Greatest Night Ever: Volume 1

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Led Zeppelin — "Physical Graffiti". Alanis Morisette — "Jagged Little Pill". The Beatles — "The Beatles ". Garth Brooks — "No Fences". Elton John — "Greatest Hits". Boston — "Boston". Whitney Houston — "The Bodyguard" Soundtrack. Guns N' Roses — "Appetite for Destruction". Shania Twain — "Come On Over". He took his idea of political society from the pattern of private life, wishing, as he himself Edition: orig; Page: [ xxiii ] expresses it, to incorporate the domestic charities with the orders of the state, and to blend them together.

He strove to establish an analogy between the compact that binds together the community at large, and that which binds together the several families which compose it. He knew that the rules that form the basis of private morality are not founded in reason; that is, in the abstract properties of those things which are the subjects of them, but in the nature of man, and his capacity of being affected by certain things from habit, from imagination, and sentiment, as well as from reason.

Thus, the reason why a man ought to be attached to his wife and family is not, surely, that they are better than others for in this case every one else ought to be of the same opinion , but because he must be chiefly interested in those things which are nearest to him, and with which he is best acquainted, since his understanding cannot reach equally to everything; 20 because he must be most Edition: current; Page: [ [25] ] attached to those objects which he has known the longest, and which by their situation have actually affected him the most, not those which are in themselves the most affecting, whether they have ever made any impression on him or no: that is, because he is by his nature the creature of habit and feeling, and because it is reasonable that he should act in conformity to his nature.

He was therefore right in saying, that it is no objection to an institution, that it is founded on prejudice, but the contrary, if that principle is natural and right: that is, if it arises from those circumstances which are properly subjects of feeling and association, not from any defect or perversion of the understanding in those things which fall properly under its jurisdiction. On this profound maxim he took his stand.

Thus he contended that the prejudice in favour of nobility was natural and proper, and fit to be encouraged by the positive institutions of society, not on account of the real or personal merit of the individual, but because such an institution has a tendency to enlarge and raise the mind, to keep alive the memory of past greatness, to connect the different ages of the world together, to carry back the imagination over a long tract of time, and feed it with the contemplation of remote events: because it is natural to think highly of that which inspires us with high thoughts, which has been connected for many generations with splendour, with power, and with permanence.

He also conceived that by transferring the respect from the person to the thing, and thus rendering it steady and permanent, the mind would be habitually formed to habits of deference, attachment, and fealty, to whatever else demanded its respect: that it would be led to fix its views on what was elevated and lofty, and be weaned from the low and narrow jealousy which never willingly or heartily admits of Edition: orig; Page: [ xxiv ] any superiority in others, and is glad of any opportunity to bring down all excellence to a level with its own miserable standard.

Nobility did not therefore exist to the prejudice of the other orders of the state, but by and for them. The inequality of the different orders of society did not destroy the unity and harmony of the whole. The health and well-being of the moral world was to be promoted by the same means as the beauty of the natural world; by contrast, by change, by light and shade, by variety of parts, by order and proportion.

To think of reducing all mankind to the same insipid level, seemed to him the same absurdity as to destroy the inequalities of surface in a country for the benefit of agriculture and commerce. In short, he believed that the interests of men in society should be consulted, and their several stations and employments assigned with a view of their nature not as physical, but as moral beings, so as to nourish their hopes, to Edition: current; Page: [ [26] ] lift their imagination, to enliven their fancy, to rouse their activity, to strengthen their virtue, and to furnish the greatest number of objects of pursuit and means of employment, to beings constituted as man is, consistently with the order and stability of the whole.

The same reasoning might be extended further. I do not say that his arguments are conclusive: but they are profound and true as far as they go. There may be disadvantages and abuses necessarily interwoven with his scheme, or opposite advantages of infinitely more value, to be derived from another state of things and state of society. This Burke has done in a masterly manner.

He presents to you one view or face of society.

Let him who thinks he can, give the reverse side with equal force, beauty, and clearness. It is said, I know, that truth is one; but to this I cannot subscribe, for it appears to me truth is many. There are as many truths as there are things, and causes of action, and contradictory principles, at work in society. In making up the account of good and evil, indeed, the final result must be one way or the other; but the particulars on which that result depends are infinite and various.

Edition: orig; Page: [ xxv ] The discovery of these things, these causes of action, these contradictory principles, is the first business of the statesman. No man can speculate properly on what things ought to be, who has not previously devoted his whole energies to the discovery of what they are. No man is entitled to criticise the abuse, who has not fully mastered the idea of the use of an institution. Here, indeed, we have arrived at the main point in Burke.

Just as, in his Treatise on the Sublime Edition: current; Page: [ [27] ] and Beautiful, he did not aim at shewing the defects of these venerable ideas, or that people often judged by a false standard, but that the traditional ideas of the mass of mankind are sure, in the long run, to be correct, and to be confirmed by being explained and elucidated, so in dealing with social and political ideas, he always took his stand upon those in general currency, and sought to explain and confirm them.

