). 


MAINE (SiR HENRY). Ancient Law (362). 
MILL (JOHN STUART). On Liberty, Representative Government, 

and the Subjection of Women (170). 

MILTON (JOHN). Selected Prose. Intro. Malcolm W. Wallace (-393 )j 
RUSKIN. 'A Joy for Ever ', and The Two Paths. Illustrated (147). 

Time and Tide, and The Crown of Wild Olive (146). Unto 

this Last, and Munera Pulveris (148). 

SMITH (ADAM). The Wealth of Nations, 2 volumes (54, 59). 

1917). Ed. A. B. Keith. 2 volumes (215, 216). 

Selected, with Introduction, by A. B. Keith (403). 

Edited, with Introduction, by A. B. Keith (231, 232). 

37). Edited by A. B. Keith. 2 vols. (457, 458). 

2 vols. (479, 480). 

TOLSTOY. What then must we do ? (281); 
TRACTS AND PAMPHLETS, A Miscellany of. Sixteenth to Nine- 
teenth Centuries. Edited by A. C. Ward (304). 

\ Religion 

THE OLD TESTAMENT. Revised Version. 4 vols. (385-8).' 

APOCRYPHA, THE, in the Revised Version (294). 


Version (344). 
THE NEW TESTAMENT. Authorized Version (471). Revised 

Version (346). 

A KEMPIS (THOMAS). Of the Imitation of Christ (49); 
AURELIUS (MARCUS). Translated by John Jackson (6o)j 
SOME SAYINGS OF THE BUDDHA. Edited by F. L. Woodward (483). 
BUNYAN. The Pilgrim's Progress (12), Mr. Badman (33$). 
CONFUCIUS. The Analects. Trans, by W.E.SoothilL Introduction 

by Lady Hoste (442). 

KORAN, THE. Translated by E. H. Palmer (328). 
SERMONS, Selected English. Intro. Rt . Rev. Hensley Henson (464). 
TOLSTOY. Translated by Aylmer Maude* A Confession, and 

What I believe (229). On Life, and Essays on Religion (426). 

The Kingdom of God, and Peace Essays (445). 

If Short Stories 

AFRICA, STORIES OF. Chosen by E. C. Parnwell (359); 
AUSTRIAN SHORT STORIES. Translated by Marie Busch (337)* 
CRIME AND DETECTION. Two Series (301, 351). Stones by H. c. 


DOROTHY SAYERS, and others. 


CZECH TALES, SELECTED. Translated by Mans Busch and Otto 

DICKENS. Christmas Books (307). 

ENGLISH SHORT STORIES. Four Series. Selected by H. S. 

Milford (193, 228, 315, 477). 
FRENCH SHORT STORIES. Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries. 

Selected and translated by K. Rebillon Lambley (396). 
GASKELL (MRS.). .Introductions by Clement Shorter. Cousin 

Phillis, and Other Tales (168). Lizzie Leigh, The Grey 

Woman, and Other Tales, &c. (175). Right at Last, and Other 

Tales, &c. (203). Round the Sofa (190). 
GERMAN SHORT STORIES. Translated by E, N. Bennett (415). 
GERMAN SHORT STORIES (MODERN). Translated by H. Steinhauer 

and Helen Jessiman (456). 

Selections of Uncanny Tales made by V. H. Colhns. Intro- 

duction by Montague R. James in Series I (284, 323). 
HARTE (BRET). Short Stories (318). 
HOLME (CONSTANCE). The Wisdom of the Simple, &c. (453). 
IRVING (WASHINGTON). Tales (320). 
PERSIAN (FROM THE). The Three Dervishes, and Other Stones. 

Translated from MSS. in the Bodleian by Reuben Levy (254). 
POE (EDGAR ALLAN). Tales of Mystery and Imagination (21). 

Benecke and Marie Busch (230). 

RUSSIAN SHORT STORIES. Translated by A. E. Chamot (287). 
SCOTT, Short Stories. With an Introduction by Lord David 

Cecil (414). 
SPANISH SHORT STORIES. Sixteenth Century. In contemporary 

translations, revised, with Introduction, by 3*. B. Trend (326). 
TOLSTOY. Nine Stories (1855-63) (420). Twenty-three Tales, 

Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude (72). 
TROLLOPE. Tales of all Countries (397). 

