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other colonies, while committees of correspondence were unceasingly active in stimulating public sentiment and organizing opposition.
In September, 1774, while the aspect of American affairs was gravely serious, Parliament was dissolved. The result of the general election was a virtually complete indorsement of the king and the ministerial policy. The new Parliament met on the thirtieth of November, but for some weeks nothing of importance was done. Then, on the nineteenth of January, 1775, the petition to the king drawn up by the Continental Congress, together with voluminous papers relating to affairs in the colonies, was laid before Parliament. Although a majority of the members were undoubtedly opposed to America and its claims, the American cause at once found earnest and eloquent advocates. The Earl of Chatham brought forward a plan of conciliation, and defended it in a great speech, but the bill was not even accorded a second reading. An address pledging support to the king in his efforts to put down the rebellion was agreed to, notwithstanding the protest of eighteen lords. On the tenth of February Lord North moved for leave to bring in a bill to restrain the trade and commerce of the New England colonies to Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies. By a vote of 261 to 85 the motion was carried, and on the eighth of March the bill passed the House of Commons without a division.
It was on the twenty-second of March, while the New England Restraining Bill was before the lords, that Burke, who had already protested against the Restraining Bill,
moved in the House of Commons a series of resolutions, in whose support he made his great speech on Conciliation with America.
II. THE EARLY LIFE OF BURKE
Edmund Burke was born in Dublin, probably on the twelfth of January, 1729. In 1743 he entered Trinity College, taking his bachelor's degree there five years later. He seems to have read a good deal during his college days, but otherwise his career as a student was not distinguished. The details of his life for the next few years are obscure, but he went to London in 1750 and began the study of law, though he was never called to the bar. A literary life had strong attractions for him, superior, apparently, to those of the legal profession, but of the particular direction of his studies we know nothing. In the winter of 1756 he married.
Burke's first essays in authorship were his Vindication of Natural Society and A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, both published in 1756. These were followed by an Account of the European Settlements in America, not, probably, entirely of his own composition. In 1759 began the publication of the Annual Register, to which Burke for many years contributed the account of political events.
In 1761 Burke accompanied Hamilton, secretary to Lord Halifax, to Ireland in some official capacity, and in 1763 was granted a pension of £300 a year from the
Irish treasury; but his refusal to devote the whole of his time to his patron led him, at the expiration of two years, to relinquish both office and emoluments. When Rockingham became prime minister, however, in 1765, Burke became his private secretary, and the friendship thus formed continued throughout Rockingham's life. Just before the end of the year he obtained a seat in the House of Comrnons. In the discussion of American affairs then going on Burke at once took part, and two speeches which he made in favor of the repeal of the Stamp Act and the passage of the Declaratory Act attracted much attention, and won high commendation from Pitt and Dr. Johnson. It should be noted that Burke's opposition to the Stamp Act was based, not on a denial of the right of Parliament to tax the colonies, but on the ground that it was inexpedient to assert the right under the circumstances. From this position Burke never departed.
In the great excitement over the Middlesex election Burke championed the cause of Wilkes, as he did the cause of the printers who were proceeded against for reporting the debates of the House of Commons. politician he was active in his efforts to keep together the so-called Rockingham Whigs, “the most upright, consistent and disinterested body of men then in public life. A pamphlet entitled Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, published in 1770, reviewed in a masterly way the whole course of policy which had
1 Morley, Burke, p.
brought about the existing disordered conditions. In 1771 Burke was made colonial agent for New York. In 1772 he was urged to go out to India as head of a commission to examine the affairs of the East India Company, of which he had been one of the proprietors, but he declined.
The next year he went to France, where he had exceptional opportunities to observe at first hand some of the social and intellectual conditions out of which sprang the French Revolution.
In the general election of 1774, Burke was at first chosen for the small borough of Malton, but was shortly returned from Bristol, then the second city in commercial importance in England. For the next eight years he was allied with Fox in opposition to the policy of Lord North, the prime minister. On the nineteenth of April, 1774, while the proposed repeal of the tea duty was under discussion, Burke, in a great speech on American Taxation, urged the repeal of the duty. A repeal would not, he argued, lead to demands from the colonies for further concessions, nor was the preamble of the Townshend Revenue Act, which declared it to be “expedient” that a revenue should be raised in America, an obstacle to repeal. He pointed out also that Hillsborough's letter to the governors was a surrender, in the name of the king and the ministry, of the principle of taxing the colonies, and he reviewed at length the history of American taxation. The effect of the speech upon those who heard it was very great. The public, however, were not admitted to the House to hear the debate, and did not
have the text of the speech until its publication by Burke about a year later.
III. THE SPEECH ON CONCILIATION
The speech on Conciliation, following so soon after the speech on American taxation, might naturally be expected to repeat much of what had been already said. On the contrary, however, it is a new and fresh treatment of the American situation, arguing with consummate force of logic, rhetoric, and eloquence, but in a temperate and conciliatory tone, the claims of the colonies to a share in the privileges and spirit of the British constitution. Later speeches, particularly the speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts, contain descriptive passages of greater vividness, but in logical skill, rhetorical finish, effective grouping of facts, mingled simplicity and ornateness of style, winning manner, and fervent appeal, the speech on Conciliation marks a perfection beyond which Burke did not go.
The speech falls naturally into four parts. In the first, or introductory section, Burke, after noting the seriousness of the question before the House and the varying attitude of Parliament from time to time toward it, proposes to bring about peace by the simple plan of removing the existing grounds of difference. Such action, indeed, it is pointed out, is foreshadowed by the action of the House in accepting Lord North's resolution, and is justified on the broad ground that England, as the greater