The best instructor is not he who describes the excellences of some wonderful thing which we cannot get, but he who explains and shows us how to use or to improve something which we have got. It is easy to imagine other states of society, but it is difficult to learn the true bearings of our own. The sense of political objects does not come by nature. A partial view, in politics, distorts the judgment, and destroys the mental balance; in no science is it so true that a little learning is a dangerous thing. Burke will always stand forth as a man whose political knowledge was complete.

He was therefore, though a reformer, incapable of rash and inconsiderate action. The man who has arrived at a view of the whole plan of civil society, and taken in the mutual relations and dependencies of distant parts, is not in danger of being consumed by an irrational zeal for or against any established element in that society.

For checking them, nothing is so effectual as a general survey of the complicated structure of society. Burke will help him at once to comprehend the Edition: orig; Page: [ xxvi ] plan of his national polity, and the materials with which it deals. A German Edition: current; Page: [ [28] ] philosopher thought that the vast combination of interests which constituted the British Empire demanded a whole lifetime to be adequately understood.

The reader may be sure that he is following the track of a vigorous, acute, comprehensive intelligence; unsparing of fatigue, intent on and always arriving at some valuable result. It is this quality of solid bullion value which makes it impossible to distil Burke. Of the intellectual labour which prepared the way for this unlimited mastery over fact—which annihilates all obstacles between the group of facts and the intellect—it is not the place here to speak. It was commenced early, and carried on without intermission to the end.

Once, in the vigour of his manhood, his constitution sank under his labours. I had earned my pension before I set my foot in St. They will be to future ages what the works of Cicero are to us—we can reconstruct from them alone, with certainty and ease, the social and political scene in which their author lived. Burke knew very well that nothing could stand long which did not stand on its merits.

He led the way in Reform while raising his voice against innovation. The spirit of Conservatism and the spirit of Reform are really the necessary complements of each other. No statesman ever pretends to separate them. Nowhere else, except in the Politics of Aristotle, shall we find these two principles so well harmonised. With Aristotle, he thinks the spirit of Conservatism the first requisite of the statesman, and its general diffusion the first condition of a well-ordered state.

With Aristotle, he allows the fullest share of importance to the reform 24 of existing institutions. In the older politician, indeed, we find a greater tendency, owing to the excessively analytical bent of the Greek mind, to regard the two principles as opposites; and the same distinction may be observed in the treatment of contrary elements in his moral philosophy. Burke traced the concurrent effect of these two principles everywhere; and he delighted to regard them in their concrete elements, as well as in the abstract form.

He writes, for instance, of Parliaments:. Nothing is more beautiful in the theory of Parliaments, than that principle of renovation and union of permanence and change, that are happily mixed in their constitution: that in all our changes we are never wholly old or wholly new: that there are enough of the old to preserve unbroken the traditionary chain of the maxims and policy of our ancestors, and the law and custom of parliament; and enough of the new to invigorate us, and bring us to our true character, by being taken from the mass of the people: and the whole, though mostly composed of the old members, have, notwithstanding, a new character, and may have the advantage of change without the imputation of inconstancy.

It was chiefly in connexion with Irish and Indian questions, and on the economy of the Royal revenue, that his exertions Edition: current; Page: [ [30] ] in the cause of Reform were made. The knowledge we possess of the times, and the history of the great battle in the succeeding generation, when the position of the Reformers was much strengthened, induces us to think that he was right. It may also be observed that there is in Burke a bona fide Edition: orig; Page: [ xxviii ] dealing with the question, which is wholly wanting in some later opponents of Parliamentary Reform, and notably in Canning.

In the beginning of the Speech on the East India Bill four canons of reform are laid down. They are indeed immediately applicable to a particular case, but they are substantially those which he applies generally. There must be abuses, he says, in all governments. But there are great abuses and small abuses. Small abuses ought indeed to be reformed, if possible, but if impossible, difficult, or dangerous to be reformed, they may be left alone.

The object affected by the abuse should be great and important: 2nd. The abuse affecting this great object ought to be a great abuse: 3rd. It ought to be habitual, and not accidental: 4th. It ought to be utterly incurable in the body as it now stands constituted. In one of his latest works he proudly declared that it had been the business of his strength to reform Edition: current; Page: [ [31] ] abuses in government; and he classed his last efforts against the French Republic under the same head.

His book on the Revolution, he said, spared no existing abuse. Very widely removed from this harmonious contrast of Conservatism and Reform, stands a darker and less reconcileable antithesis. With that convulsion those speculations had little enough to do. Revolutions are never produced by opinions, but by political facts, such as actual badness of government, or oppression of one class by another. The wildest political opinions usually thrive best under Edition: orig; Page: [ xxix ] the strongest governments.

