« ZurückWeiter »
time in its dealings with the subject race.
Burke's love for country life led him to purchase a broad estate near Beaconsfield, some twenty-five miles from London. Without doubt he hoped here to establish the glories of his house, full of confidence that his public career would bring him wealth as well as honor. The property was heavily mortgaged at the start, and careless housekeeping and lavish entertaining soon brought the usual harvest of money worries to mar the delights of rural existence. His house was open to a crowd of retainers, his manner of living far beyond his means; there seems to have been no thought of retrenchment, loans became imperative, and, though their liquidation was evidently hopeless, his friends gave to him willingly in his need. Garrick was his creditor for a thousand pounds, Reynolds gave him four thousand, and Dr. Brocklesburg contributed another thousand. No better example than these loans can be found of Burke's power to inspire personal love and confidence in his character. Rockingham, with whom, of all public men, Burke was most closely associated, was his warm friend though a heavy creditor. His indebtedness to his patron at the time of Lord Rockingham's death was thirty thousand pounds, from which he was entirely relieved by the will of the great minister, which requested that all record of Burke's debts be destroyed.
Overwhelmed with debt, and wearied with nearly thirty years of unrewarded public service, Burke withdrew from
Parliament in 1794, to spend his declining years in ceaseless literary activity. He died in July 1797 at the age of sixty-eight, and by his own request was buried at Beaconsfield, though his associates would have given him an honored resting place with England's noblest in Westminster Abbey.
The following is a list of his principal works:
A Vindication of Natural Society, 1756. Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756. Hints on the Drama, Abridgment of the History of England, Account of the European Settlements. The Annual Register, 1759. Observations on a late Publication on the present State of the Nation, 1769. Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontent, 1770. Speech on the Relief of Protestant Dissenters, 1773. Speech on American Taxation, 1774. Conciliation with the Colonies, 1775. Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777. Address to the King, 1777. Two Letters to Gentlemen in Bristol, 1778. Speech on the Economical Reform, 1780. Speech on Fox's East India Bill, 1783. Speech on the Nabob of Arcot's Debts, 1785. Impeachment of Warren Hastings, 1788-1795. Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790. Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, and Thoughts on French Affairs, both in 1791. Letter to a Noble Lord, 1796. Letters on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory of France, 1796.
ON MOVING HIS
RESOLUTIONS FOR CONCILIATION WITH THE COLONIES.
I HOPE, Sir, that notwithstanding the austerity of the Chair, your good nature will incline you to some degree of indulgence towards human frailty. You will not think it unnatural that those who have an object depending, which strongly engages their hopes and fears, should be somewhat 5 inclined to superstition. As I came into the House full of anxiety about the event of my motion, I found, to my infinite surprise, that the grand penal bill, by which we had passed sentence on the trade and sustenance of America, is to be returned to us from the other House. I do confess I 10 could not help looking on this event as a fortunate omen. I look upon it as a sort of providential favor, by which we are put once more in possession of our deliberative capacity upon a business so very questionable in its nature, so very uncertain in its issue. By the return of this bill, 15 which seemed to have taken its flight forever, we are at this very instant nearly as free to choose a plan for our American Government as we were on the first day of the session. If, Sir, we incline to the side of conciliation, we are not at all embarrassed (unless we please to make our-20 selves so) by any incongruous mixture of coercion and restraint. We are therefore called upon, as it were by a superior warning voice, again to attend to America; to
attend to the whole of it together; and to review the subject with an unusual degree of care and calmness.
Surely it is an awful subject, or there is none so on this side of the grave. When I first had the honor of a seat in 5 this House, the affairs of that continent pressed themselves upon us as the most important and most delicate object of Parliamentary attention. My little share in this great deliberation oppressed me. I found myself a partaker in a very high trust; and, having no sort of reason to rely on 10 the strength of my natural abilities for the proper execution of that trust, I was obliged to take more than common pains to instruct myself in everything which relates to our Colonies. I was not less under the necessity of forming some fixed ideas concerning the general policy of the British 15 Empire. Something of this sort seemed to be indispensable, in order, amidst so vast a fluctuation of passions and opinions, to concenter my thoughts, to ballast my conduct, to preserve me from being blown about by every wind of fashionable doctrine. I really did not think it safe or 20 manly to have fresh principles to seek upon every fresh mail which should arrive from America.
At that period I had the fortune to find myself in perfect concurrence with a large majority in this House. Bowing under that high authority, and penetrated with the sharp25 ness and strength of that early impression, I have continued ever since, without the least deviation, in my original sentiments. Whether this be owing to an obstinate perseverance in error, or to a religious adherence to what appears to me truth and reason, it is in your equity to judge.
30 Sir, Parliament, having an enlarged view of objects, made, during this interval, more frequent changes in their sentiments and their conduct than could be justified in a particular person upon the contracted scale of private information. But though I do not hazard anything approaching to a cen35 sure on the motives of former Parliaments to all those al