U Travel and Topography 

BORROW (GEORGE). The Bible m Spam (75). Wild Wales (224). 

Lavengro (66). The Romany Rye (73). 
DUFFERIN (LORD). Letters from High Latitudes (158). 
MELVILLE (HERMAN). Typee (294). Omoo (275). 
MORIER (J. J.). Hajji Baba of Ispahan. Introduction by C. PF fc 

Stewart, and a Map (238). 
SMOLLETT (TOBIAS). Travels through France and Italy m 1765. 

Introduction (Ixii pages) by Thomas Seccombe (90). 
STERNE (LAURENCE). A Sentimental Journey ( 333). 


Addison, 6. 
Aeschylus, 5. 
Africa, Stories of, 13. 
Ainsworth (W. Harrison), 8. 
A Kempis (Thomas), 13. 
Aksakoff (Serghei), 4. 
Amencan Criticism, 4, 10. 
American Verse, 4. 
Ancient Law, 13. 
Apocrypha The (R. V.), 13, 
Aristophanes, 5. 
Arnold (Matthew), n. 
Aurelms (Marcus), n, 13. 
Austen (Jane), 8, 
Austrian Short Stories, 13. 

Bacon (Francis), n 
Bagehot (Walter) 12. 
Barrow (Sir John), 10. 
Beaumont and Fletcher ; 6. 
Blackmore (R. D.), 8. 
Blake (William), n. 
Borrow (George), 3, 14. 
British Colonial Policy, 13. 

Foreign Policy, 13. 
Bronte" bisters, 8 n. 
Browning (Robert), 6, n. 
Buckle (T. H.), 10, 12 
Buddha, Sayings of the, 13, 
Bunyan (John), 8. 
Burke, 12. 
Bums (Robert), n. 
Butler, 8. 
Byron (Lord), u. 

Carlyle (Thomas), 5, 6, 10. 
Cellini (Benvenuto), 4. 
Cervantes, 8, 
Chaucer, u. 
Chesterfield, 10. 
Cobbold (Richard), 8. 
Coleridge (S, T.), 10, lit 
Collins (Wilkie), 8. 
Colman, 6. 
Confucius, 13. 
Congreve (William), 6, n* 
Cooper (J. Femrnore), 8. 
Cowper (William), 10. 
Crabbe, 5. 

Crime and Detection, 13. 
Critical Essays, 3, 7 io 
Czech Tales, 14. 

Dante, 3, n. 

Darwin (Charles'), n. 

Defoe (Daniel), 8. 

Dekker, 6. 

De Quincey (Thomas), 4. 

Dickens (Charles), 8, 14. 

Disraeli (Benjamin), 8. 
Dobson (Austin), 5, 7, n. 
Don Quixote, 8. 
Douglas (George), 8. 
Dryden, 5, 6. 
Duffenn (Lord), 10, 14. 

Eighteenth-Century Comedies, 
Eliot (George), 8. 
Elizabethan Comedies, 6. 
Elizabethan Tragedies, 6. 
Emerson (R. W.), 7. 
English Critical Essays, 7, ro 
English Essays, 3, 4. 
English Prose, 4. 
English Sermons, 7. 
English Short Stones, 3,4, 14. 
English Songs and Ballads, 4, n. 
English Speeches, 13. 
English Verse, 4, n. 

Farquhar, 6, 
Fielding (Henry), 6, 8. 
Four Gospels, 13. 
Francis (St.), 5, II. 
Franklin (Benjamin), 4. 
French Short Stones 14* 
Froude (J. A.), 7- 

Gait (John), 8. 
Gaskell (Mrs.), 5, 8, 14. 
Gay, 6. 

German Short Stories, 14. 
Ghosts and Marvels, 14. 
Gibbon (Edward), 4, 10. 
Gil Bias, 9. 
Goethe, 6, n, 12. 
Goldsmith (Oliver), 6, 8, n. 
Gray (Thomas), 10, n. 

Harris (J. C.), 8. 
Harte (Bret), 14. 
Hawthorne (Nathaniel), 8, 14, 
Haydon CB. R.), > 
HazUtt (William j,s, 7, 10. 
Herrick (Koberr), u. 
Holme (Constance), 8, 14. 
Holmes (Oliver Wendell), 7, 
Homer, 5, 12. 
Hood (Thomas), la. 
Home (R. H.) 7- 
Houghton (Lord), 5* 
Hunt (Leigh), 5, 7. 