Minds, however, once imbued with them do not soon relinquish them. It is the slow pressure of facts which imperceptibly modifies them. Fact is the best teacher in political science, and every man who has actually touched the political facts which surround him will recognise the soundness of the following emphatic words, addressed to the general public by one of the most memorable Reformers of our times. Burke was no democrat; but he thought that under certain circumstances a pure democracy might be a necessary and desirable form of government.

This was consonant to the old Edition: orig; Page: [ xxx ] Whiggism; but it was going further than Cicero, who denies to democracy the very name of Republic. Montesquieu had recently given an impetus to the study of politics by a work in which the English constitution received a full measure of praise, and which Burke had studied with much care. It was foolish to force a work of so miscellaneous a nature into any semblance of system. But this mass of ill-authenticated facts, of opinions derived from ignorant antiquity, of the theories of a modern recluse—this imperfect cyclopaedia of a science which can never be perfectly understood, is also rich with sound reflection, and brilliant with true philosophical genius.

It is best known to the present generation by the caricature of Macaulay, contained in an essay written when he was fresh from college, and which his maturer judgment must have almost wholly disapproved. Sir James Mackintosh thought highly of it, while Burke made use of its materials, and was decidedly influenced by its spirit. There is much in the mode of thinking of Montesquieu that reminds us of Burke. He did not think much of the inherent wisdom of the masses.

He thought the people always had either too much or too little action. He more than eulogised the English constitution; and said with equal wit and truth of Harrington, what might be said of all who plan new forms of government without understanding the excellences of the old, that he had built Chalcedon when he had the shore of Byzantium before his eyes. He has been accused, like Burke, of degenerating into a solemn and mysterious enunciation of truisms. But there are some truths which are considered unimportant, because they are undisputed; so true that they may be safely neglected, or even tossed into the limbo of the most exploded errors.

When they are brought to light, they are called truisms.


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Such truisms neither Montesquieu nor Burke disdained. The political essays of Hume exhibit an order of mind equally rare with that of Burke. Both had derived their stimulus in different ways from the restless intellect of Bolingbroke. Hume, in dealing with contemporary topics, was an acute observer, but a bad reasoner: his mind played idly, and, as it were, in patches, on the surface of things which the less exquisite intellect of Burke penetrated in their depths and illuminated Edition: current; Page: [ [35] ] in their entirety. Burke stands apart from the metaphysical politics of Sidney and Locke, from whom the Whig writers of the early part of the century, and notably Hoadly and Tindal, had derived their tone, though he is occasionally indebted to them for an idea.

The former is almost as remarkable for his reluctance to commit himself to broad and general views, as the latter for his eagerness to fortify his particular case by appealing to them. Swift indeed usually reasoned by a chain of minute particulars, and made his arguments turn in some form on personalities, which Burke, as far as was possible, avoided.

Gordon, the English Machiavelli, supplied him with some hints; and from Bolingbroke he learned a philosophical mode of treatment, and an easy and powerful style. But though Burke was never ashamed of borrowing a good idea, the sum of his obligations to the strictly political writers of this or any other country is small. He had the run of a wider field. The literature of England is remarkable for the extent in which it is pervaded by political ideas. Poets, divines, dramatists, and historians, alike illustrate the leading tendency of the English mind. In the two former of these classes Burke had an especial interest.

Hooker and South, Milton and Dryden, were often to him a real fount of inspiration. His philosophical mind readily discerned any analogy which was Edition: current; Page: [ [36] ] convertible to his own purpose, and this faculty in him was rarely misused. Burke knew general English literature well; and he turned all his knowledge to such account that next to facts and reasonings upon facts, it became his chief resource. Burke moreover, like Cicero, had received the training, not of a politician, but of a man of letters.

His scholarship is of the Roman rather than the Greek model. Cicero, Livy, and Tacitus were familiarised to Edition: orig; Page: [ xxxiii ] him by sympathy with their subject-matter. He was equally acquainted with the poets, and was often indebted to them for an illustration. The general resemblance which may certainly be traced between the style though not the method of Burke and that of Cicero, is due rather to similarity of circumstances than to intentional imitation.

Burke has great information, and great command of language; though in my opinion it has not in every respect the highest elegance. Burke has great knowledge, great fluency of words, and great promptness of ideas; so that he can speak with great illustration on any subject that comes before him.

He is neither like Cicero, nor like Demosthenes, nor like any one else, but speaks as well as he can. In his own writings he rarely lost a certain formal and academical air, which does not disappear altogether in his conversations. Even in the delightful writings of Goldsmith there is a constant savour of the press. He is always forcible and earnest, but, in spite of the compass of his thought and the prodigality of his illustrations, the absence of self-consciousness is as remarkable as in the writings of Hooker and Taylor.

As is usual in the case of men of good feeling, strong conviction, and high principles, there is no sense of labour or display in anything that he writes, and in this respect he even contrasts advantageously with such comparatively unambitious writers as Bolingbroke, Shaftesbury, and Swift. A remarkable identity connects his earliest and his latest works, but the greater diffuseness of the latter is attributable, of course, to the habit of public speaking.

