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Whether, on the whole, his mind miglit not have been employed as usefully for himself and for mankind, in the sequestered pursuits of literature, is a premature inquiry at this stage of his life; for, if a solvable question, the solution must depend on the effects arising from a different direction of his powers during more advanced periods.
We now know, that the time devoted by Bacon to philosophy was of infinitely superior utility to mankind to that which was occupied in public life. We know, that his political counsels were of much less efficacy, in the wise and successful reign of great Elizabeth, than those of men, who, though possessing considerable talents, were (as almost all men were that ever the world saw) very much inferior in genius to Sir Francis Bacon. As a judge, even had he in a moral view been blameless, he could have done no more than a person of merely a sound understanding, common learning, and professional knowledge, without either genius or philosophy. In the early part of Bacon's life it would have been premature to have determined whether, in a private or public capacity, he might have been most bene-, ficial to himself and to society. highly, Vir. Kelly made a party soon after at his chambers, and introduced the young gentlemen to each other. Mr. Murphy was filled with astonishment, not only at the brilliancy and force of his new acquaintance's genius, but the extent and variety of his literary attainments, though not twenty-four years of age.
Disappointed in Glasgow, Burke betook himself to London, where genius, if vigorously and assiduously exerted, and judiciciously directed, seldom fails of ultimate success.
His first arrival in the metropolis was in 1753, and he immediately entered himself of the Temple. Mr. Murphy, who became a law-student nearly about the same time, was so kind as to communicate to me the particulars of his first interview with Mr. Burke, and the first impression which he made on his mind.
Mr. Kelly, a friend of Mr. Murphy, said to him, · Murphy, you do not know our countryman, Burke?' Mr. Murphy expressing a desire to be acquainted with a gentleman of whom Mr. Kelly spoke very
An intimacy commenced, which gave Mr. Murphy an opportunity of thoroughly knowing, not only the powers and acquirements, but the juvenile habits of Edmund. These, fortunately for mankind, were such as to permit the most constant and complete cultivation of his extraordinary talents, at an age when the great powers of many have been perverted by profligacy. Edmund, even in the heyday of youth, was eminent for temperance. He was addicted to no species of vicious indulgence. Neither the frivolity of fashionable dissipation, the wickedness of debauchery, nor the madness of gaming, wasted, corrupted, or disturbed his mind.
· Various accounts are given of his finances at the outset of life. It has of late been as.. serted that he began the world with a handsome competency, which he sunk by an adherence to a party. The term bandsome competency being vague and indefinite, I cannot enter into a particular discussion of it; but it appears probable that it was not very considerable when he came to London. This is a natural inference from the mode which he adopted soon after his arrival. When he had entered himself of the Temple, he submitted to the drudgery of regularly writing for daily, weekly, and monthly publications. It is not probable that a man, possessed of a competent subsistence in his own private fortune, would seek to earn money by hired writing for newspapers and magazines. But were we to admit that his circumstances were good, we should by no means, by the admission, exalt his merit: the more difficulties he had to combat, the greater force of mind was required to surmount them. To have begun the world in independent
circumstances would not have added to his character.
In the Preface to his Postbumous Works it is stated by the learned Editor, that the family from which Burke was sprung had been ennobled in several of its branches. A reader of the History of Ireland will find that Bourke * was, in the last century, the family name of several peers of that kingdom. Of these, the most distinguished were the Marquis of Clanricarde and Viscount Clanmorris, extinct; and Lord Brittas, forfeited. It is probable that these noble families were branches of that of Bourke-Lord Bourke. The only titled Bourke of the present age is the Earl of Mayo. Burke is believed to have descended from the same root. I do not mention these circumstances with a view to emblazon native genius by heraldry. Edmund Burke must have conferred much more lustre
The name of Burke, or Bourke, was held in high esteem by the ancient Irish.