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the a?, but because the freedom and safety of the subject, the origin and causes of all laws, required a proceeding paramount and superior to them. At that ever-memorable and instructive period, the letter of the law was superseded in favour of the substance of liberty. To the free choice, therefore, of the people, without either King or Parliament, we owe that happy establishment, of which both King and Parliament were regenerated.
This representation to the Sovereign, which may be very justly styled a remonstrance, did not meet with the approbation of other chief men of the party. He therefore desisted from his intention.
Anxious to do justice to the subject of this narrative, I think it my duty to mark the occasional excess of his zeal for liberty, and of other beneficial sentiments, as well as
his general principles: an excess leading to : evil, as their wise and moderate operation
led to good. His principles were indeed
those of the most enlarged, liberal, and practical philosophy ; but in his application of them he was not unfrequently misled by fancy, or transported by passion, to notions, expressions, and conduct, which his understanding, when unbiassed, could by no means approve. Whatever his ardent mind pursued, it pursued with its full force. No understanding could take a wider or more comprehensive survey of the connections and relations of objects; yet his eager contemplation of whatever engaged his attention, or interested his affections, made him frequently overlook important parts of the prospect. If he viewed liberty, he would sometimes omit to turn his eyes to order; if order, to liberty.
Burke laid similar sentiments before the public, in a • Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, his constituent city.
Were we to consider the speech of an orator as we do the theorem of a mathematician, as stating a proposition either to be true or false, and by a chain of intermediations proving the asserted truth or falsehood; and to consider the speech as good or bad accordingly, as we should the demonstrations, many speeches of the highest celebrity, the result of very great talents and knowledge, would be in no estimation. Cicero's oration in defence of Milo does not make out the case. He assumes that Clodius intended to attack Milo; and from that assumption of intention assumes that he actually did attack : from the two assumptions he infers the killing of Clodius to be justifiable homicide in self-defence. There is no evidence to support either of the assumptions. The aggression not being proved to have been on the side of Clodius, Milo could not be proved to have killed him in self-defence. Cicero therefore does not demonstrate that which was to be demonstrated. The orator, however, is admired not for NAKING OUT THE CASE, but for the ingenuity of the deductions from assumed premises, and for the pathetic sentiments, for displaying a very strong understanding and
a very feeling heart. The same observation applies to many of the orations of other eminent speakers : we must often consider them rather as exhibitions of the general ability, knowledge, or feelings of the author, than as evictions of the truths undertaken to be proved. .
If we consider Burke's · Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol,' and estimate its excellence by its fitness to justify his secession from Parliament, his reasons do not amount to a justification.
But although the state of the country, and the measures of Government, even if they were as bad as Burke represents, do not prove that he was right in withdrawing his assistance, the letter is a fresh instance of his wonderful powers.
In examining the merits of the habeas corpus suspension, from the measure he went to its proposers, and took a wide view of the whole of their conduct on American
affairs. After detailing the various proceedings of Government, their injustice, inexpediency, and hurtful effects, he rises to to a generalization of the principles to which they have been owing; and the consequences, not to the colonies only but to the spirit of our legislation,—to law, to manners, and to morals.
In this, as in all his works, he shews his aversion to the application of unqualified metaphysical principles to affairs. Experience, and not abstraction, according to Burke, ought to be the guide in practice and in conduct. Government, he conceived, ought to be accommodated to the known opinions and sentiments of the people: if, under the same empire, provinces, or classes of men of very different notions, should be placed, that their polity ought to be diversified accordingly. Instead, says he, of troubling our understandings with speculations concerning the unity of empire, and the identity or distinction of legislative powers, it was our duty, in all soberness, to