He expressed his ideas with all the grandeur in which they were conceived; but the expression Edition: current; Page: [ [38] ] was always natural, and occasionally agreeably relieved by familiarity. Burke reprehended any attempt to separate the English which is written from the English which is spoken. He often casts to the winds all literary formality, and writes just as he may have spoken in public or private, freely and unrestrainedly. In this way Burke gave a lasting stimulus to English prose literature, as Wordsworth soon afterwards gave a stimulus to poetry, by the introduction of a fresher and more natural diction.

His writings have ever since been the model of all who wish to say anything forcibly, naturally, freely, and in a comparatively small space. The chief art of the speaker and writer consists in giving every part of his work its due degree of force, and its proper shade of colour. He unites every extreme and every variety of composition: the lowest and the meanest words and descriptions with the highest. Shakspere is no less conspicuously equal to himself whether drawing his greatest or his least characters, than Burke, on the occasion of the impeachment of Hastings, now preparing the highest flights of his rhetoric, and now employed upon the humble task of the legal draftsman.

The comparison is unjust. The latter, though premeditated in some of its parts, was delivered in haste, in the heat of a debate; the former was a skilful and elaborate address, carefully prepared, embracing a wide field of subjects, and intended as a lasting vindication of his policy. The Speech on Conciliation, however, which has generally been the most admired, both by contemporaries and posterity, is almost faultless.

Hazlitt confesses himself in despair at the task of analysing the style. We have no common measure to refer to; and his qualities contradict even themselves. Sometimes, again, the brilliancy is overwrought, and instead of enforcing and illustrating the leading idea, draws off the attention to its picturesque accompaniment.

It is hazardous to approach this fiery element too nearly. In the manner of them, as in that of Pindar, there is no harbour for mediocrity: you must either succeed or fail. And the continual study of the finest passages is not to be recommended. It is like taking all our nutriment from highly seasoned food and stimulating drinks. Taylor bears the thought of his reader in an irresistible current from the things of time to the things of eternity.

Shakspere, above all things, refines the taste: Milton quickens and exalts the imagination. The peculiar effect of Burke is to enlarge, strengthen, liberalise, and ennoble the understanding. In following the train of his arguments, even in their minor particulars, he must be a wise man indeed who does not constantly perceive lights that never fell on him before. In the latter work Burke has been compared to an Atlas; not labouring, but sporting with the burden of a world on his shoulders. This Letter has been held to exceed in intellectual magnitude all other single efforts of the human brain.

Edition: orig; Page: [ xxxviii ] In his manner of working Burke was unlike Sydney Smith, who composed slowly, and seldom corrected what he wrote. Charles Butler tells us that he never sent a manuscript to the press which he had not so often altered that every page was almost a blot, and never received from the press a first proof which he did not almost equally alter.

Most writers have constantly beside them as a model some favourite classical author. Milton, Pope, and Dryden were quite as familiar to him. Bolingbroke, like Pope in verse, loved to assemble specimens of the finer lights and shades of words. It was rather his practice to bring out the hidden force of common words and phrases, in such a way as to give dignity even to vulgarisms. This habit was early acquired. He never appears to go out of his way for beauties, and yet his work is full of them.

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The study of law-books and state papers never blunted his keen sense of literary beauty and propriety, nor was the necessity of grappling with a definite mass of dry facts enough to defeat its habitual operation. Everything that he wrote charms in the reading. To understand the full meaning of these remarks the reader must be familiar with the manner, at once dry and verbose, of the speeches of the younger Pitt. It is a well-known canon of rhetoric, that, in the selection of words with a view to energy, we must always prefer those terms which are the least abstract and general.

Edition: orig; Page: [ xl ] This particularising style is of the essence of poetry; and in prose it is impossible not to be struck with the energy which it produces. The best instances of this energy of style are to be found in the classical writers of the seventeenth century. Almost every device of the accomplished prose-writer may be learned from Burke. One of the first things to be learned is to avoid the opposite errors of extreme conciseness and of extreme prolixity.

The practised rhetorician does this by an instinct which is bound by no rule. The following passage from the First Letter on a Regicide Peace is one of the most remarkable examples of the employment of this effect:. Even when men are willing, as sometimes they are, to barter blood for lucre, to hazard their safety for the gratification of their avarice, the passion which animates them to that sort of conflict, like all short-sighted passions, must see its objects distinct and near at hand. The passions of the lower order are hungry and impatient.

Speculative plunder; contingent spoil; future, long-adjourned, uncertain booty; pillage which must enrich a late posterity, and which possibly may not reach to posterity at all; these, for any length of time, will never support a mercenary war. The people are in the right. The calculation of profit in all such wars is false. On balancing the account of such wars, ten thousand hogsheads of sugar are purchased at ten Edition: orig; Page: [ xli ] thousand times their price. The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man.

