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on opinion. The belief, that I enjoy that means of happiness, has to me, as long as it lasts, the same effect as the reality: the more the mind advances in knowledge the more will belief follow reality ; but it is the opinion, not its justness, that constitutes the enjoyment.
Burke does not differ more from his political opponent, Johnson, than from his coadjutor, Price. If he disapproves of arbitrary bigotry on the one hand, he scouts metaphysical refinements of republicanism on the other. · There are,' says he,people who have split and anatomized the doctrine of free government, as if it were an abstract question concerning metaphysical liberty and necessity, and not a matter of moral prudence and natural feeling. SpeculaTIONS ARE LET LOOSE, AS DESTRUCTIVE TO ALL AUTHORITY, as the former (slavish doctrines) are to all freedom; and every government is called tyranny and usurpation which is not formed on their fancies. In this manner the stirrers up of this contention are cor
rupting our understandings; they are endeavouring to tear up, along with practical liberty, all the foundations of human society, all equity and justice, religion and order. In these, and other observations of the same tendency, Burke displays the power of his foresight, in perceiving what would be the bitterness of the fruit of doctrines then only budding. In the wild theories, at that time beginning to be framed, he saw and reprobated the seeds of the Rights of Man. He evidently alltided to · Price's Civil Liberty and Priestley's first Principles of Government. Price felt the allusion so much, that a considerable portion of an introduction to an edition of his Observations' is employed in an attempt to refute Burke. How superficial examiners of the writings of both must those be, who assert that Dr. Price and Mr. Burke, in maintaining the cause of the Americans, discover the same political principles ! There is not in any of his writings on the French Revolution to be found principles more opposite to the doctrines of the Rights of Man than in this letter,
The Annual Register has been generally ascribed to Burke; but from internal evidence I should apprehend, that although it might be directed by him, he did not regularly take a great share in the composition.,
- Although Burke did not regularly compose any part of that production, yet when a subject, either literary or political, of very great importance, occurred, he frequently contributed his efforts. This year brought forward a work on new subjects of physical and moral nature:-Robertson's History of America. The account of that production of industry and genius, given in the Annual Register, bears the marks of Burke's philosophical criticism. It shews an extent of moral and political views, similar to that which his writings usually display. This examination does not teem with imagery, but is what Burke's compositions on subjects of mere disquisition frequently are, a connected system of observation and deduction.
The same year that brought to the world a serious performance of the first magnitude, produced also a comedy, greatly superior to any of the same class that had appeared since the time of Congreve. The reader must immediately perceive that this description can apply to no work of the present or last age, but the • SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL: Philosophical history and comic poetry, both likely to descend to the latest posterity, as they were both most excellent in their kind, were coeval in their birth. When we take a view of literary talents at this time, we find these realıms standing fully as high as in political. In the three great departmeists of genius,--poetry, history, and philosophy,—the efforts were great, and collectively equal to any that had ever been made in any age or country. There, no doubt, have been individuals of still greater powers than any displayed in these times. There have been brighter luminaries, but never a greater constellation. Indeed men of very extraordinary genius, as is remarked by one of the first of our living philosophers, (Mr. Dugald Steuart) have seldom existed in a literary and scientific age. But, though the individual endowment may be greater in ages not literary, the aggregate is much greater in learned. In poetry the number at this time was much more limited than at. several periods of British history. Comedy appeared to have monopolized poetical excellence. In the true sense of the word, Burke possessed the greatest degree of poetic genius: in common language, however, the effusions of his prolific and sublime imagination and ardent passions would not be stiled poetry. In history Britain never equalled, Rome and Greece never surpassed, Gibbon, Robertson, and Hume. In ratiocinative eloquence Rome hardly equalled, Greece did not surpass, Fox and Burke : and no country known to us from history presented such an assemblage of learned and able speakers. In criticism there was, amidst great and manifold, though inferior excellence, the expanded views and profound investigation of the author of the Sublime and Beautiful, and of the writer of the