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It is a difficult task for a young student to master the Speech on Conciliation as a body of political thought. Yet this must be done to a degree, that he may appreciate the speech as a work of literary art. I have, like the master's assistant in the old-time painting class, devoted myself to grinding the colors. In the place of fascinating passages quoted or cited from Burke's contemporaries, the substance of these originals has been introduced, in a brief and pointed form. Incorporated in the notes are sentences giving the gist of the successive paragraphs of the speech, so framed as to form an intelligible brief when read consecutively. In the notes also, remembering how great matter a little question kindleth, I have pronounced decisively upon many debatable but immaterial points.
If one were to treat the speech purely as a political document, such guide-posts would justly be thought impertinent. But if it is to be studied as a masterpiece of oratory, its power and beauty ought to be refracted as little as possible by other considerations. For aid in the reduction of references I am indebted to
the editions of Professors Cook and Lamont. For the life and character of Burke I am happy to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. John Morley. The text is that of Dodsley's Second Edition with punctuation modernized.
D. V. T. New York City,
The easiest way to remember the facts about the life of Burke is to arrange them under four heads corresponding to four periods of his life. Consider the first, of nineteen years, to bring him to his graduation from Dublin University in 1748; the second, to his election to Parliament in 1765; the third, to the height of his active public service, in 1782; the fourth, to his death, in 1797.
BURKE'S EARLY LIFE. Burke was brought up in the Protestant faith of his father, who was an attorney of good repute in Dublin, albeit a man of irritable disposition. Burke's mother, a Roman Catholic, was a large-minded, well-connected woman, with a strong hold upon the affection and reverence of her son. We shall see that the son inherited both the impatient temper of his father, and the liberal mind of his mother. Before entering college, his mind and temper were trained with great skill by a Quaker schoolmaster, Abraham Shackleton, towards whom Burke ever felt the sincerest respect and gratitude. In college his course, while desultory and whimsical, formed a valuable brooding period for both intellect and
He himself describes it as a series of passionate sallies into various heights of learning, saying
that he passed from the furor mathematicus, through the furor logicus and the furor historicus, to the furor poeticus. Like young Francis Bacon, he took all knowledge to be his province.
How BURKE CAME TO BE IN PARLIAMENT.
When Burke was twenty he went to London, to the Middle Temple, to study law. But his interest was not continuous, his ambitions were literary and social, his allowance was withdrawn, and a period of several years began which passed in obscure conflict with fortune. But 1756 saw the publication of two notable essays, and, what was of even greater import, his marriage to Miss Jane Nugent, like Burke's mother, a Catholic and an ideal wife. The first of the essays was A Vindication of Natural Society, a brilliant piece of irony purporting to be a posthumous work of Lord Bolingbroke, so cleverly imitated as to deceive skilled contemporary critics. The second pamphlet soon followed, in Burke's own name, entitled A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. This was a serious effort towards a psychological explanation of the origin of the standards of art. Lessing and Kant are said to have received valuable suggestions from it.
As a consequence of the reputation made by these and other published works, and by the intimacy with the great literary men of London which Burke now enjoyed, he was invited in 1759 to furnish the brains for a periodical called the Annual Register, which Dodsley, the bookseller of Pall Mall, wished to publish. Burke was to receive £ 100 per annum for an account of the great current events of the year. For thirty years he attended
faithfully to this chronicle-editing, often glad of the moderate income it assured him. For six years from this time, he also received an income of several hundred pounds from a Mr. Hamilton, secretary to Lord Halifax in Ireland, for services of a perfunctory kind. But over against his happy marriage and his good beginning as an author, was the inexorable fact that he was not his own master, and that therefore he must serve whom he must, not whom he would. The must was to Burke's mind, very unsatisfactory. He wished to do some original literary work, and felt that his nature and ability called on him to do so; but his patron, with a selfishness which now appears blind as well as obstinate, insisted on his undivided service; so Burke with passionate disgust and sense of injury, threw up his pension, and declared his independence in 1765.
He was thirty-six years old, when by virtue of that fortune which is said always, to favor the brave, he was elected to Parliament from Wendover, a borough, in the pocket of Lord Verney who was an adherent of Lord Rockingham. The friendship of Lord Rockingham for the young “Encyclopedia of political knowledge" does no less credit to the nobleman's generous insight, than it did service to Burke. The close of the year in which Hamilton lost a secretary, saw England gain a statesman.
BURKE'S FIRST SEVENTEEN YEARS IN PARLIAMENT.
The ministerial changes from 1765 to 1782 were numerous and important. Grenville's administration which had begun in the year of the Peace of Paris, 1763, was marked by far-reaching error in colonial affairs, culminating in the passage of the Stamp Act, in 1765. Then