It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime. Burke commonly practises the method of Interpretatio by first expanding the sense, and then contracting it into its most compendious and striking form.

This device is indispensable Edition: current; Page: [ [46] ] when the author is dealing with a subject which is presumed to be unfamiliar to his readers. The following passage, which occurs later in the same work, will further illustrate this way of working, combined with more periodic structure:. And is then example nothing? It is everything. Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.

This war is a war against that example. It is not a war for Louis the Eighteenth, or even for the property, virtue, fidelity of France. It is a war for George the Third, for Francis the Second, and for all the dignity, property, honour and virtue of England, of Germany, and of all nations. Passages such as these should be committed to the memory as standard examples of the Syntax of modern Rhetoric. This Syntax differs materially from the system employed by the earlier and equally great English rhetoricians, Milton and Taylor.

The method of the latter has been called cumulative ; that of Bolingbroke and Burke, constructive or artificial. The difference lies partly in a studied variety in the grouping of the ideas. The transition from the one style to the other answers to the transition in poetry from a style if unsymmetrical redundance to one in which to quote the editor of Pope in this Series the chief end was form or art. Not that specimens of the earlier style are wanting in Burke, but they are rare. The manner of the following passage will be instantly recognised by the reader of Taylor:.

But when the fear, and the evil feared, come on together, and press at once upon us, deliberation itself is ruinous, which saves upon all other occasions; because when perils are instant, it delays decisions; the man is in a flutter, and in a hurry, and his judgment is gone, as the judgment of the deposed King of France and his ministers was gone, if the latter did not premeditatedly betray him.

The modern or French method is to unite the members of the passage by a connexion of ideas; as Dr. This method leaves better opportunities for marking boldly the transitions in the argument, and, if appropriate, making Edition: current; Page: [ [48] ] corresponding changes in style. In the literary art, as in all others, unprepared transition from one main member of the composition to another is an unfailing mark of barbarism. Of the boldness with which Burke sometimes broke Edition: orig; Page: [ xliii ] through his method for the sake of the method we have a striking instance at page , where he inserts in the first part, which consists of a description of the condition of America, and of American character, a series of objections to the employment of force against the Colonists, properly belonging to second part of the speech.

The characters of Mr. Grenville, of Charles Townshend, of the Chatham Ministry, and of the American Colonists, in this volume, are specimens. They should be compared with those of Walpole, Montesquieu, Fox, Savile, Howard, and others, in other parts of his writings, and with similar compositions of Clarendon and Bolingbroke. Burke had read this work, and had remarked the peculiarities of the style, though he never thought of pronouncing it a Edition: current; Page: [ [49] ] forgery.

Burke excels in putting his characters in the peculiar light which suits his work, without seeming directly to intend it. They are drawn in a few easy, broad, and masterly strokes, fulfilling in a striking degree the canon that works of true are must always appear to have been done easily. Burke possessed the secret of being methodical without the appearance of method.

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It is evident that he wrote them, especially the latter, under the influence of some mental excitement. In touching slightly on the points of contact between Burke and his contemporaries, it will be necessary to do what has hitherto been avoided—to consider separately his separate characters of orator and author. No man of modern times has united these characters with equal success. He was the only man of his day who had pursued the only and infallible path to becoming a real orator, that of writing Edition: current; Page: [ [50] ] much, and assiduously cultivating literary excellence.

In this way fluency and Edition: orig; Page: [ xlv ] self-possession are always to be gained, eloquence never. The former go to make up the practical debater: and a few pointed remarks and striking images will be enough, with a clever man, to conceal want of art in combining his ideas, and incompetency to present them in their most effective form. The oratory of the younger Pitt, which is a good example of the speaking of a business-like, practical statesman, has much of this character.

It is marked by a certain mechanical fluency, well adapted for bearing the speaker up while he is meditating what he shall say next, but accompanied by a baneful tautology and confusion of method. It is wanting in organic elasticity. Excellent as is the first part of the Speech on American taxation, the student must look elsewhere than in Burke for the best specimens of the art of Parliamentary debate. The fine perception of the fitnesses of time and circumstances, and the habit of waiting assiduously upon the temper of individuals, and upon the nameless caprices of a collective body, were incompatible with the preoccupation of the state-philosopher.

As a debater Burke was the inferior of Pitt, and in an increased degree, of Fox. The speeches of Fox, in spite of the indifferent state in which they have come down to us, are the classical models for debating, the most important being those on the Westminster Scrutiny and the Russian Armament. With his usual enthusiasm for the ancient orators Brougham goes on to say that he must by no means conclude his studies with the moderns.

How is it that so few speeches of modern times, out of so many which survive, grandly constructed, and finely adapted to their purpose, obtain a permanent place in literature? For this doubtless there must be something which shall touch the permanent nature of mankind at large, not only the temporary disposition of particular assemblies. Burke dealt largely in questions of great permanent interest, but this was hardly sufficient in itself Edition: orig; Page: [ xlvi ] to account for the extent in which his writings and speeches have been cherished.