Ibsen (Henrik), 6, 12. 
Inchbald (Mrs.), 6. 
Ingoldsby Legends, n. 
International Affairs, 13, 
Irving (Washington), 7, 10, 14. 


Johnson (Samuel), 5, 10. 

Keats, 12. 
Keble (John), 12. 
Keith (A. B.), 13- 
Kingsley (Henry), 9, 
Koran, The, 13. 

Lamb (Charles), 7. 
La Motte Fouque, 9. 
Landor (W. S.}, 7, 
La Rochefoucauld, 7. 
Lesage, 9. 
Longfellow (H. W.), 12. 

Macaulay (T. B.), 5, ro, 12. 

Machiavelh, iz- 
Mackenzie (Compton), g. 
Maine, Sir Henry, 13- 
Marcus Aurehus, n, 13. 
Marlowe (Christopher), 6, 12. 
Marryat (Captain), 9. 
Massmger, 6. 
Maude (Aylmer), 3,5. 
Memhold (J- W.), g. 
Melville (Herman), 9, 14, 
Mill (John Stuart), 5, 13, 
Milton (John), 7, 13. 
Montaigne, 7. 
More (Paul Elmer), 10. 
Morier (J. J.), 9, 14, 
Morris ( W.), 12. 
Morton, 6. 
Motley (J . I*.), lo. 
Murphy, 6. 

Narrative Verse, 4, 12, 

New Testament, 13, ' 

Old Testament, 13. 
Otway, 6. 

Palgrave (F. T.), 4- 
Pamphlets and Tracts, 4. 7. 
Peacock (T. L.), 9. 
Peacock (W.), 4. 
Persian (From the), 14. 
Poe (Edgar Allan), 14. 
Polish Tales, 14. 
Prescott (W, H.), 10. 
Pre-Shakespearean Comedies, 6. 

Rabelais, 3, 9. 
Reading at Random, 4. 
Redman (B. R.), 4. 
Restoration 1 ragedies, 6. 
Reynolds (Frederick) , 6, 

Reynolds (Sir Joshua), 7. 
Rossetti (Christina,), 12. 
Howe, 6. 

Ruskm (John), 7, 13. 
Russian Short Stories, 14, 
Rutherford (Mark), 7. 
Sainte-Beuve, 10. 
Scott (Sir W.), 5, 9, *3 14- 
Scottish Verse. 4. 12. 
Sermons (English), 7, 13, 
Shakespeare, 6, 12. 
Shakespeare Criticism, 10. 
Shakespeare's Predecessors and 

Contemporaries, 6. 
Shelley, 12, 
Sheridan (R. B.), 6. 
Smith (Adam), 13. 
Smith (Alexander), 7- 
Smollett (T.), 7, 9, *4 
Sophocles, 5. 
Southerne, 6. 
Southey (Robert), 10. 
Spanish Short Stones, 14. 
Stanhope (Lord), 5. 
Steele, 6. 

Sterne (Laurence), 7, 9, 14. 
Stevenson (R. L.), 7, $ 
Sturgis, 9. 
Swift (Jonathan), 9. 
Swinburne, 12. 
Swinnerton (Frank), 9. 

Taylor (Meadows), 9. 
Tennyson (Lord), 12. 
Thackeray (W. M.), 9. 
Three Dervishes, The, 14. 
Tolstoy, 3,5,6,7,9,11, 13, 14. 
Tracts and Pamphlets, 4, 7. 
Trevelyan, 5. 
Trollope (Anthony), 3, 5 9, *4 

Virgil, 5, la- 
Walpole (Hugh), 9. 
Walton Clzaat), 5. 8. 
Watts-Dunton (Theodore), 9, 
Webster, 6 

Wellington (Duke of), 5. 
Wells ( Charles J, 12. 
Wells (H. G.), 4- 
Wharton (Edith), 9. 
White (Gilbert), 8, 10. 
Whitman (Walt), 8, l. 
Whittier (J. G.), 12. 
Wordsworth (William), 22, 

August 1940 

further Volumes are in preparation. 




Carnegie-iellen Unsversity