The first requisite for preservation is a certain amount of literary skill employed either in their original construction or in their preparation for the press. The same may be said of forensic oratory. Most of the speeches of Windham and Canning, of Erskine and Edition: current; Page: [ [52] ] Curran, have for succeeding generations an interest which hardly rises above that of the subjects with which they are concerned. Those of Grattan and Brougham possess something of the same interest which attaches to those of Burke.

The writings of Burke have often been classed, in point of style, with those of Johnson and Gibbon. The resemblance is only partial. Johnson conceived it to be his mission to reform his native tongue, an in his own words, to clear it from colloquial barbarisms, licentious idioms, and irregular combinations. If we imagine Bolingbroke—whom nature intended for a demagogue, and endowed with a natural flow of exquisite and expressive language, coupled with a natural flimsiness and quackery of reasoning—possessed, instead, of this Johnsonian sense and judgment, we have something approaching to the manner of Burke.

Gibbon set before himself a higher literary ideal tan ever governed the pen of Burke. Whatever may be faults of the style of Gibbon, it possesses one excellence of a high order—that its graces are not destroyed by translation.

The censure of unnaturalness and affectation is, in general, unjustly applied to it. There is a constant elevation of expression: if monotonous, it is always Edition: current; Page: [ [53] ] dignified. But the tastes, studies, and objects of Burke were wholly diverse from those of Gibbon: Edition: orig; Page: [ xlvii ] and there are too few points at which their works can be said to touch to enable us, as to their style, to draw a just comparison. The best literary artist is Goldsmith.

The few first-class men of the time stand towards the popular authors of the day in a fixed relation which will be best understood by comparing Goldsmith as a writer of fiction with Richardson and Sterne. The literary vice of the age was a sickly and demoralising species of sentimentality. Hardly one of the sentimental poets of the century is free from the taint.

What it was in its culmination the reader may see in the once popular poems of Charlotte Smith. Bowles and Coleridge illustrate it at the time when it was about to disappear before the examples of Cowper, Rogers, and Wordsworth. A hundred forgotten novels exemplify it in prose. Rousseau, Goethe, and many others, show in what way it spread to the literature of neighbouring countries. Fielding and Smollet afford evidence of it, even whilst protesting against it by their example. A large section of the literature of the age is turned by it into a mass of unqualified rubbish, as worthless as the copper-plate page illustrations that adorned the volumes which contained it.

Yet without reference to these it would be impossible to estimate the greatness of Reynolds and his school. Johnson and Goldsmith, who were original thinkers by nature, and men of letters by profession, derived no literary stimulus from communication with Burke, and there is, in fact, a balance on the other side of the account.

It was otherwise with Reynolds. The powers of Burke as a critic and philosopher of art are clearly proved by that work, and by his letters to the painter Barry.

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Many years afterwards, Northcote, who had good means of knowing, avowed his belief in what Malone had denied, that Burke had supplied much that was necessary to complete their literary form. To the reader of the present day, judging from these works themselves, it seems more probable that Burke composed them with facts supplied by Reynolds, than that the work of Reynolds was brought into shape and finished off by Burke.

But the direct evidence is wholly in favour of the latter view. They bear evidence of a double influence. The philosophical critic guided the views of the artist, and his friendly pen corrected and embellished the writings in which they were expressed. Burke, in the history of English letters, represents the transition from the former style of the early part of the early part of the last century to the far less constrained one which has prevailed in the present.

He restores to literature, in some measure, the wealth and freedom which it had enjoyed in the days of the great dramatists and philosophical divines. In the spirit of his writings, however, he is distinctly the son, and not the changeling, of his age. He ahs, however, none of that habitual stiffness on which Johnson sometimes congratulated his contemporaries, 51 which had been diffused by the effect of French examples.

If the aims of writing could be reached by simple reasoning and description, closely and concisely expressed, much of the poetry and the prose of the last century would be unsurpassable. The more sensitive elements I human nature, however, will not consent to be thus desolated, and the formal writer is thwarted at every step by the recoil of his own mechanism.

In the literary art, as in all others, nature must be patiently studied. Burke, who never aimed at merely literary fame, and never once, in his mature years, cherished the thought of living to future ages in his Edition: current; Page: [ [56] ] works, was well acquainted with the economics of his art. He devoted himself solely to the immediate object before him, with no sidelong glance at the printing press or the library shelf. He reasoned little, or not at all, when he conceived reason to be out of place, or insufficient for his purpose.

He never rejected a phrase or a thought because it did not reach the standard required by literary dignity. With all this, his writing always reaches a high standard of practical excellence, and is always careful and workmanlike. It is, moreover, well attuned to the ear. Few prose writers were so well acquainted with the general body of English verse, and few have habitually written so fully, so delicately, and so harmoniously.

This slight general sketch could not be better concluded than with the beautiful inscription composed by Dr. Parr for a national monument to Burke. The inscription is considered the best that Parr ever wrote: and as that eminent scholar was most eminent in inscriptions, it may be regarded as a masterpiece. Edition: orig; Page: [ li ] Burke is so copious and so clear a writer that the text of his works is, in general, amply sufficient to make him intelligible to an intelligent reader. It is believed that all additional illustration which is necessary is included in the Notes at the end of the volume; but those who require still further information may refer to the works mentioned in the footnote.

The style is mainly pedestrian, relieved by some touches of humour, and by a few passages of a descriptive character. The pamphlet itself seems to have been commenced shortly after the unusually early prorogation of parliament in May , Edition: orig; Page: [ lii ] when the turbulence of the freeholders of Middlesex was extending to the country at large.

The nation was indignant that a ministry labouring under an unprecedented weight of odium should continue to stand their ground. Most of the counties were holding meetings for petitions of remonstrance to the King on the subject of the Middlesex election. The administration adopted the singular course of endeavouring to repress the symptoms, instead of to cure the disease.

They moved heaven and earth, in the words of Burke, to prevent the progress of the spirit of petitioning.

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The ministry were looking with anxious eyes to Yorkshire, where the influence of Lord Rockingham was sufficient to authorise or to prevent a county petition; and the Whig leader seems to have hesitated on a matter so little in accordance with Whig traditions. Burke had much difficulty in continuing his pamphlet from time to time, in adapting it to the frequent changes in the unsettled state of affairs. In October he sent a large portion of the manuscript to Lord Rockingham, with a request that it might be circulated among the party.

He writes:. The whole is in a manner new cast, something to the prejudice of the order, which, if I can, I will rectify, though Edition: orig; Page: [ liii ] I fear this will be difficult. The former scheme would no ways answer, and I wish I had entirely thrown it aside, as it has embarrassed me a good deal. Burke wished the responsibility of the pamphlet to be divided fairly with all the other supporters of Lord Rockingham:. In order that it should be truly the common cause, make it at your meeting what you please. Let me know what ought to be left out, what softened, and what strengthened.

On reading it to Will and Dick, 56 they thought some things a little too ludicrous. I thought much otherwise, for I could rather wish that more had occurred to me as more would, had my spirits been high for I know how ill a long detail of politics, not animated by a direct controversy, wants every kind of help to make it tolerable. He continued his work at the pamphlet in November. He then writes:. I find I must either speak very broad, or weaken the matter, and render it vulgar and ineffectual. I find some difficulties as I proceed; for what appear to me self-evident propositions, the conduct and pretences of people oblige one formally to prove; and this seems to me, and to others, a dull and needless labour.

However, a good deal of its will soon be ready, and you may dispose of it as you please. It will, I am afraid, be long. I cannot now send the rest of my pamphlet. On the 23rd of that Edition: orig; Page: [ liv ] month Rockingham sent the manuscript to Dowdeswell. I am only fearful that my own delay may have made it more difficult. The Duke writes: In reply to the question of the policy of the publication, the Duke of Portland says:. As to serious, thinking people, men of weight and property either in a landed or commercial way, what injury can it do you in their opinions?

You join with them in their complaint; you shew exactly where the sore arises, an point out the remedy; nay, pledge yourself at least I hope the pamphlet may be understood in that light to apply it. And as to the young men of property and independent people in both Houses, it is holding out a banner for them to come to, where, surely, interest cannot be said to point out the way, and where nothing but public good is to be sought for on the plainest, honestest, and most disinterested terms.

Internal evidence shows that the work was accommodated to circumstances which occurred early in , and it does not appear to have been published until the month of April. Two quarto and two octavo editions were sold in that year, besides an Edition: orig; Page: [ lv ] Irish reprint. A fifth edition was published in , and a sixth in The pamphlet contains indications of that relaxation of the formal literary manner which we have noted above. The pamphlet had little or no effect on the position of the Court party.

They were even pleased with the liberal hostility it displayed. It was otherwise with the popular party. Macaulay, which was published in May , 61 embodies their opinions of it. I remember to have seen this knavish letter at the time. The pamphlet is itself, by anticipation, an answer to that great artificer of fraud. It is pleasant to hear him talk of the great extensive public, who never conversed but with a parcel of low toad-eaters.

Edition: orig; Page: [ lvi ] Must all this theatrical stuffing and raised heels be necessary for the character of a great man? Edition: current; Page: [ [64] ] Oh! God forbid! The first official notice of this resistance was contained in an ominous message from the throne, May 7, , produced by the advices of the outrages committed on board the teaships at Boston. A mob, disguised as Mohawk Indians, had boarded the ships, broken open the tea-chests, and poured their contents into the sea.

In this message, and the address which was voted upon it, the objects aimed to be secured by the Boston Port Bill were only too clearly shadowed forth. The more statesmanlike politicians, however, entertained the gravest apprehensions of the results of this measure: and, with the concurrence of some who had voted for it on general grounds, the motion in the debate upon which this speech was made, which had been so often proposed in former sessions, was again brought forward.

It was negatived: and the numbers in its favour were much smaller than upon former occasions. Burke consented to the publication of this speech at the earnest solicitation of his friends. It is difficult to realise the great effect which it seems to have produced.


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  • Sir George Savile called it the greatest triumph of eloquence within his memory. Governor Johnstone said on the floor of the House that it was fortunate for the noble lords North and Germaine that spectators had been excluded during that debate, for if any had been present, they would have excited the people to tear the noble lords in pieces on their way home.

    It seems to have been from a generous wish to give the ministry an opportunity of doing their best to restore tranquillity, and from an indisposition to appear in the light of a demagogue, while equally unwilling to soften down the terms in which he had spoken, that Burke deferred the publication of the Speech until the beginning of the ensuing year. As to the Speech on Conciliation with America, and its relation to the former, the student is commended to the following note by Dr.

    It would hardly seem possible that in speaking so soon again on the same subject, he could avoid making this speech to some extent an echo of his former one. But never were two productions more entirely Edition: current; Page: [ [66] ] different. His stand-point in the first was England. His topics were her growing population, agriculture, commerce, and fisheries; the causes of her fierce spirit of liberty; the impossibility of repressing it by force, and the consequent necessity of some concession on the part of England.

    The two speeches were equally diverse in their spirit. The first was in the strain of incessant attack, full of the keenest sarcasm, and shaped from beginning to end for the purpose of putting down the ministry. It is the most finished of Mr. Twenty years after Mr. Nowhere else, according to Dr. Goodrich, who is well qualified to speak, notwithstanding all that has been written since, is there to be found so admirable a view of the causes Edition: current; Page: [ [67] ] which produced the American Revolution as in these two speeches. The history of the events which happened between the dates of the two speeches, the action of the Congress which had now assembled, the renewed penal measures of the government, and Edition: orig; Page: [ lix ] the respective merits of the various conciliatory measures which were advocated by Chatham, North, Burke, and Hartley, though desirable to be known, are not material to the principles of colonial statesmanship which it embodies, it is to be found in the use made of them by Sir Robert Peel in his Speech on the Jamaica Government Bill, May 3, It is believed that the sources from which help and information have been derived, in the compilation of this edition, are sufficiently indicated by the references.

    In addition, the Editor has to express his grateful acknowledgment of the assistance and encouragement he has received from many friends, and particularly from Dr. Watson and Mr. Boyes, both of St. Hoc vero occultum, intestinum ac domesticum malum, non modo non existit, verum etiam opprimit, antequam prospicere atque explorare potueris. It is an undertaking of some degree of delicacy to examine into the cause of public disorders. If a man happens not to succeed in such an enquiry, he will be thought weak and visionary; if he touches the true grievance, there is a Edition: orig; Page: [ 2 ] danger that he may come near to persons of weight and consequence, who will rather be exasperated at the discovery of their errors, than thankful for the occasion of correcting them.

    If he should be obliged to blame the favourites of the people, he will be considered as the tool of power; if he censures those in power, he will be looked on as an instrument of faction. But in all exertions of duty something is to be hazarded. In cases of tumult and disorder, our law has invested every man, in some sort, with the authority of a magistrate. When the affairs of the nation are distracted, private people are, by the spirit of that law, justified in stepping a little out of their ordinary sphere. They enjoy a privilege, of somewhat more dignity and effect, than that of idle lamentation over the calamities of their country.

    They may look into them narrowly; they may reason upon them liberally; and if they should be so fortunate as to discover the true source of the mischief, and to suggest any probable method of removing it, though they may displease the rulers for the day, they are certainly of service to the cause of Government. Government is deeply interested in everything which, even through the medium of some temporary uneasiness, may tend finally to compose the minds of the subject, and to conciliate their affections. I have nothing to do here with the abstract value of the voice of the people.

    But as long as reputation, the most precious possession of every individual, and as long as opinion, the great support of the State, depend entirely upon that voice, it can never be considered as a thing of little consequence either to individuals or to Government. Nations are not primarily ruled by laws; less by violence. Whatever original energy may be supposed either in force or regulation; the Edition: current; Page: [ [71] ] operation of both is, in truth, merely instrumental. Nations are governed by the same methods, and on the same principles, by which an individual without authority is often able to govern Edition: orig; Page: [ 3 ] those who are his equals or his superiours; by a knowledge of their temper, and by a judicious management of it; I mean, when public affairs are steadily and quietly conducted: not when Government is nothing but a continued scuffle between the magistrate and the multitude; in which sometimes the one and sometimes the other is uppermost; in which they alternately yield and prevail, in a series of contemptible victories, and scandalous submissions.